I just heard the two minute siren for Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Day.
It's ten in the morning here, and we're all busy at work. As the siren begins, the chatter stops, and each of the seven of us at our different desks stand to attention.
What goes through my head during that time? The answer is, everything. Everything I have ever seen, ever heard and ever read about the Holocaust. The stench of it, the crowding of it, the starvation of it, the death of it, the sadism of it, the endless, endless tears shed by it, all wrapped around by the deep hatred which caused it; -all these compete for a space, for a visual image in my head. All this while the siren sounds.
This year, the siren for me is a warning, too. The depth of this hatred surrounds Israel now, threatening to engulf her. The hatred is back, dressed in new clothes. The six million this time is the six million Jews of Israel, a thorn, an anathema, an incovenience, an obstrucution and a provocation to the nations of the world.
But there's a difference this time. Israel is the end place. From here we do not run, and we do not hide. From here we are not powerless, we are not surprised, we are not silent, we do not beg. From here, the place where we've built everything from nothing, had our children taken by vicious enemies, grown our fruits and vegetables and flowers, made some of the most famous medical advances of the 20th century, and prayed at the Western Wall, from here we face that old, old hatred face to face. Whether or not we will prevail is in God's hands. But the starting point is different.