In his speech before a joint session of Congress earlier today, Prime Minister Netanyahu stated, “When we say never again, we mean never again. Israel always reserves the right to defend itself.” This reminded me of an essay I wrote several years ago. The warning is as pressing now as then.
The Destiny of Ignorance
The British statesman Edmund Burke famously said, “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.” We know this maxim, yet we continue to reap the consequences of ignoring the past. We rationalize and say, “Our situation is different,” we ignore the warnings, or we willfully remain unaware of history.
The reasons we follow this cycle of behavior are not important. It is the depravity of human nature that is the root cause of it. Because of humanity’s sinful nature, we make sinful choices. Those choices inevitably lead to disastrous results. This premise is most evident in contemporary world events.
Those familiar with recent events know that Iran and her president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have no love for the nation of Israel. Controversial statements about the “occupying regime” of Palestine ceasing to exist have raised concern among those around the world who care about Israel. Nuclear potential only deepens the legitimacy of this danger to the nation of Israel.
Regardless of one’s feelings on the Iraq war, one of its consequences has been a shift in the balance of power. Iran is taking an increased leadership role in the region. Their disdain for world opinion shows in their disdain for warnings from the United Nations. Will the anti-Semitic ideology of the Muslim world reach fruition? Will “words” become “deeds”? Are we on the verge of another Holocaust?
A careful comparison of the current situation to that of the 1930s reveals striking similarities between the two. Perhaps the most prominent is this: The Jews are surrounded by enemies whose hatred is finding increasingly uninhibited outlet. Like the Nazis of Germany, the power of the anti-Israel element increases. Instead of being a community within a nation, the Jews are now a nation within a region. Yet their enemies again surround them.
The world has an obligation to see history does not repeat itself. It would be tragic to allow this to occur in any nation or region. To allow it to happen twice to the same people would be immoral.
The predominant attitude of the world community seems to be appeasement at best and blame for Israel at worst. The United States leads the resistance to this mentality, but for how long? Will we maintain a firm stand against those who would love nothing more than for Israel to “vanish from the page of time”?
Is another Holocaust certain? No. Is it possible? Yes. But if those who forget repeat, let us hope those who remember prevent. The memory of sixty years ago should be fresh enough that we say with its survivors: “Never Again.”