Israel needs its own ‘Home Front’
The Jews who fought on the side of the Allies did so knowing the fight was about Jewish national survival.
IDF soldiers march in the Judean Desert Photo: Marc Israel Sellem
On the 8th and 9th of May, we will celebrate and commemorate the days when the
Allies were victorious over the Nazis during the Second World War. As Jews, this
date has special significance which meant that the Holocaust had ended as the
victorious troops liberated the remnant of European Jewry that had, against all
odds, survived the Nazi killing machine.
The Allied victory is an
important event to remember, not just to commemorate the end of the Holocaust,
but also to celebrate and give thanks to the soldiers who rid the world of the
Nazi evil. In Israel, and among Diaspora Jewry, we know that many Jews played
important roles in the effort to defeat the Third Reich.
Israel, there are many who came from the former Soviet Union, the United States,
Great Britain and elsewhere that fought alongside the Jewish Palestinian
brigades and the Jewish Partisans to defeat the Axis Powers.
The Jews who
fought on the side of the Allies did so knowing that the battle was about much
more than just winning the war for the freedom of their respective
It was about Jewish national survival.
Not only was
European Jewry decimated, much of North African Jewry had been herded into
concentration camps to await their fate and the Jewish Yishuv in Mandatory
Palestine was just a few hundred kilometers from Field Marshall Erwin Rommel’s
The Jews in the Allied armies fought in a war which put the very
survival of their people into doubt.
As we have been for much of our long
and turbulent history, the Jewish People are still subjected to many threats.
The difference between then and now is the difference between helplessness and
the power to defend ourselves by ourselves.
The Israel Defense Forces are
the barrier against our enemies who seek to destroy our national sovereignty and
conquer our territory. Our brave soldiers stand on our borders day and night to
defend us from those who wish to do us harm.
However, for far too long,
not all have played their part in this life-saving and imperative role. Large
segments of our population have not played their part. While we do not ask every
Israeli to join the IDF, we do ask all Israelis to contribute to the national
burden, whether through military, national or communal service.
THE Second World War, Great Britain came under systematic attack as the Nazis
tried to conquer or at least quell the British war effort through prolonged
assault from the air, known as “The Blitz.” The contribution by civilian men and
women to the British war effort was acknowledged with the use of the term “Home
Front” to describe the efforts waged on a domestic level on behalf of the armed
forces. The employment of civilians in areas to pick up the slack of those who
had to go to war ensured national solidarity and assisted the successful outcome
of the war.
Israel continues to fight for its independence and
sovereignty and we need to emulate the British “Home Front.” In times of need,
all hands must be on deck. Those who, on religious grounds, currently object to
joining the army or the war effort have only to look at the concept of Milchemet
Mitzva (War by Commandment), where all serve during defensive wars, to
understand that this is a Jewish legal imperative.
My grandfather fought
and died in the Second World War while battling the Nazis. He, along with many
other Jews around the world, died while fighting for a better future for the
Jewish nation. I know that his sacrifice was not in vain as I now proudly serve
the people of Israel as a member of Knesset. I know that then as now, we have no
choice but to take up arms and go into battle. Those who can not do so can at
least help this effort and contribute to our “Home Front.”
It is in the
memory of all those who fought against the Nazis, as well as all of those who
fell in Israel’s wars, that we must immediately implement a law that
necessitates an equally shared national burden. Our national struggles are great
and we need the whole country to be pulling in the same direction. Only with a
united effort can we meet our challenges successfully and build a better society
with all benefitting.
With this in mind, Yisrael Beytenu will continue to
propose a law correcting a long-standing national aberration. We have tabled a
law that calls on all Israelis to undertake National Service in various guises,
providing many different options for Israelis from all backgrounds. This is long
overdue and we finally have a chance to rectify this discrimination.
hope all of the Zionist parties from across the political spectrum in the next
Knesset will come and support our proposed law, without any gimmicks or excuses.
Our people who fell while fighting against those who seek to destroy us deserve
The writer is a member of Knesset and secretary-general for
Yisrael Beytenu – Israel Our Home.