"I am Hanna Weiss, a native of Italy, No. A5377. I left Auschwitz alive. I feel that I triumphed. I have had a full, rich life. Every day that a person lives is a holiday."
This statement by a survivor summed up the most important week in the Jewish-Israeli calendar, the week between Holocaust Remembrance Day and Memorial Day for Israel's fallen soldiers, the week that epitomizes the Zionist revolution, from Holocaust to resurrection.
It's true that it was not the 6 million victims who established the state, but they have supplied it with a flak jacket over the years. The thousands who paid the price of independence with their lives, those we commemorate next week, should be included with the 6 million.
The 6 million were the reason for the UN General Assembly's partition resolution of November 1947. Were it not for them, the required majority would not have been reached. It was only the onerous guilt feelings of the nations of the world, who did nothing to stop the so-called Final Solution while it was being implemented, that tipped the scales. On November 30, 1947, Haaretz ran a special front-page editorial that said, "The nations of the world have resolved to redress the injustice of 2,000 years ... the aspiration of a persecuted people, one that has known suffering and has undergone a Holocaust, is about to be realized."
If it were not for these guilt feelings, the Czechoslovaks would not have shipped us weapons during the War of Independence, the Germans would not have stood by our side in all circumstances and situations, and the Americans would not have supplied us with money and warplanes year after year. So it is right to connect Holocaust Day with Memorial Day. They are both the basis for Independence Day.
The world feels guilty because the murder of Europe's Jews was unprecedented in the annals of humankind. There has been no shortage of atrocities throughout history, but a preplanned liquidation according to a well-thought-out program aimed at wiping an entire nation off the earth - that had not yet occurred.
The countries of the West also feel guilty because they did not agree to open their gates to refugees from Germany and Austria before World War II. They also refrained from intervening in 1942, when the acts of annihilation were already known. They did not bomb, even once, the railroad lines leading to the gas chambers and crematoria or the death camp itself, although there were thousands of air raids and tens of thousands of bombs dropped near Auschwitz while the Nazi death machine was killing and burning the bodies of 12,000 Jews each day.
The cruel truth is that no one really cared. Hundreds of years of anti-Jewish propaganda, persecution, pogroms and expulsions prepared the ground for the hatred.
The conclusion must therefore be unequivocal: In our cynical and cruel world, we must continue trying to strengthen the Israel Defense Forces, regardless of our political outlooks. The world must know: Never again. Never again will Jewish blood be spilled with impunity, not here and not in any other corner of the globe.
And even in our cynical and cruel world, we must not ignore the rule of evil. It was evil that murdered 6 million Jews and set the whole of Europe alight (the Soviet Union alone sacrificed 27 million people in the war against Germany). And this evil has not ceased to exist.
But strengthening the IDF does not depend upon us alone. It depends on this country's status, which in turn depends on the nations of the world and public opinion. Sixty-five years after the horrors of the Holocaust became clear, more and more voices in Europe say to Israel: No more. Guilt feelings as well have their limits. From now on we'll treat you like a normal country. You will be judged by your deeds, for better or worse.
And indeed, the latest reports reveal that the number of anti-Semitic incidents rose sharply in 2009. This is a new kind of anti-Semitism that combines the ancient hatred with strong opposition to the occupation. In other words, time is working against us. Support for Israel and for bolstering the power of the IDF can no longer be taken for granted. The world's guilt feelings are gradually becoming dulled, making it possible for the global criticism of the occupation of Palestinian territories to strengthen.
And because in the West it is public opinion that ultimately determines how governments act, we must reach an agreement that will get us out of those territories and make Israel a moral and just country once again.
This is because the Holocaust flak jacket won't last forever. It is cracking as we watch, and soon it will no longer be able to protect us.
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