Category Archives: Holocaust

Remembering Well: The Holocaust: Humility and Hope

This week we remember the unfathomable and unimaginable evil of the Holocaust. Six million Jews and millions of others perished at the hands of Nazi Germany’s systems of enslavement, mass shootings, and industrial murder. This moment of demonic horror is not the first or last genocidal episode in history; however, it is the most morally reprehensible, because a civilized world looked on and did almost nothing to stop it. The few thousands who helped their Jewish neighbors deserve great praise, and Yad Vashem honors them as The Righteous Among the Nations. The harrowing reality of passivity in the light of such evil is a cause for deep reflection, repentance, and a renewal of resolve that declares, “Never Again!”

Some prominent survivor voices can help us reflect:

“For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.” (Elie Weisel)

“For evil to flourish, it only requires good men to do nothing.” (Simon Wiesenthal)

“The Holocaust manifested the veneer of civilization so thin and fragile that repetition is possible.” (Sam Kaltman)

“Thou shalt not be a victim, thou shalt not be a perpetrator, but, above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.”

As we humble ourselves and remember this moment, how can we cultivate hope and build a more peaceable future? Here are some insights arising the ashes of the Shoah:

  • We must resist anti-Semitism wherever it is found, especially since it is often disguised in protests against the State of Israel. The BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) movements that question Israel’s right to exist and shout, “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free!” are actually calling for the end of Israel and the destruction of millions of people.
  • We must call on Palestinian leaders to stop denying or minimizing the Holocaust and denying the rights of Jews to live in their ancient homeland. We must oppose all false revisions of history that only serve a political narrative and sanction racism. Leaders advocating for a new Palestinian state are declaring it shall be “Jew-free” (a phrase from Nazi Germany) while demanding that Israel absorb hugely inflated numbers of refugee descendants of the 1947-49 conflict.
  • Going broader and deeper, we must purge intolerance and racism from our hearts and our speech. I am not muzzling free expression in the public square, but calling for love and wisdom in how we think, feel, act, and speak.
  • Positively, we can celebrate the lasting contributions of Jewish traditions to our world, including Monotheism, the moral compass of the Ten Commandments and the Hebrew Scriptures, and the foundations for private and public ethics, human rights, and restorative justice.
  • Christians in particular must recover the Jewish roots of our faith and stop misreading biblical texts that turn the shouts of a mob into blood libel and religious violence against the very people from whom our Messiah comes. 
  • Finally, we must resist all forms of Holocaust denial and revisionism that try to lessen the evil or minimize the impact of this moment. Instead, we must accept the challenge of Richard Rubenstein, who declared, “Before the Holocaust, one could profess Christian identity and we accepted it. After the Holocaust, you must prove it.”

May we pause and ponder, reflect and repent, and renew our resolve to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.”

Truth is the Only Path to Peace

The “Arab Spring” has devolved into the Jihadi Winter. The Cairo 2009 strategy of “leading from behind” and “outreach” to radical Islamic regimes is bearing bitter fruit and global contempt for the USA. “Negotiations” between the Palestinians are interrupted by terrorist attacks on Israelis, continued calls for violence and a refusal of the Palestinian Authority to recognize Israel’s right to exist within secure borders and with full diplomatic relations with a second Palestinian state (Jordan was shaped as the first one in 1947). When Israel defends herself or builds a few settlements, the world declares “Apartheid! Racism! Colonialism!” And those are the nice words.

It is time for honesty about USA foreign policy and the realities of the Middle East. Millions of lives, scores of national economies and our pursuit of justice demand serious accounting, not ideological epithets tossed back and forth on the airwaves and Internet. In the following paragraphs, I will outline a pathway to peace, with the understanding that any accord is fragile and the cohesion of nation-states and tranquility between nations requires ethical courage and constant vigilance. I will not cater to radical Zionists that wish to displace all Arabs from Judea and Samaria. I will also refuse to listen to replacement theologians and leftist activists that reduce Israel to Western colonialism and deny her place in the community of nations.

There are multiple 20th century narratives concerning the Middle East, from the miracle of Zionism to the tragedy to Palestinian diaspora. All of them contain some truth and no one timeline (with its inherent selectivity) can capture the complexity. The pathway to peace requires understanding history and a willingness to lay down the grievances of the past to forge a better future. Recounting terrorist incidents and family tragedies without forgiveness and willingness to create something new only compounds the current impasse. The way forward is rooted in present reality and future hope, not bitterness or nostalgia.

Here are some “mile markers” on a road to peace:

1. Israel is not going away. Much can be negotiated – and has, with Nobel prizes awarded for the attempts – but existence in peace with diplomatic relations is the starting point.

2. A Palestinian State dedicated to peace, economic cooperation and freedom of conscience must be the goal. There will be no new state without renunciation of terrorism. This new state is another “given.”

3. The Palestinian demands for “right of return” for 1947-49 refugees cannot include every distant descendant and must involve relocation in the new state as much as possible, not overwhelming a Jewish State with angry radicals. Realistically, many can return home in Israel, with others welcomed in a new Palestine.

4. Jerusalem can be the capital of both states. The Temple Mount and other holy sites need oversight from outside bodies as well and the consensus of each nation.

5. The new Palestinian leaders must renounce deception, winking at radicals and the long-term goal of annihilating Israel. There cannot be one set of phrases for Western consumption while other agendas are promoted to radical constituencies. No more Temple denial, Holocaust denial or distribution of the Protocols and other scurrilous literature.

6. Israel should freeze settlements if # 1 is unequivocally announced and terrorists are arrested and prosecuted.

7. There should be immediate economic joint-ventures creating thousands of new jobs for underemployed Palestinians.

8. The USA must be the leading mediator at serious peace talks. No other nation has anything close to the objectivity America displays. China wants oil, period. Russia wants imperial power and access to warm water and economic control. All the nations surrounding Israel have much to gain from peace, including the blessings of free trade, tourism and culture exchange. Iran and Syria can be marginalized and a new coalition of freedom-affirmation nations may be emboldened to resist the mad mullahs.

9. The EU needs to stay on the sidelines and enter a new season of humility and repentance for her anti-Semitism and capitulation to radical Islam. Without reverting to the national-racial depravities of the 19th and 20th century, European nations must reaffirm first principles of freedom and arrest their decline toward de facto Sharia. No European nation has the moral strength and objectivity at present to lend any weight to negotiations.

10. All of these principles for peace require unprecedented courage on the part of Israeli and Palestinian leaders. The PA must change their textbooks and include an Israeli State. Israel must welcome a fledgling state next door and create economic and travel pathways for prosperity. Before the ink is dry, death threats will come to all involved. But the lessons of Begin and Sadat are instructive. There has been no war between Israel and Egypt (or Jordan) since Camp David (President Carter’s greatest achievement). Bill Clinton called Arafat after the another broken accord and accused Arafat of ruining the chances fro pace and destroying their personal legacies. Arafat, child of the 1940s jihadi cries of the Mufti of Jerusalem (a joyful visitor to Auschwitz), could not, in the end, let go of his hatred and eliminationist ideology. Israel has proven her willingness to cede land for peace. It is time to find a PA leader who welcomes peace for generations yet unborn.

All peacemaking requires the best of human nature. All peace accords are subverted by human depravity. Israel is a moral good for the world. A peaceful Palestine could point the way toward Islamic cultural revitalization and political moderation. Real peace is a goal worth working for. May “open covenants, openly arrived at…” guide leaders that desire a better future.