Varda Epstein

Never again is a verb

By now I’m used to the fact that my personal ideas and beliefs are controversial. So on some days, or even months I avoid blogging. The vitriolic talkbacks that ensue often lay me out cold. I need time to heal.

But eventually, I pull out of my funk and dare to speak from my heart once more. Blogging, unlike the writing assignments I take for pay, comes straight from my kishkes*

This was definitely the case with my most recent offering, Save The Six Million—Pull A Different Lever

The idea for that blog came to me, as often happens, while I was about my morning household tasks. As soon as I could, I finished up my housework and sat down at my PC to open a new WORD doc and let the words pour out.

And indeed, that’s how it works for me. The words flow in a torrent. I write up a blog post in a matter of minutes. The time-consuming part of the deal is found in coming up with appropriate graphics that are free to use and distribute without copyright, and in uploading the darned thing. Formatting is sometimes problematic and takes awhile.

But I never have an issue with the words.

Maybe I should have stopped and thought more about how reaction to my piece would take form. But that would have stopped me from writing what I wrote. And I stand by my piece.

I stand by it both as a piece of darned good writing and as an important message that needed to out from within my soul. That blog represented my desperate personal attempt to impart a message to the public. But that public seems to be always just out of reach, refusing to accept my true meaning and seizing on an erroneous interpretation of my words. They would vilify me rather than attempt to understand me.

Too bad.

In this case, the response came in the guise of a nonexistent corollary. This “corollary” posits that I think a vote for Obama is a vote for a holocaust.

I did not think this. I did not write this. I do not believe this. It is not the corollary to what I wrote. It is not the converse or opposite of what I wrote, think, or believe.

I did not think this. I did not write this. I do not believe this. It is not the corollary to what I wrote. It is not the converse or opposite of what I wrote, think, or believe.

But that is the meaning the public chose to superimpose on my words and meaning, in an attempt to imbue my words with an ugliness that is not contained therein.

Furthermore, I stand accused of overstating the issue of a nuclear Iran and am declared guilty of exploiting the Holocaust for political ends.

I tried to answer the most thoughtful of the critics in the talkbacks. But it is a daunting task to steel myself against the public whipping, the outpouring of misinterpretation and hatred. At some point it becomes impossible to sift through all the hate and respond with a level head. Yet I will dare once more to poke my head out into the blogosphere and elaborate on my meaning.

I am sure to be bludgeoned with ugliness once more. I expect that. But I still feel the need to reach people. To impart MY message, and not the one that was pasted over my words, obliterating their true meaning.

My defense begins with my history. I came to Israel as soon as I could. I was 18, just out of high school. I have now lived in Israel for over three decades.

Through the years, I read updates on the Jewish population of Israel and watched as that figure inched toward the 6 million mark, and then exceeded that mark. Often I would read an article remarking on the irony and beauty of that fact: that the Jewish population of the State of Israel, born out of the ashes of the Holocaust, now numbered that of the martyred. This was deemed a victory over Hitler by all accounts, except for accounts emanating from those sworn to hatred of the Jews and Israel.


Sometimes the irony of the fact that Europe destroyed its Jewish population only to underwrite the creation of the State of Israel would be noted in remarking on the population count. At other times, the bitterest commentators would point out that Hitler had to work hard to get all those 6 million European Jews murdered, spread out as they were all across Europe. But now, they would note, the Jews are concentrated in one small country, the size of the state of New Jersey.

Some said that having the Jews all in one place happened by European design, so that it would be easier to “get the Jews” the next time around, with them all in one place. Certainly, Israel has been targeted often enough with the sadly attendant loss of life that entails, affecting nearly every individual in Israel on a personal level. Every Israeli knows or is related to someone who was murdered due to war or terror.

Whichever way you want to view the Jewish population count in Israel, that population has now surpassed 6 million. At the same time, the stated intention of the Iranians is to nuke the Jews out of existence.

The parallel seems striking to me.

I am neither the first nor the last to consider the idea: a second group of some 6 million Jews facing extinction.

President Obama’s response to this notion is, “I will back Israel “IF” it is attacked.”

“IF” being the operative word.

“IF” Israel is attacked, there will be loss of life. There may be a nuclear holocaust. Maybe not. But yes, maybe.

Backing Israel “IF” it is attacked feels much too late for me.

“IF” Israel is attacked, will President Obama have a shovel-ready speech loaded into his portable teleprompter to give over at my memorial service?

New subject. Or maybe the same subject:

What about the phrase “Never Again?” Is Never Again meant to be just a cute catch-phrase or is it actually supposed to mean something?


Does the phrase mean we are supposed to be ever-vigilant? Should we not watch for parallels between history and real events? When we think we see those parallels, should we not speak out and warn society?

Are we supposed to keep silent for fear of exploiting an old tragedy and the memory of the martyred? Or are we supposed to see the possibility in events: that history may be repeating itself and point that out so that we can save ourselves—so that we can use Never Again as a VERB instead of a noun?

I write my own opinions. They belong to me. I write my feelings straight from the heart.

I would NEVER say—never THINK—that a vote for Obama is a vote for the Holocaust.

Nor do I think or believe that Mitt Romney is the knight in shining armor riding in on his white horse to save me, my children, my grandchildren, and my people.

I would NEVER say—never THINK—that a vote for Obama is a vote for the Holocaust.


Nor do I think or believe that Mitt Romney is the knight in shining armor riding in on his white horse to save me, my children, my grandchildren, and my people.

But he’s the NOT OBAMA.

It comes down to this:  another four years of this president—who says he has Israel’s back, but didn’t have Chris Steven’s back—or the other guy.

Obama’s no Hitler. Of course not. But he’s just not proactive.

Sanctions have never prevented any nation from going nuclear. Sanctions are not a serious response to this threat.

So you want to tell me Romney is also pushing sanctions as his policy on Iran, based on the final debate? I say he didn’t want to be perceived as a war monger. He didn’t want people to say he has no experience in foreign affairs. So he kept a low profile.

But guess what? Mitt used the word JIHAD. Something the president will not do.

What does President Obama’s refusal to name the threat MEAN? It means (for instance) that the Fort Hood Massacre gets termed “workplace violence” and the victims don’t get Purple Hearts or receive the full benefits that would accrue from that status.


Because the Obama administration doesn’t like the word “terror.” Because Obama has this little “thing” about not talking about what we talk about when we talk about Muslims.

Some tell me that I have no right to meddle in the American election. But guess what? I am a tax-paying U.S. citizen. I have every right.

Guess what? I am a tax-paying U.S. citizen. I have every right.

Some say that Americans care about foreign affairs issues but that we first need to pull together to take care of issues at home. But for me, the issue of a nuclear Iran eclipses all else. It trumps partisan issues. It trumps US domestic issues like gay marriage and abortion. It trumps the supposed war on women.

And I think the thought of an Iran with enough material to create 4-6 nuclear bombs by March 2013 should trump all for the free world, as well. Because a nuclear Iran must be prevented at all cost.

Some say the assessments aren’t as dire as I claim. Well, I don’t have the liberty of choosing the assessments that makes me feel safe. Nor do you. A nuclear Iran threatens ALL of us.

Some say that even with a credible threat of U.S. military force, there’s no guarantee that those centrifuges will stop spinning. But Bibi thinks they will. And I do, too.

I think of the bully in the playground, who faced with someone tougher than himself, runs away screaming.

Like I said, I write from the heart. My friends tell me that as a religious person, I should leave everything in the hands of God. I should have faith that all will be well.

But I have long held by the truism: If you stand in the rain you get wet. No matter how much you believe in God.

We’re supposed to see the signs. We’re supposed to be proactive and do what is necessary to protect our world and our society. NEVER AGAIN.

The thought that there will soon be a despot with the means to annihilate my people, concentrated as they are in a place the size of New Jersey makes me feel quite literally imperiled and my soul cries out NEVER AGAIN.

So call me a moron. Say that the Times of Israel will soon be more “selective” about who gets to blog therein.

But don’t accuse me of exploiting the holocaust.

Because for me, NEVER AGAIN is a verb.

*Yiddish for intestines, guts.

About the Author
Varda Epstein is a blogger and Communications Writer for