On Friday, President Barack Obama placed a single white
flower at the Buchenwald memorial for the estimated 43,000
people - among them 11,000 Jews - murdered at the
concentration camp. In subdued tones, he said that the passage
of time had not made the crematoria lose their horror. He
spoke of his great uncle, who under Gen. Dwight Eisenhower had
been among the camp's liberators. He recounted how Eisenhower
had toured the camp so he could personally challenge anyone
who might claim that the Allies had exaggerated the Nazi
horrors for propaganda purposes.
US President Barack Obama, second right, and German
Chancellor Angela Merkel, second left, listen to Holocaust
survivors Elie Wiesel, right, and Bertrand Herz, left, during
a visit to the former Buchenwald Nazi concentration camp near
the eastern German city of Weimar.
This gave Obama another opportunity to declare that
Holocaust denial is "baseless," "ignorant" and "hateful."
In his Cairo address the day before to the Muslim and Arab
worlds, the president had justified Israel's right to exist on
the basis of the Holocaust: "The aspiration for a Jewish
homeland is rooted," he said, "in a tragic history" that
culminated in the Shoah.
At Buchenwald, he said: "The nation of Israel [arose] out
of the destruction of the Holocaust."
That rationale, standing alone, set the stage for Obama to
assert: "On the other hand, it is also undeniable that
the Palestinians… have suffered in pursuit of a homeland."
BARACK OBAMA has been terribly misinformed if he thinks
Israel's legitimacy hinges on the Shoah. Of course, had the
Jews achieved a national homeland in Palestine before the
outbreak of WWII - as Britain promised in the 1917 Balfour
Declaration and as the League of Nations affirmed in 1920 -
the doors to this country would not have been barred to Jewish
refugees seeking to escape from the Nazi killing machine.
History would have turned out very differently indeed.
What the Holocaust proved is that the world is too
dangerous a place for Jews to be stateless and defenseless.
But we Zionists were making that argument long before Hitler
came to power.
Granted, modern political Zionism developed in the late
1800s and early 1900s. But the president needs to better
appreciate that Israel's legitimacy is not dependent on the
consequences of the war waged against the Jews between 1933
and 1945. It is, first and foremost, rooted in the historic
connection of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel.
The Zionist movement rejected Uganda as a safe haven in
1903, the need to save Jews from violent anti-Semitism
notwithstanding, because Uganda did not belong to the
However one chooses to understand Jewish civilization - as
sacred history, or through the modern lenses of secular
history and archeology - the ancient bond between the Jews and
their land is indisputable.
By 1000 BCE, the Twelve Tribes had formed a united
monarchy. Then, when in 586 BCE the Jews were defeated and
exiled, "By the rivers of Babylon... we sat down, yea, we
wept, when we remembered Zion." We returned and rebuilt our
commonwealth - only to be defeated and exiled again, in 70 CE.
As early as the 9th century, Jews had reestablished
communities in Tiberias; and, in the 11th century, in Gaza.
SO YOU see, Mr. President, long before Christianity and
Islam appeared on the world stage, the covenant between the
people of Israel and the Land of Israel was entrenched and
unwavering. Every day we prayed in our ancient tongue for our
return to Zion. Every day, Mr. President. For 2,000
At every Jewish wedding down through the centuries, the
bridegroom has crushed a glass beneath his foot while
declaring: "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem…"
Perhaps it's because Palestine was never sovereign under
the Arabs that even moderate Palestinians cannot find it in
their hearts to acknowledge the depth of the Jews' connection
to Zion. Instead, they insist we are interlopers.
When Obama implies that Jewish rights are essentially
predicated on the Holocaust - not once asserting they are far,
far deeper and more ancient - he is dooming the prospects for
For why should the Arabs reconcile themselves to the
presence of a Jewish state, organic to the region, when the US
president keeps insinuating that Israel was established to
atone for Europe's crimes?