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Netanyahu: ‘Am Yisrael Chai’

11:29 AM, Apr 19, 2012 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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I believe in the people of Israel – and this belief is based on our experiences.  I believe that the people of Israel can handle the truth.  And I believe that they we have the capability to defeat those who seek to harm us.

Those who dismiss Iran’s threats as exaggerated or as mere idle posturing have learned nothing from the Holocaust.  But we should not be surprised.

There have always been those among us who prefer to mock those who tell uncomfortable truths than squarely face the truth themselves. 

That is how Zev Jabotinsky was received when he warned the Jews of Poland of the looming Holocaust.

This is what he said in 1938, in Warsaw:

“It is already THREE years that I am calling upon you, Polish Jewry, who are the crown of World Jewry.  I continue to warn you incessantly that a catastrophe is coming closer.  I became grey and old in these years, my heart bleeds, that you, dear brother and sisters, do not see the volcano which will soon begin to spit its all-consuming lava…  I see that you are not seeing this because you are immersed and sunk in your daily worries…  Listen to me in this twelfth hour:  In the name of G-d!  Let anyone of you save himself, as long as there is still time, and time there is very little.”

But the leading Jewish intellectuals of the day ridiculed Jabotinsky, and rather than heed his warning, they attacked him.

This is what Sholem Asch, one of our nation’s greatest writers, said about him:

“What Jabotinsky is now doing in Poland is going too far.  His statement is detrimental to Zionism and to the vital interests of our people… It is disgraceful that these are leaders of a nation.”

I know there are also those who believe that the unique evil of the Holocaust should never be invoked in discussing other threats facing the Jewish people.

To do so, they argue, is to belittle the Holocaust and to offend its victims.

I totally disagree.  On the contrary.  To cower from speaking the uncomfortable truth – that today like then, there are those who want to destroy millions of Jewish people – that is to belittle the Holocaust, that is to offend its victims and that is to ignore the lessons.

Not only does the Prime Minister of Israel have the right, when speaking of these existential dangers, to invoke the memory of a third of our nation which was annihilated.  It is his duty.

There is a memorable scene in Claude Lanzmann’s documentary Shoahthat explains this obligation more than anything.

In the harsh existence in the Warsaw Ghetto, Leon Feiner of the Bund and Menachem Kirschenbaum of the General Zionists met with Jan Karski from the Polish World War II Resistance Movement.

Jan Karski was a decent, sensitive man, and they begged him to appeal to the conscience of the world against the Nazi crimes.  They described what was happening, they showed him, but to no avail.

They said: “Help us.  We have no country of our own, we have no government, and we even have no voice among the nations”

They were right.

Seventy years ago the Jewish people did not have the national capacity to summon the nations, nor the military might to defend itself.

But today things are different.

Today we have an army.

We have the ability, the duty and the determination to defend ourselves.

As Prime Minister of Israel, I will never shy from speaking the truth before the world, no matter how uncomfortable it may seem to some.

I speak the truth at the United Nations; I speak the truth in Washington, D.C., the capital of our great friend, the United States, and in other important capitals; And I speak the truth here in Jerusalem, on the grounds of Yad VaShem which are saturated with remembrance. 

I will continue to speak the truth to the world, but first and foremost I must speak it to my own people. I know that my people are strong enough to hear the truth. 

The truth is that a nuclear-armed Iran is an existential threat of the State of Israel.

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