Can We Be So Blind?

How Could It Have Happened?

By Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis, Jewish Press, August 15, 2007

       I am writing this article en route from Budapest to New York. Whenever I visit Hungary and pray at the gravesites of my ancestors who were all gedolim, tzaddikim, righteous holy souls who dedicated their lives to the service of G-d and led their people with love and devotion, I am overwhelmed by one thought – “How could it have happened?” How could that magnificent Jewish community have disappeared? How could they have wiped out six million of our people overnight?

As our car wended its way through the shtetlach of Hungary, I gazed out the window… I saw the scenic landscape, I saw the peasants and their modest, but well-kept houses, many of which were once homes where the light of Shabbos illuminated the darkness and the sweet voice of Torah was heard. No matter where I looked, in my mind’s eye, I saw only our people.

In every hamlet, in every community, there were yeshivos, batei midrash – shuls, Jews, who despite their poverty, managed to rise above their wretched existence and create lives of nobility and goodness. And now they are no more… How could it have happened?

Our car made its way along the winding bumpy road, but once again, I saw only our people – the elderly, the infants, the children, the men, the women, the sick and the strong who were forced to march to the sound of the dogs barking and the strident shouts of “Juden, Schnell! Schnell!” – “Jews, “Quick! Quick!” I know, because I too marched on those roads.

How could it have happened? How is it that the world was so blind? How could six million people have been forced from their homes, marched to the railroad stations, stuffed into cattle cars and fed to the flames of the crematoria? How could the parents and grandparents of those decent-looking people whom I saw through the window of our car allow this to happen? And more, how did the freedom-loving nations of the world, bastions of democracy, remain silent? How did they allow that satanic monster, Hitler, y”s, to take over the world?

As much as I was there, as much as I lived it, I still cannot come to terms with it. Oh yes, I am aware of the teaching of our Torah, “Eisav sone es Yaakov –Esau hates Jacob” which tells us that even among the best of nations, there lie dormant seeds of anti-Semitism, which in an instant, can be fanned into open hatred, or at best, apathy in face of Jewish persecution. Oh yes, I am aware that our destiny is such that we cannot rely on anyone but the Almighty G-d,that we cannot trust any man or government regardless how ardently they espouse the laws of justice and freedom.

But the Jewish people aside, why didn’t these nations stop Hitler for their own sakes? Why was France, the country of “liberte, egalite, and fraternite,” and England, which prides itself on being the champion of justice, and of course, our own United States, the bedrock of democracy, stop this evil before it destroyed tens-of-millions of people?

After World War II, Winston Churchill himself declared, “There was never a war in all history easier to prevent by timely action – Hitler could have been stopped without a single shot being fired.” So why wasn’t he? In retrospect, the answer becomes obvious. In the Post-World War I Era, people were war-weary– the mood of the day was pacifism –“Peace at any price,” “Engage in dialogue and negotiate.”

So, when Neville Chamberlain returned from Munich in 1938 and proclaimed, “We shall have peace in our time” and to prove it, he waved a worthless piece of paper that he had signed with Hitler, he was cheered and celebrated – the free world was only too happy to believe him. And I don’t even make mention of the League of Nations upon which people relied to find civilized solutions to world conflicts and render war obsolete. Hitler read the sentiment of the day and sensed that no one would stop him. To test the waters, in 1936, he sent his troops into the Rhineland in violation of two international agreements, and when he saw that no one cared, he solidified his plans to take over the world.

You might well ask why I write of all this now. Don’t we have enough problems today without going back to 1936? But there is an eerie parallel between that which occurred yesterday and that which is unfolding before our very eyes, and if we do not learn from the lessons of our past, then, G-d forbid, we will see it repeated in our own time.

Today, Iran is building up its nuclear capacity. It is 1936 all over again – Iran can still be stopped, but alas, it doesn’t look like any of the nations of the world are so inclined. Global Jihad, the conquest of the civilized world in the name of Allah is the goal, not only of Iran, but of all radical Islam.

But America and freedom-loving countries are battle weary. The mood once again is pacifism. Talk and negotiate is once again the mantra, and incredibly, this attitude is prevalent in Israel as well.

Yes, talk to Iran and Syria despite the fact that Iran and Syria are fomenting the terrorism. Yes, shower the Saudis with billions-of-dollars worth of the most advanced military technology, and disregard the fact that the most vicious terrorists have been bred and nurtured in that country. And these weapons can very well end up in the hands of those who would aim them at Israel and the United States.

Embrace the Palestinians and disregard their open avowal to annihilate the Jewish State. Disregard their indoctrinating small children in the “art” of killing Jews; disregard the call of the ayatollahs who glorify the shaheed  (those who kill “Jewish infidels” while committing suicide). Yes, turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to it all lest reality shatter that much-vaunted illusion of peace.

The extent to which this blindness has overtaken the free world is evidenced in many ways. Just consider England, where the “M” word (for Muslims) must be avoided when referring to terrorists. Never mind that it was Muslims who maimed, terrorized and killed British civilians; never mind that it’s Muslims who continue to terrorize their homeland – the “M” word must be avoided.

This avoidance emanates not only from the intelligentsia and halls of academia, but from government leaders as well. Newly elected Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the Lord Mayor of London, Ken Livingston (whose disdain of Israel is well established), have all called for this political correctness.

Nor is this blindness limited to England. It has become politically correctin the United States, as well. Not one of the democratic presidential candidates has acknowledged the threat of Islamicterrorismthat menaces our free world. Nor has the media been more responsible. Consider The New York Times and discover how the use of the “M” word is conveniently glossed over when reporting acts of terrorism.

Consider Hollywood’s new film about Daniel Pearl, which admittedly, I did not see, but of which I read the reviews that reported that Daniel Pearl’s heart rending-words “I am a Jew” moments before he was savagely decapitated, are missing from the film – as if it never happened.

And mind you, this, despite the admission of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, an Al Qaeda leader, one of the masterminds of 9/11, declaring, “I decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew, Daniel Pearl in the city of Karachi, Pakistan… For those who would like to confirm this, there are pictures of me on the Internet holding his head.” Instead of portraying this anti-Semitic barbaric murder, the film compared Daniel’s predicament to that of the prisoners at Guantanamo!

Tragically, our Israeli government is blind, as well. And yet, if anyone, it should know the truth. But our Israeli government leaders are more interested in preserving their political positions than in serving their people. They refuse to recognize that that which transpired in Gaza, in Gush Katif, is unfolding today in Sderot. They refuse to acknowledge the fiasco that was last summer’s war in Lebanon, and they refuse to concede that not only was the war a dismal failure, but today, Hizbullah has rearmed and once again has an arsenal of missiles poised against Israel.

Turning a blind eye to this ominous reality, they are now offering to give away Yehuda and Shomron and parts of Jerusalem. They try to convince the Israeli public that with the Hamas takeover of Gaza, it is important to buttress Fatah and create a Palestinian state for them. How can they not understand that while Fatah and Hamas may hate each other, they hate Jewish infidels even more and are committed to the establishment of Islamic law and the elimination of the Jewish State, no matter what it takes?

This same theology holds true for Shiites and Sunnis, as well as for all radical Islamists, and is the glue that cements them. Only a blind person could fail to see it. Only a deaf person could fail to hear it, and yet, the free world remains silent.

How much different is this from Hitler’s vision of eliminating all undesirables and establishing Aryan supremacy in the world? Hitler was not stopped, and the world paid a terrible price – but nuclear weapons in the hands of Ahmadinejad and his ilk, could, G-d forbid, create a catastrophe far more devastating than that which Hitler unleashed.

Who and how will we stop them?

It certainly will not happen by turning a blind eye to reality, by Israel releasing vicious, deadly terrorists, by giving away land, or by releasing additional millions to fatten Fatah’s coffers or by endorsing a curriculum for Israeli Arab school children which labels the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, a “Nakba” – a catastrophe.

Alas, we who are blind, who refuse to see, who refuse to hear, who refuse to act and heed the call of our G-d given heritage, are the catastrophe.


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