Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Greatest Threat Facing World Jewry

By Rabbi Marvin Hier 

It was this month, 72 years ago in Berlin, in 1945 that Adolf Hitler wrote his final will in which he predicted it would take a few centuries before anti-Semitism would come back. Of course it took a lot less than a few centuries. But even Hitler could not have predicted that in addition to the familiar slogans of Jew hatred, there would be a much more sophisticated kind of anti-Semitism that would be regularly deployed even in the halls of the United Nations – the very international organization created in order to prevent another Holocaust. 

To explain, let me first tell you about a remarkable encounter I had with David Ben-Gurion in the summer of 1971 when I was a rabbi in Vancouver and took a group of teenagers for their first trip to Israel. We had the special privilege to spend nearly an hour with Ben-Gurion who had retired to his kibbutz in S’De Boker. To this day, I shall never forget what he told our group. He said when you go home I want you to thank your parents and grandparents on my behalf for all they are doing for the State of Israel. Tell them that without their help, without the help of Diaspora Jewry, there would be no State of Israel.

But also tell them that there will come a time in the future where world Jewry and the Diaspora will be dependent on the State of Israel. David Ben-Gurion’s prophetic words have now come true. Today, Israel is the super engine that continues to fuel Diaspora Jewry. Sixty thousand high school and university students from North America alone come every year via Birthright to reconnect with their Jewish identity. Thousands study there and millions visit each year.

That is why I believe strongly that the campaign now being waged to delegitimize Israel by UN agencies around the world is potentially the greatest threat facing world Jewry, because Jews in the Diaspora recognize that without an Israel there will be no Diaspora. So how can we explain that of the 135 resolutions adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in the last decade, more than 50% of them have condemned Israel? How is it possible that of the 97 resolutions introduced in the last four years by the UN General Assembly, 87 of them were against the State of Israel? Can you believe that the Security Council, since 1948, has condemned Israel in 78 resolutions directly attacking Israel – no other nation comes even close.

There is no obsession with Syria where a quarter of a million people have been slaughtered; no 97 resolutions condemning North Korea, which threatens the world with nuclear weapons; nor with Iran, the leading sponsor of terrorism; nor about the destruction and pillage taking place in Iraq, Libya, or Afghanistan. Not even a resolution against Russia’s action in Ukraine, against the treatment of women in Saudi Arabia, no speaking out against Hamas or Hezbollah, the terrorist organizations who seek a war in the Middle East. Yes, only the Jewish State of Israel, the Middle East’s sole democracy, is singled out year after year, insisting that they withdraw to the indefensible June ’67 borders.

The simple fact is that it was the famous Abba Eban, Israel’s foreign minister of the dovish Labor party, not Menachem Begin, not Ariel Sharon, not Bibi Netanyahu, who warned the world that an Israeli withdrawal to the June ‘67 borders would in fact mean a return to the Auschwitz borders. Eban’s point was that Israel’s Arab neighbors today live in more than 5 million square miles of land, while the tiny State of Israel, including all the West Bank territories it captured in the 1967 War, started by her Arab neighbors, is no more than 11,200 square miles.

Because of this, Great Britain for the first time issued a stern warning to the UN, “The persistence of bias, particularly the disproportionate volume of resolutions against Israel undermines the Council’s credibility as … an objective international human rights body….” That is why it is imperative that the same voices, across the political spectrum, that are always there to confront racism and bigotry, must add their voices and shine a light on this duplicity and double standard.

The same is true of the Jewish community. We must broaden our agenda and wage the battle against anti-Semitism not only when our cemeteries are being desecrated, but also when see diplomats, year after year, sit around a fancy table in New York and continue to advocate policies that in effect would mean nothing less than shrinking the State of Israel, where seven million of the world’s fourteen million Jews live, into total oblivion. That, too, my friends, must stir our conscience, and that too, must become the cause of freedom loving people everywhere!

Wishing you and your family a happy Passover.

 Rabbi Marvin Hier is the Founder and Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center 

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