Dear President Barack Obama, Your presidency is already historic.
you are faced with a real opportunity to redeem the nations of the world from
their shameful complicity in the first Holocaust, and to save humanity from a
second one, and thereby forever strengthen the forces of life, freedom and
In the lead up to and during the Holocaust the world ignored
the desperate plight of Europe’s endangered Jews. So many nations prevented Jews
from finding asylum from Nazi Germany.
Boats of terrified Jewish refugees
were turned away and sent back to their deaths in Europe. And when horrific
reports of the gas chambers and crematoria came through, the Allies even refused
to bomb the railroads leading to Auschwitz and other death camps.
the great codifiers of Talmudic law and ethics, Maimonides, writes (Laws of
Repentance 2:1) that the test of true repentance is when a sinner is faced with
the same circumstances he or she faced when first committing the sin and then,
demonstrating sincere repentance, refrains from committing the sin
Memorializing the Holocaust has become part of an international
ethos; there is a claim of regret and of a desire to repent for the sins of the
past, the omissions and commissions which led to the death of six million Jews,
including more than one and a half million children. Now the test is to see if
this repentance is genuine. The nations of the world are confronted with the
same set of circumstances in which they committed their original sin against the
Jewish people. Another Holocaust is being threatened. Iran is in hot pursuit of
nuclear weapons, and its leadership has made clear its intentions to use these
weapons to murder the six million Jews of Israel.
Iran’s supreme leader,
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, often states publicly, in sermons broadcast to the
world, his intentions of destroying Israel and perpetrating another holocaust:
“The Zionist regime is a true cancer tumor on this region that should be cut
off. And it definitely will be cut off.” On its official websites the Iranian
government quotes from the Koran and other sources to theologically justify the
murder of all Jews and the destruction of Israel, and, has openly and
unashamedly, presented detailed military plans for how the genocide can be
achieved, leaving no doubt that the major civilian centers of Tel Aviv,
Jerusalem and Haifa would be be their primary targets.
It is judgment
time before G-d. No one can say there was no warning.
This time there are
no excuses. No one can say that genocidal threats against Jews are the deranged
rantings of madmen not to be taken seriously.
History proves otherwise.
Of course, there is a major difference this time around, and that is G-d’s
blessing of Jewish sovereignty in Israel, with its accompanying political and
military power. But Israel cannot, nor should it, face this monstrous threat
We all hope and pray that sanctions will work, but there isn’t
much time left. If and when the crunch comes, G-d forbid, will the Jewish people
once again stand alone? Mr. President, world leaders must ask themselves this:
Would you wager the life of your own children on the mercy and reasonableness of
the Iranian government? And the question may not be hypothetical. Hitler came
after the Jews first, and then he attacked the world.
The Jews are Iran’s
first target, certainly not its last.
It is eerie that this nightmare has
returned to the world. It is unprecedented and incomprehensible that one nation
should face the threat of genocide twice within living memory. These events
cannot be understood in terms of the normal laws of history. It is perhaps the
very surreal nature of these events which calls on us to see G-d’s hand in
Mr. President, destiny is calling you to an historic reckoning
on behalf of a generation of world leaders and their nations who preceded you,
and who turned their backs on the Jewish people at a time of terrible
destruction and murder. Through your actions you can repent for their sins and
help redeem them from their shameful complicity in the Holocaust.
President, you are the most powerful man in the world, and this is your historic
opportunity. If it is seized, the moral legacy of the world will be redeemed
forever, and you, Mr. President, will inscribed by G-d Himself in the heavenly
book of history as the great American president who stood with Israel to save it
and the world from another Holocaust, and in so doing strengthened the forces of
freedom, democracy and the sanctity and dignity of life, for these historic
Warren Goldstein, Chief Rabbi of South Africa
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