Letters to the editor: Yom HaShaoah

Readers share their thoughts on Israel's Holocaust memorial day.

Envelope (photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
(photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
Yom Hashoah
With regard to “PM at Yad Vashem: Incitement preceded Shoah annihilation” (May 5), Holocaust Remembrance Day has become part of the Jewish psyche.
The barbarism of killing 6 million Jews – men, women and children – and building crematoria for their bodies to become ash to fertilize the soil of Europe will never be forgotten.
Anti-Jewish and anti-Israel hatred is alive and working constantly in various forms to annihilate the Jewish people. We tell the world here and now that this will never happen again. The State of Israel will never permit this.
What the world has to do is begin to reflect on what anti-Jewish and anti-Israel hatred has done to it. The culmination of all this hatred will be the destruction, not of Israel, but of the world itself.
There must be decent people somewhere with enough moral courage to be able to state this and change their governments’ policies. This is the message of Yom Hashoah.
As always, the Holocaust Remembrance Day evening memorial service at Yad Vashem was very moving – but also the cause of much anger as I reflected on the 45,000 survivors in Israel living below the poverty line (“Rivlin: Israel doesn’t do enough for its own Holocaust survivors,” May 5). To say that this is disgraceful is an understatement.
I urge your paper to take up the cause.
With regard to Rafael Medoff’s “New whitewash of FDR’s failure to bomb Auschwitz” (Comment & Features, May 5), my late father, Lucien Harris, was a flight-lieutenant in the RAF in World War II and an ardent Zionist.
During the war, he was contacted by Zionist leaders in London who told him about Auschwitz, and asked him to see if the RAF could intervene to save Jews. My father told me that he went in uniform to GHQ in London and got into the War Room, where he told the generals in charge everything he had learned about the Holocaust.
Their answer was: “Sorry, but we cannot divert any aircraft to bomb the railways there. When we defeat Germany, the Jews will be saved....”
At the annual Holocaust commemoration at Temple Emanu-El in New York City, it is traditional for a high-ranking official to address the gathering on behalf of the State of Israel.
This year, a gross miscalculation was made in designating Zionist Union MK Merav Michaeli the speaker (“‘My grandfather did the inconceivable – negotiated with Nazis – to save Jews,’” May 3).
It was not inappropriate because she is the granddaughter of the infamous Rudolf Kastner, but because, rather than representing the state, she attempted to clear her grandfather’s dubious name on the backs of survivors – some of whom survived in spite of him. Her “victimization” language – urging survivors not to act like victims, but “heroically,” like her grandfather – was offensive to me, my mother and others around me.
Neither I nor my relatives and colleagues can judge the wartime kapos or members of the Judenrat; the human will to survive is too strong. But Adolf Eichmann explicitly did not want another Warsaw Ghetto uprising, and Kastner agreed to suppress knowledge of Hungarian Jews’ imminent fate. He had every obligation to lie to Eichmann and clandestinely encourage revolt at the deportation centers.
Michaeli does not merit blame for her heritage, but history must never be rewritten for anyone. Our enemies are already replete with revisionism.
New York
The writer is vice president of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants, a co-sponsor of the annual Temple Emanu-El commemoration.