Jonathan Rosen: Foreign Policy in Shadow of Holocaust

Roundup: Media's Take

Jonathan Rosen is a veteran Israeli writer and translator.

Holocaust Remembrance Day presents Israelis with an opportunity to rise above their mundane pursuits and trivial concerns to honor the memory of the victims and survivors of the Nazi death machine. No less importantly, this day is an occasion for Israeli citizens, both as individuals and as members of broader communities, to reflect on the enduring mesh of personal, national and universal lessons that are to be drawn from the Holocaust.

As they revisit the harrowing accounts of the persecution, brutality and acts of murder that were committed by the Nazis and their collaborators, many Israelis naturally take comfort in the fact that they live in a Jewish country and are protected by the strongest military force in the region. After all, that is the primary Zionist lesson of the Holocaust: Jews will only be truly safe in a country of their own, with a powerful army of its own.

One of the central assumptions behind the original Zionist ideal was that the only way to eliminate the scourge of anti-Semitism would be to end the Jewish Diaspora by creating a Jewish state. The prospective Jewish state was envisioned as an entity that would allow Jews to lead a more "natural" life as individuals and as a people, and would remove them from the presence of the Gentiles, thus reducing hatred for Jews. 

Regrettably, one has only to look at the spread of virulent anti-Semitism across the Arab world in recent years, a development that is particularly startling given the near complete absence of any Jewish population there in most cases, to see that that underlying assessment held by the Zionist visionaries was sadly mistaken. Anti- Semitic sentiment has deep cultural and religious roots in Europe and the Middle East, and the presence of actual Jews or the lack thereof has done little to change that sorry state of affairs...

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