November 5, 2023 at 4:30 a.m.
I survived the hell of Auschwitz and Buchenwald, but I survived alone.
I lost my mother, father, sisters, brother, aunts, uncles and cousins in the Holocaust. After the war, I was fortunate to prosper in this great land — the United States — and build a family with my wife and two children, five beautiful grandchildren and two beautiful great-grandchildren.
Yet, I am haunted by the fact that America’s heroism in World War II came too late for 105 members of my family, and 6 million other innocent Jewish people, including 1.5 million children — potential scientists, physicians, philosophers, artists, and loving family members whose lives were so cruelly denied to them.
It gives me tremendous pain to say that Hamas’ savage murder and kidnapping of hundreds of innocent Jewish grandparents, children, mothers, fathers and young adults celebrating freedom and peace, was a tragedy I prayed I would never see again, but never doubted was possible.
The barbarity of the Hamas attacks indeed reminds us that hatred of the Jewish people, and the infinite capacity for cruelty against our people, is a cancer that will never be eradicated, but must be recognized, protected against and crushed when it threatens.
It is a sobering fact that more Jews were killed on that Saturday — a Jewish holy day — than any other day since the Holocaust.
The Nazis and their collaborators slaughtered our people with a disgusting collection of political, economic and military power. How could it happen? How did it happen? But it did. That is why I have devoted my entire life to telling people the true history of what we experienced in the Shoah, and the unimaginable scope of our loss. So many of our fellow survivors are now gone, and I fear that our pain and the true history will be forgotten or corrupted by immoral, self-interested political and economic forces.
Today, after the Oct. 7 Hamas massacre, all people have witnessed, in real time, slaughter of the kind I somehow survived more than 80 years ago. More than 1,400 innocent Israeli people just living their everyday lives, gunned down, kidnapped, mutilated, raped, terrorized by evil monsters. Parents, brothers, sisters, children, aunts, uncles and cousins traumatized by the murders, and the terror inflicted on the hostages now held by Hamas, and their desperate families.
We see the mainstream media slanting coverage to suggest moral equivalency between Hamas’ unspeakable atrocities against innocent Israelis and Israel’s right of self-defense — against terrorists who use Palestinian children as human shields and stockpile food, water and fuel for a war with Israel while starving the civilian population it governs, so Israel can be blamed. Israel follows the international law of warfare in attempting to avoid civilian casualties, while Hamas has intentionally butchered innocent Israelis and intentionally endangered innocent Palestinians.
Members of the echo chamber that blames Israel for Hamas’ brutal murders because of “occupation” never acknowledge that the Palestinian leaders have rejected repeated offers of statehood, choosing war and terror instead. These so-called progressives, including some Jewish people, that justify and rationalize the cold-blooded murder of Jews in the 21st Century, should be ashamed of their hypocrisy and cowardice.
I was born in what was then Czechoslovakia in 1929. I am now 94 years old. Along with Holocaust education, I have devoted every day of the last seven decades to building and supporting the state of Israel, our Jewish homeland. We cannot take our future security for granted. The Jewish people must always have the means and the will to defend and protect ourselves, and that means creating a society and government that are decades ahead of our adversaries in military and security preparation.
Though we must be responsible, we cannot do it all alone. I am grateful to President Joe Biden, and the bipartisan leaders and members of Congress, and other elected officials, who have stood squarely with Israel and already taken steps to support Israel with moral, intelligence and military support in her most dangerous moment in over 50 years.
But the onus is on us, the Jewish people, to support Israel financially and in the court of public opinion. I have faith that, unified in spirit and conscience, Israel and the Jewish people will learn from whatever lessons will be revealed from that Saturday’s incomprehensible, horrific catastrophe, a Shoah in its own right, and build an even stronger, prosperous, stable and just society.
David Schaecter, a Miami resident since 1955, is president of the Holocaust Survivors Foundation USA.
Gunshots and blood stains are seen on a door and walls of a house where civilians were killed days earlier in an attack by Hamas militants on this kibbutz near the border with Gaza, on October 10, 2023 in Kfar Aza, Israel. (Photo by Alexi J. Rosenfeld/Getty Images)
Link to original article in the Sun Sentinel