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August 4, 2015 7:36 am

Could a Jewish State Have Stopped the Holocaust? (REVIEW)

avatar by Ronn Torossian

Email a copy of "Could a Jewish State Have Stopped the Holocaust? (REVIEW)" to a friend
A German judge sentenced former Nazi guard Oskar Groening to four years in prison. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The infamous gates of Auschwitz. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

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.”

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  • What could have prevented this horrific event? Mindset! The mindset of the German population (let’s not delude ourselves into thinking that the Holocaust was just the invention of a few lunatics, they had the support of the whole “master race”). And it is this same mindset that is behind the BDS movement and its supporters today. There is only one difference – two million Jews. Last time it was six million, this time it will be eight million, the population of Israel.My former husband, who survived Auschwitz, has always said that any nation could have done this if they had put their minds to it, and that means the populations of the UK and the USA!

  • Had Israel existed in the 1930’s, the extent of the danger facing European Jewry would have been accurately assessed. After all, Hitler’s ideas were exhaustively communicated in Mein Kampf and in much of his rhetoric prior to him becoming Chancellor. Whilst still contained to Germany, an Israeli State would have used its intelligence capabilities to investigate the National Socialist party and infiltrate it. Information would have flowed out of Germany in a torrent & the Israeli Government would have formulated strategies to either save Europe’s Jews by joint diplomatic efforts involving other nations that were able to ignore the representations of Jewish organisations but could not have ignored an Israeli Prime Minister and Cabinet. Had Israel existed then, its strategic importance would have made it a natural ally of the U.S. and Britain, as they would have established forward operating bases in Israel that would have assisted greatly in the Nth Africa & Middle East campaigns. One could go on and on, because the apparatus of the State delivers power and credibility. Jews would have been far more likely to leave a Europe about to explode and settle in Israel, a nation that would have rapidly built its Armed Forces to dissuade the Nazis from attacking. If Israel had existed, Hitler would likely have stuck with his original plan, to expel Europe’s Jews to create his Jew Free Europe. It was the refusal of any other nation to take Europe’s Jewish refugees in any realistic numbers that delivered success to those like Himmler, Eichman & Haj Amin Al Husseini, who virtually badgered Hitler on a daily basis that expulsion could not “solve” the Jewish problem and that extermination was the only action that would succeed in them achieving their diabolical goals. Finally, if Israel had existed, numerous Jewish scientists would have flocked there and Germany would have likely been unable to develop the frighteningly dangerous weapons that allowed it to rain rockets on London, where 45,000 people were killed in the Blitz. Faced with a vicious World War, Israeli scientists would have worked night and day to develop weapons to stop the Nazis march southward………possibly including beating the U.S. in developing a nuclear weapon. A lot to think about indeed!!!

  • Vicki York

    When in history have sensible decisions ever been made?
    When in history have leaders arisen to “precede” disasters?
    When in history have people taken decisions that they perceived to be against their present interests?
    When in history have people uprooted themselves to a new and unknown existence. Changing their way of life and spoken language to one unknown and uncertain unless their very lives are threatened?
    Great leaders are made when the political situation is such that desperate people with nothing to lose will follow their call, and there is a perceived genuine battle to be won.
    I am looking forward to reading this book if only to see what analogies have been drawn to our present situation and the way that we Jews are reacting to it.