<I>Judenrein</I> Comes to Israel

Two expressions from World War II are coming back to haunt the Jews of Israel. One expression is Judenrein and the other is "I was just following orders." Some historical perspective is in order.

Rachel Neuwirth,

OpEds Rachel Neuwirth
Rachel Neuwirth
Two expressions from World War II are coming back to haunt the Jews of Israel. One expression is Judenrein and the other is "I was just following orders." Some historical perspective is in order.

The term Judenrein was used by the Nazis to designate areas that had been 'cleansed' of Jews. First, Jews were rounded up and their property confiscated. Then, the Jews were shipped off to concentration camps where, ultimately, millions of men, women and children were exterminated. On their map of Europe, the Nazis would mark each region Judenrein when all the Jews were gone. The aim was to make all of Europe, and eventually the whole earth, Judenrein.

The Nazis did not invent mass murder or ethnic cleansing of Jews. At the time of Mohammed, 1,400 years ago, the newly converted Muslims were already engaged in slaughtering, robbing and expelling the Jews of Mecca and Medina in the process of also making Arabia Judenrein.

Ethnic cleansing of Jews has a long history, with the Spanish Inquisition and the expulsion of Jews being among the more well known. But over the centuries, Jews were also expelled from various European countries. During past decades, some 800,000 Jews were expelled from various Arab countries where they had lived long prior to the Arab conquests of those lands. In the process, Jewish property was looted and their Jewish owners expelled. To this day, there has been no restitution for the victims.

Following World War II, Allied officials tried Nazi leaders at the famous Nuremberg War Crimes Trials. The charge was crimes against humanity. Some Nazis pleaded innocent, claiming they "were just following orders" and therefore should not be held to account. The court found them guilty, because they should have refused to obey a clearly immoral order. Since then, the expression "just following orders" has come to mean an unacceptable excuse for criminal or immoral conduct.

Not long ago, it was alleged that Serbs were attacking Muslims in Kosovo and conducting ethnic cleansing. America and European nations quickly went to war to defend the Muslims. We were told that ethnic cleansing of anyone was a major international crime, requiring outside military intervention.

The foregoing suggests that ethnic cleansing is a crime as defined by international law except when Jews are the victims. We also see that Arabs and Muslims are entitled to live anywhere in the world, including inside Israel.

After 20 centuries of exile and persecution, and following the Holocaust, Jews finally secured a part of their historic homeland where they and their children could finally be safe and secure - or so they thought.

The West, including the American government, has long accepted the double standard that Arab regimes are free to rob and expel Jews while still receiving US aid and weapons, including regimes such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt. However, anytime Jews live among an Arab majority, even inside historic Jewish land such as in Gaza, the Arabs have a right to expel the Jews and seize their homes and property. The notion that Jews should have the right to live freely among Arabs in the same way that Arabs live freely inside Israel is totally unacceptable.

Now this evil of bigotry and ethnic cleansing had arrived in Israel. Except this time, it is an anti-religious Israeli government headed by the overbearing Ariel Sharon who wants to expel Jews from their homes. He now becomes the instrument of ethnic cleansing against fellow Jews, solely to appease an unappeasable and intractable Arab enemy. He fails to demand that 8,000 Jews also have a right to live securely in peace among 1.2 million Arabs. An Israeli government, without the consent of its citizens, is acting unilaterally and immorally to expel Jewish families, and to give their homes and assets as a gift to Arabs who vow to carry on the attacks, while the Israeli taxpayers must bear the burdens of relocation. In all of this, President George Bush appears to be adding to the pressure on Israel while becoming cozy with Abu Mazen, a clone of Yasser Arafat, who denies the Holocaust and still presses for the right to flood Israel with millions of so-called Palestinian Arab 'refugees'. It is hard to totally blame Bush for this, however, when Jewish leaders themselves engage in the most disgusting acts of self-debasement.

The Israeli soldiers will now have to consult their consciences and decide whether to obey an immoral, and likely illegal, order. Will some of them proceed and then claim, as we heard before, that they are not responsible for what happens because they "were just following orders"? Or will they rise to a higher level and refuse to obey an immoral order?