Let’s understand what happened. We – a handful of Jewish activists in the USSR together with our brethren in the West and other human rights supporters – confronted the Soviet Superpower, the formidable force which threatened all of mankind. We managed to make our case – freedom of Jewish emigration to Israel – the top issue in the struggle for human rights in the USSR. These efforts culminated in the Jackson-Vanik amendment. Consequently, Jewish emigration became one of the top issues on the political agenda and one of the priorities during the summit meetings between Reagan and Gorbachev.
We won. It was a rare case of a clear Jewish victory, a victory over the KGB, over mighty forces of evil. Our common struggle, along with the economic strain of “Star Wars” and the loss of economic efficiency in the USSR, joined together to topple the giant USSR regime. This then opened the doors to an unprecedented Jewish exodus, on a scale unheard of since ancient Egypt.
Conclusion: the Jewish people are not always destined to be a victim of persecution. When we join forces and dedicate ourselves to a common goal, we can accomplish things far beyond the narrow realpolitik.
In the Soviet time, our struggle created unity among the Jewish people, as we all shared a common vision, goal, and responsibility.
Putin’s regime is coming to resemble its Soviet predecessor more and more all the time. A deeper understanding of the Soviet period can provide an insight into the mentality of Putin and his current regime.
American Jewry is currently at a crossroads. Many have lost their direction, and many are probing their identity. Others, especially young Jews, are asking the question: Why be Jewish at all?
Jewish education in Diaspora is currently dominated by study of the Holocaust, emphasizing suffering, incalculable loss, tragedy, collapse. Such education fosters feelings of passivity, futility, negativity towards Judaism.
But there is a positive message. It is actually a lesson from the story of Soviet Jews. It is unequivocal: we are not afraid of challenges. When we join forces and dedicate ourselves to a goal, we can win; we can bring about global change. Now that we have achieved our previous goals, we have set ourselves new ones.
Our prime mission now is to defend Israel from aggressive radical Islam. We must struggle against radical Islam for the sake of all of mankind, including moderate Muslims and Christians who are persecuted in many Muslim countries. In the Middle East conflict, the real issue is not the land –- don’t Arabs have many countries, a great deal of land? Does tiny Israel have extra land to give away? The real issue is the very existence of the Jewish state – the radical Muslims cannot reconcile themselves to it.
This struggle cannot be won by appeasing the radical Muslims, any more than we would appease Stalin or the leader of North Korea. Radical Islam automatically treats such behavior as a sign of weakness. It would be as if we tried to appease a wild beast.
In the contemporary world, with overtones of Orwell’s “1984”, Israel, which is really a drop in the ocean of the Arabic world, is portrayed by the biased media as the aggressor in the conflict with the Arabs.
Yes, it requires a high moral level, sometimes great fortitude, to help the weak, the threatened. It is no moral achievement to join the bully, “Goliath”, the aggressive radical Islamic movement.