Tag Archives: gas chambers

Maybe they should Hate us

antiseFrom the age of 15 to 18  I lived in London in the house of a Rabbi and his family.  He and his wife were wonderful and genuinely religious people who always looked for the good in people. Whenever you would declare a hatred for another person, the Rabbi’s wife would always respond by saying how one should never hate people. Setting aside her words of compassion and decency, one can make an argument that sometimes hatred is not only reasonable but justified. Ironically over the past few days I came to the conclusion that the hatred felt towards Israel and the Jewish people may not actually be reasonable or justified, but it may not be too difficult to understand.  This is not because the people who hate us are good people, or that there is anything ethical about their hatred, this is merely because with what they are looking to accomplish and the message they are trying to get out there, the Jewish people may indeed pose a problem and a threat.

So to which group of people am I referring to?  The short answer is anyone who believes their religion needs to achieve world domination at all costs.  I could mince words and be politically correct, but since I believe in writing with integrity and honesty I will just state the reality.  Most of these people are Muslims.  Sure there are people of other faiths who hate the Jewish people as well, and I recognize that not all Muslims hate Jews, but to deny that most of the hatred is coming from those of the Muslim faith would be incorrect and irresponsible.

This whole discussion creates an interesting, and to be quite frank, a rather bizarre dynamic.  There are countless Muslims who are outspoken about their hatred towards Israel and the Jewish people. There are thousands upon thousands of people who have expressed that hatred in one form or another.  Anyone who is Jewish, especially someone who is a Zionist, finds themselves in a no-win situation.  You are expected to be quiet and just accept that hatred, for if you actually identify it, you are identified as the racist.  It’s not only bizarre, it is also a sad statement on what the world has become.

Depending on who you consider a Jew, there are anywhere between 13 to 19 million Jews on the planet.  By some estimations there are 1.6 billion Muslims.  Yet somehow the Jews are the threat.  Why is this?  Personally, this question has risen to the top of the list of the most important questions in today’s world.  Since I believe unequivocally that there is a God, and I believe the pursuit of the meaning of life is actually a fun venture, no other question has become more important to me than the question, “why do they hate us?”

I’ve come up with numerous answers and would not be surprised if I come up with more as time goes on.  The number one answer I always fall back on is that despite all efforts, us Jews just won’t go away. It sounds simplistic but as I sat in synagogue this past Saturday I was struck by the deeper meaning of it all.  The portion read from the Torah this past week spoke of how Jacob, the Biblical Patriarch whose name would later be changed to Israel, had a dream of a ladder ascending to heaven from earth.  He had this dream in what would be known as Beit El.  Beit El which is in what we know as the West Bank and is right in the heart of the conflict the world hears so much about.  The Children of Israel, who we now refer to as the Jewish people, run a government that controls this land.  Still to this day, thousands of years after the story of Jacob, aka Israel, had the dream at Beit El, this same location is now a thriving town populated by Jewish people and part of the modern nation of Israel. After all the persecution, the pogroms, the gas chambers and the suicide bombers, the Jews are still living right there in this location designated by God as special to the Children of Israel.  We may be small in number, but when you consider that it all started with a relationship with God, if your life is based around the belief that only your religion is right, of course we’re a threat.

Then of course there is the scapegoating concept.  Jews have always been a good target.  The character flaw that leads one to believe that everything wrong in the world is someone else’s fault, also exists on an organizational or national level.  Case in point, the people of Gaza live in poverty and it is all Israel’s fault.  Of course it has nothing to do with the misappropriation of funds and corruption that has a small minority living a billionaire’s life or the building of terror tunnels.  It has nothing to do with self-serving politicians rallying their people to hate Israel and the Jewish people.  It’s someone else’s fault, and the best and easiest people to blame always seem to be the Jews.

And last but definitely not least, it is plain old ignorance.  Are the Jewish people perfect?  Definitely not.  There are some high-profile Jews that have committed acts that no normal decent person would condone.  Israel as a nation makes mistakes and most likely has politicians that will manipulate the situation to benefit their personal career even if it hurts others in the process. That being said, that makes the Jews no different from any other people on the planet, and to somehow move us to the top of the list of evildoers is based on an ignorant perception caused by the choice to believe misrepresentations, or even worse being a victim of an education against the Jewish people.  The misrepresentation of facts to adults and the education of young children in many parts of the Muslim world is creating millions of people who almost have no choice other than to hate Jews. This reality is frightening, sad, and for lack of a better word disgusting.  But it certainly explains a lot.

The hatred is unreasonable, despicable, unjustified and bizarre, but if you look at what is driving those who hate us, it makes an awful lot of sense.

 

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The Holocaust made simple

Recently I’ve engaged in conversation with numerous people regarding the book Jew Face and in doing so something struck me as somewhat concerning.  I have found that there are many intelligent, moderately educated people who do not have a basic knowledge of what took place in Europe between 1933-1945 and the subsequent Holocaust that resulted in the death of 6 million Jews.  As a result I decided to put together this post as a quick guide for those I come across who wish to know more and for anyone else who wishes to use this as a reference for anyone they encounter with a similar need for basic information.

It starts with World War I.  The first Great War took place between 1914-1918.  Germany was one of the major aggressors in Europe, and by the time they were defeated by the Allied forces that consisted of Britain, France, and the United States, among others, the German army was brought to its knees and the country’s economy was left in shambles.  Recovery was slow and with the great worldwide depression of the 1930s, poverty and discontent was on the rise all over Europe.  Conditions were ideal for revolutions.  Spain and Italy both went the direction of fascist dictatorships, and in Germany, an Austrian born ex-Corporal in the German Army by the name of Adolph Hitler would seize the opportunity and rise to leadership.  He would rise to power as leader of the Nationalist Socialist party, better known as the Nazi party, which would become the ruling party of Germany in 1933.

Hitler would rule his nation as an absolute dictator and would be known as and referred to as “the Fuhrer”.  The German masses would follow him with a degree of commitment and hysteria unlike any seen in history.  Hitler felt that the Germans were a master race, and that any nation or people not of pure German blood would be an obstacle to his goal.  Germany’s Nazi party would invade and occupy much of Europe and would continue fighting on numerous fronts as it attempted to achieve worldwide domination and the formation of this master race.

At the time this was happening, the majority of the worldwide Jewish population was in Europe, primarily Poland, Russia, and Hungary.  Hitler would use the Jews as a rallying point around which he would motivate his people through hate, blaming them for the misfortunes of the German people and accusing International Jewry of being the force behind an imminent World War.  When Hitler invaded Poland in 1939, for all intents and purposes, not only did World War II begin, but what was to be known as The Holocaust would begin as well.  By 1941, with the implementation of what was to be known as the “Final Solution”, no Jew in Europe was safe.  Although anti-Semitism had been in full force for some time in Germany, once the Nazis invaded and occupied countries all over Europe, they would set out to capture, deport, and murder as many Jews as possible.  Death camps and Concentration camps were set up in various countries where Jewish people would be killed in Gas Chambers or shot en masse by firing squads.  The most infamous of all these camps was Auschwitz which was located in Poland.  The Nazis would not only kill these people, they would strip them of all their possessions, starve them, torture them, conduct medical experiments on them, rape them, and force them to do hard labor sometimes until they died in the process.  Hitler’s Nazi Germany was responsible for the death of millions of Russians, Poles, gypsies, and anyone else not considered by their standards to be a viable part of the future master race.  Nothing however represented the horrors and evil committed by Nazi Germany more than the fate of the Jewish people.  By the time it would be over in 1945, the Holocaust would result in the death of 6 million Jews.

There are a lot more details to the history, but for those who do not know what happened, it is my hope that this will provide you with a foundation on which to not only learn more but to identify the signs of evil rising up again.


Remembering The Holocaust-A Personal Perspective

Being the child of Holocaust survivors I have been exposed to the reality of what took place from the time of my earliest memories.  Naturally my understanding of the events developed as I grew older, but from a young age the one thing I knew was that my parents went through something not everyone else’s parents went through.  I never knew my grandparents.  My mother’s mother passed away many years before the war, but her father and my father’s mother and father were all killed in Auschwitz.

As I grew up I went through this stage where I thought that my parents had a pretty easy go of it in the war.  After all, they didn’t have numbers on their arms and my mother was never even arrested by the Nazis.  How bad could it have been?  That stage did not last long as I soon began to gather a more educated understanding of my parents’ experience.

I believe it started with me trying to imagine the relatives I never knew.  I would think of my father’s parents.  Listening to the stories my father would tell, I would always feel a special connection to his father.  One I could not explain rationally or logically.  I just felt a somewhat mystical bond.  His mother would seem to me like a woman with a quiet demeanor but strong willed character.  My father would always speak with them with nothing but respect which inevitably would translate to how I and I presume the rest of my siblings would perceive them.

I would then try to imagine my mother’s father.  He always seemed like the man everyone wanted to meet at least once.  He was an athlete, outgoing, successful in business, while being somewhat mysterious.  At least that would be how it looked through my young eyes.  And then I would think of my mother’s brother and all I would see was a sweet, talented, and gentle young man who should have had a chance to live in an easier time.  I knew my mother loved them both deeply and that remembering them was more emotional than almost anything else.

I would imagine all of them and try to picture them.   How they lived, how they spoke, how they might have spoken to me.  At one point however I realized that when imagining them my imagination never left Amsterdam.  I could not imagine them being picked up in a raid and stuffed on a train to ultimately wind up in Auschwitz.  And I most certainly could not imagine them being killed in the gas chambers.  I could not imagine any of this.  It was just too difficult.  And I never even knew them.

It is hard to conceive the horrors experienced by the murdered victims of Nazi Germany.  Of the 6 million Jews who were murdered during this time, many were tortured, beaten, raped, used for experimentation, and made to suffer in ways that a normal mind cannot even begin to conceive.  And for those who experienced this level of suffering and survived, to make an attempt to comprehend what they felt would have to be impossible.

True, my parents did not have those specific experiences.  What they had to endure was running from an enemy that would certainly kill them, hiding in whatever location they could find regardless of the conditions, being so deprived of food that fresh bread and butter seemed like a luxury, and finding out that almost everyone they knew, loved, played with, studied with and laughed with, was gone.  Taken away forever.  Earlier today I closed my eyes and tried to imagine being in a New York where 75% of the Jewish community was gone and in a world where the majority of my family was suddenly dead.  I could not do it.  It was just too difficult emotionally.   For my parents and for so many like them, they did not have the luxury of opening their eyes and going back to a better reality.  The reality was brutal and would never ever be altered.  All it could be was remembered.

The Holocaust the Jewish people suffered through was of such an enormous magnitude that the people who went through these horrors on whatever level they did are called survivors, when in fact they too were victims.

There are various factors that have contributed to the survival of the Jewish people since the horrors of Nazi Germany.  A case can be made for any one of many reasons being most important.  Some would say it is the existence of the State of Israel, while others might say the commitment of the Ultra-Orthodox or the traditional Jew, while others may say it is the activist who will fight either physically or verbally in defense of the Jewish people.   One thing is certain.  It is not because of the person who does nothing.  Until recently I considered myself one who did nothing.  Although I have always been proud to be a Jew, I’ve never felt like I did enough.  On this eve of Yom HaShoah, I feel a responsibility like never before to be a voice that reminds people of what happened and to fight those with the gall to claim it never did.

It may be too painful for me to imagine, but it is even more painful to my soul to allow myself to ever forget.