January 23: Revising the view

Of all the countries in the Holocaust, the proportion of Holland’s Jews who were murdered was the highest – 77%.

Revising the view
Sir, – Regarding “Dutch Righteous Gentile recalls saving hundreds of children” (January 20), a favorable view of how the Dutch people acted toward their Jewish compatriots has persisted for many years, partly because of many reports of Jews who were ondergedoken (hidden by Dutch Gentiles), and partly because Holland had the second-highest number of Righteous Gentiles (more than 5,000). But this view is being revised in light of new studies, especially those of Manfred Gerstenfeld.
Wide-spread collaboration with the German occupiers, not only among the Dutch police and other officials, but also among the common people, led directly to the large numbers of Jews who were deported. In addition, huge amounts of Jewish money and property were looted by the Dutch people, of which but a tiny fraction has been repaid.
Of all the countries in the Holocaust, the proportion of Holland’s Jews who were murdered was the highest – 77 percent. There were more than 100,000 civilian accomplices, many of whom received cash rewards to turn in Jews who were hiding. The Dutch point with pride to the heroism of Anne Frank, but fail to consider that it was one of their own who betrayed her.
Even the French, not always known for their love of Jews, have apologized for their collaboration in the mass Paris roundup of Jews in July 1942.
Parents guilty, too
Sir, – It is sickening to hear about the molestation of over 100 kids and the fact that some of the suspects are still at large and threatening the families of their victims (“‘He masterminded the systematic rape of over 100 kids, and he’s just sitting there,’” January 20).
No punishment or incarceration of the perpetrators can give these children back their childhood or innocence, and these families will be scarred forever.
Yet I can’t help but ask the big question: Where were these parents for the past six years, that they appeared to be oblivious to what was going on? The article talks about the babysitters who were threatened.
Who was raising these kids, the babysitters or the parents? In one family alone (which has since left the community, according to one mother quoted), all 10 children were abused. All 10? Did the parents even live at home? Did they know about it but not report it, and now that the news is out they have decided to leave?
The article describes how almost every house was affected.Although I do not know all the details, I think I am not alone in pointing a finger at the parents in this small community. If they honestly did not realize anything strange or devious was going on right under their noses, I can’t help but feel that they are unfit to be parents and should be ashamed – not about what happened, but at themselves for not being there.
There are sick people out there and it is up to us as parents to protect our children and educate them. Children cannot be left unsupervised or in someone else’s care without careful consideration. This is a motherly instinct, and all parents should feel this way.
It goes without saying that if the parents did know about it, or even suspected something, and kept silent, they are accomplices to the crimes and should be prosecuted as well.
They must speak out
Sir, – Rabbi Warren Goldstein (“Divided we fall,” Sinai Today, January 20) is entirely right in castigating those who display the external trappings of religion while ignoring their obligations toward their fellow human beings. Yet he is silent about religious leaders who do not respond to the indefensible “irreligious” acts of their followers.
We often fault the Palestinian leadership for elevating suicide bombers to the status of “martyrs.” We assert that in so doing they give an incentive to others to follow in the footsteps of these terrorists.
Unfortunately, there are too many rabbis at all points of the political continuum who fail to condemn “price tag” attacks, spitting on children and publicly humiliating women. Their silence or, even worse, support for such actions tells their outlaw followers that these acts are entirely acceptable. As a result, others in their communities either avoid expressing disapproval or conclude that it is appropriate for them to commit similar acts.
With authority comes responsibility. Religious leaders have an obligation to speak out against actions that violate not only the rules of kashrut and Shabbat, but the rules of social order as well.
Their failure to do so makes them enablers and accomplices to these crimes. The higher level of learning achieved by rabbinical leaders places on them a heavier burden to act in accordance with all elements of Halacha.
Zichron Ya’acov
Vain expectations
Sir, – Israel’s classical music lovers deserve a station of their own. Unfortunately Kol Hamusika is hardly that station (“No plans to silence The Voice of Music,” January 19).
Music stations, whether pop, jazz, ethnic or classical, should serve as mediums of passive entertainment, not force-feeders of obscurantism and atonal noises that appeal to very few and reflect the self-indulgence of elitist programmers who disdain their audience. Perhaps fresh management will eschew the minimalist scratchings and pluckings, as well as the pedantically obscure 18th Century Christian liturgical cantatas we have to suffer through in the often vain expectation of a piece by Chopin, Beethoven or Brahms.
No comparison
Sir, – Michael Freund does our cause no service when he muddies the pool with ill-informed comments (“A two-state solution – for England and Scotland,” Fundamentally Freund, January 19). There is not even the remotest similarity between the UK’s problems and our problems.
It is impossible to outline the complex history of England, Scotland and their union in a few paragraphs. They were united in a process of historical evolution in which Scotland was an active and mainly willing partner.
Scotland did very well, and even today its influence in the UK Parliament is greater than one would expect from a comparison of the size of its population with that of England (including Wales). In any case, the economies of the two countries are closely intertwined.
What is most worrying is Freund’s failure to recognize that he is proposing the establishment of yet another pro-Palestinian state. While the current minority SNP government in the devolved Scottish parliament has good relations with the country’s Jews, the Palestinian solidarity movement has strong roots there. It blazed the trail of vocal support for the Palestinian cause in 1980 when the City of Dundee was twinned with Nablus, and the movement has gained strength since then. I should know. I was there.
Sir, – Michael Freund accuses British Prime Minister David Cameron of double standards for insisting on Palestinian self-determination while himself imposing conditions on the Scots for their forthcoming referendum on independence.
The comparison is disingenuous.
In fact, Cameron seeks the holding of the Scottish referendum as soon as possible because all opinion polls currently show the Scots are likely to vote against independence.
The current Israeli administration appears to be blocking Palestinian self-determination through unhelpful settlement expansion, and I’ll eat my barrister’s wig if Freund has ever met a single Palestinian who does not want an independent state.
Salford, UK