Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Jewish self-reliance in the face of Babi Yar, the Yom Kippur War, and Iran

From THE JERUSALEM POST editorial, Sep. 27, 2009:

... it was on Yom Kippur eve in 1941 that Kiev's Jews were ordered by Nazi occupation forces to report for evacuation with documents, valuables and even warm clothing and undergarments. The deception was maintained until the end, when small groups were led separately to a gaping pit.

Driven through a narrow corridor of executioners, they were beaten, commanded to undress and then machine-gunned. In a two-day orgy of ruthless bestiality, 33,771 Jews were murdered - more than all the casualties renascent Israel has suffered in its decades of struggle to survive.

The killing field at Babi Yar would likely have been forgotten, as were numerous other bloodlettings in that area in that darkest of times, were it not for Yevgeny Yevtushenko's 1961 epic poem. Yevtushenko shamed the Soviets into erecting a monument at the site, though it didn't mention Jews; a commemorative menorah was put up by Jewish groups in 1991. Previously the Soviets had dammed and flooded the ravine with mud and the runoffs from nearby quarries.

Independent Ukraine hardly excelled either in honoring the dead. No major government-sponsored commemoration took place there in the years after the Ukraine extricated itself from the USSR.

Only in 2006, responding to accusations of Ukrainian antipathy, did Kiev announce that the massacre site would be turned into "a state historical and cultural reserve," which would include "a museum dedicated to Jewish victims." This wasn't an easy announcement to make in a country that still bristles with anti-Semitism ...

...Nazism's torchbearers today reside closer to the Jewish homeland - foremost in the regime that rules Iran, and emblemized by its President, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, who denies the Holocaust while in the same breath calling for its extension: wiping Israel off the map. Iran's fundamentalist leadership seeks nuclear firepower to further that genocidal goal and remake the world order.

...EVERY YEAR for the past 36, this nation has labored with the trauma of the 1973 war, which broke out on this most solemn of days and for which, in our hubris, we were so unprepared.

Each year anew, on this day of introspection and reckoning, we must resolve to act with courage and wisdom to protect our existential interests.

...history has demonstrated that the Jewish nation dare count only on itself, that others cannot be relied upon to watch over us...
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