January 27, 2011

January 27 is set aside by the United Nations as a day to honor victims of the Holocaust. The date was chosen for a reason — on January 27, 1945, Russian troops liberated the notorious Nazi death camp at Auschwitz. More than one million people were murdered there during World War II, part of Hitler's evil plan to exterminate the Jewish people.

Jews refer to the Holocaust as the Shoah, a Hebrew word meaning "catastrophe." Now, a new book, A New Shoah: The Untold Story of Israel's Victims of Terrorism, chronicles what the author, Italian journalist Giulio Meotti, sees as another attempt to eradicate the Jewish people — the Arab campaign of terror that has been waged relentlessly against the modern State of Israel since her founding in 1948.

This terror campaign, Meotti argues, is not simply an attempt to get Israel to relinquish land; it is far more than simply a tactic meant to secure political or material gain. It is meant to lead to the destruction of the Jewish people, simply because they are Jews. Meotti buttresses his claim with scores of personal stories of Israelis who were ruthlessly cut down by terrorists, and the effect these evil acts have had on the victims' loved ones.

These stories are heartbreaking beyond description. There is the tale of Uri Baruch, a French Jew born to Holocaust survivors, who found out his daughter had been savagely gunned down in an attack that also injured his son-in-law. When Uri went to the hospital to visit his son-in-law, the young man tearfully said to Uri, "Forgive me…I couldn't save your daughter." There is eighteen-year-old Eliyahu Asheri, who was kidnapped while hitchhiking home and executed by terrorists with a bullet to the head. There is Rachel Teller, killed in 2002 by a suicide bomber, whose friends wistfully remembered the last time they saw her: "We said 'Bye-bye,' a little bored, like it was nothing. It was the last time we said goodbye to Rachel."

It is these personal stories that give A New Shoah its power. Throughout, we are reminded of the incalculable human cost of terrorism. And we are reminded that the murder of one person has repercussions that extend far beyond the victim to family, friends, and acquaintances.

There is really no way to understand Israel without understanding the threats she faces today indeed, the threats she has faced since the day she declared her independence and why the Jewish state must take steps to try to eliminate those threats. Though difficult to read at times, and certainly poignant, A New Shoah will give you a deeper understanding of fanatics' ongoing war against Israel and Jews worldwide. I highly recommend this book to anyone who cares about the future of the Jewish State. Purchase one online today.

With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein