Monday, January 27, 2014

International Holocaust Day

To commemmorate International Holocaust Day on Jan 27, the day that Auschwitz was liberated by the Red Army in 1945, Netanya Mayor Miriam Fierberg-Ikar had an authentic cattle car incongruously installed on the cliff top in Netanya opposite the blue Mediterranean Sea. The red cattle car was used by the Nazis during WWII to transport Jews to the concentration camps and to their deaths. It is the shard in the eye that cannot be ignored, the irritant that clashes with the notion of carefree Netanya, the Jewish city of refuge, the holiday resort in the sunshine. It ensures that we will never forget their fate and their suffering, even here. It stands appropriately outside the Beit Yad L'banim, the memorial to the fallen in Israel's wars. Who can tell what terrible suffering took place inside this car, let it be for a memorial.

The Mayor announced that there will be a Holocaust educational center installed adjacent to the car and the school children of Netanya will be taken to see this. Who is it most appropriate to educate in the knowledge of the great tragedy that befell the powerless Jews of Europe? Certainly few Arabs or Muslims take the truth about the Holocaust seriously. Right wing Europeans think too much is made of the "guilt" associated with their own involvement in the murders and liberals think the Palestinians are being subjected to an equivalent "holocaust" by the terrible Israelis (read Jews). But, what is more important is that Israeli children must know the truth about their history.

There is a valid argument that Israel would have come into existence without the Holocaust happening during WWII. But, even if this is true as I believe, the impact of the terrible scenes witnessed by the whole world of the mass murders and starvation of the Jews, in fact the genocide of the Jews, was undoubtedly a powerful impetus for the rest of the world to support the founding of a Jewish State. Now the inhabitants of the State must remember and know why we are here and what is our main raison d'etre, to maintain the survival of the Jewish people against all odds.

Many who consider themselves liberals think that Israel is too aggressive, too militant, even too militaristic. If they knew Israel society they could not believe this. Yet, most of us see no reason why Jews cannot settle in the areas of the Holy Land, once called Palestine by the British, that were illegally occupied by the Jordanian and Egyptian armies. We are settling there and as PM Netanyahu stated a few days ago at the Davos conference, Israel has no intention of forcing the settlers to leave. If the Palestinians want peace let them live side-by-side with us. We will not accept a Judenrein region in our Land, and we will not allow a putative mini-State that is not viable to become a haven for all kinds of Islamist and anti-Israel terrorism. No one can force us to commit suicide in our Land, so take that into account when you formulate your "solutions."


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