Jews, make aliyah

The lesson of the Holocaust is the importance of Jewish strength, self-reliance, and above all else living in Israel.

Dror Eydar , | updated: 07:31

Jews, make aliyah
Jews, make aliyah
צילום: ארגון מצעד החיים

On Holocaust Remembrance Day, as we honor the sacred memory of the Jews murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators on European and African soil, our first and unwavering response must be bolstering the Israel Defense Forces, so that we never again stand helpless, dependent on the mercy of the international community and Righteous Among the Nations to come to our aid.

Given Europe's bipolar attitude towards Israel nowadays, we remember how it failed to help us during World War II. Back then, all it would have taken is a handful of bombers, among the thousands the Allied Forces deployed, to bomb the railroad tracks to Auschwitz and the death industry there, to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of Jews. But the Europeans had another war to fight and Jews were the least of their concerns. Since then, we have sworn to fight our own fights and wage our own wars – a lesson that is embodied by the gravity of the words "never again."

But alongside declaring that we will never again be helpless, never again be led as sheep to the slaughter, there was another lesson, perhaps even more important, that has almost been forgotten with time: No more exile! There is no hope for Jewish existence unless it is in the land of Israel. The threat of physical extinction, which the Jewish people faced during the war, now involves the danger of national and spiritual annihilation that followed the Jewish people's assimilation among the peoples of the world.

The Holocaust was the nadir of the exile that caused the Jewish people to wander the earth for thousands of years. It ended the idealistic, naive thought that said the Jewish people's mission was to live among the nations of the world.

In his poem "Awake, my people," which was the anthem of the educated Jewish elite in Europe in the mid-19th century, Judah Leib Gordon, one of the most important Hebrew poets of the Jewish Enlightenment era, wondered why Jews continued to surround themselves in ghettos rather than immerse as loyal citizens in the European countries where they lived. After all, thousands of years have passed since we were exiled and made to roam the world.

"From then on many generations have perished / oceans and lands separate us from there [the land of Israel]," he wrote, further concluding, "This land wherein we shall live, be born / we are now bound with Europe." Gordon believed Europe could be the Jewish homeland. Two generations later Europe became the Jewish people's mass grave.

Gordon failed to remember the warning issued by Elijah of Vilna (the Vilna Gaon) in the late 18th century, who urged his students to immigrate to the land of Israel and focus on the ingathering of the exiles, saying that redemption could be hastened only by settling the Holy Land.

His students often told of how "almost every day our rabbi spoke to us with excitement, urging us to seek refuge in Zion and Jerusalem, before it is too late, 'for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance' ." The Jewish people's hope – and very future – was to escape Europe and immigrate to the land of Israel, they said, adding, "Words fail to describe how anxious the rabbi was when he said these things unto us, with tears in his eyes."

Seventy years after Gordon's poem, Zionist leader Ze'ev Jabotinsky warned, "If you do not destroy the Diaspora, the Diaspora will destroy you. … We must save millions – many millions," he said. "I do not know if this pertains to the absorption of a third of the Jewish race, half of the Jewish race, or a quarter of the Jewish race. But it concerns millions."

I wish their advice had been heeded.

We must counter the final solution the enemies of the Jewish people planned for us with our own, ancient solution, one that has been flowing through our veins since the days when our forefathers vowed to never forget Jerusalem: the return to Zion, as fundamentally personified and realized by the State of Israel.

It is precisely today, on Holocaust Remembrance Day, that we call onto our brothers and sisters who, even now, 70 years after the miraculous revival of the third Kingdom of Israel, still choose to live overseas rather than in their only national home: Jews, come home. There is no future in exile. Immigrate to Israel.

This is what the Prophet Jeremiah, who foretold the destruction of the First Temple, predicted more than 2,600 years ago: "Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the uttermost parts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together; a great company shall they return hither. They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them; I will cause them to walk by rivers of waters, in a straight way wherein they shall not stumble" (Jeremiah 31:7-8).

We will find comfort in the building of Zion.

This piece appears courtesy of Israel Hayom.