Two Memorial Days in Israel - Reflecting Both Success and Failure in the Re-Arisen Jewish Entity
In spring, shortly after PessaH (Passover), there are two memorial days which reflect the recent history of the saga of the People of Israel. The first is the day on the rabbinic calendar, 27 Nisán 5703, the day that effective organized resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising ended, twelve days after it began on the first day of PessaH, 1943. While effective organized resistance ended on 27 Nissan (1 May, 1943), there was scattered resistance to the Nazis until 16 May (11 Iyár). This entire time period of resistance was longer than that of the Polish Army when the country was attacked in 1939.
While most Jews in exile view this day as "Holocaust Remembrance Day", and primarily concentrate on the victims, it is really a day to commemoriate the beginning of militant Jewish resistence to the evil of Jew-hatred that has attempted to exterminate us over the generations. The full title of the day is yom hashóa v'hag'vurá - Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day". The Rabbinate designated a day to remember all the martyrs of the Nazi holocaust of our people - 10 Tévet, the day that the Babylonian army began the siege of Jerusalem 2,700 years ago. This day is dedicated specifically to saying Kaddísh (the memorial prayer) for all those victims who have nobody to day Kaddísh for them. And there are many unnamed victims to this massacre, each of whom lived, had dreams, hopes and family - and the families were all killed. This remembrace day is a fast day, usually in January, shortly after Hanukkah. But like all things in Israel, politics dominate this issue as well, and the secular establishment of the country ignores this day in favor of Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The second day is the Day of Remembrance for the Fallen Heroes of Israel, and is marked as is Remembrance Day in Canada, or Memorial Day in the United States, with visits to cemeteries, wreath laying and the recollections of veterans of the battles fought in the many wars of this country. While here, it simply a day of remembrance for the soldiers, police and police volunteers who fell defending their country, it is a much more controversial day overseas, outside of Israel - where many people feel that Jews do not deserve a country at all. The reason this date was picked was that it is the day that marked the end of resistance of Gush Etzión - the Etzion Bloc - to the Arab Legion under the command of its British commander, Glubb "Pasha", 4 Iyár 5708 - one day before the British High Commissioner was to leave, one day before the Jewish Agency would be able to declare the first sovereign and independent Jewish entity on the soil of Israel since the days of Heftzíba 1,400 years ago. On 5 Iyár, 15 May, the Jews defending Gush Etzion surrendered - after they did, the Jordan Legion massacred 127 of them and left their bodies in the field for year and a half - at which point the government of Jordan allowed the Israelis to finally bury their dead on Mt. Herzl. It should be noted here that an internet search of "Israel Remembrance Day" did not reveal the connection between the end of the resistance at Gush Etzion and Israel Remembrance Day at all. It was only looking up the battle of Gush Etzion that did. Again, politics dominate the issues. The Israeli government and all of the "Zionist"websites floating around are afraid to link Remembrance Day to the defeat at Gush Etzion and to the savage massacre of the defenders of Gush Etzion after they surrendered in 1948, even though that it the reason for this date having been picked.
Looking at these two memorial days, one sees a distinct difference in themes.
One, Remembrance Day for the Fallen, illustrates, even though the Zionist authorities try to hide this fact, the direction the Zionist State was to take in the future. The defeats at Gush Etzion and Latrun, the inability of a barely trained, ill organized and badly armed force of farmers to defeat a professional army trained, armed and commanded by the British, Israel's enemy then as it is today, was to lead to the loss of the Old City and the Temple Mount to the Arabs in the War of Independence. It was to lead to a Jordanian administration of Judea and Samaria for 19 years, and the acceptance by the Labor Zionist elite that Judea and Samaria was not to be part of the Jewish nation. It leads directly to the tragic policies we see in place today of Israelis kicking fellow Israelis out of their homes, of Israelis fearing Arabs instead of making sure that hostile Arabs never set foot in the Holy Land. For all the valor of the soldiers of the IDF, it has been brought down in humiliation by the shameful inabilities of their own leaders.
The other remembrance day commemoriates the beginning of a real resistance to the evil forces of murder that has attacked the Jewish prople for generations. One hundred or so barely armed people, who had to hoard food and ammunition while their brethren were being hauled off to be gassed in crematoria, managed to awaken the world to the Lion of Judah reborn.
"Juden? Waffen?" -"Jews? Weapons?" is what one German is reported to have said before being killed at the entrance of the Warsaw Ghetto. The Germans were so used to the idea that the Jew was a sub-human coward who could not fight to defend himself that the mere fact that Jews had weapons and were willing to kill an enemy with them was in and of itself an element of surprise. Today, unfortunately, too many Jews view themselves in a similar light. Except that today, they say "Juden? Waffen? That's immoral!"
We, as Jews, must depart from the path of hagiography of the Eastern Europeans, our relatives, who were murdered by the Nazis. This path of holocaust museums of victimology and worshipping victimhood leads to denouncing G-d, and finally denying Him. Instead, we must remember the determination of starving Jews to die with honor against an enemy of savages. The Lion of Judah aroused himself from being prey and at last demonstrated that he was a predator. At the end in Warsaw, Jews, roused Lions of Judah at last, brought down far more Nazis then they should have been able to.
On PessaH in Warsaw of 1943, those roused Lions of Judah had a dignity that all the rabbis can not give their prayers, a dignity that all the rich Jews with their fancy charity fund-raisers do not have, a dignity that was only to be found in the prophecy and blessing of Jacob to his son, Judah. "Judah - you, your brothers shall acknowledge; your hand shall be at your enemy's nape; your father's sons will prostrate themselves to you. A lion cub is Judah, from the prey, my son, you elevated yourself. He crouches, lies down like a lion, an awesome lion, and who dares rouse him? The scepter shall not depart from Judah nor a scholar from among his descendants until Shilo arrives and his will be an assemblage of nations."[Genesis 49:8-10]