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Even in Israel?

January 29, 2015

Dear Friend of Israel,

On Wednesday, an attack on an Israeli army patrol by Hezbollah terrorists on the Israel-Lebanon border left two Israeli soldiers dead and another seven wounded. It was some of the worst violence in the region since the 2006 war that lasted 50 days in this volatile area. And it is just the latest in a long string of violence directed against Israel from her hostile neighbors.

This attack happened just a day after International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a date the United Nations set aside in 2005 for remembering the atrocities of the Shoah. The United Nations designated this day of commemoration in 2005, choosing January 27 because it is the date in 1945 when allied forces liberated the notorious Nazi death camp at Auschwitz.

While Israel has its own Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah), which falls on April 16 this year, many still paused earlier this week to honor the memory of the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust. And we paused to recognize and thank God for the heroic efforts of those who survived the horrors of the Holocaust and went on to build a vibrant, dynamic Jewish state.

The need for the Jewish state has been especially evident as of late. The recent deadly siege on a kosher market in Paris, the attack on a group of Israeli tourists in Argentina, and the rising unrest in Ukraine and Yemen have caused fear in their respective Jewish communities, and have underscored, in a most urgent way, the need for an independent, autonomous Jewish state, a place where Jews can experience freedom of religion and self-determination. But, sadly, even here in Israel, anti-Semitism finds us.

The evidence is painfully clear: Even in Israel, not long ago, a terrorist rammed his car into a crowd of innocent people, killing a baby and injuring eight others. Even in Israel, a Palestinian man stabbed 11 people on and near a Tel Aviv bus. Even in Israel, rockets rained on playgrounds and backyards last summer, sending children running for their lives. Tragically, the world is largely silent. And the U.N. – which pays lip service to Holocaust victims every year on January 27 – not only turns a blind eye, but has the audacity to launch criminal investigations into Israel’s attempts to protect her citizens.

Ultimately, the U.N.’s effort to commemorate the Holocaust rings hollow. It is a sad irony that, throughout its existence, the U.N. has consistently shown a harsh bias against the state that rose from the ashes of that very event.

How can the U.N. claim to honor the memory of those murdered during a terrible chapter in history while continually siding against the state founded by their living ancestors and also bowing to pressure from those who would deny the Jewish people’s right to a sovereign state in their historic homeland? Perhaps it’s because the U.N. doesn’t truly understand the meaning of “Never forget.” For the Jewish people, “Never forget” means not just remembering the past, but also securing and constantly working toward a better future – a future that includes a strong, independent, and democratic Jewish state.

My friends, today I ask you to pray for the loved ones of the IDF soldiers killed in this latest cowardly attack, for the swift recovery of those injured, and for the safety of all of Israel’s fighting men and women who stand at the front lines of the war on terror. And pray too for the day when God will bless Israel, and all the world, with His most precious gift – the gift of shalom, peace.

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein

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