A Message of Life
This year, once again, the local Jewish community and others will come together to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust. The ceremony, weather-permitting, will take place at the site of the city's memorial to the Six Million that stands on the corner of 16th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
For decades, survivors have flocked to this martyrs' monument to share their painful memories, and to educate younger generations of Jews and non-Jews about the unspeakable suffering inflicted by the Nazis and their collaborators.
But this year, as has been increasingly the case, the ranks of the witnesses have been thinned by illness and infirmity. Some day - and we pray that day will be far in the future - there will be no survivors still alive, and all that will be left will be a statue and the knowledge they have passed on to the rest of us. As the survivors - whose precious testimony has served as a constant reminder of the Holocaust - slowly pass into history themselves, it is vital that the rest of us resolve not to let their legacy perish.
If we allow the survivor's memories to pass away with them, then the monument to this event will one day stand mute, as many other civic markers about other chapters of history often do. The truest memorial to the Shoah will be the resolve we carry into the future to stand up against injustice, coupled with the right of the Jewish people to live in freedom and peace in Israel and around the world.
As we absorb the deaths and observe Yom Hashoah with the remaining survivor community, it is the message of life that must be heard and understood.
The Limits of Sympathy
In the wake of the collapse of the peace process and the rise of Hamas, the debate about how to engage the Palestinians continues to bedevil the Jewish community. The Israeli government, as well as most Israelis and American Jews, clearly believes that there is no negotiating with a terrorist government.
At the same time, we are sensible of the humanitarian disaster that the Palestinians have inflicted upon themselves. Having destroyed their economy by choosing war over peace time and time again - and having now isolated themselves from an international community eager to help by voting for Hamas - they still turn to the world with their hands out, pleading for assistance. Such Palestinian appeals sound like the lament of a child who has murdered his parents, and then asks for sympathy because he's an orphan.
While we cannot help but be sympathetic to appeals to help Palestinian children, we should be wary of those who ask for our money. And when such requests come from a longtime Israel-basher and former spokeswoman for the arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat like Hanan Ashrawi, skepticism ought to be the order of the day.
Ashrawi is making a stop in Philadelphia this week to help raise money for the Palestine Children's Relief Fund, a group led by veteran Israel-haters, and which has had ties with a Hamas front group named the Holy Land Foundation, which was shut down by the U.S. government for aiding terrorists.
While we laud the impulse to help needy children, local Jews who are solicited to give to groups such as this must think carefully about the ultimate destination of funds raised by such persons, and whether or not better ways exist to help the Palestinians in the long and short term.
One suggestion might be for Palestinians to stop educating the younger generations to hate Jews, and to cease promoting terrorism and suicide bombing as the kind of fate a child ought to embrace. If they did, there would be no need for them to ask for alms from Jews - ironically enough, the intended victims of such violence.
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