This week marks the anniversary of the May 16,1943 Warsaw Ghetto uprising which ended after 28 days of valiant Jewish fighting. Already around 300,000 had met their deaths in the gas chambers. Led by a few hundred young Jewish men and women, the resistance began on April 19 when the SS arrived to herd more men, women, and children into cattle cars to transport them to their deaths. Using homemade explosives and other small weapons, it is said that the fighters managed to kill up to 300 Nazi soldiers. Yet, they were no match for the tanks that subsequently arrived with orders from Himmler to set fire to every block of the ghetto where only 40,000 Jews remained. On that day, it was Jewish “Davids” against Nazi “Goliaths.” That day they did not achieve the victory of the Old Testament story.
Now that has changed. Though antisemitism is again showing up like a malignant cancer, pint-size Israel and its Jewish “Davids” are now in charge of a world class Army, Air Force, and Navy matched with the Mossad, Israel police, and Shabak. What has not changed is the incredible tenacity of the Jewish people like those in the Warsaw Ghetto who created beauty in the midst of chaos and death. Among other culture-sustaining values, they celebrated Shabbat with meager food, created a newspaper, and played music.
In an article in Yad Vashem archives, Yael Weinstock Mashbaum wrote about the Warsaw Ghetto saying, …”they realized that physical sustenance would not be the sole route to survival. Such religious, cultural, and educational activities are termed “spiritual resistance,” for resistance is not only the struggle against, but it is also the struggle for. In ghettos and camps, Jews struggled for humanity, for culture, for normalcy, and for life.
This is exactly what Israelis have done through the centuries in the Diaspora and up until this very day of the modern Jewish state’s 71st birthday. Think about it. Israelis do not dwell in victimhood although war and terror against them have been their “daily bread” for 71 years, often 24/7. The Iranians sit like poisonous spiders in Syria, Hezbollah stocks arsenals inside Lebanese civilian populations, and Hamas uses its people as human shields and Intifada balloonists to burn Israeli crops. The cowardly “leaders” even send women and children to the Gaza fence as violent protesters. Yes, life is challenging and it’s stressful in Israel yet every week Israelis dance and pray at the Western Wall. Celebrate Shabbat. Innovate something new almost daily. Host huge events like EuroVision.
Happily welcome more tourists than ever to their ancestral homeland. Send humanitarian aid teams to world disasters. Seek peace and bridge-building with Arabs where it can be found often within businesses, universities, hospitals, and industrial parks.
Israelis are role models of “spiritual resistance,” a value we can all utilize. Yet I, as a Christian Zionist, am also grateful that Israel now has the almost unmatched ability to “defend themselves by themselves”(as they often say) against aggression from so many directions. I often remind others that the Israeli military is named Israel DEFENSE Forces because they are not warmongers.They defend their civilians and their homeland against terror attacks and wars like any other free nation. They long for peace.
Another welcome change has occurred in the last 20 years or so in the United States and throughout the world. Multi millions of Christians are standing by Israel’s side in tourism, social media, buying portable bomb shelters, caring for Holocaust survivors, investing in Israel Bonds, reaching out to Congress, and speaking out against anti-Semitism in many ways. In the 1930s and 1940s, although Yad Vashem recognizes almost 27,000 Righteous Among the Nations as “Drops of Love in an Ocean of Poison,” Christian rescuers were too few and many died. The brilliant, beloved German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer was among them. The Nazis hung Bonhoeffer at Flossenburg a few weeks before liberation for his years-long opposition to Hitler and the Nazi regime.
Christians who recognize Judaism as the birthplace of our faith are motivated by gratitude and not just because we want to “be blessed” as Genesis 12:3 says. Advocating for Israel is the right thing to do. We recognize that God Himself deeded the Land to the Jewish people as recorded in the most popular book in world history; the bible. In my viewpoint God’s legal contract codified and far exceeds anything an anti-Israel detractor thinks up. That includes the hapless United Nations,
US Congress Representatives Omar and Tlaib, leaders in the National Council of Churches hierarchy, the European Union, and antisemites everywhere.
Oh, Israelis; Consider this blog my birthday card to wish you every success, more achievements, security, and shalom on your 71st modern birthday! I close with thanks for ancient and modern Israel for bequeathing my faith, the bible, and all your innovations which make my life better! This Christian Zionist is part of your team cheering you on!