I joined the Jewish Defense League in 1972 because of their slogan “Never Again”. The JDL had been formed 4 years earlier and I loved what they were doing. Rabbi Meir Kahane, may his blood be avenged, was the founder and charismatic leader of this tough, proud group of Jews who held their heads – and lead pipes – high and mighty. This was no regular Jewish organization who organized letter-writing campaigns or who raised money so they could raise more money. These young men and women defended Jewish lives and property, fought back against anti-Semites and stood up to the Black Panthers when everyone else ran away. They put the plight of Soviet Jewry on page one of every newspaper in the country, allegedly bombed the homes of Nazi war criminals (no comment…) and even attempted to hijack a plane when the world thought that only Arabs did such things.
As great as the JDL was- and I thank HaShem for allowing me to take part in their activities - the greatest message of “Never Again” was – and still is - Medinat Yisrael (the State of Israel). Never again will Jews not know how to defend themselves. Never again will we be the ones without the guns, combat planes, tanks, warships and nuclear bombs. Never again will we be without a land, forced to live as foreigners among the goyim.
For years, the government of Israel and IDF, blessed by HaShem Himself, were proud deliverers of the “Never Again” message. In 1948, with an untrained army that was heavily outnumbered by Arab forces, the IDF stood strong and made it clear that Jews would not return to the gas chambers. This ideology continued for many years with unbelievable lessons to the world. Here are just a few examples:
1951 – A Jewish girl was raped and murdered in Jerusalem. In response, the IDF attacked the Arab village of Beit Jalla, killing 7 Arab civilians.
1953 – Operation Shoshana; After a Jewish mother and her 2 children were killed by Arabs, the IDF sent an elite unit of paratroopers under the command of Ariel Sharon (yes, Ariel Sharon) to attack the Arab village of Qibya, in the West Bank (controlled, at the time, by Jordan). 45 houses were destroyed as was a school and mosque. In addition, 69 Arabs were killed in that village.
Over 10 more reprisal or retribution operations (nice words for “revenge”) continued until the war of 1956. A few years later, the government decided to start them again and in 1966 the IDF, with air support from the IAF, attacked the village of al-Samu, south of Hebron. This was in response to various acts of terror carried out by residents of this village. In this revenge attack (whoops, I mean retribution operation) 18 Arabs were killed.
In 1967 came the 6 Day War – which Rabbi Kahane called “the greatest PR campaign Israel ever waged” and 1973 saw an almost-defeated Israeli army turn things around. In this war, the Arabs tasted victory and were ready to finish the job begun by Hitler (may his memory be cursed) but our Father and King did not let that happen.
July 4, 1976 – while Americans were busy celebrating the bi-centennial, elite IDF commandos were risking their lives to liberate hostages in Entebbe. No other country would have taken such a risk but, as stated before, Never Again! We are simply not going to let that happen ever, ever again.
Or so I thought…
Since this past Rosh Ha’Shanah (just a few months ago) 29 Jews have been brutally murdered by Arabs. Where is the response? Where are the lessons that must be taught to the enemy? Where is the “Never Again”?
In the early days of the state, attacks were launched by the IDF when one Jew was killed. Why now – when that number is 29, since the beginning of the Jewish year, is the army silent? Because we are now a modern, start-up nation? Because we are worried about our rating with Moody’s? Because we are afraid what America will say? What happened to those two powerful words that gave us pride, honor and respect? What happened to those two words that sent chills down the spines of our enemies? What happened to… Never Again???
Today is Yom Ha’Shoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day. In the spirit of this important day, I urge the leaders of Israel to remember these important two words. You simply cannot have Yom Ha’Shoah without “Never Again”… they go together! As meaningful and emotional as the ceremonies are, the thing we need most is to see the vision and ideology of “Never Again” come to life.
How many more Jews need to be buried without a strong response by the IDF? How many more parents need to start saying Kaddish? How many more sets of siblings will we lose in the prime of their lives? To “Remember” the Holocaust is to make sure it never happens again. I beg those in charge to respond with a strong fist. The IDF knows what needs to be done. “Never Again” means making sure it happens.