April 10: Hollow words

Words of PM "ring hollow"; "Where is the pride in shameful neglect with which Holocaust survivors have been treated".

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Hollow words
Sir, – With regard to “We won’t put our fate in the hands of others,” PM says at Yad Vashem” (March 8), Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, during the main ceremony opening Holocaust Remembrance Day, also said that there were now over six million Jews in Israel.
“This is our victory, our consolation, our pride,” he added.
These words ring hollow for me. Where is the pride in the shameful neglect with which Holocaust survivors have been treated since their arrival in Israel? Clearly there is no dearth of fine speech writers here. However, words alone – unaccompanied by meaningful action – become insults to the memory of the six million who were murdered and to those survivors who chose to come to live in Israel, many of whom fought (and were killed) in its wars.
“In every generation, every one of us must think of himself as though he survived the Holocaust and established the state [of Israel],” Netanyahu declared.
If this really were the case there would be no Holocaust survivors living in poverty in Israel – the one country that, logic dictates, should have welcomed them with open arms and ensured that their material suffering, at least, would end there.
The announcements on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day by Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yair Lapid, of a few more millions pledged toward the needs of survivors, also smacked of the lowest sort of political point-scoring.
As the granddaughter of survivors who carried their trauma and grief until the end of their lives, I am disgusted and ashamed that the State of Israel has so badly neglected its own.ILANA BARDA Tel Mond
Sir, – Speaking at Yad Vashem, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that Israel’s existence will keep the Jewish people from “returning to a situation where it is too late.” President Shimon Peres said that since World War II, the Jewish people has “decreased in number but not in spirit.”
What we need from Netanyahu and Peres is not idle words – which we hear far too often, with no results except those that end in concessions and surrender.
The deepest meaning of the State of Israel is that God gave us another chance to build the Jewish land and brought us back after thousands of years of wandering.
We certainly were not brought back to give up the one and only piece of land given to us in perpetuity, and to no other.
We must never forget that it is not only Iran threatening to wipe us out, but also our socalled partner in peace, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who daily preaches incitement to hatred and promises to walk in the footsteps of his mentor, Yasser Arafat, all the way to Jerusalem. We must listen to him no less than to Iran.EDITH OGNALL Netanya
Don’t expect healing
Sir, – I found your editorial “Remembering the Shoah” (April 8) deeply troubling for several reasons.
While dutifully repeating the mantra “We must not forget the lessons of the Shoah,” you go on to state that the waning in intensity of Holocaust memories “should be welcomed as part of the gradual process of moving from destruction to rebuilding, to a semblance of normalization – and healing.” How much this must resonate with those who are already crying, “Enough of the Holocaust already!” The inevitable lessening of the intensity of Holocaust memories is to be regretted, not welcomed.
As eyewitnesses are increasingly lost each year (even as many accounts have been preserved on video), the opportunity to question those able to give first-person accounts, to learn from the intensity of their experiences and understand the uniqueness of their history, will be gone.
Their stories are not to be equated with destruction, as your editorial suggests, but must stand as examples of faith, courage, survival and incredible acts of human kindness in the face of unimaginable evil. It is these lessons of the Shoah that we must never forget – and the “intense memories” of those who lived through it remain the best way to teach them.
As to “semblance of normalization and healing,” how many voices must be stilled and how little attention should we pay to their memories before this is complete? To what extent shall we reduce the books, articles and movies that appear each year? How many school hours devoted to the Holocaust must be cancelled, and how far must we silence the sirens and diminish the commemorations of Holocaust Remembrance Day before we become healed? I would suggest to you that the memory and history of the Shoah is now a part of the Jewish psyche from which “normalization” and “healing” can be neither sought nor expected.GERALD FLANZBAUM Givat Olga
Sir, – While the official state ceremony commemorating the opening of Holocaust Remembrance Day was taking place in Jerusalem, US Secretary of State John Kerry was visiting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah (“Kerry arrives in another bid to get Israel, PA to talk,” March 8).
Abbas is a Holocaust denier.
He received his doctorate at Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow, where his thesis (later turned into a book published in Arabic) was “The Connection between the Nazis and the Leaders of the Zionist Movement.”
In it he claimed, among other grotesque things, that the Zionists created the “myth” of six million and plotted with the Nazis to expand the mass extermination.”
The timing of this visit by Kerry indicates either mind-boggling insensitivity or utter ignorance of the character of the leading figures in the Israeli- Palestinian conflict. In either case it does not bode well for American involvement in an issue that involves the security and the very existence of the State of Israel.JAY SHAPIRO Jerusalem
Freedom for Jews
Sir, – In “Combatting anti- Semitism” (Comment & Features, April 8), Arsen Ostrovsky quotes an interviewee as saying, “I hate Jews period. Nothing you do will make me change my mind.”
Modern Israel is an oasis for those people trying to escape irrational hatred of the Jews, which we call anti-Semitism.
Israel is the only country in the world where a Jew can live as a totally free person. I came to live here at the age of 32, and my only regret is that I did not come at an earlier age.
Herzl, one of the founders of modern Israel, pointed out that as long as there was even one Jew living in a foreign country, anti-Semitism would raise its ugly head. It was essential to reestablish a large and thriving Jewish community in its own country as the best means of protecting the Jewish people and to fight the phenomenon of unbridled and irrational hatred against it.
P. YONAH Shoham
Held to their faith
Sir, – In “The value of a sharpened conscience” (Comment & Features, April 8), Jürgen Bühler pays highly deserved tribute to the Huguenots of Chambon sur Lignon, who saved about 5,000 Jews from the Nazis.
The Jews weren’t sequestered there. Chabon sur Lignon became a haven and a factory for moving them to safety.
Those unsophisticated, loving people even learned how to forge documents and whatever else it took for a mission they considered holy.
As I recall my history, the Huguenots just wanted to be left alone. The Catholics and Calvinist Protestants demanded they choose – they would not tolerate such a Jew-loving, tolerant sect. The Huguenots held to their Bible faith.PESACH GOODLEY Telz Stone
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