Yom Hashoah Sirens Should Shatter Illusions on Iran
Being in Israel on Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, is a transformative experience. At 10:00 in the morning, air raid sirens sound throughout the country in a salute to the six million Jews who perished during World War II. The piercing sound fuses historical memory of the Holocaust with the reality of current threats facing Israel. That is why Israelis from across the political spectrum have no illusions when it comes to the threats they face from Iran. Americans would be wise to understand their reality and listen to their concerns.
When the sirens sound on Yom Hashoah, everything in Israel comes to a complete halt. On the busiest streets of Tel Aviv, drivers stop their cars, get out, and stand in reverence. In Israeli schools, students stand silent in testimony while intuitively learning the lesson of the Holocaust: “Never again.”
For Israelis, the phrase “Never Again” is not a slogan; it is a way of life. It defines their lives in a way that is difficult for most Americans to comprehend. When American 18-years olds are trying to decide which college they want to go to, their Israeli peers are deciding which army unit they want to serve in.
When Americans hear threats to Israel’s existence from Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei (if we hear them at all from our media) too many of us shrug our shoulders and flip the channel. Israelis hear these threats and make connections to Jewish history and their own life experiences.
Last summer, Israelis heard the sirens sound more than 100 times during the 50 days of Operation Protective Edge. Israelis know that the 4,500 rockets that Hamas fired at their homes were either supplied by Iran or made in Gaza with Iranian know-how. While commentators in the American media talked about another “cycle of violence,” Israelis clearly understood that this was another effort by Iran to use proxies like Hamas to harm Israel.
The experience of hearing a siren that sends you to shelter because a sovereign nation wants you dead and your country destroyed changes your perspective of reality.
My son, daughter-in-law and children who live in Israel were the target of Hamas rockets last summer. The sirens sent them to seek shelter dozens of times. During their annual trip to America when out shopping one day their three-year old daughter asked, “Mommy where will we go when the sirens go off?”
Israelis cannot flip the channel on threats to their welfare and existence.
Since 2008, the non-partisan advocacy group that I work for, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), has been warning the world of the nexus between Iran’s support for terrorism and its pursuit of nuclear weapons that would not only endanger Israel but all of Western civilization.
Today, Israel takes on the role of the proverbial “canary in the coal mine” for the West on the Iranian threat. And Israelis from across the political spectrum share serious concerns about Iran. Take Ari Shavit for example.
Shavit is a renowned Israeli journalist who writes for Haaretz, the newspaper most closely identified with the Israeli left. Shavit has been highly critical of Netanyahu on issues like settlements and the peace process. Yet, here is what he wrote on April 9 of the recent framework announcement between Iran and the P5+1.
And when we add all the fateful questions about the Lausanne agreement, we get a strong feeling that something very dire is happening right before our eyes. We begin to suspect that the Obama-Khamenei agreement will not prevent Iran from going nuclear, but will only postpone the achievement by a few years. The next 80 days are critical. History is watching us all closely.
During the next 80 days, we must demand that that our representatives in Congress provide meaningful oversight for the negotiations with Iran. If we listen to the sirens of Yom Hashoah, we will be able to see through the illusions and understand the true nature of the Iranian threat.
Bob Feferman is Outreach Coordinator for the non-partisan advocacy g”‹roup, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI)