Dealing With Evil
That such an astonishingly evil thing could occur shocked me. Nothing I’ve learned since exceeded it except discovering there were six million other victims as well. I read all I could about the Holocaust until sometime in the 1980s. My curiosity had become morbid fascination, then profound depression. I had to stop my research.
Two enigmas remained, however. One was the systematic banality of Nazi bureaucrats who perpetrated the worst mass murder in history. The other was the submissiveness of the victims. Millions went into ghettoes, onto transports and into gas chambers with little resistance. It’s true that most didn’t know what would happen when the train stopped. They thought they were going to labor camps, communal farms or relocation centers. They thought gas chambers were showers. Even when told by escapees what awaited them at the camps, however, many wouldn’t believe it. There were only a few valiant acts of defiance like the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943 in which Jews chose to die fighting rather than submit like sheep. That kind of courage led to the reincarnation of Israel as a country immediately after the war. This tiny nation knew what evil looked like.
What struck me about the mass murder at Virginia Tech last week was not so much the shooter, of whom much has been written. It was the reactions of victims. Most screamed, ran and hid, but a 76-year-old professor used his body to block the door of his classroom and told students to flee. They jumped out second-story windows while the old man impeded the shooter, who eventually pushed the door open and shot him to death. That this professor, Liviu Librescu, was a Holocaust survivor interests me.
Librescu would have been only fourteen in 1945, the last year of WWII and of the Holocaust. As an inmate at Thereseinstadt in Czechoslovakia, he would have had prolonged, intimate contact with evil. After, he spent thirty-three years in Romania under the control of the “Evil Empire” as President Reagan referred to the Soviet Union. Then, through the personal intervention of Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin in 1978, he was able to leave Soviet-dominated Romania and move to Israel. For eight years he lived among people who had fought off four full-scale invasions by much larger, Arab Muslim countries as well as their countless terrorist attacks. In 1986, he went on a sabbatical to the United States and stayed.
Last week, evil paid another visit to Liviu Librescu in the form of a hate-filled young man invading his classroom. I suspect the professor recognized his old nemesis right away. Such awareness would have made him different from the typical academics who run our universities today. Thinking themselves intelligent and sophisticated, they defined evil out of existence decades ago. They believed they could protect themselves by declaring their campus a gun-free zone and putting up a few signs. Jews who reestablished Israel after the Holocaust would not make such a mistake because they learned the hard way that the most effective method of deterring those bent on murdering you is being prepared to kill them before they kill you. “Gun-free zones” protect murderers, not the innocent.
My trip to Israel is still on for May 14th to the 24th. My wife and I were supposed to go last October, but rocket attacks by the evil, Iranian-financed, terrorist organization known as Hezbollah on northern Israeli cities we were scheduled to visit forced a postponement. Israeli Defense Forces attacked the terrorists in southern Lebanon but stopped short of destroying Hezbollah when Prime Minister Ehud Olmert wimped out and accepted a UN-negotiated cease fire. Emboldened, the terrorists are already gearing up for another strike. Hezbollah knows UN “Peacekeeping” Forces are about as effective as “Gun-free zone” signs.
A generation has passed since the last Arab Muslim invasion and it looks like some Israelis are getting soft. If they don’t get rid of Olmert and elect a warrior to deal with terrorist murderers, their tiny country will return to oblivion.