1933; 2019 - What changed?

When the Nazis came to power in 1933 with a clear program to make Germany "Judenrein", the world stood by. Europe was more concerned with the German reparations for World War I than with the fate of German Jews. In 1935 the Nazi regime enacted the Nuremberg Laws, essentially expelling Jews from German society, denying them citizenship and employment, and making it a crime for Aryans to marry them; and the world stood by. Jews did not have a strong voice of their own to raise either. In 1938, when it was all but clear that German Jews were leaving Germany not by a trickle but as a flood, the International Evian Conference closed practically all doors to German Jewish refugees. With the expansion of the territory controlled by Germany after the Aunschluss, the invasion of Bohemia and of Poland, the number of Jews under Nazi control grew exponentially. Concentration Camps began receiving Jews from all over Nazi controlled territory; the Allies knew. They stood by. The Wannsee Conference of 1942 institutionalized the policy of physical extermination of European Jewry; the information was sent to the west by a group of the Polish underground - yet as evidence mounted on the systematic extermination of the Jews, the Allies stood by and passed the opportunities to bomb the Nazi Death camps. It was only when the full horror of the Shoah hit home with the documentaries after liberation of the survivors, that the Allies acknowledged the suffering and death of European Jewry.

I've been reading news lately that make me think. Just today, news of a Jewish 7th grader in Australia forced to kiss the shoes of a Muslim student while others filmed and photographed the event and posted it on Facebook. Also news about the defacing of the a memorial to the Krakow concentration camp in Poland with the phrase: "Fu*** Jews, get out of Poland" and a call by German Neo Nazis for the Palestinians to join forces with them to destroy the Jewish State. Similar events happen on a daily basis in Europe, the US and around the world. They do have in common the irrational hate of the perpetrators against the Jews, but they also share something else, more positive: Jews are fighting back, and governments are reacting. So what has changed? In one word: Israel. The existence of Israel, while originally a dream of bringing all Jews to the land of our ancestors and put an end to the Diaspora, has paradoxically made the Jewish Diaspora safer. Jews today do no longer accept attacks without confronting them. Israel's existence has renewed our pride in our heritage and our common bonds. At the same time, this newfound sense of strength, has led some Jews to forgo community and embrace a more individualized sense of Jewish identity.

We are living a Jewish revolution. Jewish self-esteem is stronger than it has been in several centuries. Jews are better organized as a global collective than at any time since the destruction of the Temple. Jews command real power, as exemplified by the 1976 Israeli raid on Entebbe. We are today a global community with Israel as its heart. As we start 5780, let us remember to thank God for our newfound sense of common destiny and for the State of Israel...


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