Danny Ayalon 58.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski/The Jerusalem Post)
There is a well-known sentiment along the lines of if there had been an Israel
70 years ago, there would have been no Holocaust. While this is
undoubtedly true, perhaps for the generations who were born after the Holocaust
it requires further explanation.
The 2,000 years of Diaspora left the
Jewish people vulnerable to all manner of expulsions, massacres, pogroms and
discrimination, culminating in the attempted genocide that was the
ON INTERNATIONAL Holocaust Remembrance Day we commemorate the
liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1945. This date is less than three years
before the international community overwhelmingly endorsed the reestablishment
of Jewish sovereignty, through UN General Assembly Resolution 181, in our
Unfortunately, some have attempted to paint our
connection and right to a state solely on the ashes of the crematoria. This is
as much a historic fallacy as it disingenuous. The international community had,
through the Mandate for Palestine in 1922, recognized the “historical connection
of the Jewish people with Palestine” in order to reconstitute “their national
While there is little basis for arguing that the Jewish people’s
right to sovereignty in its historic homeland is based solely on the Holocaust,
there is a clear basis for the assertion that the Holocaust would not have
happened were Jewish sovereignty already existent at the time.
Declaration of Independence recalls the Holocaust as “another clear
demonstration of the urgency of solving the problem of its homelessness by
reestablishing in Eretz Yisrael the Jewish state, which would open the gates of
the homeland wide to every Jew, and confer upon the Jewish people the status of
a fully privileged member of the comity of nations.”
further, the declaration recalls the Jewish community of Mandatory Palestine’s
assistance in the struggle against the Nazis. This demonstrates an early
pre-state commitment to rally in the service of any Jew who is in danger. That
commitment has continued unabated.
Apart from opening the doors and
welcoming Jewish communities across the globe regardless of their circumstance,
many – like those in the Arab world and under totalitarian regimes – were in
grave danger. The operation in Entebbe to rescue the Jewish passengers aboard an
Air France plane in 1976 is the most famous example of the Jewish state’s
commitment to Jews in distress everywhere.
EARLY LAST year, the UK-based
Institute for Jewish Policy Research polled 4,000 Diaspora Jews on their
attitudes toward Israel. While an impressive 87% felt that Jews are responsible
for ensuring “the survival of Israel,” only 31% agreed that the State of Israel
has a responsibility for “ensuring the safety of Jews around the
These figures appear to demonstrate the feeling that it is a
one-way relationship. According to those polled, there are almost three times
the number of Diaspora Jews who feel they are responsible for Israel as the
other way around.
There is a Jewish dictum, “Kol Yisrael arevim zeh
l’zeh” (all Jews are responsible for each other), that is important to note.
While we are proud that Jews in the Diaspora feel a responsibility to Israel,
they should be more greatly assured that the State of Israel feels an equally
immense responsibility to Jewish people all across the globe.
All of us
have a responsibility for the Jewish future, and no less so in our land. While
we share the responsibility to defend its borders and physically build the
nation, Jews in the Diaspora have a responsibility to defend Israel from those
who seek to defame it.
With the current assault on Israel’s legitimacy
growing, the Jewish people as a whole are being targeted. It is
increasingly easy to demonstrate that the “new” anti-Semitism, remodeled as
anti-Zionism, is on many occasions a thinly veiled disguise for “old”
anti-Semitism. Those who deny only the Jewish people, out of all the family of
nations, the right to selfdetermination single us out.
among these groups and individuals can also be found many Jews. However, this is
hardly unique in a history which has repeatedly shown many Jews being party to
their own destruction.
Sixty-six years ago, the gates of
Auschwitz-Birkenau were finally opened to set the poor wretched remainder of
European Jewry free after years of unspeakable horror. Much of the world had
turned its back on the Jews of Europe during those darkest of days, and even
later refused to let this remnant return to its ancestral home. A sovereign
Jewish state would have immediately travelled to the ends of the earth to rescue
and fight for its people.
In 2003, IAF planes flew over
Auschwitz-Birkenau in a highly symbolic act that perhaps more than any other
represents the change from Jewish helplessness to
Unfortunately, it was 59 years too late.The writer
is deputy foreign minister.
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