Institute for Public Affairs of Montreal
Masada shall not fall again!

The legacy of the brave and the bold
Beryl Wajsman 14 May 2008  

Every generation has witnessed the oaths of free men and women maintaining vigilance for the survival and success of liberty. Defenders of the Spanish Republic swore “No Pasaran!” They shall not pass! The fascists shall not pass. The valiant souls of the Warsaw Ghetto fighters staved off Nazi might longer than any national army and swore that, “Yet one day our time will come!”

The challenge of a brave, young American president standing in West Berlin and looking east daring Soviet tyrants that if they did not think freedom works “Lass’ sie nach Berlin kommen!” Let them come to Berlin!

Republican Spain; the Warsaw Ghetto; West Berlin were all tiny embers of freedom. But those embers kept hope alive and roared into great flames of liberty.

Notre mémoire et notre vécu collectifs nous rappellent toutefois que la liberté est fragile et requiert une constante vigilance.  Une vigilance qui, dans un monde de communication et de destructions instantanées, doit nous inciter à serrer les rangs autour de ceux qui, dans le monde entier, repoussent le crépuscule de la terreur.  Les nations libres sont des îlots épars dans une turbulente mer de tyrannie et le combat de l’une est le combat de toutes.  Elle est un défi constant à notre force de caractère et au courage de nos convictions.

Today, the world once again faces a threat as deadly as fascism, Nazism and communism. After a century flooded by an orgy of blood that killed some 80 million, the free world is defied, and defiled, by the murder and mayhem of Islamism and the bloodlust of its theocratic hegemony. Once again, free men and women are called upon, in Thomas Jefferson’s words, to “Pledge eternal vigilance over any attempt at tyranny over the mind of man.”

Mû par le bras haineux et jaloux de tyrans qui méprisent les minorités, les marginaux et les obstinés de toutes religions, de toutes races et de toutes croyances… et qui méprisent par-dessus tout les hommes libres.  C’est cette haine de la liberté qui nous a permis de voir le vrai visage de despotes voués à l’annihilation de peuples qu’ils veulent punir non pas pour réparer des torts mais bien pour le bien qu’ils ont fait.  Qu’ils veulent punir parce qu’ils ont refusé de se soumettre à leur dictature et qu’ils ont voulu défendre leurs valeurs humanistes.

As we commemorate the 60th anniversary of the spark of a lamp of liberty amidst a dark desert of despotism , we have words as well. Words as old as the scriptures and as bold as our dreams. And they come from today’s tiny ember of freedom. They come from the family of free nations’ frontline defender. They come from Israel, the reborn David that withstood the onslaught of Arab Goliaths. The words are those spoken by tank commanders when they take up their commissions. They march up a mountain to an ancient hilltop fortress where 900 men, women and children withstood Roman assaults and finally chose suicide over submission. That hilltop is called Masada. And the oath that is taken promises that “Metzadah shuv lo tipol!” Masada shall not fall again! Not just the physical Masada. But the Masada of collective memory and witness. The Masada that belongs to all men and women who choose to live free.  

It belongs to Canadians, too. We are inheritors of a proud and generous land that sacrificed more sons and daughters in the past century for the defence of freedom than even the United States as a proportion of population. Our bold new Prime Minister has rekindled Canadians’ passion for pride and purpose in the defense of liberty around the globe. And it is a sad reality in our world that part of that purpose requires sacrifice for the defense of the free. Often, too little help comes too late.

As with Poland in 1939, England in 1940, Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1967, among others, we again face despotism threatening democracy. As we recall the days of drums and times of triumphs of the brave and the bold, we must remain vigilant in the face of Ahmadenijad’s threat of a second holocaust while he denies the first. As we remember Israel’s role as freedom’s torch, we must respond with vigour to those who accuse Israel of “apartheid” and instigate boycotts while lionizing Palestinian homicide bombers who tear innocents’ flesh from their bones.

Le monde occidental est confronté depuis deux générations au mythe du relativisme moral.  Cette caricature d’égalitarisme a maintes fois été jugée trompeuse et ridicule.  Elle a produit des intellectuels émasculés, dénués de sens moral et de conscience qui se vautrent dans un monde de débauche intellectuelle cautionnée par une structure qui ne demande aucun compte.  Il est temps de sonner le réveil.

The spectre of radical Islam menacing the west, with Israel as its first prey, demands a response from us all and challenges us to action. The retrograde Imams and tinpot dictators of the Islamic world do not hate us in the west for what we do wrong, but hate us they do for precisely what we do right. Live free. Part of their attempted tyranny over our minds is psychological subversion in addition to physical threat. It is about the debasement of language. Turning black into white and white into black. They cannot stand the challenge of the battleground of free ideas. It is the new cloak of the old tyrannies. They’re betting that we are too feckless and fey for any redemptive acts of courage and conscience. As we remember of the valiant struggle of a surviving remnant in 1948, and the legacy they left that still inspires all free men and women, I’m willing to bet they’re wrong!