Karma Feinstein Cohen
Karma Feinstein CohenPhoto: Shiraz Biton

Every “Yom HaShoa” (Holocaust Memorial Day) we must repeat the main lesson. It is an unpleasant lesson, but it is the right one, and as time goes by, it only becomes starker, especially this year. It is impossible to provide security to the Jewish people without political, economic and military power.

We have had it all in the last two thousand years, except for military power. Therefore, we could not defend ourselves.

We were right. We did not hurt or threaten anyone. We contributed to all the countries and all the peoples we lived amongst, more than any other minority did.

In return we received oppression, expulsion and murder.

We had ideological and cultural influence, with the most popular and most influential book in the world, which we released to the world, with the most popular and most admired figures in humanity, the most quoted by world scholars, with the greatest influence in every field, including philosophy, culture, medicine, and economics. We contributed for the sake of humanity and out of faith and a desire to fix the world and make it better.

In return we received jealousy, hatred, deportation and massacre.

When we separated ourselves, and did not integrate, so as not to disturb others, we were attacked. When in response to this we went out and assimilated and integrated and imitated the customs of the majority, spoke their language and behaved and looked like them, we were attacked again and frequently even worse.

We had connections. We were everywhere, we whispered in the ears of leaders, we were their doctors, their poets, their “wallets”, their morals, their families, their loyal assistants.

In return we received ungratefulness, deportation and murder.

We even had money. In every country where we lived, we were a wealthy minority, with influence on the economy, and ownership in leading companies and industries. We promoted technological development, progress and empowered many livelihoods.

In return we received jealousy, hatred, expulsion and murder.

Even during our independence 2000 years ago, when we had our own home, others sought it, to conquer and colonize, and we were expelled, because even then we didn't have enough power.

Of course, nothing is possible by force alone. Without justice and without contributing to the world and the ability to integrate into it, to share values ​​and a way of life, we will stand alone.

The conflict with our neighbors will not end until they realize that the violent struggle against us is a lost cause. Until they understand that their violence against us will be defeated, and we have won.

Only then can an agreement be reached.

No one will talk to us if they believe that we can eventually be defeated and expelled, no matter how righteous we are.

Just ask the Six Million victims. It is still hard to even grasp that this happened to our people, only 80 years ago. However, the truth might be hard to swallow, but without military power to defend yourself, you are the mercy of others.

That is the lesson which we all have to learn.

Karma Feinstein Cohen is the Executive Director of World Herut, a Member of the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency and a Member of the Israel Victory Project.