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IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Yair Golan

What is the fundamental lesson of the Holocaust for Israel and the Jewish people? There is a divergence of opinion:

Many Liberal Jews believe the main lesson of the Six Million is that we Jews should never do to others what was done to us.

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We know first hand what the horrors of hatred look like, and therefore, we must distance ourselves in every possible way from behaviors which are like those of the Nazis.

This way of thinking posits that every mortal person has the potential to be a Nazi and when given power, every human and even every Jew can become abusive. But after the Holocaust, we Jews were tasked with being more ethical and virtuous than the barbarians. We took it upon ourselves to be the archetype of restraint, lest our very human Inner-Nazi be unleashed and we end up mirroring the tormentors we escaped.

I call the folks in this camp Fear-of-Inner-Nazi Jews.

The other perspective is very different.

It posits that the main lesson of the Holocaust is that Jews, having survived the hell of the Holocaust as a people, should Never Again allow anyone to do that to us again. The Zionist revolution effectuated a return to the land, to agriculture, a revival of Hebrew, and, so meaningfully, a resurrection of Jewish physical courage and military strength. Israel’s ability to put up a fight, and even to be a global leader in defense techniques and technology, is, for subscribers of this outlook, a source of pride.

This group I call the Never-Again Jews.

But not only are these outlooks divergent, they also clash.

For those in the Fear-of-Inner-Nazi faction, the Jewish State, when acting with force, can come dangerously close to being like the dreaded Nazis.

The latest trigger of this phobia took place when a soldier in Hebron shot a downed terrorist. The Inner-Nazi group immediately sensed danger: Israel was slipping morally, carrying out extrajudicial killings, vigilantism, field execution – the Inner Nazi was coming out!

For those of the Never-Again viewpoint, the Hebron terrorist came to kill Jews, like a classic Nazi, and ended up dead. Was it OK to shoot the terrorist when he was down? Maybe yes, maybe no – but that’s not the big issue. The Jewish people are at war with a global Jihad which seeks to destroy Israel and to kill Jews for being Jews. The bottom line is that Israel must, first and foremost, protect Jews, and be the Never Again country which prevents the Nazis of today from harming one hair on one Jewish head.

However, for Never-Againers it’s not only that Jews have the right to kill Nazis or Jihadists because all is fair in war.

For many of us, the very assertion that Jews have an Inner-Nazi and the given the ‘right circumstances’ we will herd people into gas chambers is preposterous! The father of Nazism, Adolf Hitler, hunted Jews precisely because we were the embodiment of morality, the “conscience of the world” which he wanted to wipe out. Anyone who really knows the Jewish and Israeli people knows that we have never been in danger of becoming Nazis. To the contrary (and contrary to global media), we are a source of light, liberty, and progress, regionally and globally.

Yet, the Fear-of-Inner-Nazi Jews are not the only ones who subscribe to the idea that Israel’s actions, unchecked, can easily approach Nazism.

Anti-Israel propaganda harps endlessly upon those Liberal Jewish fears by insinuating a nexus between Israel’s actions and Nazism.

Once the accusation has been lobbied, Fear-of-Inner Nazi Jews face a dilemma: If they believe the propaganda, they become anti-Israel. If they don’t, they bend over backwards to prove that Israel is not like that all, that we are a moral people with a moral army, and we have the Inner-Nazi in check. For Inner-Nazi Jews, the only solution is to throw the soldier who shot the downed terrorist in Hebron into the slammer and throw away the key after making a public example of him! Shackle the Inner-Nazi and hope the world sees the truth of our goodness!

In the meantime, the real Nazis of our time – the Hamas, ISIS, and Hezbollah – arm themselves and prepare for war.

We know they are digging tunnels and we know they are building up their supplies of rockets with the intent of wiping Israel out. But we don’t hit them hard and we don’t strike with fury – we are chained down, stymied by our fear of unleashing the Inner-Nazi or by the fear of being accused of having one. We can only strike when we are under full attack, and then retaliate with only a measured response. A roof-knocking rocket, a kinder-gentler moral army, which makes sure to never fully win, and certainly would never use the word “vanquish” at the end of the war. Don’t crush the enemy, be merciful to the weak, even though moments ago he tried to kill you – Remember the Holocaust!

Some people say that we Jews talk too much about the Holocaust. I don’t think so at all. I think we don’t talk about it enough.

We should take a minute every day to view photographs of dead-Jew-piles being tractored or burned. Then, after watching that, we should make a commitment each day to Never Again and act upon it by striking mercilessly at the Jihad and sending a clear signal – we have zero tolerance for Jewish injury, we have zero tolerance for Neo-Nazism. Now that we have the power to stop them, we should Never Again allow for the 6,000,001 victim. This should our fundamental take-home lesson from the Holocaust.

And let’s take it one step further: instead of fearing the Inner-Nazi who will never appear, imagine if we would embrace our inner Never Again Jewishness so that we would not only protect our own, rather, we would use our newly found strength in a new role. Liberator. Israel – post-Holocaust empowered Jews – would go out and fight today’s Nazism wherever it is, and help the world defeat the very same forces that murdered Six Million when we were weak.

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Yishai Fleisher is a Contributing Editor at JewishPress.com, Chief Editor at JNi.media, talk-show host, and International Spokesman for the Jewish community of Hebron, an Israeli Paratrooper, a graduate of Cardozo Law School, and the founder of Kumah ("Arise" in Hebrew), an NGO dedicated to promoting Zionism and strengthening Israel's national character. Yishai is married to Malkah, and they live on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem with their children.

20 COMMENTS

  1. its not ‘fear’ that makes this idiotic comparison…. its the total and complete lack of education and understanding of the fundamental cause of such distortion…. jews were never ‘at war’ with germans… they were productive tax-paying members of European society who never used force even when attacked… jews never stabbed germans on the streets, never dug terror tunnels under their homes, were never given a voice back then on the world stage and never used terrorism to call themselves ‘freedom fighters’…. Israel is not using ‘nazi tactics’ thats insane…. israel is not starving palestenians, not using them for medical experiments, not gasing them to death and not keeping them locked up in ‘ghettos’….whoever uses such a pathetic attempt to justify ignorance, no matter who it is, should not hold any public office ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD let alone within Israel…

  2. Three thousand years before there was such a thing as a Nazi, HaShem (Yitbarakh Shemo) commanded the Jews to annihilate the Seven Nations of Canaan–a commandment that will be in force till the end of time, though all the Canaanites are probably gone now. He also commanded them to exterminate the evil nation of `Amaleq, and this will occur in the future.

    How radical is the difference between what constitutes Jewish identity in the TaNa"KH and what constitutes it to today's liberal, secular, and even religious Jews. This sick idea that Jews must be uniquely super-rational and super-liberal, that the ancient Biblical Jews have been replaced as role models by Einstein, Lenny Bruce, and the I.M. Peretz Workman's Circle, is an absolute cancer. Jews must stop obsessing about modernity and return to the ways of their ancient G-dly ancestors.

  3. Nazi has long been a political slur thrown at whomever you don't like at the moment. The author even refers to the jihadis as Nazis. It is all quite silly. When you hear Israelis being compared to Nazis, just laugh because it is a joke (even if the speaker doesn't know it).

  4. It was simply a slur by the Left. They have been discredited by the failure of socialism and have lost any rational reason for their political existance so they resort to slurs and slander. They don't care that they are helping Israel's enemies, They are beneath contempt.

  5. The lesson we Jew's should have learned from the Shoah, is that anti-semites are bullies and since Jew's are pacifists, we are an easy target. When we Jew's defend ourselves, physically, they will have to find another scapegoat.

  6. The Nazis were bad because they went against G-d's chosen people and violated the 7 laws of Noah. If they would have set up courts to issue the death penalty against those who violate G-d's 7 laws of morality and kill thousands, they would have been righteous. Pharoah was not punished for enslaving people. He was crushed since he enslaved G-d's firstborn ie: Israel.

  7. TheArabs hate
    the Jews did as does most of the world. Wake up and realize they will not be happy till there are no Jews in Israel you are a fool we are not Nazis we are protecting ourselves and should use every Possible means of force against the enemy. Fred Fisher, supporter of the IDF.

  8. “We have always said that in our war with the Arabs we had a secret weapon — no alternative. The Egyptians could run to Egypt, the Syrians into Syria. The only place we could run was into the sea, and before we did that we might as well fight.”
    ―Golda Meir

    I am also grateful that I live in a country whose people have learned how to go on living in a sea of hatred without hating those who want to destroy them and without abandoning their own vision of peace. To have learned this is a great art, the prescription for which is not written down anywhere. It is part of our way of life in Israel. Finally, I wish to say that from the time I came to Palestine as a young woman, we have been forced to choose between what is more dangerous and what is less dangerous for us. At times we have all been tempted to give in to various pressures and to accept proposals that might guarantee us a little quiet for a few months, or maybe even for a few years, but that could only lead us eventually into even greater peril.
    Golda Meir

  9. Here is an example of some of the things that should NEVER BE FORGOTTEN
    Gisella Perl, a Jewish gynecologist, vowed "that never again would there be a pregnant woman in Auschwitz" after discovering they were used as guinea pigs and thrown into the crematorium. She performed an estimated 3,000 abortions in the hopes that the mother would survive and later be able to bear children.

    Never forget the atrocities that happened to Jewish women!

  10. I think that we need to remember that it is more than liberals who fear this chimera of the "inner Nazi" but some haredim as well. Ever since the Destruction of the Temple there has been a fear of complete national sovereignity and independence based on the belief that being a sovereign nation will only corrupt us like it did the last time. That's why this "cultural cringe" exists to the point that we feel the need to submit to SOMEBODY–the United States, the United Nation "higher" than Israel on Earth and abridge our independence even when we have it. If real teshuva means being in the same position and NOT making the same mistake, than that is exactly the wrong attitude to take. In fact it is the sin Bnai Yisroel committed when it listened to the Meraglim–the belief that we should not be involved in the kind of day to day moral (and yes, political) choices that could corrupt us. This fear of what we call the "inner Nazi" is really a very old fear. And that is why it is so potent.

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