Grapevine: The Holocaust vis a vis the Jewish state

CONVENTIONAL WISDOM holds that the State of Israel came into being as an outcome of the Holocaust. Not so, argues well-known Holocaust historian Prof. Yehuda Bauer, who contends that the Holocaust almost prevented the creation of the State of Israel. Speaking at the opening of a Yad Vashem international conference on "The Holocaust, the Survivors and the State of Israel," Bauer presented a fascinating theory on how political events of the day and friendships and animosities between different countries actually influenced the United Nations vote on the partition of Palestine. He also dismissed as poppycock mythology the stories of how US president Harry Truman had been persuaded by his former Jewish partner and by Chaim Weizmann to support the idea of a Jewish state. What influenced him, according to Bauer, was the impact of the Jewish vote. In weighing the pros and cons of a Jewish state in Palestine, Bauer noted, the only person in the UN to mention Jewish suffering in the Holocaust was Andrei Gromyko, the Soviet Union's representative at the UN. The UNSCOP team, in making its recommendation, referred to Jewish suffering throughout the ages but not to the Holocaust, said Bauer. Yehudit Shendar, the curator of the Yad Vashem exhibition "My Homeland: Holocaust Survivors in Israel," quoted noted author Aharon Appelfeld, who said that for survivors coming to Israel, the philosophy of being a true Israeli was to look like one and to act like one. In fact, the Israeli character, Shendar pointed out, was defined by two Hungarian Holocaust survivors: cartoonist Kariel Gardosh, better known as Dosh, who created Srulik, the iconic Israeli in shorts, sandals and kova tembel, with the audacious stance and his hands always in his pockets; and Ephraim Kishon through folk heroes such as Sallah Shabati and Ervinka. THERE IS never really full closure when a loved one is murdered. But for Jerusalem-based filmmaker Micha Shagrir and his two sons Oron and Haggai, there is at least partial closure in the fact that Hassan Diab, the killer of their wife and mother Aliza Shagrir, has finally been tracked down and apprehended after a 28-year search. Aliza Shagrir, who had been visiting Paris, was one of four people killed and 22 wounded in the explosion of a bomb that Diab, an alleged terrorist, is accused of planting in a motorcycle saddlebag outside the Copernic Street Synagogue. He was arrested last month in Canada following a French request for his extradition. Micha Shagrir perpetuated his wife's name by establishing the Aliza Shagrir Fund prize for outstanding documentaries. In a few days he will receive a prize of his own (to add to the many he already has), when he is given a Life Achievement Award at the 10th Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival. One of the dominant figures in Israel's film industry, he has documented an extraordinary span and mosaic of Jewish life and new immigrant experiences, including I Had a Dream, which tells the story of Yona Bogale, the "Herzl of Ethiopian Jewry," that will be screened at this year's festival. ANOTHER FILM Festival documentary will be Hayerushot Sheli (My Legacies), the quest by prize-winning filmmaker Efrat Kapakh and her famous grandmother Israel Prize laureate Bracha Kapakh, to discover the secret of the emotional pain with which her grandfather lived for much of his life. Rabbi Yosef Kapakh was a renowned Torah scholar and also an Israel Prize laureate. Yosef was orphaned when still a child and was raised by his grandparents. It was essential to marry him off early so that the Muslim authorities would not get hold of him and convert him to Islam for no reason other than the fact that he had no parents. So at 14 he was married to Bracha, who was then 11. Though left with little option than to follow the traditions of her ancestors, Bracha - who established an enormous charitable enterprise in Jerusalem - was also something of a feminist, and in the film she imparts the wisdom that enables her to maintain the conventions of her religious upbringing and environment while simultaneously pursuing her own path. The film also provides viewers with a front-row view of the traditions of Yemenite Jews. EMINENT US attorney Nathan Lewin, who has a home in David's Village in Jerusalem where he comes for inspiration several times a year, has been engaged in trial and appellate litigation in federal and state courts for some four decades. On his most recent visit to the Holy City, Lewin recalled that while he was an assistant to the solicitor general in the Department of Justice under solicitors general Archibald Cox and Thurgood Marshall (the grandson of a slave who became a leading civil rights activist and the first African American to sit on the Supreme Court), he thought that he ought to introduce himself to Marshall and explain that as an observant Jew, he could not undertake any work on Saturdays and had to leave early on Fridays. "I know all that," said Marshall with a wave of his hand. "I was born in Baltimore, and I worked as a Shabbes goy for religious Jews." THE HEBREW University gave her time off to travel to Johannesburg. While it was indeed a vacation of sorts for student Tamar Ziskind, the reason she's in South Africa is that she is also Miss Israel and is competing for the title of Miss World. This year, for the first time, it won't be left to a handful of judges to decide on the winner. Now the whole world - or at least anyone with access to a computer - can be in on the vote. The contestant who gets the most votes from the public around the world will become a finalist, even if she does not initially score sufficient points from the adjudicating panel. To vote, visit AS PROUD as the HU may be if Ziskind comes home with the crown, it is after all an academic institution and, as such, takes great pride in the academic achievements of its faculty and students. One such faculty member is Prof. Yehudit Bergman, who has been awarded the Abisch-Frenkel Prize for Excellence in the Life Sciences for her "outstanding contributions to two of nature's fundamental systems in the life sciences - the immune system and the biology of embryonic stem cells." The award ceremony took place this week at the Raphael Magid Auditorium, Ein Kerem campus, where Bergman, an expert on cancer research and stem cell experimentation, also gave a lecture on "Epigenetic Silencing of Embryonic Specific Genes." WILL THE Constantine Club in downtown Jerusalem become to the capital what the legendary Gonky is to Tel Aviv? Singer Anat Sarouf, who is one of the stars of Gonky and attracts huge audiences who want to sing along with her, not to mention dance on the tables, will be appearing at Constantine on December 14. Regular Gonky patrons include Shari Arison and Yair Lapid. It will be interesting to see who shows up at Constantine.