Tag Archive | Holocaust

Syria’s civil war is NOT another Holocaust

Here’s why I don’t like people comparing the Holocaust to the Syrian civil war:

The problem is that in order to help Syria, we have to find a way to safely deal with:
1. Hezbollah, who has been helping Assad, and therefore expects Assad to give them their share of the power when things get better for him;
2. ISIS, who is fighting on the other side and is another dangerous terror organization;
3. the chemical and biological weapons both sides have no scruples about using to harm anyone and everyone who stands in their way.

I am starting to think the only way to deal with the situation is for all powers to get together and bomb all of Syria. But that doesn’t help the children involved, not at all.

The other issue is that refugee quotas often exclude many of those who need them, and include terrorists and extremists (surprise, surprise).

There really is no simple solution.

And the situation is not comparable to the Holocaust (even though everyone likes to compare the two) because:
1. During the Holocaust, Jews were rounded up from various occupied countries and brought to concentration camps, to their deaths. Here, the women and children happen to be in the way, are not let out of the siege – but they are killed where they live, not brought anywhere specific, and are also not targeted for killing in a specific way. So theoretically, if we could parachute them out of there, the two fighting sides would not know or care (whereas in the Holocaust, they tracked down individual Jewish names and kept track of who was killed etc.).

2. There was a very clear line, in the Holocaust, between victims and perps. The perps did not pretend to be victims in order to gain rights. They were proud to be perps. Here, there are perps and victims but unless you understand and speak Arabic, you will not be able to tell the difference between them – and even if you do speak Arabic, you might still be fooled, and that would be the point.

3. In the Holocaust, four people died every minute, on average. That doesn’t include the people who died in the war – it JUST includes the actual genocide victims, sans soldiers and sans civilians.

Syria’s civil war has claimed 321,000 lives (true to March 13, 2017), with 145,000 missing (most of whom have probably joined the fighting). So we’re talking about one person dying every ten minutes, on average. Except that people don’t die every day – they only die when they are hit, or when they get sick but have no doctors, because all the UN doctors have left the area (surprising, right?).

4. Part of the issue with the Holocaust is that *no one* was willing to stand up for the victims and the Jews. But the Shiites here have supporters, who are paying for them to defend themselves. And the Sunnis have supporters, who are paying for hem to defend themselves. The whole WORLD is “up in arms,” literally, about what the best way to help the Syrian citizens is.

Everyone cares about the Syrian victims. But NO ONE cared about the Jewish and gypsy victims of the Holocaust, until they were forced to care. (For G-d’s sake, no one cares about Jews today, either.)

Point being, my heart hurts for the Syrian victims, but I don’t see a real solution. Israel does what it can to help, including sending medical clowns to work with the children, treating wounded Syrians in Israeli hospitals and funding it through Israelis’ taxes, at the expense of Israeli citizens who are forced to wait for treatment while the doctors work with the Syrians (which makes many Israelis mad).

Yitzchak has said a few times that the only real thing we can do is recapture large parts of Syria, and that would be the best thing for those Syrian citizens, to become citizens of Israel. (Think about it: To go from living in a war-torn country, full of conflict, strife, and even in good times – Sharia law – to living in a modern democracy, which gives you all the rights and privileges of the Western world. Yes, it would be to their benefit, and they probably know it.) But I don’t think we have the army for it, or the guts for it, and I don’t think it would go over well with Hezbollah or ISIS. Sooo I don’t think it’s going to happen.

So I wish the carnage wasn’t happening, wish we could do more – but I don’t really think there is a solution. And it’s not really comparable to the Holocaust, in which several nations fought several other nations, and victims and perps were clearly separated.

And MORE Terrorism

Really, guys.  I’m kind of sick of it.

Not just sick of it, scared of it.  Like there would be any place to move to.  Europe is filled with rising anti-Semites, Canada has had over 1,600 anti-Semitic incidents last year alone, and in America – oh, America.  All you need to do is look in this past week’s news.  Wonderful, isn’t it?

And why is Boston allowed to execute a terrorist, but Israel isn’t?  I think the answer is this: Jewish blood is cheap.  Always has been.  And unfortunately, probably always will be.  I feel like we’re dealing with a repeat Holocaust, just slower; this is frustrating for two reasons: 1. The world claimed to have learned its lesson, and we claimed to have learned ours. 2. Hello, nutcases!  We have our own state, our own government, our own army.  Yet it is a little state, and little states need to keep big friends.  Those big fiends like to tie our hands.  Yes, sir.  Unless we stand up for ourselves soon, and do what needs to happen instead of playing along with what the world wants to have happen, we will all be in the sea in record time.  (Muslims aren’t smart enough to build gas chambers, but you have to ask what’s better – to die quickly and painlessly in a gas chamber, or to be shot or knifed the middle of the street, or to be drowned at sea.  Honestly, not sure.  I think I’d prefer the gas chambers.  And I kid you not.)

Rockets, yeah.  That’s the smaller of the problems.  Tunnels, that’s a much bigger problem.  People walking around with knives, Molotov cocktails, metal rods, rocks; terrorists driving cars, trucks, and sometimes buses – those are much bigger problems.  And the guns, too.  But luckily guns are more controlled; except that we have allowed the PA “government” to own guns and are now paying for it.  Oh, and Iran.  Yeah, Iran.  Big problem.  Not that big, if Israel is allowed to deal with it efficiently and the world either supports us or turns a blind eye.

Guys, this is scary.  I haven’t written too much this past week because I just don’t know what to say.  What am I supposed to say?  Let’s ship all the Muslims off the Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia?  Well, I wish I could say that, but no one would listen, and I kind of feel like saying it is counterproductive.  Again, maybe if the attacks were criminal in nature, we could make the terrorists’ lives better and that would be the end of the story.  But when 43% of the Arab population wants to conquer all of Israel AND kill all the Jews, it’s not criminal, it’s nationalistic.  And there is no choice but to kill the terrorists and potential terrorists, and nothing that we can do to better their lives will help us save our skins.

The world’s Jewish population has just returned to pre-Holocaust levels, 60 years later.  I wonder what it’ll be in another sixty years.  I wonder if Israel will still exist then, or if the world will be partying because they managed to create a world without Jewish communities in other countries and without a Jewish state.

Here are some of the nationalistic terror incidents from [just] this past week:
A farmer was beaten to death in the field, by Arabs who came in illegally from the PA looking for “work”;

Arabs threw firebombs at a Jewish school, three times in a row, and the police did nothing;

an ambulance was attacked (lynched, more accurately) by a group of Druze (and I’m disappointed, I thought better of the Druze community);

obviously, the UN blames Israel for abusing Hamas; we Jews are the only ones blamed for the murder of our own people;

a border policeman was injured in an attack by an “innocent Arab youth”;

there was a rocket attack;

Hamas is proud of the fact that they steered a drone into Israeli airspace;

two youth who stopped to answer a question put to them by an Arab youth were shot by said Arab youth; one is seriously injured and one is dead;

the terrorist who attempted to murder two Jewish youths on Shavuot is not being charged with attempted murder, but with “aggravated assault.”

I could go on, but Tova is insisting on drinking ‘Mama milk,’ so I need to stop here.

Holocaust Memorial Day

This past Thursday was Holocaust Memorial Day.  Outside of Israel, it falls on a different day (I don’t remember which anymore); in Israel, Holocaust Memorial Day is right after Pesach – on the day that the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began.  Calendar-wise, it’s not the best day, but okay, it works.

At 10am, the Home Front Command (Pikud Ha’Oref) sounds the sirens all over Israel.  It starts off like an air-raid siren, but keeps going “flat” instead of up and down.  However, the first five seconds sound the same, and I have to admit, even though I was expecting the siren, my heart still dropped when it started.  Obviously, we told Shlomo that the siren would sound, and thank G-d, Shlomo took it well.  When he got back from gan, he told me, “In two days (holding up 2 fingers) there will be a siren, okay?  I’m not scared, it’s not a woo-woo.  In two days there will be a siren, Mama.  Okay?  In two days and I’m not scared of the siren, it’s not a woo-woo.”

The soldiers in charge of sounding the siren invited a Holocaust survivor to be their guest, and to be the one to activate the siren.  It’s a very, very sweet video.

As a kid, and as a teenager, I read a lot about the Holocaust.  Maybe because there was so much material, maybe because it was so recent, and maybe just because it is so, so, horrendous, it was the period of history that I learned most about.  At some point, I grew up, and shortly after that, I found that I just couldn’t stomach it anymore.  It’s just too awful.  But what is most important, as one survivor told Netanyahu, is to prevent another Holocaust.

Unfortunately, the world hasn’t yet learned its lesson.  To be honest, the world may never learn.  But even more unfortunate is that we, as Jews, refuse to learn the lesson.  The “rabbi” (more like principal) of our school gave a speech during the school Holocaust ceremony that I really didn’t like.

The first part was about the fact that we need to realize that this is not in the past, and that not only can the Holocaust happen again, we are seeing the warning signs right now, and that if we don’t do something, it WILL happen again.  He quoted what Netanyahu said about Iran’s goal being to wipe Israel off the map.  Yeah, duh.

holocaust, little kids, yellow star, jewish kids, world war 2

I wonder if these cute kids survived . . .

He said that one day, our great-grandchildren will say, “Wow, you actually saw Holocaust survivors?  You heard them speak, in person?” and that what we are seeing and hearing is not just for ourselves but for all future generations.  Okay, fine.

The next part was not so fine – in an attempt to make everyone feel better, he said that no one will ever be able to annihilate us – they always try, and always fail, and then they try again.  The only thing we can do is add light to the world, and strengthen our connection to Torah.  We must pray, we must become stronger, and only through this will our nation survive.  We need to make sure that the life we live is true life, that we make the most of it, and the way to to make sure that we live to the fullest, and to make sure that we preserve our nation’s legacy, is by keeping Torah and strengthening ourselves spiritually.

Now, I am a religious person.  I agree that we need to keep the Torah, and that we need to add light to the world; I agree that we cannot lose faith and that the core of our nation’s existence is our belief in G-d.  BUT, first of all:

a. His first part and second part are complete non sequiturs.  There is no connection between them – he jumped from one topic to another with no bridge between them.

b. The people who believed in G-d, strengthened their connection to Judaism, and did nothing else – DIED.  Yes, they all died.  Entire communities, who chose to play Ostrich, died.  Those who saw the warning signs, including great rabbis, and decided, in addition to their learning, praying, and belief, to pick up and leave – and aid anyone else who would agree to leave – they all survived.  Because G-d doesn’t want us to sit and do nothing but pray and keep Torah.  G-d wants us to do what we can to save our own skins.

Now, I don’t believe that leaving Israel will help – after all, if Iran gets a nuke, the entire world is at risk of being nuked.  Even Antarctica will suffer the consequences.  But that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing we can do – and saying that there is nothing to do but pray does two undesirable things: It causes hopelessness and helplessness by tying everyone’s hands behind their backs, and it says that there is nothing that can be done.  Both are harmful.  People who feel trapped become trapped, and depressed  Plus, there is lots that can be done:

We can fight propaganda with propaganda.

We can get the other 2 senators to override Obama’s veto (turns out not to be necessary, but still).

We can write on the Facebook pages of Israel’s leaders, American leaders, and others, pressuring them to fight Iran.

We can push politicians to give Israel the green light to nuke Iran before they can become dangerous.

There are lots of things to do – but no one will do anything if they feel trapped and useless.

Last Thursday, as I was walking out of the classroom with some of my tenth graders, two of the students asked me, “Teacher, what happened to your family in the Holocaust?”

I smiled and said, “My father’s parents are from Russia.  My mother’s father was put on a boat of orphans (even though he wasn’t an orphan) and came to Israel; later, by some miracle, his entire family came to join him.  My mother’s mother’s family immigrated to Israel at the start of the war.”

And they said, “Wow.  That’s a real miracle.”  And I said, “Yes, it was definitely a big miracle.”  And it was.  Still is.  That’s not to say that my grandparents didn’t have aunts and uncles that died in the Holocaust – of course they did.  But they and their immediate families were spared – because they saw what was coming and left.

If we are ever going to be able to prevent another Holocaust from happening, we will have to look it in the face before it hits full-on.  Unfortunately, there are many countries in the world who would like for Iran to do their dirty work for them, and there are many countries who don’t really care either way.

The problem is, Islam is Islam, and the idea is to take over the world.  First they want to kill the Jews; then they will go after the Christians, and then the other “heathens”.  Anyone who is left will either convert or die.  Those who convert will live the oppressed life that many Muslims already live.  Gone will be feminism, gone will be freedom of speech, and gone will be democracy.  Islam isn’t a fun religion, and living under Muslim extremists is not what any of the Western world really wants to be doing.

But, if the world doesn’t wake up, that is what will happen – and while it’s true that the Jews will probably be first, it’s also true that the Christians will be second.

Clear Blue Skies and Sunshine

Today*, when I went outside, the sun was shining, and the weather was perfect.  It was slightly chilly; not too hot, not too cold.  For me, slightly chilly is perfect, because I tend to walk fast, and then I get sweaty.  For a few minutes, it felt as if I had stepped into a story, one of those, ‘This was a land of hope and green after the Holocaust, where the sun shone and the sky was clear,’ post-Holocaust, stories.

Why?  I thought to myself.  It’s true, it’s a beautiful day.  It’s true, this is my favorite kind of day, when it’s sunny, but still chilly, and it’s beautiful and green.  But why does it feel like a story? 

Besides, if it is like a story, how would I know that and recognize it?

*          *         *         *         *         *  

When I was twelve years old, I came to Israel for my cousin’s wedding, which doubled as a bat mitzva trip for me.  My birthday, and my cousin’s wedding, were in March/April, so I got to miss school for about two weeks.

In those days, I didn’t know about the maddening things the government did, I didn’t think too much about terror attacks, and I didn’t worry about the water shortage or if we were getting enough rainfall.  Sure, I knew that Israelis had to be careful to save water.  They would rinse the dishes, soap them, and then rinse the soap off, being careful to turn off the water between each step.  They would also take shorter showers, and turn off the water when they were soaping.  But I didn’t fully understand, and I didn’t worry. 

*          *         *         *         *         *  

Maybe I did fully understand, but I didn’t care.

*          *         *         *         *         *  

I came on this trip to Israel with my mother and 1.5 year old sister.  1.5.  Wow.  Shlomo’s only a little older than that now.  Kind of makes me feel like deja-vu, if you know what I mean, except it’s my child that I’m pushing in the stroller, not my mother’s. 

We went to restaurants, she paid with travelers’ cheques.  To this day, I can hear her saying “travelers’ cheques” in English, with the rest of the sentence in Hebrew, while she asked each establishment if they accepted them.  I was so embarrassed that she was speaking Hebrew except for one phrase.  It sounded so dumb.

It’s true, I’d left my pesky (sorry, Esther, but that is how I felt then, and how you felt, too) little sister at home, but I didn’t really feel that I had my mother to myself, unless she happened to be telling me how to act or dress or talk.  I didn’t mind that my baby sister came along – her, I liked.  I did mind that my mother didn’t really seem interested in spending time with me, unless it was walking around shopping, or doing touristy things that she wanted to do.  Except, that is, for my cousin’s wedding.  She wasn’t really paying attention to me then, either, but the wedding itself was nice enough to make up for that.

I walked around, I did some dumb things, I did some embarrassing things, but I loved the country.  When I went back to school, I had picked up, in the two weeks that I spent in Israel, a little bit of an accent.  I worked hard to keep it when I noticed that it was going away; I was proud of that little bit of an Israeli accent.

*          *         *         *         *         *  

I can’t say that I was successful in keeping my bit of an accent, but it certainly might have helped me to develop a better accent later on, when I moved here.

When we arrived back home at the end of the trip, I announced to my parents, “When I grow up, I’m going to make aliya (move to Israel).”  They replied (truthfully, my mother replied): “We’ll see what happens when the time comes.”

The time came, and I made aliya.

But it is walking, carefree, in a beautiful day like this one, with a chill in the air, green grass, gray trees, and the sun shining, that made me feel that today was a story-like day.

sky, clouds, jerusalem sky, jerusalem clouds, clear skies, clear sky, blue sky, beautiful sky, jerusalem, isreal

This picture is one I took a few months ago, while waiting at a bus stop. Today there were no clouds, but the sky is about the same color, and it’s a beautiful picture.

 

* I’ve never used italics for thoughts/daydreams before, so please forgive any mistakes (and correct them).