T HE MIRACULOUS REBIRTH OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE
by Alexander Kimel
The Miracle of Adaptation
We are all familiar with the miracles in the Bible, but are not aware of the miracles that happened in our times- the Miraculous Rebirth of the Jewish people, after the Holocaust.
I remember the spring of 1943 in the Ghetto Rohatyn in Poland. The news about the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising spread like wild brushfire, generating excitement and uplifting our spirits. "The Jews are fighting the Germans." This was unbelievable. We knew that we will be killed, within a few months, but we were euphoric, full of jubilation. We were witnessing the beginning of a miracle.
In 1943, at the time of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the European Jewry was almost completely eradicated. The German Death Camps were working full blast, incinerating millions of Jews; the future looked bleak when a group of Jews without weapons, ammunition or fighting experience, took on the mighty German army. It was the beginning of a miracle. For the first time since the time of Bar Kochba the Jews were fighting under their own banners. It was a hopeless fight, not for survival, but for the national honor.
The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising carried the seed for self-renewal, and in 1967 the Sixth Day War took place. In 1943, the Jews were a dispirited, terrorized people easily guided into the gas chambers. Within a short span of one generation, 24 years later, the Jews fielded a highly motivated, well-organized fighting force - the IDF. They became a nation of warriors.
The Jews survived 2000 years of dispersion by adapting to persecutions, discarding all vestiges of armed struggle and accepting the notion of martyrdom, "Kiddush Hashem". A Jew was expected to sacrifice his life for the sake of the community. The acceptance of martyrdom and persecutions was the key to the Jewish survival in a hostile environment.
The notion of Kiddush Hashem hindered resistance during the Holocaust. After the Holocaust the Jews rejected the notion of martyrdom but kept alive the vision of Return to Zion - "Shuvat Zion". Thousands of Holocaust Survivors, flocked to the shores of Palestine, breaking the English blockade, to start a new life in their own Homeland, and they fully succeeded. Jews learned their lessons, only the force of their arms assures survival. This change of the national consciousness, within a span of one generation, the developing of the fighting spirit, indicates an unbelievable level of adaptation of the Jewish people, and it was a miracle.
The Miracle of Absorption and Development
When, in 1948, the State of Israel was created, about 800,000 Jews lived in the country. Israel was a poor agricultural country, without natural resources, without industry, facing an array of invading Arab armies. "Ein Breira" - No Choice, was the best Israeli weapon. It was with this highly motivational weapon, of no choice, the Jews repelled the invaders, and under siege conditions created viable democratic institutions.
And soon another miracle took place. Helped by the Jews from abroad and by the continuous Arab hostility, the country absorbed million of Jews, defended themselves in a succession of wars, at the same time building an advanced, prosperous society. The transformation of Israel, under siege condition, from an agricultural country into a modern, technologically advanced, self-reliant country, within a span of two generations, is the second miracle in the modern Jewish history.
The Miracle of Peace.
The last and the greatest challenge still lies ahead of Israel. It is the challenge of peace. The Scud missile crisis, brought to the surface vulnerability of Israel, facing Arab fanatics in a world bristling with weapons of mass destruction. Today, Iran and Syria, are developing nuclear missile capabilities. The recent suicidal attacks by Arab fanatics of the Hamas, underlines Israel's vulnerability to internal terror.
The safety of Israel lies in finding accommodations with the numerical superior Arab world, and here is the danger and the opportunity for Israel. Despite its technical and military superiority, Israel is in dire need of peace. To achieve peace Israel has to develop a consensus for peace, and throw tremendous energies into creating a momentum. A new miraculous transformation is necessary. The realization that by arms alone the nation cannot survive.
There area many examples in history of sworn enemies became friendly nations. Germany and France fought many wars. Switzerland is a homeland for historically antagonistic people: the Germans, Italians and French. There is no reason to doubt that the Jews and Arabs can live side by site, in peace, provided that have a stake in peace. To achieve this the Jewish people have to finish the cycle of transformations: from victims to warriors, from warriors to builders and finally to fighters for peace. The fight for peace is not easy, we have to pay with bread for stones and bombs. It is hard and emotionally draining, but there is no other choice.
Hope for a better future and tangible fruits of peace are the best weapon in the fight with terror.
Israel has to use his most powerful weapon-"Ein Breira." - No Choice, to create those conditions.
Through history men of vision, like Isaiah, Ezra Hasopher, Johannan Ben Zakkai, Yehuda Hanassi, Herzel, Ben Gurion and Rabin guided Israel in times of peril. I do hope and believe that in our generation a leader will arise that will lead his people to the Promised Land of peace.