Jan. 27 Is International Holocaust Remembrance Day
The creation of Israel in 1948 and its continued existence today is an important response to the horrors of the Nazi Holocaust, commemorated worldwide each year on January 27th. A world once shocked by Germany’s war crimes knows that Israel exists to protect Jews and guarantee that the Jewish people flourish, and to ensure that never again will there be another genocide against our people.
The stark contrast between the Nazi program to destroy the Jewish people and the sixty-plus years of proud Israeli victories and accomplishments is unmistakable. Following the Nazi defeat, courageous young sabras (Israeli-born “pioneers”) took part in the clandestine immigration to then-British Palestine, rescuing Holocaust survivors in Europe and bringing them to Israel to begin new lives in the Jewish homeland. In contrast to its role as a badge of indignity forcibly worn by Jews in the European ghettos and death camps, the Jewish Star of David now graces the uniforms of the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces.
Both Israeli political and religious authorities guarantee that not only will all Jews be given safe haven from danger, but that every Jew will have a Jewish burial. Monuments to many of the European Jewish communities destroyed by Nazism are erected in cemeteries all over Israel, most of which also contain the ashes of Holocaust victims brought from the extermination camps.
Israel’s victories in the 1948 war for Israel’s independence and, two decades later, in the 1967 War, won miraculously by Israel in six days, are the antithesis of the European Jewish victimhood of the 1930s and 1940s. Israel’s Jews, although surrounded by several Arab armies threatening to “push the Jews into the sea,” have been in full control of their security and destiny throughout the Jewish State’s nearly 68 years of independence.
The building of Israel these past nearly seven decades – its cities, towns and agricultural settlements, with the storied “blooming of the desert” and the more recent “start-up nation” – is a defiant response to the destruction of European Jewish communities and the Nazi goal of wiping out Jewish civilization on that continent and beyond.
In addition, although Israel has many enemies, including radical Islamists and Iran, who boast of plans to destroy her, the support of America for its only democratic ally in the Middle East remains a bedrock of U.S. foreign policy. Israel and the United States work together to defend against terrorism and instability, and to protect shared democratic and moral values, guaranteeing that the racial and religious hatred of those who in the present generation follow in the footsteps of the Nazis will not prevail.
By Allan Gale, Associate Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council