The view from my veranda

090127 International Holocaust Day

27th January 2009.

World Holocaust Remembrance Day

It is 63 years since the day the world began understand the full meaning of evil as Allied soldiers entered the sheer and unadulterated hell of Auschwitz. Those solders saw what no man should see as the emaciated bodies dressed in striped pyjamas came toward them in disbelief that they had survived.

There are a million stories of survival and rebuilding of lives but there is one which caught my heart in its message of hope. A dear friend in Toronto, Andrea Koven, sent it to me. It is the story of a young survivor, born to an observant family, who wanted a white wedding as the symbol of her normal life in the past. Her husband-to-be took on the task lovingly and her dress was made – from an old parachute. The dress now stands in the museum at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp as testament to the hope and ingenuity of the survivors.

Today, there are still those who deny, or resent our very survival; there are even intellectuals who deny the Holocaust in learned tomes. If we do not recount the stories of those terrible times and take our children, however young, to meet some of these incredible old people to hear first hand of their experiences then there is no hope that our children will believe that such horror could ever have happened. They will accept the Holocaust deniers because it seems more believable that our generation lies than an entire army was built with the sole purpose of eliminating Jews. Of course it was not only Jews, although the prime target, it was all “defective” peoples, such as aristocrats, Catholics, homosexuals, the disabled and those who did not conform to the Nazi image – today we call them Infidels.

Yad Vashem is here in Jerusalem. Through this august institution an entire world of people learned the history of the Holocaust; through this dignified institution we are taken through the experiences of those who lived the Holocaust and shown their stories of heroism and suffering through THEIR eyes, through THEIR stories, through THEIR mementoes. There are many brilliantly designed Holocaust museums, in the USA, Australia, Canada, UK and of course the unambiguous confession of the vestiges of the death camps in Europe, but only in Jerusalem, does one arrive at the end of a heart-rending walk through our history into the dream of Jerusalem which rose as a Phoenix out of the ashes of our ancestors – the panorama of Jerusalem, capital city of the State of Israel will stand before you as proof of our resilience.

I promised that I would no write further on Operation Cast Lead since I believe that BICOM is doing an excellent job of updating us – making personal opinions superfluous.

The Israeli government has put forward a plan to defend soldiers of the IDF who took part in Operation Cast Lead in Gaza because there are places in this world where they could be stopped and charged with war crimes. I believe it is time we insisted that our legal systems consider proportionate responses to such criminal idiocy. Remember the BBC Interview with Major Richard Kemp? and now both the BBC and Sky News have refused to air charity appeals for the people of Gaza since they are beginning to recognize a distinct lack of proportion in the accounts. I use this as prelude to a short video from Aish haTorah of an interview with a young IDF soldier and how he put his thoughts into action with

International Holocaust Remembrance Day was introduced into the United Nations by Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations in New York, Danny Gillerman and thanks to his untiring efforts and lobbying the resolution passed, never to be denied by many of the Moslem UN member nations who commit the terrible crime of likening the actions of Israel to those of Nazi Germany. Such accusations make the gall rise in my throat and a rare and blistering anger emerge at the ultimate insult to my inherited memory.

It is up to YOU, yes, you and me, to ensure that these memories are not sullied by cruel denial and comparisons by pledging here and now to actively stand up and be counted without fear of standing out because like it or not, we do. The world is in grave danger of another holocaust, the dehumanization has started and even our own believe the lies spread about Israeli actions, or even Israeli existence because the disinformation is now overt rather than the subliminal accusations of former years.

For the first time since the Holocaust, State promoted anti-Semitism has raised its ugly head, not in a Moslem country, in Venezuela. The zealous bile comes from the top, from the low born, uneducated, megalomanic leader of that country, Hugo Chavez. If those we do not act soon, or sooner, then I fear for the lives of the 13,000 Jews left in Venezuela. We cannot ignore it any longer.

Yesterday I took Zvi to see one of my favourite places – Shouk Ramle. Now held each Monday in the car park of the Malha train station it is testament to the multi-cultural society of Israel; Jews and Arabs walking together, enjoying the bargains as the most natural thing in the world. Today I was in the Mall and as I sat with my daughter drinking my regular “hafuch, chazak v’gadol” a big, strong café latte, I watched the parade of Moslem women with their children beside the many levels of Jewish and Christian folk and I prayed silently that one day I would be allowed to take my daughter to drink coffee in a Moslem country in the same freedom that is offered to those Arab women. As a Jew who never met anyone who went to the ovens of the Holocaust but met many who came out the other side of the camps and formed the most amazing country in the world, I will never hate anyone, any “other” and religion as others hated and still hate me.

Praying for “Never Again” and trying to do something positive to prevent it.

With love