This month was the 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and the 75th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel. There is continuity between both events. There are many individuals who believe that but for the Holocaust, there would have not been a state of Israel. They rely upon the events that led to its founding. In 1917, Great Britain, with the Balfour Declaration, promised a Jewish Homeland in Palestine. However, after 1917, nothing concrete was done to achieve that goal. Even after Hitler took power in Germany and the Nuremberg Laws were passed, nothing changed. After Kristallnacht, there was outrage but no accommodation for the Jews who were desperate to leave Germany. The status quo remained throughout the entire war. There was no movement to create a state of Israel. Instead, the British made it more difficult for Jews to come to what was then called Palestine. The British felt that Arab oil was more important than Jewish blood.
It was only after World War II, when it became crystal clear to the entire world the extent of the slaughter of the Jewish nation, that there was movement to establish the state. The British kept the status quo for a couple of years after the war. Then, on November 29, 1947, the United Nations voted for creation of the state. This occurred in Flushing Meadows Park, in the building that’s now the Queens Museum. One of the reasons the State of Israel was established was so that Jews could have a place to go if the country where they were living wanted them out or otherwise engaged in conduct detrimental to their survival. The implication is that if Israel had been in existence during the rise of Nazi Germany, Jews who wanted to leave Germany and other countries conquered by Germany during the war would have had a place to go. I believe that if the British had upheld their promise made in 1917 to create a state of Israel before World War II, the Nazis would have been hesitant about going after Jews en masse. We see today how a strong state of Israel is a check on some of its enemies, who have tempered their behavior due to the fear of retaliation. The same Mossad that captured Eichmann in 1961 would have had the ability to go after high-level members in the Nazi party.
The creation of the State of Israel was also significant in having been created right after the war. At that time, after six million Jews were killed, there was great anguish in the community. The creation of the state gave hope to many and showed the world that the Jewish people are able to rise from the ashes. This is another connection between the Holocaust and the State of Israel.
As time has passed, there are fewer survivors and fewer people who remember how it was before the creation of the State of Israel and the events that led to its creation. Thus, it is not surprising that there are more Holocaust deniers and those who downplay its severity. Likewise, there has been declining support for Israel, including from American Jews. Years ago, when the WWII-era generation was alive and in power, Israel’s support was at its highest. A good example is the movie Exodus, adapted from Leon Uris’ best-selling book of the same name. It was produced and directed by Otto Preminger, an Austrian-Hungarian Jew who left Vienna in 1935. The movie, which was released in 1960, was a very sympathetic portrayal of the events leading to the establishment of the State of Israel. You would never see such a pro-Israel movie produced today out of Hollywood.
Sometimes we get bogged down in the day-to-day problems and do not appreciate what we have. Israel, with all the political divisions it is going through, is our state. Happy 75th birthday. Am Yisrael Chai!