The Jews of Palestine not only welcomed the European Jews of the Holocaust--they also fought to save their lives. Palestine was the only place on earth where a large proportion of the population would welcome European Jews during the war.
Zionism, a movement created by Theodor Herzl in the 1890s, held that Europe was not safe for Jews and that they must have a national homeland in Palestine. He encouraged legal and illegal immigration into Palestine, whose mandate was held by Great Britain.
David Ben-Gurion was the chair of the Zionist Executive and the Jewish Agency for Palestine. In the first years of the war, he sought American-Jewish support for both the European Jews and for a Jewish state in Palestine. He urged that German cities be bombed in retaliation for atrocities against Jews, although he considered mass demonstrations in the Allied nations as wastes of time because he saw that the Allies were not helping the Jews.
After the Holocaust, almost a million European Jewish refugees were welcomed into Palestine and Israel, the Jewish state that was established in 1948. Pictured are arriving Jews on board the Negev in 1948. This unique nation, which awards automatic citizenship to all Jews who migrate there to live, was established and fought for as a place where Jews at last would be safe.
Ironically, Jews are still very much at risk in Israel. The enormous impact of the Holocaust on the Israeli mind-set has conditioned Israeli life and politics for decades. Surrounded by many hostile Arab governments, and residing in a topography that cannot be easily defended, the Israelis have focused heavily on security needs, which has resulted in a necessarily aggressive foreign policy.
Although Israel's cultural, intellectual, and political lives reflect a broad spectrum of issues, always looming over the nation is the specter of a repeat of the Holocaust. Profound Jewish thinker Richard Rubenstein has described the stern resolve of Holocaust survivors who immigrated to Israel, which in turn allows us a crucial insight into the Israeli mind: "We may die on the sands of Palestine, but we will never again accommodate ourselves to your good graces or your prejudices. There may some day be another Massada in which every Jew fights to the last man before being overwhelmed by his enemies."
"There will never be another Auschwitz," he continued. "Jews will never again trust in your humanity only to endure the most degrading of impersonal deaths. We have folded our tents. We will be wanderers no longer. We will no longer live among you. For better or worse, we are going home."