Let us pose a simple question: Did we not sin with respect to the first covenant, the Covenant of Shared Fate (as in the Covenant of Encampment-Nation), with regard to our obligation to participate in the pain of the nation and to see and feel its suffering: as it is said, “And He witnessed their burdens” (Exodus 2:11)? Let us be honest. During the terrible Holocaust, when European Jewry was systematically destroyed in gas chambers and crematoria, the American Jewish community did not rise to the occasion, and did not acquit itself as a community with the collective consciousness of shared fate, shared suffering and shared action with which it should have been expected to act. We did not properly sense the suffering of the nation, and we did precious little to save our unfortunate brethren. It is hard to know what we could have accomplished had we been more active. I personally think we could have saved many. No doubt, however, if we had properly felt the pain of our brothers; had we raised our voices and shaken worlds, that Roosevelt issue a sharp warning of protest accompanied by action, we would have been able to significantly slow the process of mass destruction. We witnessed the most horrible tragedy in our history, and we were silent. I shall not now dwell on the particulars. It is an extremely painful chapter. We all sinned by our silence in the face of the murder of millions. Do we not all stand before God’s seat of judgment charged with the grievous sin of “You shall not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor” (Leviticus 19:16), especially when the sin applies not only to one individual but to millions? When I say “we” I mean all of us: including myself, the members of rabbinic and lay organizations both Orthodox and secular, and Jewish political organizations of all persuasions. “Your leaders, tribal heads, elders, and policemen, every person in Israel … from the hewers of your wood to the drawers of your water” (Deuteronomy 29:9–10). Do you know why we were so indifferent? I think it is because our sense of nationhood was damaged. We did not grasp the notion of the experience of Shared Fate and the essence of peoplehood. We were missing the attribute of loving-kindness that Job, at first, also lacked. Job, who suffered, was devoid of a sense of shared experience and therefore did not know how to pray for his brothers. His concern was only for his own and his family’s wellbeing. We were also devoid of the sense of [the Covenant of] Encampment-Nation and therefore did not offer heart-felt prayers, nor did we take any bold measures to save our brothers.
In the crisis that the Land of Israel is [at present] passing through, Providence is again testing us. It is fitting that we openly state that this matter does not just involve Israel’s political future. The evil intentions of the Arabs are not only directed against our national independence but against the continued existence of the Jewish presence in Israel. They aspire to exterminate (God forbid) the Yishuv — men, women, children, infants, sheep, and cattle (cf: I Samuel 15:3). At a meeting of Mizrachi (the Religious Zionists of America), I repeated, in the name of my father (of blessed memory), that the notion of “the Lord will have war against Amalek from generation to generation” (Exodus 17:16) is not confined to a certain race, but includes a necessary attack against any nation or group infused with mad hatred that directs its enmity against the community of Israel. When a nation emblazon son its standard, “Come, let us cut them off from being a nation so that the name of Israel shall no longer be remembered” (Psalms 83:5), it becomes Amalek.23 In the 1930’s and 1940’s the Nazis, with Hitler at their helm, filled this role. In this most recent period they were the Amalekites, the representatives of insane hate. Today, the throngs of Nasser and the Mufti have taken their place. If we are again silent, I do not know how we will be judged before God. Do not rely on the justice of the “liberal world.” Those pious liberals were alive fifteen years ago and witnessed the destruction of millions of people with equanimity and did not lift a finger. They are liable to observe, God forbid, the repetition of the bloodbath and not lose a night’s sleep.
Come, let us pray “for our friends” (Job 42:10). Let us feel for the suffering of the Yishuv. We must understand that the fate of the Jews in the Land of Israel is our fate too. The Arabs have declared war not only on the State of Israel, but on the entire Jewish people. They are now the leaders and financial supporters of international antisemitism. Let us overcome the foolish fears of dual-loyalty that our enemies have instilled in us. To begin with, it is always impossible to satisfy antisemites, and they will find fault in whatever we do. Second, the matter relates not only to the continued existence of a state, but to the physical salvation of masses of Jews. Is it not our sacred obligation to come to their aid? Is it forbidden for us to seek the security of the Yishuv? We are being put to the test of Job. We have been given the opportunity to pray, by virtue of deeds and self-sacrifice, for “our friends” (Job 42:10) — and our friend is the Jewish community in the Land of Israel. We must do but one thing: open the door to the beckoning Beloved, and immediately all dangers will disappear.