When Matityahu Droblas was a boy during the Holocaust, hiding out in the forests
of Poland, he sometimes believed that he was the last Jew alive.
Poles told me that the Germans killed all the Jews,” he remembered on Monday, at
Droblas escaped the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942 and survived by
wandering through the Polish countryside. Some days death seemed like it would
be better than staying alive, he said.
Droblas harbored one dream during
those years of wandering: To come to Palestine, a place where Jews once had
their own land.
Droblas realized that dream, came to Israel, served as a
member of Knesset (from 1972- 1977), and headed the Settlement Division of the
Jewish Agency (1978-1992), during which he oversaw the creation of 380 towns
across Israel. Today, he is as a member of Yad Vashem’s board.
in the hot sun on Monday in front of the Warsaw Ghetto Memorial at Yad Vashem,
which had been defaced by vandals hours earlier with virulently anti-Zionist
messages, Droblas, 81, was in shock. His voice shook and there were tears in his
eyes as he tried to make sense of the terrible act of vandalism, which police
believe was carried out by extremist haredim.
“The Warsaw Ghetto is a
symbol of the Jewish nation, a symbol of uprising, a symbol of freedom,” he
said. “I don’t know who did this, but without being a psychiatrist I can say
they’re not normal, we need to isolate them so they won’t harm society
Droblas said he desperately wanted to believe that the
vandalism was not carried out by a Jew.
One slogan read: “To the
respectable government of Poland, stop allowing the Zionists to conduct
manipulative commemorations at Auschwitz.” It was signed “World Haredi
“In Israel, there are 200,000 Holocaust survivors,” said
Droblas. “But these acts aren’t just against those 200,000 people, they are
against the entire country.
Am Yisrael Chai – The nation of Israel lives.
We will continue to live, whether or not they want it.”