Tisha B’Av is upon us. Perhaps a day of reckoning, or perhaps a day of thankfulness that despite all our tribulations we have survived intact. The Shoah is so close to us that we no longer, as Jews, think nearly as much about the Spanish Inquisition, which lasted from at least 1492 into the 1800s.
I was pondering maybe this is a good time to advance a different way of thinking about the Shoah. Not just the killing of Jews and goodly souled people, the vignettes of victim hood, the sorrow and the pity, but the still darker side. This is the lack of enough response from not only Western governmental leadership, but also even the Jewish Diaspora. There existed plenty of heroes and plenty of concern, but not enough action.
Then I came upon the attributed words of Zev Jabotinsky, the Lone Wolf, who worked so tirelessly and against the machinations of the Zionist establishment at the time to advocate armed self-defense and the militarization of Zionism to defend against Hitler, the Nazis and an Arab leadership largely bent on uniting with Hitler and those same Nazis. So profound I had to relay them here.
As this article in the Jerusalem Post points out:
On Tisha B’Av 1938, Ze’ev Jabotinsky gave a speech to the Jews of Warsaw. Here, according to Lone Wolf: A Biography of Vladimir (Zeev) Jabotinsky by Shmuel Katz (Barricade Books), is what he said:
‘For three years I have been imploring you, Jews of Poland, the crown of world Jewry, appealing to you, warning you unceasingly that the catastrophe is nigh. My hair has turned white and I have grown old over these years, for my heart is bleeding that you, dear brothers and sisters, do not see the volcano which will soon begin to spew forth its fires of destruction. I see a horrible vision. Time is growing short for you to be spared. I know you cannot see it, for you are troubled and confused by everyday concerns…Listen to my words at this, the twelfth hour. For God’s sake: let everyone save himself, so long as there is time to do so, for time is running short.'”
Did Jabotinsky prophetically see what would happen within a year or so on September 1, 1939, the day Hitler invaded Poland after dividing that country between himself and Stalin’s Soviet Union?
If so, then are we today perhaps too complacent about the current threats to the Jewish People? Are we today, on the eve of Tisha B’Av, failing our duty to fellow Jews all over the world? Are we practicing the sin of complacency?
The same Jerusalem Post article includes a list of books on the Holocaust that the author considers essential reading on the subject.
Unfortunately, he was right. It is hard to accept that the lack of response cost millions of lives.