‘Never Again’ means standing with Israel

In recent days I suggested that things might have unfolded in a very different manner in Europe had the Jewish people been armed and better able to defend themselves.

Ben Carson  (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Ben Carson
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Sometimes it is hard to find the right words to talk about the kind of evil that defies reason and destroys lives.  We saw that evil on full display during the Holocaust perpetuated by the fanatical and tyrannical Nazi regime under Adolph Hitler.  The lessons to be drawn from those darkest of days in world history are plentiful, and as relevant today as they were nearly 80 years ago.
In recent days I suggested that things might have unfolded in a very different manner in Europe had the Jewish people been armed and better able to defend themselves. What would have been the impact on Hitler’s war machine if his victims had had more access to guns? It is something that we will never know for sure.
What I do know however, beyond any shadow of a doubt, is that I never intended for my words to diminish the enormity of the tragedy or in any way to cause any pain for Holocaust survivors or their families.
Both those who perished and those who survived the Nazi camps deserve our deepest reverence, as do the partisan fighters who rose in armed opposition.
It is truly incomprehensive to imagine what these men, women and children endured, and it is impossible for us to put ourselves in their shoes.  This I know, since I have seen some of those actual shoes first-hand at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. and at Yad Vashem in Israel. Those shoes, stripped from just some of the millions of Holocaust victims, are a jarring symbol that humanizes the loss.
They are poignant and painful reminders. I have learned about the Holocaust and studied the history.  So should every American, as well as others all around the world. 

When I was in Israel last year, stepping from the dimmed lights of their Holocaust Museum into the bright Jerusalem sunshine underscored for me in a literal and figurative manner that often out of darkness comes light.  And upon reflection, I concluded that there are vital lessons that can be drawn from the Holocaust’s senselessness and savagery.  One is that going back centuries the Jewish people have somehow managed to find a way to overcome every oppressor who sought to destroy them.
Another is that the Jewish people need a state and that they must have the ability to defend themselves in order to ensure that “never again” remains a reality. That state, Israel, has been re-established in their historic homeland. 
The founding of the State of Israel in 1948 was an accomplishment that almost never fully came to pass. Just hours after declaring its independence, Arab armies descended on the fledgling state in a war of annihilation only to be overcome by spirited Israeli forces who fought with the conviction and valor of those with nowhere else to go and no other option for survival.
Sadly for Israel, serious threats remain and its people must still live in a perpetual state of readiness to confront those who seek her destruction.  Israel’s armed forces and the country’s qualitative military edge over other nations in the Middle East are essential elements that ensure that the Jewish people continue to have a state of their own and that Israel can thrive. 
The Middle East is a region awash with dictatorships, ruthless violence, turmoil and political instability where Israel is the only Western-style democracy.
As Americans we stand with Israel because the Jewish state embodies many of the same aspects that make the United States the greatest nation in the world: commitment to human rights, religious liberty for all citizens, the rule of law, equal rights for women, a free press, a robust judicial system.
America’s relationship with Israel is one with deep benefits for both nations. This proves invaluable every day in term of strategic cooperation and in specific arenas of homeland security and counterterrorism.
In the years to come, America’s ability to defend herself against all enemies, foreign and domestic, will be critical.  Our determination to secure our homeland and to safeguard our citizens against adversaries and radical Islamist terrorist groups must be stronger than ever.
Looking to the future, while remaining mindful of the past, I believe that it is in America’s national security interests to deepen our commitment to Israel.  If elected president in November 2016, I will explore every opportunity to strengthen ties between our two nations and to ensure that Israel always has the tools it needs to protect herself and our shared interests.
While Israel must be able to go it alone, it should never have to stand alone.  In recent years, personalities and politics have been permitted to negatively affect America’s relationship with Israel despite the fact that the bonds between our two nations are so unique and vital.  When the enemies of Israel and the United States sense rifts between us, they are emboldened and grow even more dangerous.
The strength of the U.S.-Israel relationship can and must be strengthened.
That is precisely why I look forward to my first conversation as President of the United States with the Prime Minister of Israel. On that phone call I will utter four important words that reflect the future direction we will take together: "Our relationship is restored."
The writer, Benjamin S Carson Sr MD, is Emeritus Professor of Neurosurgery, Oncology, Plastic Surgery and Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins and a 2016 Republican candidate for President of the United States.