Do not stand idly by while others-even your enemies-bleed

Rabbi Abraham Cooper,

Holocaust Memorial Day (Yom Hashoah) 2017 finds Jews deeply worried.

Here in the United States, we’ve witnessed cemetery desecrations, little children evacuated from Jewish Community Centers, and a 45 percent spike in anti-Jewish incidents across America’s elite campuses.

In England, we see too many Labourites injecting anti-Jewish animus into the political mainstream.

In France, we saw the far-right Marine Le Pen declar on national TV that France was not responsible for the Vél d’Hiv roundup of July 1942, when French police arrested more than 13,000 Jews, detained them for five days in Paris’ Vélodrome d’Hiver cycling stadium and then deported them to Auschwitz. We also saw a French judge refuse to press hate crimes charges against criminals who admitted they chanted anti-Semitic threats during their rape and rampage against a Jewish couple.

In 2017, we saw – for the first time since 1945 – a Jewish institution forced to close because of overt Nazi threats. No, not in Germany but in Sweden, where the JCC in Umea was closed after being desecrated with swastikas and after Jews received threatening phone calls. A known neo-Nazi group, Nordfront, is reportedly behind the threats.

Lamented one Jewish parent: “My mother and father are (Holocaust) survivors, so this is not OK. Enough is enough. It was like stepping into their shoes in the 1930s.”

And in Iran, the Mullahocracy continues to deny the Holocaust while parading ballistic missiles bearing threats to annihilate the Jewish State and fulfill Hitler’s vision.

Perhaps then, this Yom Hashoah, Jews could be forgiven if they focus exclusively on take caring of their own.

But Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, former chief Rabbi of Israel, disagrees.

Rabbi Lau was an eight-year-old Shoah survivor when he reached Israel just three months after WWII ended.

Seventy-two years later he invokes the specter of the Holocaust to demand that Israel do more to help the people of Syria, an implacable enemy of the Jewish state.

“This is certainly a shoah of the Syrian people and it did not start today,” Rabbi Lau said. “For the past six years they have been living in a Holocaust.” .

Lau added that as “a nation that has suffered more than any other nation,” Israel must go in and help Syrian civilians, dozens of whom had just been killed in a chemical attack.

terroridle_small Do not stand idly by while others-even your enemies-bleed Terrorism

He is not alone: Israel’s Sephardic chief rabbi, Yitzhak Yosef, likewise called the war in Syria “a small Holocaust.”

“The people of Israel underwent a horrible Holocaust 70 years ago,” Yosef said. “Millions of Jews were murdered … and the world saw and remained silent; we as Jews who felt this silence in our own flesh cried out for years, we asked how the world knew and remained silent? … As Jews it is forbidden for us to remain silent … Genocide cannot be ignored, not in Syria and not anywhere, and not against any people, even if they are not our friends.”

Why would Rabbi Lau invoke the Shoah?

First of all, because the images of those little children gassed to death just hundreds of miles from Tel Aviv rekindled in him the nightmares of an eight year old boy.

Of course, he knows from brutal experience that Ilbid and Auschwitz cannot be compared. The Nazi Holocaust was unique in the annals of all human history – in its scope, its barbarity and because it targeted for annihilation an “enemy” that posed no military threat nor controlled any territory. Six million Jews were hunted down, ghettoized, starved and mass murdered by the Nazis and their enthusiastic collaborators across Europe.

But I believe that Rabbi Lau used the Shoah imagery because he understood what the other goal of the Nazis was: Not just killing Jewish lives– including his sainted rabbinic father– but annihilating Jewish Life.

Rabbi Lau’s call to action emphasizes a central Jewish value: “Lo taamod al dam réakha.” (Leviticus 19:16) – “Thou shall not stand idly by the shedding of the blood of thy fellow man.”

As the late Elie Wiesel explained: ‘The word is not “akhikha,” thy Jewish brother, but “réakha,” thy fellow human being, be he or she Jewish or not. All are entitled to live with dignity and hope. All are entitled to live without fear and pain.’

From the moment he arrived in1945, Lau believed that each day that he lived in Israel was another defeat for Nazism and all the contemporary genocide wannabees– from Iran and ISIS to Hezbollah and Hamas.

But Rabbi Lau also believes that for us Jews, survival– from Egypt to Auschwitz–has always been just the beginning. We have values to live up to; the very values that the Nazis sought to obliterate.

“Lo taamod al dam réakha” – “Do not stand idly by while others – even your enemies – bleed.”

That, the Torah teaches, is what separates civilized people from barbarity.

That too, is our challenge on this Yom Hashoah.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper is associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. Follow the Simon Wiesenthal Center on Facebook and on Twitter.

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  • DrArtaud

    Sorry Rabbi, not one mention of Christians being slaughtered in Syria by Rebel (U.S. Trained muslim terrorists) and isis (muslim trained muslim terrorists). The silence on the topic of Christians by Jews is deafening. He did take the usual anti-Semitic pot shot at Le-Pen in France, but they tried that with Trump too. Hopefully in France nationalism wins out over globalism.

    Various Jewish organizations across the country rose up to oppose Trump’s attempt at a ban on muslim immigrants from countries inimical to the U.S., synagogues were planning on offering sanctuary to muslims effected by Trump’s executive order, Jews said they identified with the muslims, Jews were wrongfully turned away from the U.S. during WWII. The thing is Rabbi, 8 years of the obama administration forbidding Syrian Christians went; ostensibly at least; unprotested by these throngs of Jews defending muslims. Why, dear sir, don’t Christians ever seem to matter to so many Jews?

    Article: How Trump’s policies and rhetoric are forging alliances between U.S. Jews and Muslims

    To many Jews, Trump’s targeting of migrants from predominantly Muslim countries evokes painful memories of Jews who were forced to identify themselves with yellow stars before their extermination at the hands of Nazis — and of the countries that turned them away when they tried to flee.

    “It speaks to a lot of people very personally because their own families have stories about being refugees. There is a communal resonance,’’ said Shuli Passow, a rabbi at New York’s congregation B’nai Jeshurun, who recalled how her grandparents were hidden in barns and basements in Poland during the Holocaust.

    And the Holocaust, oy vey, horrendous beyond words, but you’ve done what many Jews often do, you’ve trivialized the loss of 5+ million non-Jews in the Holocaust, there were, dear sir, over 11 million people total killed in manners identical to Jews.

    Please see the following. But be advised, there are terribly explicit photos there. Jews, Christians, and other groups were subjected to this, this must never be allowed to happen again.

    World War II: The Holocaust

    The Syrian war, if the U.S. would neutralize their air force, would not be able to protect the Christian populations, or historical Christianity, with artifacts extending back to Christ’s time on earth, but then, that’s a good reason for failing to mention them at all, isn’t it? With your building on the kids killed by what was likely a terrorist chemical weapons attack, you’re setting up the prospects of Israel gaining permanent control over the Golan Heights, and, according to the following reporter, gaining control over the oil in the Golan Heights as well.

    Video: People need to wake up and see IVANKA IS THE PROBLEM… Start watching at 15:00 minutes.

    See the following for information and perspective on the Syrian Conflict from the point of view of Christians and Muslims protected by Assad. But especially, see the links at the very end for a Charity, and Endeavors, of a Jewish man saved from the Holocaust at age 5 by Christians and how he’s repaying his gratitude by saving Syrian Christians.

    Blog: Middle Eastern Christians

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