Former Israeli Chief Rabbi and current chairman of the Yad Vashem Coucil, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau suggested last week that the 1941 massacre of 33,771 Jews in Kiev, Ukraine was a test case for Jewish genocide by the Nazis.
Lau put forward the theory during a Jerusalem memorial ceremony marking 70 years since the massacre, during which nearly all the Jews of Kiev were marched into the Babi Yar ravine and butchered.
Lau surmised that the Nazis had carried out that atrocious act to measure the level of interational protest over the mass killing of Jews. There was, as we now know, very little protest. Just months later the Nazis met at the Wannsee Conference and, confident that world cared little about the Jews, kicked off the Holocaust - the "final solution to the Jewish problem."
Had the world cried out loudly over the Babi Yar massacre, Lau believes far fewer Jews would have died during World War II.
Speaking at the ceremony, Israeli President Shimon Peres, much of whose own family perished in the Holocaust, said he hoped that the world had matured beyond such hatred for the Jews.
But the six-decade history of the modern State of Israel suggests that it has not.
In particular, in each of the major wars Israel has been forced to fight with its neighbors, the international community has remained largely silent despite the fact that the Arabs' stated goal was to "push the Jews into the sea." The world only spoke up when it became clear that Israel was winning.
In other words, in 1948, 1967 and 1973, it appeared that the international community was actually hoping the Arabs would be successful, and only stepped in to impose ceasefires when the Jews gained the upper hand.
It would seem the very same indifference that kept the world from responding to the Babi Yar massacre is alive and well in the world today.
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