Maintaining the Mysterious Eternal Continuity of the Jewish People May Be the Best Revenge against the Nazis

The anniversary, last month, of the Allied victory over the Nazis led Meir Soloveichik to consider the accounts of two U.S. servicemen present at the liberation of Ohrdruf, a satellite camp of Buchenwald: Dwight Eisenhower, the commander of the Anglo-American forces, and Meyer Birnbaum, a devout Jewish lieutenant from New York City. Eisenhower’s initial reaction was to bear witness—examining the camp, forcing local Germans to confront the evils that had gone on beneath their noses, and calling for prominent Americans to come see the evidence of the Holocaust. His second reaction was to appreciate the need for vengeance.

Surely, both reactions are admirable. But Soloveichik also details something very different that emerges from Birnbaum’s account of his ministrations to the religious needs of the survivors:

Because of our obligation to the past, the Jewish link between generations is the source of our immortality. The youngest survivor of Buchenwald, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, ends his own memoir by describing the bar mitzvah, in Israel, of his eldest son. A rabbi first found as a child by an American Jewish chaplain hiding behind a pile of dead bodies was now marking the achievement of Jewish adulthood by his son, who had been named for his murdered grandfather.

The Torah reading that week concluded with another verse about our eternal battle against evil incarnate: “There is a war by God against Amalek, mi-dor dor—from generation to generation.” Rabbi Lau read this homiletically: our battle against Amalek is through the medium of mi-dor dor, through the link of generations. At his son’s bar mitzvah, he said: “The struggle for the continuity of generations is the true battle, and the great spiritual-divine victory of Israel against the adversary Amalek. Our victory in the war against Amalek is that my son, Moshe Chaim Lau, is continuing the heritage of his grandfather, my father, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Lau, who went up to Heaven in a tempest.”

Memory, war, vengeance—all of Eisenhower’s reactions to the Holocaust are important, vital. But they are, on their own, insufficient. Our Jewish response to the Nazi attempt to destroy the Jews is the perpetuation of Judaism. By this I do not mean that we engage in religious transmission only to take our revenge on the Nazis. Rather, in a sense, the opposite is true: the mysterious eternal continuity of the Jewish people, our linking generation to generation as every other nation rises and falls, is the embodiment of our eternity and the primary sign of God in history. It is this the Nazis hated, and so the battle between Amalek and us is precisely that: between the enemies of the Hebrew God, and the people whose eternity serves as the surest sign of God.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Dwight D. Eisenhower, Holocaust, Judaism, Yisrael Meir Lau

An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy