Ezekiel at Bergen-Belsen

Last week marked the 76th anniversary of British forces’ arrival at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. A few days after their liberation—a Friday—some of the survivors gathered for what Meir Soloveichik calls “one of the most remarkable Jewish prayer services in the history of Judaism,” which was witnessed by the BBC’s Patrick Walker:

The worshippers, survivors all, had not participated in a minyan in years. The prayers concluded with words Walker assumed were standard Sabbath liturgy but were actually the words of “Hatikvah,” the anthem of the Zionist movement, and later of the state of Israel. As their voices faded, one of the chaplains leading the service declaimed three Hebrew words, a clarion call that can still be heard on the recording of the broadcast: Am Yisrael ai, the people of Israel liveth!

What Patrick Walker did not know is that what was taking place was an almost-literal reenactment of the biblical story that inspired “Hatikvah.” The prophet Ezekiel is shown a valley filled with dry bones that miraculously come to life for the purpose of returning to the chosen land: “Behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost. . . . Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the Land of Israel.”

Our hope is lost, in Hebrew, is “ovdah tikvateinu.” [Hatikvah’s verse] runs “od lo avdah tikvateinu”—our hope is not lost. At Belsen, biblical and contemporary times merged. The Jews were literally surrounded by skeletons and were themselves a “staggering mass of blackened skin and bones,” [in the words of a Jewish chaplain present at the service]. But they found within themselves the wellsprings of hope, illustrating why am Yisrael ai and embodying the conclusion of Naftali Herz Imber’s original lyrics: “Hear, my brothers in the lands of exile/ The voice of one of our visionaries/ that only with the very last Jew/ There is the end of our hope!”

Read more at Commentary

More about: Bergen-Belsen, Ezekiel, Hatikvah, Holocaust, Zionism

Universities Are in Thrall to a Constituency That Sees Israel as an Affront to Its Identity

Commenting on the hearings of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Tuesday about anti-Semitism on college campuses, and the dismaying testimony of three university presidents, Jonah Goldberg writes:

If some retrograde poltroon called for lynching black people or, heck, if they simply used the wrong adjective to describe black people, the all-seeing panopticon would spot it and deploy whatever resources were required to deal with the problem. If the spark of intolerance flickered even for a moment and offended the transgendered, the Muslim, the neurodivergent, or whomever, the fire-suppression systems would rain down the retardant foams of justice and enlightenment. But calls for liquidating the Jews? Those reside outside the sensory spectrum of the system.

It’s ironic that the term colorblind is “problematic” for these institutions such that the monitoring systems will spot any hint of it, in or out of the classroom (or admissions!). But actual intolerance for Jews is lathered with a kind of stealth paint that renders the same systems Jew-blind.

I can understand the predicament. The receptors on the Islamophobia sensors have been set to 11 for so long, a constituency has built up around it. This constituency—which is multi-ethnic, non-denominational, and well entrenched among students, administrators, and faculty alike—sees Israel and the non-Israeli Jews who tolerate its existence as an affront to their worldview and Muslim “identity.” . . . Blaming the Jews for all manner of evils, including the shortcomings of the people who scapegoat Jews, is protected because, at minimum, it’s a “personal truth,” and for some just the plain truth. But taking offense at such things is evidence of a mulish inability to understand the “context.”

Shocking as all that is, Goldberg goes on to argue, the anti-Semitism is merely a “symptom” of the insidious ideology that has taken over much of the universities as well as an important segment of the hard left. And Jews make the easiest targets.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus, University