Holocaust, Israel, Zionism
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Zionism & Israel Center http://zionism-israel.comBenjamin Pogrund has written what is in many ways an excellent and sensitive little article in the Guardian about the Holocaust and Israel. It is in many ways excellent, except that he called it Why we are here. and that by way of introduction, he wrote a remark that was bound to be misconstrued: "The foundation of Israel was born out of the Holocaust."
Whenever someone relates the foundation of Israel to the Holocaust, it invites a chorus of anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic criticism, along with cries of "Why should the Palestinians pay for the crimes of the Europeans?" Inevitably, this was the predictable reaction of a part of the Guardian audience.
Israel indeed was founded in the ashes of the Holocaust. Our success is the best possible monument and memorial to all our beloved relatives who perished at the hands of the Nazis and of other persecutors in Europe and Asia over many centuries of exile. But the Holocaust is not the reason we are here, nor was it the reason that in 1922, the right of self-determination of the Jewish people was recognized in international law by the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine. My ancestors did not come here over a hundred years ago to found a Jewish commonwealth because of the Holocaust, and the state of Israel was not founded because of the Holocaust, but rather despite the Holocaust, as many have pointed out.
The reason we are here is that that Zionist movement recognized rightly that the Jews are a people, and that we should not be safe anywhere as long as we were a people without a land. Zionism predicted pogroms, catastrophes and holocausts that would result from the stateless condition of the Jews as long as that condition persisted. We are here despite the Holocaust, not because of it. The foundations of the Jewish state were laid by Zionists out of a correct analysis of the Jewish condition and the natural desire of our people for self-determination in our own land. The Holocaust only served to underline the deadly accurate nature of the Zionist analysis of history.
The Holocaust was a ghastly event and a crime against humanity. The Holocaust was not the defining event of Jewish identity or the Jewish people. It didn't create the Zionist movement. It is not the reason I am a Jew, and it is not the reason I live in Israel.
IDF chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazy is quoted as saying in the Auschwitz-Birkenau march:
I vow to uphold the responsibility of the Israel Defense Forces - never again to allow Jewish blood to be spilled in vain.
It is a noble sentiment, but it is not enough. The responsibility of the IDF is not simply to ensure that those who kill Jews pay a price, but rather to ensure the national existence of the Jewish people by defending our state, so there can never be another Holocaust.
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