Born at the end of World War II in Poland losing most of my family and living for several years in displaced persons camps in Germany, I am tormented and outraged by the rising tide of Holocaust deniers and the resurgence of Antisemitism worldwide.
When 9-11 occurred, it conjured up the fear I have harbored since I was old enough to look through barbed wires and express confusion as to why the oppressors were walking the streets freely and carousing in bars. It didn’t seem fair then, and even more perplexing now 74 years later. I saw the numbers on that day and found so many intersections that I knew (although bewildered) that the collapse of the towers in the middle of Manhattan were not random, but were signs we were supposed to see.
This week’s parsha, Re’eh commands us to see, not merely look. It continues from the prior portions that mandated that we hear, and not just listen. Do we see and hear the clear messages that resound around us? Do we see the inescapable repeat of numbers?
Last year marked the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel. 1948 – amazingly, coinciding with the 1948 years from Creation of Adam until the birth of Abraham. The number – 70 – hearkened of another biblical 70 year period, announced by our prophets, between the destruction of the First Temple and our return from exile to rebuild the Second Temple. The gap between those historical milestones seems to be forgotten, or more accurately, purposely erased from the minds and rhetoric of those who today insist that Jews are the occupiers, the neo-Nazis, who have oppressed the Islamic population of Gaza and the West Bank. The propaganda that seeks to re-write history, branding Israel (and all that support her) as racist, white supremacist and apartheid, rings out in our colleges and over the internet, convincing Jews and non-Jews alike. The lies are given legitimacy in the halls of Congress by elected officials who have become the darlings of the media.
This Sunday – September 1st – will be 80 years since Germany invaded Poland. At the G7, President Macron invited the Iranian Foreign Minister to the conference and threw down the challenge to President Trump to meet with the Iranian President to explore peace in the region. No longer our UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley slammed France, writing: “Iran supports terrorism at every turn and continues to pursue ‘Death to America’. Manipulative of Marcon to do this and very insincere.”
As if what is occurring in and around Israel is mere fiction, this invitation to engage in peaceful negotiations ignores the killer drones, the murder of civilians, the daily barrage of rockets, the intrusions into the land by terrorists, and the poising of over 100,000 rockets in the hands of Hezbollah, all furthered by Iran through its proxies, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. Like the annexations in 1938, these three once-sovereign nations, created in the aftermath of World War II, have been taken over, without war or opposition.
What does this echo from our past? In 1938, Ribbentrop came with his bag of peaceful tricks, after Hitler had taken Czechoslovakia and Austria, without a single shot. He convinced Britain and Russia that treaties could be negotiated stemming any fears of war. What motivated the treaty partners was the weariness and political climates in Europe that had no stomach for another war just 20 years after the Great War had ended. All the while, Hitler was making plans for global conflict to destroy and kill millions, a great motive of which was to rid Europe of Jews. This all became a horrific nightmare 80 years ago this coming weekend.
Should the United States repeat history, negotiate a new treaty, lifting sanctions and turning a blind eye toward the escalating war? Weary of Afghanistan and Iraq, once again, there is no stomach for another war. This aversion is not shared by the relentless and unswerving conviction to spend without limit and sacrifice lives without concern, if the end result is the annihilation of Jews.
As an observant Jew, my faith causes me to see and hear, and the messages are unambiguous. I cannot (nor should you, my readers) ignore the numbers, the repeat of history that must not be permitted. Re’eh and Shema — they are not just words spoken by Moses to the Children of Israel in an ancient text. They are warnings meant to be seen and heard by us NOW!