The summer of 1942 was not a good time to be a Jew in Europe, especially one without any papers. This was the case of Maurice Weinzveig, my maternal Grandfather who had been living in the small suburban town of Saint-Mandé on Paris’ East side with his wife Berthe and only daughter Evelyn (my mother). Little did he know that the road to escape the Russian Pogroms would lead to the Holocaust for him and many European Jews.
As he was hiding in the coal cellar under their apartment, his wife and daughter received an unexpected visit from two Gestapo officers looking for Maurice who had apparently been denounced by a neighbor. Berthe’s first answer was of course to deny any knowledge of her husband’s whereabouts, claiming that he had left the house and the area days ago. The two officers warned Bethe that they would return the following morning expecting Maurice to be ready to go with them or they would take her and her daughter instead.
After the Gestapo’s departure, Berthe signaled her husband to come upstairs and shared what had just taken place. Maurice’s initial reaction was indeed to leave immediately and seek a better hiding place. But he was soon made aware of the two officers’ ploy to get him. He was caught between a rock and a hard place. Should he escape and put Evelyn and Berthe at risk or should he surrender and secure their safety?
Maurice was the victim of the Gestapo officers’ cowardice who knew very well that the best way to hurt someone who could possibly sustain pain otherwise, is to hurt the one(s) they care about. Because he loved his family, he had no choice and so the next morning he was ready when they returned and left with them. That was the last time that my mother saw her father. Maurice perished in the horrors of Auschwitz.
Cowardice is often linked to hatred, it is devious and can be very devastating. It resulted in the death of my grandfather and many others and continues on its destructive path as we see it being used by Israel’s enemies on the eve of a strike against Syria by the United States and possibly some of its allies.
Israel has the right to defend itself as all sovereign nations do. Israel doesn’t seem interested in striking Syria unless in an act of retaliation. But it doesn’t matter because regardless of what Israel decides to do or not do, they are caught in the cross hairs. So for the time being, the pressure is on and Israelis are on high alert as they stand in line to receive gas masks from their government. As Israelis are minding their own business and bracing themselves for the worst, Israel’s enemies can’t find anything better than to threaten her destruction if Syria is attacked by the US. This is the epitome of cowardice! Countries are lining up to express their disdain.
• Algerian TV host Yahya Abu Zakariya said on Lebanese TV: “If Syria is attacked, we will annihilate the Zionist entity”.
• Iran said that:” “No military attack will be waged against Syria,Yet if such an incident takes place, which is impossible, the Zionist regime will be the first victim of a military attack on Syria.“
• Syrian army officials told Iranian news agency Fars on Tuesday that: “If Damascus is attacked, Tel Aviv will become a target and a full-scale war against Syria will essentially justify an attack against Israel,” then they added that “If Syria is attacked, Israel will also be set on fire and such an attack will, in turn, engage Syria’s neighbors.”
• Lebanon is sharply divided on the issue of a strike on Syria and while not threatening Israel openly, we must not forget that they are a country hosting the terrorist organization known as Hezbollah (not exactly a friend of the Jewish state).
• Egypt, currently led by an interim and fragile military government, has her hands full with their own revolution. They stated that they do not support a strike on Syria yet they do agree for punitive actions against the perpetrators of the recent internal chemical warfare. The state of affairs in the Sinai region renders the Egypt-Israel border very volatile as well, while Egypt fights Hamas in the region. And the list could go on and on and on!
So, at best, many of the countries surrounding Israel do not support a strike on Syria, but I still wonder what side they would take if push comes to shove. We have seen over the years that Islamic ideology turns out to be a common denominator that can easily create a situation where two or three arch-enemies end-up holding hands against a common enemy of them all, and it is clear that it is Israel that they hate in common.
At worst, several Middle East countries have vowed to strike back at Israel if and when the US, Great Britain and/or any other nations decide on a preemptive strike against Bashar al Assad and his government.
While I wouldn’t put it past them to even activate some sleeper cells in the respective countries that joined to strike Syria, I find it very cowardly that they would retaliate on Israel no matter what. Of course, a lot of this might just be idle threats and empty talk to intimidate the West. Let’s face it, the enemies of the Jewish state have a lot more to lose than to win from a full blown attack on Israel, so all of this might only be antisemitic rhetoric. Yet many of the countries of the Middle East are unpredictable at best and very unstable at worst, so who really knows?
So the threat is out on the table as we are again reminded that the best way to hurt someone who could possibly sustain pain otherwise, is to hurt the one(s) they care about. I have no doubt that Israel can defend herself and I have even less doubt that God is on her side. Her enemies are always looking for new reasons to destroy her and when the Syrian conflict will no longer be on the forefront of the news, the perpetual scapegoat of humanity will assuredly face another existential crisis.
On the other hand, if Israel retaliates and attacks any country of the Middle East for the wrongdoings of another one, it is not cowardice but it is as a result of these countries conspiring to destroy Israel. Their subtle and secret “covenantal” relationships renders them all guilty by association, and that is very different than hurting Israel simply because Western allies hit Syria. In the case of Israel, striking back would be a strategic necessity for survival.