To lay the foundations of peace, we must protect the story of Israel

Tell our story. Our lives depend on it.

By JOSHUA WEXLER
June 11, 2019 14:38
To lay the foundations of peace, we must protect the story of Israel

Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, lunches with Ezer Weizman and Menachem Begin at Jerusalem’s King David Hotel on December 11, 1967. (photo credit: ILAN BRUNER/GPO)

 
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‘In one room, where they were piled up 20 or 30 naked men, killed by starvation, George Patton would not even enter. He said that he would get sick if he did, so I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in a position to give first-hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to propaganda.”

Bearing witness to the horrors of the Ohrdruf concentration camp, then-general Dwight D. Eisenhower recognized a dangerous truth; one day there would be those who deny the atrocities of the Holocaust.


Today they are world leaders. From Abbas to Khamenei, they have tried dismissing the systematic murder of six million Jewish people as a fantastic lie. We cannot let them.

We all know survivors of the Holocaust. They are our parents and grandparents. They are our friends and our family. We sit with them in synagogue and stand with them as we walk hand in hand through the gates of Auschwitz on the March of the Living. We will be the last generation to know their stories first-hand.

In their memory we stand as watchful guardians – on our lips a ferocious battle cry, and words of deep mourning. Never again.

We must stand by our promise.

An insidious brand of antisemitism has begun to grow in the halls of academia. It masquerades as anti-Zionism, far from any reasonable criticism of Israeli policy. It hides behind the mask of pseudo-intellectualism, infecting malleable minds as it creeps into the mainstream.

It is a rewriting of history; a revisionist tale of the inception of the State of Israel that serves only one purpose – to delegitimize the Jewish right to a home. If we say nothing, they may succeed.

We are the keepers of our past. We must learn to tell our story.

We have the right as Jewish people to self-determination, and Israel has the right to maintain and preserve its Jewish identity. We are a country of only nine million people, surrounded by enemies. Just recently 600 rockets were fired into our cities. Terror tunnels are built underneath our kindergartens. Our school-buses are the targets of suicide bombings. Our playgrounds double as bomb-shelters. We are forced to send all of our children to war, but we crave peace.

However, the peace process is undermined when the starting point is the end of the Jewish state. Israel must be able to maintain defensible borders, and a Jewish majority must continue to exist lest we are voted out of our own homes. Our survival depends on it.

But the rewriting of history tries to legitimize the case against a Jewish homeland, and it has found its way into the halls of Congress.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib recently provided her dangerously revised view of the Jewish story:

“There’s kind of a calming feeling I always tell folks when I think of the Holocaust, and the tragedy of the Holocaust, and the fact that it was my ancestors, Palestinians, who lost their land and some lost their lives, their livelihood, their human dignity, their existence in many ways, have been wiped out, and some people’s passports.”

“I mean, just all of it was in the name of trying to create a safe haven for Jews, post-the Holocaust, post-the tragedy and the horrific persecution of Jews across the world at that time, and I love the fact that it was my ancestors that provided that, right, in many ways. But they did it in a way that took their human dignity away, right, and it was forced on them. And so when I think about a one-state, I think about the fact that, why couldn’t we do it in a better way?”


Palestinians did nothing to alleviate the suffering of the Jews at the hands of the Nazis. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini “called for the massacre of Jews in the Arab world on Nazi radio stations – an anti-Jewish ‘jihad’ – and helped the Nazis recruit Muslims from the Balkans for the SS and Wehrmacht.” Avraham Asher. Ya’acov Goldwasser. Atara Abramson. These are only three names of the 493 Jewish men, women, and children who survived the horrors of the Holocaust only to be murdered at the hands of Jordanians and Palestinians.

Rep. Rashida Talib’s revisionist claim encourages the lie that the Jews waged war on a welcoming people and then condemned them to ruin. It is one of many within an insidious narrative seeking to rewrite Israel’s history – the goal is the same. Legitimize the idea of a return to 1967 borders and a one-state solution.

The 1967 borders, captured by Israel during the Six Day War, would leave us indefensible. The Knesset and our largest airports would be vulnerable to short-range missiles. Jews praying at the Western Wall would be subjected to mortar fire. A one-state solution would leave Jews a minority within our own country. We would be voted out of our homes, our Jewish identities erased. Death would soon follow.

The charters of Hamas and Hezbollah both quote a saying of Muhammad: “The Day of Judgment will not come until Muslims fight the Jews, when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say, ‘O Muslim, O servant of God, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.’ Only the Gharkad tree would not do that, because it is one of the trees of the Jews.” Hezbollah has an arsenal of 150,000 missiles pointed at Israel. Iran funds these terrorist organizations and regularly calls for the destruction of the Jewish state.

A return to 1967 borders or a one-state solution would put these terrorists on our doorstep – Israel would not survive. When asked whether advocating for a one-state solution could be seen as reckless, Tlaib replied, “No, I’m coming from a place of love, for equality and justice, I truly am.”

When you rewrite history, this is the result. You provide legitimacy for the end of the Jewish people.

So, what are we left with?

What room do we have to negotiate? How can there be peace when the starting point is the end of the Jewish state. The peace process can never move forward as long as revisionist history is accepted, and dangerous ideas legitimized.

In the meantime, rockets will continue to fall. Terror tunnels will continue to be built. Israel will be forced to defend itself. Violence will continue under the guise that we refuse to come to the table. But they invite us in bad faith. Children on both sides will pay the ultimate price. What can we do?

We must learn to tell our story, before they write it for us.

Learn about Theodor Herzl and the Dreyfus affair; the deep roots of Zionism and the Russian pogroms; the Balfour Declaration and the British Mandate; the Ha’avara Agreement and the Fifth Aliyah; the Peel Commission and the White Paper of 1939. Never forget the atrocities of the Holocaust. Read about the United Nations Resolution 181(II) and the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel. Understand the 1948 Arab–Israeli War and the roots of the Palestinian exodus. Learn about the Six Day War and the horrors of the First and Second Intifada. Read about Israel’s 2005 disengagement from Gaza Strip, and the Hamas takeover that followed.

Learn the history of a country that in 74 years since the Holocaust has given the world drip-irrigation, the USB, micro-robotic surgery, WaterGen – a system for producing water from thin air, instant-messaging, original cellphone technology, and so much more. A country that is first on the ground after a natural disaster, and home to one of the world’s biggest pride parades. A country that exchanged 1,027 convicted terrorists, responsible for the deaths of 569 Israelis, for one of its soldiers, Gilad Shalit. A people that just want peace.

Tell our story. Our lives depend on it.

The writer is currently serving in the US Navy, and is a lifelong outspoken critic of antisemitism.

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