Jerusalem Watchman | Now I know why…
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Now I know why…

yad-vashem

Now I know why…

Last night – with my family – I watched and listened to six elderly Jews in flickering torchlight recounting the horrors of a ruptured and terminated childhood.

It was the annual service at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum marking the beginning of Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Memorial Day here in Israel.

The mouths on those six, pain-gouged faces (one for each of the Six Million) were trying to describe the indescribable. As small children they had had everything torn from them – their parents, brothers and sisters consumed by the flames, the security of family and home forever gone, each was brought to the very edge of death themselves.

They may have been very little when this happened, and it may have been 70 years ago, but one after another, their frames stooped and hands shaking, their faces crumpled and they briefly lost control as they recalled the last time they saw their moms and dads, sisters and brothers – some sent stumbling off towards the gas chambers, quickly disappearing among those selected for death, others machine-gunned in front of their terrified, six-year-old eyes.

This day, this ceremony, these testimonies – always hit me at the deepest level. I know none of these survivors – and will likely never meet them in this life – but their words wring tears from the heart.

The fact that, at the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, the majority of its new citizens had lost a first-degree family member in the Shoah (Holocaust), forcefully accentuates the pangs of the nation’s agonizing rebirth.

“Look left, look right,” I often say to my groups on the way to Yad Vashem. “Imagine that all of you on this bus were Jews in Hitler’s Europe. Two thirds of you would no longer be here. Think about that.”

For a long time I have wondered at the way the Jews of Israel submerse themselves, year after year, in the pain-laced vat of Holocaust memories and remembrance. In the week leading to this day, movies and articles and lectures fill the newspaper and internet columns and flood the airwaves – turning every Jew’s thoughts to this darkest moment in the history of their people.

Why? Why fixate on something so dreadful and so full of grief?

I have wondered why, every time Israel’s prime minister speaks to the press – about Iran or the Palestinian Arabs or relations with Europe – he in some way invokes the Holocaust.

I have wondered at Israel’s insistent expectation that heads of state visiting for the first time at least lay a wreath in the place where the eternal flame shimmers over the names of the camps of death.

Last night, as cameras panned the solemn faces of the hundreds gathered for the service, and as I tried to push down the lid on my mounting emotions, the thought came vividly to me:

“‘Now I know why.”

I listened to the words of the grim-faced Benjamin Netanyahu, who sternly warned the world of the danger to his people posed by an Iran that is preparing to carry out another holocaust.

Before him, Israeli President Shimon Peres spoke of his own family, burned to death in the Holocaust. Israel’s existence today, he said, is the deterrence against the perpetration of another mass genocidal act upon the Jewish people.

I listened, I looked, and I thought: “I know exactly why. I’ve known it for a long time, even as I’ve wondered.

The reason, the fundamental reason why there is a need to ensure that the Jews never forget and – perhaps more importantly – that they never allow the world to forget what happened in modern, enlightened and progressive Europe ‘just the other day,’ is that if the
Jews disassociate themselves from their Holocaust pain, if the world is allowed to develop amnesia about that terrible time, the way will be opened for it to occur again.

For most of us in the rest of the world, if the Holocaust comes to mind at all it is only once or twice a year. The thought usually needs an external trigger – a book or a movie or something, and it is gone as quickly as it came.

For this nation – the Jews – the Shoah is ever before them. It stays fresh in their minds – they still see it, hear it, smell it.

Horribly – it has to be. It cannot be allowed to fade and be confined to the pages of history books and exhibitions in museums.

And now I know another reason why.

As I looked across the ranks of the Jews standing at Yad Vashem – and as I contemplated how they would stand today, literally in their millions, across the land while sirens sound for two-minutes in memory of those dead – I understood something else.

I understood it last night. I understand it today. It is a fundamental truth about the nature of the Jewish psyche.

I understand why American presidents and secretaries of state will spin themselves around in frustration and try repeatedly without success to push Israel to the brink of self-destruction with their diplomatic schemes and initiatives, and their appeals to Israel to take risks for peace.

I know why Benjamin Netanyahu has sought and found ways (although he will never admit to them) to prevent his country from being pushed over the edge of the precipice of a false peace.

And I know why Israel will not allow the Iranians to attain and use the means they are pursuing to kill the six million Jews living in Israel today, and to dismember their national home.

Some say the majority of the Jews of Europe went to their deaths like lambs to the slaughter. Others strongly dispute this.

But I know Israel will not go like a lamb.

They won’t. They never will.

At Yad Vashem the service comes to an end. A rabbi prays the prayer for the dead. The Jews and their guests rise – some unsteadily – to their feet.

Here in our living room we stand with them, tears again squeezed out of the heart.

And they sing Hatikvah – The Hope – the national anthem of the physically resurrected and flourishing Jewish people back in their own land. The words go up into the night sky, a declaration of faith from those who should have lost all reason to hope. They have hope. Greater hope than most of them even know.

Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!’ Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it and performed it,” says the Lord.’” (Ezekiel 37:11-14)

28 Apr 2014 19 comments
  • Carolyn May 20, 2014 at 00:02 /

    I posted the map of Israel in my study at home and daily pray for Israel and God’s people.

  • Jack van der Tang May 7, 2014 at 10:52 /

    Thanks Stan. Now I know why !

  • Cindy Napoli April 30, 2014 at 22:48 /

    They truly are God’s chosen people and He fulfilled that through his covenant with Abraham. The Jews are God’s the land of Israel is God’s. Those who come up against it are coming against the Almighty! We as Christians must pray for the peace of Jerusalem and the salvation of the Jew because no one else will!

  • Dennis April 29, 2014 at 19:07 /

    Stan, well put my brother. We must remember, not with just a kind-of dispassionate historical memory, but with the kind you, and your family felt. Less, leads us closer to the usual mental numbness that too often accompanies other horrific events of history. We must remember with passion, because without it, we are led ever closer to it happening again. It can happen again. The enlightenment of the Reformation proved no barrier to it happening in pre-war Germany.

  • Daniel Sheppard April 29, 2014 at 12:48 /

    Ezekiel 37:11-14 Who believes as I? I know of no one, but God’s Word is true. I will see Jews in Heaven who never knew Yeshua (Jesus) in a personal way as Lord and Savior, yet He died for them to secure their eternal life. Those dry bones will come to life as God’s Word says and they shall live. I look forward to seeing Ann Frank. The Savior will not send the innocent to eternal destruction. Yes we are all sinners, but Christ died for the sins of the world, and He does the choosing as to who shall be His, not we.
    Rev. 20:13 John 5:28,29 Daniel 12:1,2
    I may be alone in my belief, but who can refute God’s Holy Word. Daniel Sheppard

  • Eda April 29, 2014 at 12:10 /

    Great article! Just finished reading Joel Rosenbergs, “Escape from Auchwitz”
    So quite sensitive to all!

    It need not have happened at all!

    So very sad.

    Yes we the world needs to be reminded again!

  • Nick Wagner April 29, 2014 at 11:34 /

    The history of this world has been ordained by Jesus from Abraham to the last day in Jerusalem. Satan has always opposed the will and purpose of God to bring salvation to all.
    The holocaust is really the worst and most horrific of Satan’s attempts to destroy God’s chosen people and prevent the fulfilment of Bible prophecy concerning the return of Jews to their homeland and the creation of modern Israel. However, as always, Jesus will trump Satan and turn around a tragedy into a victory. Hallelujah !

  • Barbara Flewelling April 29, 2014 at 04:21 /

    Thank you, Stan, for once again opening our hearts and minds to the indescribable wretchedness of the Holocaust! “MAY WE NEVER FORGET!” should be cry of every human being with any sense of sanity and reasonableness. The world stands condemned, if we allow such evil to once again push forward to it’s desired end! G-d has His Plan. It is NOT for Israel’s destruction….but for her to never again be uprooted…and we must stand with Him!! \o/

  • Jo Naylor April 29, 2014 at 01:03 /

    My heart weeps just thinking of man’s inhumanity toward man. But then I realize that it is a spriitual battle between the forces of evil satan and his pawns, and the righteousness of Almighty God and His Covenant people’s.
    I am so thankfull to Yeshua HaMashiach, for the privilege of being grafted into the olive tree and becoming the one new man, Christians and Jews. The attrocities that have gone on before against the Jews, is absolutely demonic and from the pits of hell, what has been done to them previously and is still continuing to this day. My prayer’s are for God’s Divine wisdom for PM Benjamin Netanyahu to hear the voice of the lving God and obey, not give any land for peace as it is not his to give away, it is given to the Jewish people’s forever. Trust God and let Him fight for all of Israel and the Jewish people. Never again let what has happened in the Holocaust happen, where the hatred, and jealousy of the special grace and wisdom God has bestowed upon the Jewish people, has caused the evil to want to take all that God has given the Jewish people, and never again will He let it happen. I pray that God give’s wisdom to protect the land, and also to protect the Jewish people, and bring all back to a place of safety into their own homeland, where they are loved and cherished by God almighty. We love the Jewish people us Christian’s and are petitioning heaven on their behalf, that God would cover Israel with His Holy Biggest Warring Angels to deflect the firey darts of the evil enemies of Israel, and give the leadership in Israel the upper hand in any battle, for it is the Lord God who will fight and protect Israel from her enemies. Our hearts are heavy today as we stand with you in tears for all that has been done unto your peoples, because of haterd and jealousy, But this I know that the battle is the Lord’s and the key is prayer, so let us worship and praise Him as David did, and win the battle set before us, we are victorious in Yeshua, hallelujah! If God be for you , who can be against you!

    I have been banned from Facebook this day for voicing my opinion against the evil Muslim regime, free speech is being muted, and evil is strangely been alloted as good, God says, Woe, and I believe He is separating the Wheat from the chaff right now, and we must not be silent. Stay in God’s Blessing’s Israel, perhaps next year in Jerusalem I will come, hallelujah!.

  • Kent Robbins April 28, 2014 at 23:50 /

    Stan, I have been reading your articles for many years now. I always appreciate your heartfelt words as you defend Israel and the Jewish people. May the Almighty continue to bless you and keep you and your work as a watchman. Keep up the good work, For Zion’s sake! Shalom

  • Cindy April 28, 2014 at 23:36 /

    Hi Stan I was one of those Chris Mitchell asked us to pray for you.
    Good to see a picture of you. Love your articles. Are you doing tour guides now? We may need you when we come back to Israel. Keep up the good work of faith…

  • Thank you for standing up for Israel April 28, 2014 at 21:29 /

    The hope of the righteous shall be gladness Proverbs 10:28
    Our hope is in the Lord and He has chosen Israel as the apple of his eye, the head of all nations and an eternal excellency forever. Even so come quickly lord Jesus Revelation 22:20

  • Emmie Goodenoughi April 28, 2014 at 21:22 /

    Oh Stan. Tears from the heart are the only possible response to this. When we see antisemitism once again on the rise across the world, we thank God that Israel’s Keeper neither slumbers nor sleeps. Her one true hope is her Messiah, coming soon to fight on her behalf. Let the nations of the world beware.

  • tom winfield April 28, 2014 at 19:51 /

    I am filled with so many emotions, reading your article. I am so aware of how horrendously the Jews suffered in Germany and the rest of Europe… I am aware that although they are God’s People they have suffered horrendously… it speaks to me of not being connected to God–now through Christ–and suffering because of it… yet I see God bringing this suffering people to their own land, the land He gave to Abraham… founding the new nation of Israel… I too see them defending it with an indescribable tenacity because of the holocaust… throwing themselves into the fight as though there were no God and they must defend themselves without His help, for there was no God of help or rescue in Europe… six million died in Hitler’s death camps… six million now live in Israel… with Muslims wanting to see them dead too and their land given to Islam… I see Israel as a prophetic time clock telling us where we are on the timetable of the last days… I see the Muslim-loving American president Obama and his secretary John Kerry working to hurt Israel, not to help her… I see great and harmful things lying ahead in Israel’s path… I see Israel pushed to sign a peace pact with the Man of Sin, the Antichrist who will come, not knowing who he really is… I see 144,000 Jews from the 12 tribes turning to Jesus and going out to evangelize the world… I see the 12 gates of the New Jerusalem named after the Jewish apostles of Jesus… I see God preserving a remnant of Israel from all the tribes so that some of all of Israel is found on the New Earth in the New Jerusalem where our Jewish Christ will rule forever… I see so many hundreds of thousands of them cut off by God because of their unbelief… so that God ends up with a remnant from the Gentiles and a remnant from the Jews… with all whose names are not written in the Lamb’s Book of LIfe shut off from God forever… your article about the Holocaust service in Jerusalem touches me deeply… I feel these many things…

  • judith smith April 28, 2014 at 17:37 /

    Thank you Stan.

  • Barb April 28, 2014 at 17:07 /

    I feel such sorrow when reading about this again…yes, I do remember the horror of seeing the news of those terrible camps shown before a movie . I was young but .it has left a lasting impression of the inhumanity to another person…mainly the Jew…why oh why does man dislike the Jews so? And our government people do not know their Bible or they would know that God is not going to let anyone take Israel away from the Jews…it is in Black and White that this will never happen…what I am wondering is , when is Russia going to make her move that is predicted in the Bible…to me it seems very close…are we Raptured before this happens or do we see them go down as quoted in the Bible….so be it, just Keep Looking Up.
    Barb

  • Carole April 28, 2014 at 16:06 /

    Thank you, Stan, for once again putting to words so many emotions, insights, truths – reminding us that we must never forget, that we must be diligent to speak out and faithfully pray. Israel’s Hope is our only Hope!

  • Martha Weldon April 28, 2014 at 15:04 /

    Beautifully written! At our church yesterday, we listened to a story of a young girl named Lucia who survived the holocaust in Poland – the young man’s mother. He ended his talk with these words “the fastest way for evil to spread is for good people like you to do nothing!” We were shown photos of flyers posted in every classroom at a local university – posters denouncing the “apartheid in Israel” with references to websites full of anti-semitism and hate. A poignant reminder that “it” can happen again if all of us stay silent. Thank you for yet another reminder.

  • Susan Warner April 28, 2014 at 14:07 /

    Your article speaks volumes for why Christians must stand up for Israel. Israel is really the only hope for mankind. The Messiah will set foot on the Mount of Olives in the last days. Jews will never be safe, even in the USA. Today we see the college campuses in the USA crumbling into a state of anti-Semitic nihilism among both Jews and Gentiles. What are we to do if we love Israel? Our voice is so small amidst the voices of incitement coming from governments and the people. Israel is our HaTikvah! http://www.israelolivetree.org