Remembering why we are here

There is a valid argument that Israel would have come into existence without the Holocaust happening during WWII.

Nazi cattle car (photo credit: JACK COHEN)
Nazi cattle car
(photo credit: JACK COHEN)
To commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, the day that Auschwitz was liberated by the Red Army in 1945, Netanya Mayor Miriam Feirberg-Ikar had an authentic cattle car incongruously installed on the cliff top in Netanya opposite the Mediterranean Sea. The cattle car was used by the Nazis during World War II to transport Jews to the concentration camps and to their deaths. It is a stark contrast to the notion of carefree Netanya, the Jewish city of refuge, the holiday resort in the sunshine. It ensures that we will never forget their fate and their suffering, even here. It stands appropriately outside the Beit Yad Lebanim, the memorial to the fallen in Israel’s wars. Who can tell what terrible suffering took place inside this car? Let it be for a memorial.
The mayor announced that there will be a Holocaust educational center installed adjacent to the car and the schoolchildren of Netanya will be taken to see this.
Who is it most appropriate to educate in the knowledge of the great tragedy that befell the powerless Jews of Europe? Certainly few Arabs or Muslims take the truth about the Holocaust seriously. Right-wing Europeans think too much is made of the “guilt” associated with their own involvement in the murders, and liberals think the Palestinians are being subjected to an equivalent “holocaust” by the terrible Israelis (read Jews). But, what is more important is that Israeli children must know the truth about their history.
There is a valid argument that Israel would have come into existence without the Holocaust happening during WWII. But, even if this is true, as I believe, the impact of the terrible scenes witnessed by the whole world of the mass murders and starvation of the Jews, in fact the genocide of the Jews, was undoubtedly a powerful impetus for the rest of the world to support the founding of a Jewish state. Now the inhabitants of the state must remember and know why we are here and what is our main raison d’etre, to maintain the survival of the Jewish people against all odds.
Many who consider themselves liberals think that Israel is too aggressive, too militant, even too militaristic. If they knew Israel society they could not believe this. Yet, most of us see no reason why Jews cannot settle in the areas of the Holy Land, once called Palestine by the British, that were illegally occupied by the Jordanian and Egyptian armies. We are settling there and as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stated a few days ago at the Davos conference, Israel has no intention of forcing the settlers to leave. If the Palestinians want peace let them live side-by-side with us.
We will not accept a Judenrein region in our land, and we will not allow a putative mini-state that is not viable to become a haven for all kinds of Islamist and anti- Israel terrorism. No one can force us to commit suicide in our Land, so take that into account when you formulate your “solutions.”
A former professor of pharmacology, the writer is author of Amanuensis; on the Casa Shalom Control Committee; the Board of the International Institute for Studies of Bnei Anusim at Netanya Academic College and vice-chaiman for programs at AACI Netanya.