We Need the Partisan Spirit Now

by Sarit Catz


Growing up, I heard a lot about partisans and all of it good. 


You see, my mother’s parents were partisans. They fought a guerilla war against the Germans and their Ukrainian collaborators during World War II, blowing up train tracks, interrupting supply lines, killing enemies, saving Jewish lives. My mother, at the age of three, was the youngest partisan in her unit. The only survivors from my mother’s town were partisans. The others were shot down in a ditch in a place called the Horses’ Graveyard.


I believe we Jews are facing an existential threat every bit as dangerous as we have ever faced. The delegitimization of Israel, anti-Semitism disguised as anti-Zionism, is extending its cancerous tentacles into academia, the media, and international organizations throughout Europe and around the world, and even into our own community. At the same time, unrest is sweeping the Arab and Muslim nations around Israel, Radical Islamism is on the rise, and Iran is working full speed to develop nuclear weapons. We need the partisan spirit again now, if we ever needed it.


As Israel Advocacy chair, I can never accept the idea that Israel should not be a political issue for Jews. If we don’t ask our political leaders to support our position on Israel, the wellspring of our Jewish identity and the eternal homeland of our people, what on earth should we ask of them? Would anybody ever ask Latinos not to make immigration a political issue? Of course not. Neither should we tie our own hands by minimizing support for Israel as a critical factor in the way we evaluate our leaders.


This is not a Democrat or Republican issue. There are strong supporters of Israel on both sides of the aisle. But find out where the candidates stand on Israel before you vote. Hold incumbents responsible for their words and deeds and those of their aides. When our political leaders don’t stand with Israel, they don’t stand with us. And we are not obligated to stand with them. Let them hear that when you speak to them, and let them feel it at the ballot box.


My mother’s lullaby was the song of the Yiddish Partisan, and she sang it to me, too, as a child. One verse goes like this:


S'vet di morgnzun bagildn undz dem haynt,
Un der nekhtn vet farshvindn mitn faynd,
Nor oyb farzamen vet di zun in dem kayor —
Vi a parol zot geyn dos lid fun dor tsu dor


For us the morning sun will radiate the day,
And the enemy and past will fade away,
But should the dawn delay or sunrise wait too long,
Then let all future generations sing this song.


Long live the spirit of the Jewish partisan!


To see a video of the Yiddish Partisan Song, click here.



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