Letters to the Editor January 22, 2020: Fifth World Holocaust Forum

Readers of The Jerusalem Post have their say.

Letters (photo credit: PIXABAY)
(photo credit: PIXABAY)
Fifth World Holocaust Forum
Many years ago, when my dear mother was literally on her deathbed (and knew it), she and I had the privilege of talking about her life. I asked her if there was anything she regretted or would do over. There were, of course, things she would have changed. But the biggest thing was her own behavior during the Holocaust.
I felt that she had nothing to reproach herself about. At the time, she was a young happy mother of two children. She had a loving husband. We lived in placid, leafy Connecticut.
Mother said that the Jewish leaders at the time told them not to make a fuss about the incredible rumors that they were hearing, that “quiet diplomacy works best.” Mother said that she knew now that they should have “shouted the house down.” There were indeed small groups who attempted to do this.
Today, many foreign dignitaries are due to arrive here in Israel for the observances of the 75th year of the liberation of Auschwitz (“Leaders arrive for Holocaust forum,” January 21). This reminds me of the song, “Cry Me a River.” It had the words, “Now you say you’re sorry. Well, you can cry me a river, cry me a river. I cried a river over you.” The parents of these foreign dignitaries were all busy looking the other way.
May God avenge the blood of these poor tortured Jews. We will remember them forever.
Petah Tikva
Jeff Barak (“The Holocaust conference’s missing guest,” January 20) unfairly blames US President Donald Trump almost exclusively for the rise in American antisemitism. For example, Barak notes that 2017 was the worst year for antisemitic acts in decades without mentioning that an Israeli-American teenage hacker located in Tel Aviv was responsible for many bomb threats that year. Also, by focusing on physical assaults, vandalism and bomb threats, Barak ignores a similarly worrying trend – the many verbal assaults and acts of psychological violence, often masquerading as anti-Zionism, perpetrated by Left-leaning students and faculty on American college campuses.
The best example of Barak’s myopic view of antisemitism is his mischaracterization of “Trump’s talk of ‘very fine people on both sides’ of the clashes between white supremacists and protesters” at a 2017 rally. The rally was part of a national dispute over the removal of statues honoring people who had supported slavery. Those favoring removal argued that any public recognition of such people must be erased. Those opposing removal believed that the monuments should be used for honest reflection and education.
Hours after a neo-Nazi drove a car into counter-protesters, Trump stated, “We all must be united and condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.”
Trump clarified his earlier statement two days later: “Racism is evil, and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”
In his press conference the same week, Trump said there were “very fine people” on “both sides” of the issue of whether it is appropriate to display certain monuments in public. He stated unequivocally, “I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally.”
Antisemitism is by no means confined to the far Right. While mentioning two recent violent attacks by African-Americans, Barak blamed even those brutal acts on “antisemitism, racism and xenophobia that America’s president has unleashed.” We cannot successfully combat this hateful scourge until we recognize the breadth of the problem and stop using it as a political cudgel.
Zichron Yaakov
Regarding “The Holocaust conference’s missing guest” (January 20), as Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion but not to his own facts.”
Viciously portraying US President Donald Trump, the proud grandfather of Orthodox Jewish children and Israel’s greatest supporter, as a perpetrator of antisemitism and the actual cause of multiple shootings and murders in the USA is illogical, unrealistic, and of course utterly false.
There should be no tolerance for such deranged ideas in this newspaper or anywhere. Reality check, indeed!
It is noticeable that the president of the Irish Republic, the only country to express its condolences to the Third Reich on the death of Hitler, is conspicuous by his absence from this week’s Fifth World Holocaust Forum.
Give peace a glance
Earlier this month, Israel began pumping gas to Jordan from its offshore gas field (“Netanyahu lauds gas exports as regional obstacles grow,” January 20).
Many Jordanians object because they still view Israel as the enemy, despite a peace treaty signed between the countries. At least half of Jordan’s population is estimated to be Palestinian, so Jordan is actually Palestine. US aid to Jordan keeps Abdullah on his throne.
Likewise, US aid granted to Egypt since the Camp David Accords is considered to be “untouchable compensation” for maintaining peace with Israel. Egypt has been receiving uninterrupted aid at an average of $1.6 billion a year, the bulk of which goes to the military. But Egyptians still view Israel as the enemy – check the Egyptian television show offerings every Ramadan.
Peace treaties with Israel are apparently bought, and Arab signers do not put into effect any normalization with Israel. “Anti-Zionism” seems to be an essential safety valve for releasing and redirecting the hostility citizens feel for their own corrupt, dysfunctional “governments.”
Davis, CA
Puttin’ in a plea to Putin
The gathering of world leaders in Israel for the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz at the “Remembering the Holocaust: Fighting Antisemitism” international conference this week gives us a unique and unprecedented opportunity to appeal to Russian President Vladimir Putin to once and for all resolve the mystery of the disappearance and fate of Raoul Wallenberg in the Gulag after his arrest by the invading Soviet Army on January 17 1947.
This is an unprecedented opportunity for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin with the support of Yad Vashem to appeal to Putin on behalf of the thousands of Jews – some of whom are still alive in Israel – that were saved through the superhuman efforts of Wallenberg. We appeal also on behalf of members of his family (his half-brother Guy Von Dardel and his nieces Louise and Marie), who have spent decades in search of the truth about his fate. For their sakes and for the sake of humanity, finally let the truth be known.
I myself, when head of the Jerusalem Raoul Wallenberg Rescue Committee, received a sworn statement from an elderly new immigrant from the Soviet Union to the effect that in 1972, in a prison hospital in Krasnoyarsk, he had met and helped an old sick Swede in the next hospital bed who told him that his name was Wallenberg and that he had saved thousands of Jews from the Nazis and their associates in Budapest and then been arrested by the invading Soviet forces on suspicion of being a spy for the Americans. This was about 25 years after the Russians claimed that he had died in Lubyanka prison not long after his arrest.
President Putin, please heed our prayers and at long last tell the world the real truth about the fate of this wonderful Holocaust angel of rescue. We believe that you alone are able to do so.
Shalom, Mr. Putin and welcome to Israel. We trust that you will continue to be a friend of our small country and support our just cause as we patiently hope in our ancestral homeland for the day that we can achieve a just peace with all of our neighbors.
Please note that as long as Naama Issachar is unfairly held prisoner, many Israelis are justifiably reluctant to visit Russia – or even to fly in and out of your country on a stopover. This does not serve your interests in any way.
We urge you to act to remove that stain on your country by freeing her at once.
Now serving...
Your editorial, “Everyone must serve” (January 20), makes excellent points in support of its arguments. However, what is missing is a significant reward for those young men and women who do serve our country.
In the United States, veterans can qualify for government-backed mortgage loans, allowing them to come up with as little as 5% down payment to buy a home. Because Israeli mortgage lenders require a large down payment, such a bonus would be a major thank you from the government.
Also, veterans should be eligible for free university education. There could be tinkering between the rewards for combat, combat-support, jobnik, and sherut leumi services. But the bottom line is to ensure that those of our young people who go to the army feel appreciated – and not like freiers.
The statistics regarding the increasing proportion of youth receiving mental health exemptions from army service speak for themselves and are cause for concern.
However, before we despair about either our youth’s mental health or their motivation to serve, allow me to share one psychologist’s experience: Candidates for induction must indicate whether they have been in psychological or psychiatric treatment. Of the dozens of letters I have been asked to write over the years for my young clients prior to their service, the overwhelming majority have been for those requesting favorable recommendations that they be drafted for meaningful army service despite whatever challenges brought them to my office. Let’s keep them in mind.
Kochav Yair
I couldn’t agree more with your editorial “Everyone must serve” (January 20). By Jewish law, there is a dichotomy between a milchemet reshut (a “voluntary” war – one not being fought to protect the Jewish nation or its holy sites) and a milchemet mitzva (a war being fought to protect the Jewish nation and/or its holy sites).
In today’s terms, with so many of our neighbors seeking ways to bring the State of Israel and/or the people of Israel to an end, serving in the Israeli armed forces is clearly a mitzva, not reshut. As in Biblical times, when the Levites (the ultra-Orthodox of their day?) had to provide manpower to the army in order to protect the nation and/or its land, so too in 2020, the ultra-Orthodox must serve.
Tzur Yitzchak
New viral illness
Regarding “Beijing can’t mask virus as holiday travels begin” (January 21), one couldn’t have asked for a more dramatic mind blowing illustration of the hysteria generated by the media, social and otherwise.
Three people have died and there are 200 reported cases in China of a possibly new virus that causes pneumonia-like symptoms. The current population of China is 1.4 billion or about 19 % of the total world population. About 150,000 people die each and every day worldwide. This statistic may now be updated to 150,003.
Nonetheless, the social media went viral in China, sale of masks surged into the millions, people complained about the lack of infra-red temperature cameras in Beijing railway stations in order to detect elevated body temperatures and the potential health crisis surged into the International news. In Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, people complained bitterly about those who were not wearing masks to avoid the dangers of the new virus.
There is a new illness going viral these days: the illness of fear-driven hysteria.
My Myanmar
The reporting in “Hanukkah in Myanmar - Bringing light to the world” (December 28) was incomplete. I am part of the community that lived and flourished in Yangon, Myanmar. There was also a Jewish community in other places there, such as in Mandalay. The article does not recognize our existence.
Our community is diminished, but still exists. We have a beautiful synagogue that is over a century old. Our cemetery attests to the lives of our members who escaped persecution in their home countries and came to build our community; three generations of my family are buried there.
The Samuels family have served as caretakers of the Jewish interests and the remaining Jewish community in Yangon. Sammy Samuels, the third generation of his family to carry out this responsibility, has been active not only in taking care of Jewish matters, but in fostering understanding among the divergent communities in Yangon and in promoting Myanmar as a desirable place to visit.
We have not been waiting for Chabad to come and show us how. With all due respect, the Jewish community in Yangon, Myanmar, does not begin with the Chabad shlichim.
Los Angeles