They allow the enemy into themselves and wrapping themselves in Rumkowskian nobility, they become callous to the suffering that they cause. What Rumkowski, what Netanyahu and so many others have forgotten is that when you begin deciding how many Jews should die, you become a Nazi.
There was no angel to stop Rumkowski from sacrificing thousands of children for the greater good, for it was not an angel he was listening to, but the Nazi officers leading him along to the abyss with the promise that an ever diminishing minority could be saved if he got everyone to go along.
Of the more than 200,000 Jews to enter the Lodz ghetto, there were less than a thousand left in the end. Thousands more managed to survive in the concentration camps to which they had been sent. Rumkowski was beaten to death by other Jews in Auschwitz. Kastner, who had become an official in the Israeli Labor Party that would one day perpetrate the peace process, was shot to death.
Now the altars rise again and the ever-diminishing amount of territory that will be saved is matched by the ever-increasing amount of sacrifices for peace that will be tolerated. In the last exchange of fire, rockets struck major Israeli cities that had not been bombed in decades. The terrorists have made the rocket into their altar and the suicide bomber into their sacrifice and Israelis make the negotiating table into an altar and the victims of terrorism into their sacrifice.
We know what comes next, but we choose not to know it. Just as they chose not to know it. It is easier that way. Either the sacrifices for peace will stop or Israel will become another Lodz Ghetto whose frightened overlords go on believing that they can stay alive if they strike the right deal, if they delay enough, if they give up the nine-year-olds to save the ten-year-olds from the altar of peace.
Step back now to August 2005 and watch as another man speaks. This man is no Rumkowski. No cringing ghetto-dweller. He is a famous general and the Prime Minister of the State of Israel and he is speaking to the nation.
“This step is very difficult for me personally. It was with a heavy heart that the Government of Israel made the decision regarding Disengagement, and the Knesset did not lightly approve it,” the old man who is barely six months away from the stroke that will put him into a coma says.
“The responsibility for the future of Israel rests on my shoulders. I initiated the Plan because I concluded that this action is vital for Israel. Believe me, the extent of pain that I feel at this act is equal only to the measure of resolved recognition that it was something that had to be done.”
And there is the supreme joke. There is the shriveled voice of Rumkowski coming out of the mouth of Ariel Sharon. There is the echo of the cold Polish autumn of 1942 in the hot Israeli summer of 2005. Like Rumkowski, Sharon took responsibility for the problem. He felt the pain, but something had to be done.
And there it is again in his Knesset speech on the Disengagement that will ethnically cleanse the Jews of Gaza and turn over the territory to Hamas.
“It is clear to me that within the political vacuum which will be created if the “Roadmap” collapses, and Israel will not succeed in presenting its own alternative, dozens of political initiatives will be drawn up often, from all over the world.”
Six decades later, Jewish existence was still being negotiated on the same terms. If we did not do something, they will.
We had to present an alternative to cutting off an arm and a leg, by limiting the damage to only a few fingers. We had to give up the nine-year-olds to save the ten-year-olds. There is Prime Minister Rumkowski presiding over the Lodz Ghetto of Israel. There is the peace process is all its sordid glory. There is the altar and there is the patriotism of cutting away a few limbs, turning over a few thousand children, in the hopes that the rest may live.