Nechemia Schusterman

Oy Israel – Oy Gaza – Avoiding The Next Holocaust?

I have refrained from blogging or posting on Facebook (aside from an occasional “share”) due to bombardment of reporting and negative and heartbreaking news and what I will call media lethargy. But I can remain silent no longer.

We have begun the period on the Jewish Calendar called the “Nine Days”, where we lament the lead up to the destruction of our ancient Temples, and culminates with the Fast of Tisha B’Av – 9th of Av, the actual day of the destruction of both Temples.

There, our Sages teach us, the problems were born from within, baseless hatred within the Jewish world. One thing I can say for sure is that this crisis/war in Israel now has united us more than ever. Funny thing how tragedy and attack always seems to do that to us.

The Nine Days are traditionally a day of mourning, of forced self-flagellation, where we try to enjoy life a bit less and be in touch with our deeper inner selves where we can introspect and improve ourselves.

This year, I venture, we do not need to work so hard to get into a place of mourning, as, sadly, current events are doing that for us.

I like so many of you are glued to our news, Facebook, articles, updates, live blogs etc. trying to stay on top of what is going in Israel in its war against Hamas. Like all Monday morning quarterbacks, we sit, we debate, and discuss, what could we have done to foresee this? Avoid this? What can we do about it now?

When it had just started, we had all the moral indignance of a country attacked, scorned, mocked with the kidnapping. Then when the rockets started falling endlessly, we became even surer of our ourselves.
We were going to attack, and defend our country. The one place that Jews knew that they’d always be welcome, regardless what the world said or did. ”Never again” would we be led like sheep to the slaughter.

The international anti-Semitism that erupted all over Europe only served to strengthen our resolve. And the “tunnels of terror,” well- that cemented our position. (Pun intended)

But its been quite some time now, and world opinion, while supportive in some places, has done what it always does when these things happen, and when we see both in reality and highlighted by a completely biased
media reporting, the carnage and suffering in Gaza has and continues to call for ceasefires, and truces, humanitarian and otherwise.

Of course, I read my “Times of Israel” online, and Ynet, as well as other sources, and like good reporters, they have dissenting writers who tell stories of personal suffering of individual families. The National Intelligence Agency reports that destroying Hamas will only leave a vacuum for something much worse than Hamas that will surely replace it. They discuss how those who lose everything don’t surrender, rather, they, with nothing to lose, become the next generation of terrorists.

Of course we read about the suffering of Israelis, living with constant anxiety about whether they are “15-60 seconds away from a bomb shelter,” and how thousands of rockets have been shot, and of course the “magical”  Iron Dome, and now the tunnels, and it all becomes too much.

You become both jaded and enraged. Jaded: Deaths stop meaning anything, 900 killed and injured, 1100, it starts becoming like the stock market index – “doesn’t matter to me unless my personal stock (family) has been impacted! Jaded because we don’t want to – can’t – hear any more so rather than follow selectively we try to stop following the events at all. Jaded at the whole story and just want it to simply go away.

Enraged at Hamas for creating this mess, enraged at families who can’t or won’t follow Israel’s warnings to GET OUT OF THE WAY, and then get killed in the bombings. Enraged at these terrorist tunnels that again just a couple days ago killed another IDF soldier and of course, the IDF reciprocated and helped a number of terrorist meet their 72 black eyed virgins. So the count goes up on both sides and we are at loss as to what to do? Enraged at a media whose moral compass is so broken there is little hope of fixing it.

I find it fascinating that someone (Russian rebels or perhaps Russia themselves) can shoot a passenger plane out of the sky… ISIS is murdering, maiming, putting heads of 50 people it killed on “enemy” temples, or Syria can kill 100,000’s of its own people yet you can’t get a condemnation from the UN and can’t get it to stay in the news for more than a few days, yet when Israel DEFENSIVELY, kills gunmen and terrorists, and sadly has no way to avoid other casualties, that leads the news again and again.


Talk about disproportionate response? Is gassing your people and bombing complete neighborhoods in Syria proportionate? Or is shooting planes out of the sky proportionate?

Of course, as a Chabadnik, and a soldier in the “Rebbe’s” army, I promote doing good deeds, and praying in honor of Israel and the IDF and we pray for a speedy end to the situation, where the security of Israelis is GUARANTEED and not just for a short while, only to flair up again, but forever.

I want to suggest, that what is going on over here is something perhaps a bit more radical and that knowing this might help us “keep our eye on the ball” and get the job done.

I think we cannot, nay, we are forbidden to get jaded and give up. We have to hold strong. As our eyes behold things that should never be, innocents suffering, we must hold firm as we are truly in the battle for our lives and of our lives.

I hate to sound extreme or militant, but WWII and Auschwitz happened in our generation. It happened in our time. This not like the Exodus from Egypt, that happened to our ancestors and we can convince ourselves (falsely) is not truly pertinent to us. Furthermore, the Holocaust didn’t happen in a vacuum.

When we don’t “create” circumstances, circumstances “happen” to us.

I am in no way, GD forbid, suggesting that the Jews of the Holocaust brought this upon themselves, but I am saying, that the old saw – if we don’t learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it – is true.

We are facing unprecedented anti-Semitism in Israel, Europe, the Middle East and the Media, nothing like this has been experienced in our generation.

Yes, the price is extremely high, on both sides, frankly, but we must see this thing to the end. The Talmudic discussion “Im ba l’hargecha, hashkem l’hargo,” – “If one rises up to kill you, get up first and kill them first,” absolutely applies here, too. Even when, very sadly, there are innocents in the way. If we don’t destroy a rocket, because an “innocent” was placed there, that rocket will eventually pierce the Iron Dome and kill (as it did recently in Ashkelon and elsewhere).

If we don’t want another Holocaust, we need to remain vigilant and proactive and eradicate every single terror tunnel, as it may (and as we have seen, there have already been multiple attempts) end up killing Jews. The world, sad to say (to us comfy Americans in particular) is not a friendly place. ACLU, PETA and a dozen other well-meaning acronym-ed organizations designed to protect and defend the oppressed, will not save us if we won’t first save ourselves.

The Israeli government has an obligation which they are faithfully executing, to protect their citizens. You don’t negotiate with terror and terrorists, and just as we did our best, but understood that there would tragic and unfortunate casualties of war, in WWII, Vietnam, Korea, Iraq, raid for Osama bin Laden, and so many other times, because the stakes of failure were just too high; so too with Israel, the stakes are simply too high.

Have you read about the planned attack for Rosh Hashanah via the tunnels of terror?

America understood what it needed to do after 9/11, and Israel has been experiencing 9/11’s every single day since they were so politically astute to evacuate Gaza unilaterally in 2005.  It did nothing for Israel except bring untold grief to the Jews of the South of Israel and untold grief to the innocent Palestinians of the Gaza region. Before they had a choice about their destiny, now they don’t.

Let’s not be afraid to stand up and say the truth. We have the winds of Pre-WWII Europe blowing. Albeit softly for now. We cannot afford to get jaded or enraged. We need to be laser focused right now!

We must eliminate the threat to Israel, destroy all tunnels and rockets that threaten Israel’s population and kill off the cancerous terrorist that hurt us and their own. We must show the terrorist that they cannot and will not win.

We must show international bodies and all peace loving countries, that we will do no different than they would do under the circumstances and we will not be cowed into accepting anything less than a 100% solution, as they shouldn’t and as we won’t.

And we must show the world, that one Holocaust was enough. We will learn from history and we will not let it happen again!

Finally, As we say at the end of the Eicha/Lamentations reading on Tisha B’Av… “Turn Thou us unto Thee, O LORD, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old!!! “

We will be renewed to out days of old? Our former glory! Amen

About the Author
Rabbi Nechemia Schusterman is a Chabad Rabbi in Peabody MA. Together with his wife Raizel and 7 beautiful children, the run Jewish activities in the area. He is passionate about Israel and Judaism. He has authored articles, that have been widely published, including
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