Prior to his death, the courageous German churchman Dietrich Bonhoeffer famously said: “Silence in the face of evil is evil itself. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
To fortify the stranglehold of Germany’s anti-Semitic laws, Nazi law called for the death penalty to those found protecting or giving aid to the Jewish people. Rev. Bonhoeffer chose the path of civil disobedience in resistance to these nefarious laws and was summarily hung for his act of bravery. His soul and conscience would give him no peace if he remained silent in the face of such injustice and atrocity.
At Purim we recall the defeat of an ambitious anti-Semite as he sought to perpetrate genocide only to see his designs foiled because one man (Mordecai) recognized the imminent danger and did not remain silent. On Passover again, we remember another great deliverance from a foe who also sought to destroy us, a foe whose level of evil is epitomized for his wanton slaughter of children two years and younger. Again, one man (Moses) did not remain silent but made his appeal to the most powerful monarch on earth“Let my people go.”
In the aftermath of these great celebrations we come face to face with the grim realities of Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance. I have an ominous sense that history is about to repeat itself in a most unkind way.
We find ourselves at a critical juncture of history where we are witnessing an increase in worldwide anti-Semitism while
the nations through fear and intimidation seek to accommodate and kowtow to the wishes of rogue, radical Islamic states that sponsor terrorism. Where is the will and resolve of decent people to push back this evil?
As crazy and as convoluted as this will sound, amidst all the problems in the world, the ever so vigilant United Nations has just condemned Israel yet again for, get this; for their mistreatment of women. What of the much more serious mistreatment of women that takes place in Islamic or Communistic countries?
For all of the Yom Hashoah services I’ve either led, attended or participated in; for all of the great scholarly books, articles, documentaries and speeches that have been put forward; for all of the great museums that have been established; for all of the talk and all of the pronouncements of “Never Again;” unfortunately they’re just empty words – pious sounding cliché’s offered with little substance, just part of another tradition to make so-called humanistic, progressive minded individuals feel good about themselves.
Recently, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepted an invitation to address the United States Congress. This the leader of the only free and democratic state in the Middle East and the only country in the region affording a right to vote to all – Jew and non-Jew, male and female. Yet an arrogant and prideful President Barack Obama, along with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry, chose to behave as spoiled children and boycott the speech.
Prime Minister Netanyahu was most gracious and respectful; even acknowledging and thanking those who were so rude and belligerent. His single most purpose was to address the highly dangerous threats to the world posed by the Iranian nuclear program. From the land that brought us the Purim narrative comes another regime dedicated to the annihilation and destruction of Israel and it appears that our country is on a path to enable them to achieve that stated purpose.
For nearly seven long decades Iran, Islam and bordering Arab states have made no secret of their intentions to perpetrate genocide against the Jewish people. Yet world bodies, led now by the United States, continue to coerce Israel into a faulty peace that seriously compromises her security. Have we not learned the lessons of history? Memo: THEY WANT TO KILL US!
To add insult to injury, President Obama worked feverishly to see the defeat of Prime Minister Netanyahu, setting a precedent by interfering with the elections of a free and democratic state. As bad as that was, it was even more disheartening to hear and read the incessant vitriol leveled against Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israeli’s in general for voting in large numbers to retain Prime Minister Netanyahu. The deafening silence however extends beyond the church and the nations but also to the American Jewish community.
From two prominent Jewish writers comes this:
*Joe Klein writes in Time Magazine:
“There will be many—in the Muslim world, in Europe—who will say that the results are no surprise, that Israel has become a harsh, bigoted tyrant state
For the sake of his own future, Benjamin Netanyahu has made dreadful Jewish history: he is the man who made anti-Arab bigotry an over factor in Israeli political life. This is beyond tragic. It is shameful and embarrassing.
He won because he ran as a bigot. This is a sad reality: a great many Jews have come to regard Arabs as the rest of the world traditionally regarded Jews.”
Or that coming from Harold Meyerson of The Washington Post:
“Bibi [is] henceforth the Jewish George Wallace. His success in wooing the fearful and the bigoted to Likud was such that all the other far-right parties saw their results drop from their previous levels.”
Israel’s existence hangs in the balance. Is there no concern for welfare and well-being of the Jewish state? When Mohammad Reza Naqdi, commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, declared: “Erasing Israel off the map was non-negotiable,” was anyone listening; does anyone with a sense of compassion and humanity care?
Where is the outcry against a foreign policy that’s so irrational, insane and injudicious? For all of societies good intentions, for all our collective claims for peace and brotherhood, for all those who will clamor for environmental issues, condemn the military and law enforcement agencies, march for gay rights, get bent into a tizzy because Indiana desires to protect and defend our basic American virtue of freedom of religion – why then is there such silence in the face of an impending genocide against Israel? Is it nothing to you that the lives of multitudes hang in the balance?
Where is the outcry against President Obama, VP Biden and John Kerry? Why do they exert so much time and energy serving as apologists for Islam and why are they so slow of mind to not recognize who it is that poses the greatest threat to the civilized world? They make Neville Chamberlain look hawkish by comparison.
Is it more important to be thought of as “open-minded” to gain a politically correct approval or is it better to take a stand on the side of life and found supportive of the foundations of morality established in our sacred Writings? Someone has rightly said that if you want to get a conservative angry, lie to him; if you want to anger a progressive liberal, tell him the truth.
During the Nazi era of the 30’s and 40’s there was a deadly silence on the part of the church and the nations when the Jewish people were being rounded up for the slaughter. The world knew but did nothing to stop the Shoah. The world knew that Hitler was not to be trusted, yet nations cowered in fear, turned a blind eye and a deaf ear and hoping for the best. Why can’t our administration or the media even find the courage to call a terrorist a terrorist? Why can’t we find a voice and where and when will a bold leader emerge?
Israel’s once greatest ally, the United States; led by President Obama is indifferent and uncaring concerning the fate of Israel. This immoral behavior on the part of our President sends a message to all Israel’s enemies; “The U.S. doesn’t care! Open season!” Silence isn’t golden and those who remain silent at this hour cast their vote for the enemies who seek our destruction.
We’re getting ever so close to that day when all of the nations will gather against Israel. People of good conscience and respect for life cannot remain silent. May the Keeper of Israel be with us and prosper us in all our labors.
Isa 62:1 For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, And for Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep quiet, Until her righteousness goes forth like brightness, And her salvation like a torch that is burning.
Rabbi Frank Lowinger