Could a Jewish State Have Stopped the Holocaust? (REVIEW)
When Ambassador Yehuda Avner heard then-Prime Minister Shimon Peres address a large crowd on Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel, he listened as Peres apologized to the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust, saying “we were ten years too late.” This apology plagued Avner in the last few years before his 2014 death. Knowing that he did not have much time left, Avner decided to write a gripping historical narrative that explores this overwhelming hypothesis.
As Israel’s former ambassador to Britain, Ireland, and Australia, Avner’s political knowledge is used to craft a captivating work of historical fiction that allows us to consider how Israel’s existence even a decade earlier might have changed the outcome of events. Along with Matt Rees, an award-winning novelist, they created The Ambassador in the last six months of Avner’s prosperous life.
The fictional work is laced with historical events and the plot is set in 1937, it tells the tale of profound leadership in times of crisis, and provides an evocative look at the urgent need for Jews to take their fate into their own hands in order to make a difference in the world.
However, this is no narrative that should be labeled as complete fantasy. The book speaks volumes in a world dealing with the continuing rise of rampant antisemitism. As constant threats against the state of Israel are increasing and amid the rising statistics of global hatred against the Jewish people, the publication of this novel cannot be any more relevant.
With the threat of a nuclear Iran, and the questionable deal reached by the Obama Administration, the risk to Jews is as high as it has been since World War II. Some have said that the rate of antisemitism today matches pre-Holocaust levels. The risks of living in anti-Jewish environments have greatly increased, and some have wondered where the Jewish people can be safe.
Historians and the general public are constantly asking questions about the Holocaust. Some ask how it happened, and what could have prevented the horrific event. Well, Rees and Avner eloquently imagine just that: would the establishment of Israel ten years prior have stopped the Holocaust? Would it have stopped the final solution?
The alternative-history thriller centers on the protagonist Dan Lavi, a young diplomat sent by Ben-Gurion to serve as the country’s first ambassador to Berlin, in an effort to secure exit visas for as many Jews as possible. Surrounded by the terror and atrocities of the Nazi regime, Dan struggles to uphold good relations and diplomatic protocol with those who want him dead, navigate Nazi party politics and Allied pressures, and to stop the final solution.
Essentially, The Ambassador imagines a world in which Israel exists before World War II, altering the course of history and saving millions of lives. But now that the State of Israel actually exists, would it still be possible for another Holocaust to occur? The frightening situation is that “history repeats itself,” and the world must look at what it can do to prevent genocide.
As the world failed to prevent the Holocaust, readers from a later generation can ponder the following questions: what does it mean to be evil? How are antisemitism and other racial prejudices manifesting today? What would the world look like without Israel?
Yes, these questions are difficult to think about, but these are the difficult questions that Avner and Rees so intensely pose in their writing. It is difficult to tell the fiction from the fantasy, and to ask the “what ifs.” But in order to comprehend big issues we must see all angles of a situation and predict all outcomes. If only the “what ifs” were answered, who knows where we would be.
The Ambassador is a great and very worthwhile read.
Ronn Torossian is CEO of a top 20 US PR Agency, and author of “For Immediate Release.”