From Hebron to Yad Vashem: Jewish Sorrow Justifying the Sorrow of Others

on 77 Comments
Deir Yassin as seen from Yad Vashem. The village was located in the forest to the right of the water tower at the top of the photo. (Photo: Alice, the pilot woman)

We were at Yad Vashem, Israel’s memorial to the Holocaust in Jerusalem. The “we” were my wife, Karen, and my two children, ages 19 and 21. We had decided to make the pilgrimage on our last day in Israel, and like so many visitors, we walked through the memorial in a kind of stupor of horror. Display by display, we saw the documented history of the murder of six million Jewish people. Ghetto by ghetto, we witnessed the vile efficiency of the Nazi project. It was one of the most relentless indictments of human cruelty we had seen — and, in the end, as we stepped out into the light and onto a plateau overlooking in the distance the massacre site of the former Palestinian village of Deir Yassin — it also felt like an enormous betrayal.

We had not expected to be in Jerusalem, or at Yad Vashem. Our trip began in late December 2009 in Cairo. We had decided to go on the Gaza Freedom March (GFM) with 1400 others and try to get into besieged Gaza. Our goal was to break the siege that Israel had imposed and demonstrate to the million and a half Palestinians imprisoned in that small strip of land that they were not alone. Our hope was to help bring worldwide attention to Gaza and the unlawful, punishing blockade of its people. We did not make it into Gaza; nor did almost anyone else from the GFM. Sadly, the Egyptian government (presumably in cahoots with Israel and probably the United States) refused to let us through the Rafah border entrance in Sinai. So instead, after some three days of joining in the militant efforts of the GFM to change Egypt’s recalcitrance—we joined demonstrations everywhere—we decided to go to Jerusalem and the West Bank to witness the occupation in those parts.

I had been to Israel twice as a child, once in the mid-50’s and once in the early 60’s. In those early days I had no political consciousness whatsoever. I had no thought that the land I was walking on—which I assumed was where my distant ancestors had walked —had just a few years earlier been populated by another people. I did not know about Palestinians and was never told about them. For me, my trips to Israel were all milk and honey and I have wonderful memories of my childhood spent in Herzliya, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Eilat.

On this trip, 50 years later, I knew a lot more. Or I thought I did. Nothing really prepared me for the apartheid state that was laid out in front of me and that should be apparent to anyone who opens their eyes. Checkpoints, a pass system, segregated roads, Jewish-only cities and the expropriation for Jews of large swaths of Palestinian land. My entire family was shocked and shaken. It was all so intentional, so cruel.

Hebron was an armed camp with watch towers overlooking the areas where a few Jewish settlers had ousted Palestinian families that had resided there for generations. The Palestinians that remained in those areas faced constant harassment from the settlers; even small Jewish children could throw rocks with impunity at Palestinians. Those Palestinians still living in districts where settlers had moved were, unlike the settlers, no longer allowed to drive cars to their homes. They often had to walk over a mile to get to their homes and take food and other necessities in by mule. Our host had a head full of scars from the times he had been attacked by settlers hurling rocks. The open markets were covered with protective wire mesh that was filled with bottles and garbage that had been thrown by the settlers who overlooked the markets.

We went to Jenin, some two hours from Jerusalem, passing check point after checkpoint. We visited the refugee camp that had been so devastated by Israeli soldiers a few years before. We spent a few days in East Jerusalem, joined a demonstration against evictions going on in Sheikh Jarrah, and saw the open and notorious gobbling up of East Jerusalem and its environs by Israel. We saw Palestinian houses demolished in neighborhoods that Israel had designated as Area C—areas that were to be purged of Palestinians and placed under complete Israeli control. This was despite the clear illegality of expropriating lands taken by conquest. It was devastating and it was appalling.

We had one last day to spend in Jerusalem before our late night flight to New York City. For a few days I had said we should visit Yad Vashem. But I did not insist on seeing it. I was ambivalent about the visit for myself and my family. This was not because I did not care about the Holocaust. I cared deeply. I was born in 1943 during the height of the murders. My family lost many, many relatives in Tykocin, Bialystok and Vilna. My father had been responsible for resettling hundreds of survivors, and growing up with people who had numbers tattooed on their arms was part of my childhood in Cleveland. Trips to the killing camps in Europe were a rite of passage. My work as a human rights lawyer stems directly from heeding the admonition “never again,” whether that never is for Jews or any other people. In later years I made pilgrimages to Holocaust memorials in New York, Washington D.C. and Berlin. I had been to a very different Yad Vashem in West Jerusalem in 1956. As I recall it was in a dark cave-like place where one could almost reach out and touch lamp shades made from human skin and soap from human fat. The Holocaust and its horrors remain part of my being.

So why was I ambivalent? We had just spent three days trying to get into Gaza and five days exploring the treatment of Palestinians by Israel. Would visiting Yad Vashem somehow justify, if not for me, but for my children some of what we had just seen? Would it make the case for a Jewish state in Israel? The need for protection from another Holocaust was a key founding narrative of Israel. My generation was raised on that narrative: Israel was necessary to save the Jewish people — then and in the future. Wasn’t that the very reason for having the major Jewish memorial to the Holocaust in Israel, at the foot of Mt. Herzl, a mountain named after the founder of Zionism?

At the same time I trusted my family. They had just seen an apartheid state up close, had met refuges from ’48 and ’67, saw the taking of others’ lands and seen the oppression of Palestinians in Hebron and Jerusalem. So we took ourselves on a beautiful, sunny late morning in January to Yad Vashem.

For my children it was one of the first times they had immersed themselves in the history, documents and words of the Holocaust. They spent hours listening to the testimony, viewing the videos and asking questions. Occasionally, there were references to Zionism as it was part of the history of Jews in Eastern Europe, but it was not until the end of the formal exhibits that the “logic” of connecting the Holocaust to Israel was made explicit. Hatikvah (The Hope), Israel’s national anthem, was the musical theme at end of our journey through Holocaust history, making explicit the founding narrative.

We then went into the Hall of Remembrance, a large rounded space with a deep pit carved out of its center with its walls lined with volume after volume of the names of the murdered. Off to one side is the computer room with a data base of the names that are known. My children immediately went to the computers and looked up our murdered relatives. Many had died at Auschwitz and; others were killed in the 1941 massacre in the Lopuchowa forest in Tykocin, Poland, where 3000 men women and children from that village dug their own graves and were murdered by the einsatzgruppen; others still died of typhus within days of liberation from the camps. As we left the museum, with its triangular, elongated windowless, and cold concrete structure, we walked toward the picture window at the end and out onto a terrace overlooking the hills of Israel—again the narrative, from the Holocaust to Israel.

As saddened and horrified as we were by what we had just experienced, we were all struck by the contradiction of having the museum in Israel, a country forged out of the theft of other people’s land and homes, a nation whose treatment of Palestinians had echoes of what we had just seen: walled-in ghettos, stolen houses and land, a segregated population. It was an irony not lost on my family. Yad Vashem should be history lesson for us all, but it’s a lesson that seems to be lost on many of the very people who were its victims.

Despite the power of Yad Vashem I felt robbed by my experience there. I felt manipulated. It is not that the history it told and pain it conveyed were false or that I felt distanced from the horror of the Holocaust. But the powerful narrative of the Holocaust that the museum was trying to make me accept, or at least justify, what was unacceptable: the apartheid state that is today’s Israel. In this narrative, the Holocaust is used to ask us to wash away the sins of the occupier. By so doing the Holocaust is diminshed.

On our trip to Hebron our Palestinian guide had asked me whether I really thought six million Jews had been killed in the Holocaust. He was skeptical. I was angered by his doubts. I answered him directly and unequivocally: six million Jews had been murdered. The visit to Yad Vashem gave me some perspective on his doubts. He implicitly understood that it was the narrative of the Holocaust that was used to justify his victimization and the refusal of much of the world to do anything about it. His way of dealing with it was to reject the claimed justification for his oppression.

These words have been hard words to write. It does not come easily to me to raise questions about a memorial to the most horrific event in Jewish history. But I do not accept that Jewish sorrow should be used to hide or justify the sorrow of others. To truly remember and honor the lessons of the Holocaust would be to end the apartheid system that is the Israel of today. That would be a day of Hope.

Michael Ratner is a human rights lawyer based in New York City.

77 Responses

  1. potsherd
    January 14, 2010, 3:04 pm

    Deir Yassin – another forest planted to cover up Zionist murders.

    Jews deny their crimes against Palestinians, Palestinians deny German crimes against Jews, seeing and hearing no evil of themselves. Everyone wants exclusive rights to victimhood.

    Thanks for bearing witness.

    • James
      January 14, 2010, 4:59 pm

      denial isn’t a specialty of any particular race, but more a reflection on a certain un-evolved part of human nature….

      • zamaaz
        January 15, 2010, 5:29 am

        In the Gaza issues, there is always ambivalence. There are always contradictions. The Jews and the people of the world will always confront the bitter side of reality.

        There always be two basic reactions to the visit to the Holocaust memorial:
        a) we should never do to others what we have suffered under the holocaust;
        b) never again the Jews must lost their homeland.

        Which decision will you have?

      • RoHa
        January 16, 2010, 8:21 am

        The first decision is obviouslya moral imperative.

        As far as Jews losing their homeland is concerned, I am not sure what you mean by that, but my interpretation is this.

        If a Jew is born and brought up in Australia, Australia is his homeland, just as it is the homeland of any other Australian. For the Jew to lose that homeland would mean that he is denied citizenship or residence rights.

        Now as I understand it, this is what happened to Jews under the Nazis, and if the message of the Holocaust memorial is that Jews should never lose their homelands in that sense, I would agree with that message.

        But I do not see that there is any tension between that message and the message “we should never do to others what we have suffered under the holocaust”.

        Surely the principle “never deny people citizenship or residence rights in their homeland” applies to all people, not just Jews.

  2. Citizen
    January 14, 2010, 3:17 pm

    It’s true that Nazis never made lamp shades of jewish skin, and they never made soap from Jewish fat; OTH Zionists never gassed the Palestinians with Zyklon B, or directly forced them
    into slave labor camps for the Israeli war regime under somebody like Speer. Otherwise, there’s a big problem. It all begins when anyone, here Mister Ratner, incorporates all human beings in the phrase “Never Again!” The slippery slope is there for all to see if they want to; the literal death or abuse of innocence too, as in the story of Anne Frank;
    and so, we need to force American regime change. Americans cannot do much about our propaganda MSM machine, but we can vote the rascals out during the next vote cycle; and be fully prepared to vote them out the following cycle. One day Americans
    will decide it’s in ours and the world’s best interest to tax ourselves to fund electoral
    politicians. Get rid of the special interest lobbies. Quit pretending those lobbies have
    a claim same as an individual to free speech. There’s the rub, how to take money out of
    the way we elect our governmental reps?

    • kapok
      January 14, 2010, 10:02 pm

      You think voting will help. “be fully prepared” for disappointment.

    • Michael Weiz
      January 15, 2010, 8:56 am

      While Israelis didn’t use slave-labour like the Nazis, Pappe’s “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine” refers repeatedly to the brutality meted out in what he calls “POW camps” and occasionally to forced labour eg p.202/203:

      “One concerned army officer who happened to visit such a prison camp wrote: ‘In recent times there were some very grave cases in the treatment of prisoners. The barbaric and cruel behaviour these cases reveal undermines the army’s discipline.'[9. IDF Archives, 54/410, File 107,4 April 1948.] The concern voiced here for the army rather than for the victims will also sound familiar by now in the history of military ‘self-criticism’ in Israel.

      Worse still were the labour camps. The idea of using Palestinian prisoners as forced labour came from the Israeli military command and was endorsed by the politicians. Three special labour camps were built for the purpose, one in Sarafand, another in Tel-Litwinski (today Tel-Hashomer Hospital) and a third in Umm Khalid (near Netanya). The authorities used the prisoners in any job that could help strengthen both the Israeli economy and the army’s capabilities.[Pappe: 10. I wish to thank Salman Abu Sitta for providing me with the Red Cross Documents: G59/I/GG 6 February 1949.]

      … The witness then describes the routine of forced labour in the camp: working in the quarries and carrying heavy stones; living on one potato in the morning and half a dried fish at noon. There was no point in complaining as disobedience was punished with severe beatings. After fifteen days, 150 men were moved to a sec­ond camp in Jalil, where they were exposed to similar treatment: ‘We had to remove rubble from destroyed Arab houses.’ But then, one day, ‘an officer with good English told us that “from now on” we would be treated according to the Geneva Convention. And indeed, conditions improved.’

      Five months later, al-Khatib’s witness told him, he was back at Umm Khalid where he recalled scenes that could have come straight from another place and time. When the guards discovered that twenty people had escaped, ‘We, the people of Tantura, were put in a cage, oil was poured on our clothes and our blankets were taken away.’12

      After one of their early visits, on 11 November 1948, Red Cross officials reported dryly that POWs were exploited in the general local effort to ‘strengthen the Israeli economy’.[13/10. I wish to thank Salman Abu Sitta for providing me with the Red Cross Documents: G59/I/GG 6 February 1949.] This guarded language was not accidental. Given its deplorable behaviour during the Holocaust, when it failed to report on what went on in Nazi concentration camps, on which it was well informed, the Red Cross was careful in its reproach and criticism of the Jewish state. But at least their documents do shed some light on the experiences of the Palestinian inmates, some of whom were kept in these camps until 1955.

      (Hope I’ve not exceeded “fair use” of copyright material, I sincerely hope that people will buy the book).

  3. MHughes976
    January 14, 2010, 4:09 pm

    I hope you’re right, Citizen, but I wonder if there is any way in this bad world to prevent money from talking.
    The Economist reported that the Pope had angered Israel by saying ‘millions’ instead of ‘six million’ – I suspect that the Vatican, for good reasons or bad, has never believed the ‘six million’ figure.
    I began by thinking that ‘six million’ was simply a terrible truth. It is clear, of course, that the figure has been put into the service of an interpretation of historical events, the official or Wiesel version, in which the attack on European Jews resulted not from the attitudes of a crazed Nazi minority (not enough to justify the existence of Israel) but also from the ‘indifference’, itself a form of anti-Semitism, of the mass of people. The figure then is put into the service of the moral claims of Zionism.
    As I lost my ability to agree with Zionism I found myself thinking that here was a true proposition in the service and support of a terrible moral falsehood. I couldn’t help noticing that something in me wished to think that the historical interpretation, as well as the moral claim, was false – that ‘indifference’ has been magnified and courageous resistance and opposition played down or portrayed as the work of ‘righteous Gentiles’ whose main defining feature is that they were few among the hundreds of millions upon hundreds of millions of the indifferent.
    Then of course something in me wishes to deflate the figure in order to weaken the hold of the intepretation placed upon it. I tell myself that my wishes should not influence my actual beliefs and that I just don’t wish to be – that’s not who I am! – in the same space as Arthur Butz or David Irving. The second wish somehow seems more respectable than the first.
    There is also the feeling that the Pope-style shift – maybe it was rather fewer than six million – is itself rather horrible, as if you were letting yourself think that a couple of million wouldn’t have been so bad.
    But the truth is that ‘six million’ is not just a mathematical number but part of a value system. I think that the essential point, therefore, is not acceptance of the number as an incontrovertible matter of fact but insistence on the true value judgement that discrimination, expulsion and violence because people are of a disliked race or religion is wrong on whatever scale it occurs.

    • potsherd
      January 14, 2010, 5:27 pm

      The number unfortunately has taken on the quality of a fetish. To question the number is “holocaust revisionism” which has been conflated into “holocaust denial,” which is an ultimate fetish. The facts, one figure or another, no longer matter themselves, but for what political purpose they serve.

  4. Mooser
    January 14, 2010, 4:27 pm

    Everybody desperately wants to believe that some good can come out of the Holacaust. (Why it is so necessary for people to believe that scares me to death, actually, because it tells me they want a solution like that to be within the realm of the considerable. YMMV)
    So, the Jews are supposed to have “learned something” from the Holacaust. And there may be a few extra-ordinary people who did, for all I know.
    Me, I don’t think, except for those few saints (a job for a Jewish boy?) the Holacaust was (as she said) “good for anybody”.
    But nobody wants to believe that, really, it’s what I call Panglossism.
    In fact, before I knew exactly what the Zionists did, and how they did it, one of the things which played a big part in my rejection of Zionism was the fact that Zionism the founding of Israel, was posited as a consequence of the Holacaust. That tipped me off right away there was something wrong with it. The Holocaust, whether or not it was the worst thing ever, was bad enough that very few good things would come out of it, or as a consequence of it.

    • James
      January 14, 2010, 4:57 pm

      i agree with your conclusions… using guilt to inflict pain on others doesn’t seem all that kosher…

  5. Mooser
    January 14, 2010, 4:36 pm

    Here’s a simple illustrative playlet of what took place in my brain when presented with all this:
    Imaginery Zionist Interlocuter: “Well, Moosie, you got any complaints about Zionism?
    ME: “Why yes I do, a lot! I can’t say I really like it. What’s my alternative, IZI?”
    IZI: “Oh in that case, you can expect a concentration camp and a helping of Zyklon B, you traitor to the Jews!!”
    ME: “That’s the way you see my choices?”
    IZI: “A Jew has no other choices”
    Me: “Thanks, but I’ll take my chances. I’ll check back in in about 38 more years and see how you are doing, that’ll be about, oh, 2006! Shalom and bye-bye.”

    • Tuyzentfloot
      January 14, 2010, 5:11 pm

      IZI: “Oh in that case, you can expect a concentration camp and a helping of Zyklon B, or worse, end up listening to rotary speakers, you traitor to the Jews!!”
      There, fixed that for ya.

      • Mooser
        January 15, 2010, 11:26 am

        A lot you know, you, you, you…pianist! As a matter of fact, my childhood synagogue, where I was Bar Mitzvah had a Hammond! And very, very well it went with Jewish liturgical music, I thought. No rotary speaker, just a tone cabinet. I was preparing my greatest triumph, an entire Sabbath service set to Gospel music with Hebrew words, when events intervened, and the project was abandoned.
        I’ll bet they have a “keyboard” now and sing “Jewish Praise Songs”.

      • Tuyzentfloot
        January 15, 2010, 6:30 pm

        A lot you know, you, you, you…pianist! Ouch! well I deserved that.

  6. James
    January 14, 2010, 4:56 pm

    Michael – thanks for sharing your perspective here with us… i hope more open minded people like yourself get a chance to experience the i/p issue first hand with the thought that this awareness would be expressed politically in the usa at some point in the future, sooner then later hopefully…

  7. wondering jew
    January 14, 2010, 5:12 pm

    As far as the six million number- there are those who can be considered objectively as historians and there are others who consider themselves historians but are in fact not.
    As a non historian I accept Raul Hilberg as my Holocaust historian and he gives a figure above five million. If you cite a specific historian who is as widely accepted as Hilberg then you are talking history rather than talking as if you’re a historian yourself.

    • VR
      January 14, 2010, 5:44 pm

      Well I’ll be damned WJ, something we agree on…lol

    • David Samel
      January 14, 2010, 6:21 pm

      I agree as well, WJ. Hilberg was a man of great integrity and intelligence. Of course, Nazi moral culpability is hardly affected by his slightly lower estimation than the revered figure of six million. No one would have dared to accuse Hilberg of any sort of denial or even understatement of Nazi crimes, but that doesn’t stop some from going after easier targets. Norman Finkelstein (who Hilberg courageously defended despite angering friends) actually took the time to study Hilberg’s calculations and agreed with them. The utterly loathesome Steven Plaut, locked in a furious competition with Alan Dershowitz over who can be more dishonest, said about Finkelstein that he “denies that Six Million Jews were murdered by Nazi Germany (although does not claim that no Jews at all were killed).” How long did it take Plaut to come up with that formulation that is technically true but so clearly false? I guess if you capitalize Six Million, 5 or 5.5 million is the closest thing to outright denial.

      • wondering jew
        January 14, 2010, 6:30 pm

        As far as I understood from what I read of Hilberg’s book was that the population murdered by the einsatzgruppen is difficult to enumerate with any degree of “reliability” and he was being conservative rather than speculative.

      • Aref
        January 15, 2010, 6:35 am

        I am not sure how to phrase this but I am wondering why the fixation on a figure? Does it really matter if 1 million or 6 million were deliberately massacred for no other reason than that of belonging to the wrong tribe? Would 1 million deaths make the suffering any less than 6 million deaths? I do not want and do not intend to diminish or disrespect in any way the memory of the Nazi holocaust (to use Norman Finkelstein’s term) but I am afraid that the Nazi holocaust has become a fetish. It has become a justification for the unjustifiable. The figure 6 million has become the magic number which grants a monopoly on suffering. I believe that a 100 or even just one person murdered because of belonging to the wrong tribe is a 100 or one too many and in no way this should be allowed to happen nor to justify the infliction of injustice and suffering on others. Figures are just that figures let’s not forget that behind those figures are human beings.

      • Mooser
        January 15, 2010, 11:32 am

        Yup, I thought the thing that catapulted the Holocaust into the fronk ranks of evil wasn’t the exact number, which was certainly huge enough, but the fact that the State sanctioned, bearocrtised, and made an industry out of kidnapping and/or killing a huge number of people based on an “racial” standard (that is, no standard at all).
        But WJ seems intent on avoiding that little end of the argument. I hope he doesn’t think that “6 million” is the biggest number in the world.

      • Michael Weiz
        January 15, 2010, 1:48 pm

        The “6 million murdered” figure is very important for defending Israel, since the latter has never yet murdered more than a few hundred people at one spot.

        Never mind that Israel has committed Kristalnacht x 100 times, never mind that Deir Yassin (alone) was more than twice as murderous as Kishinev, never mind that Israelis have done many of the very things we considered most disgusting when the Nazis did them (making the violinist play his instrument, trained dogs to sniff out Arabs, used slave labour, desecrated graveyards, stuffing people into ghettoes etc etc), it’s never yet committed really large scale killing. So it’s essential to remind people that the Nazis really did kill 6 million people because Israel has not done that. Yet.

    • MRW
      January 14, 2010, 9:35 pm

      I, too, am a Hilberg fan, particularly of his intellectual integrity, as only an honest and professionally trained history scholar can be. If I remember correctly, Israel banned him from using the Yad Vashem archives because he accused one group of European Jews of aiding and abetting the Nazis. (No new news there, BTW.)

      About the question that enraged Michael Ratner: How it is that the number of Jews in the Holocaust held to 6 million from 1946 until 1990/91 when the Soviet archives surfaced, and the Auschwitz Museum, as a result five years later, reduced it’s 4 million number by nearly 3 million and the 6 million figure never changed? Where did nearly three million new WWII-H victims materialize from in the 90s? [Spare me the anti-semitic slurs for using my noggin. I have never heard a responsible answer to this.]

      • Eva Smagacz
        January 14, 2010, 10:14 pm


        It is my understanding that figure of 5.4 million (from my shooldays in Poland) is based on estimates of population of Jews before the war and comparison with the population of Jews after the war. The difference is used to estimate the number of perished.

        New Auschwitz figure is based on capacity of the camp to process the kill and on the best estimates of the numbers of civilians send there, minus those selected to work in satellite labour camps.

        Original inflated figure in Auschwitz was probably put there as a sort of sloppy shorthand (fifties were years of real in your face propaganda): This is an example of a death camp – these are numbers of people killed in the war.

        That large figure, prominently displayed, would be difficult to shift/adjust: even the most respectful historian would be accused of (oh the irony!) revisionism of the achievement of the Red Army, and it could cost him/her job, pension and home.

      • David Samel
        January 14, 2010, 10:43 pm

        MRW, i I could just supplement Eva’s response, I would guess that the figures of 6 million, or 5 or 5.4 or whatever, were calculated by estimates of the Jewish population in Europe before the war, the number who emigrated during the war, the number who survived, and the number that could have been expected to die a natural death, and maybe some things I haven’t thought of. I’m fairly certain that the total was not calculated by adding up the dead at this camp or that, so that a reduction in the number killed at Auschwitz would reduce the total killed. I know you to be a person of common sense and decency, but the question you raise is one that has been trumpeted by unsavory outright deniers. While I have never seen it answered myself, and I admit the above is just my speculation, I do think it makes sense.

      • sammy
        January 15, 2010, 1:07 am

        As an Indian, I find it weird that six million figure is given so much importance. If you follow the Miller experiment, the people killed by the Germans could have been anybody, the climate in the 1930s was pro-eugenics and it was also the age when colonials were treating their occupied peoples shabbily around the world. A list of massacres and atrocities against people during WWII would be extensive and one would be hard put to prioritise any one kind of suffering over the other. I have seen images of half starved Jews in the concentration camps, how are they different from the images of chronically starved children in Africa [like the one being stalked by a vulture in that famous photo]? How are they different from the millions of starving people around the world today? Is indifference better than intentional starvation? The British too starved the Indians inspite of our abundant fiid production because the food was all diverted to its military [an army marches on its stomach, after all]. What the Jews experienced for four years, starvation and indifference to suffering and mass killings, has been normal everyday life for millions of people in Asia under occupation by western imperialists.

      • MRW
        January 15, 2010, 5:23 am

        David Samel,

        They do have records of the incoming at the camps. The Germans, in particular, were motor-heads about keeping records…of everything; the Nazis required that Jewish records from synagogues, mohel ceremonies, hospitals, cemeteries, etc be handed over for quite a few cities and towns. That’s what Hilberg, BTW, relied upon, except for Auschwitz and the other camps the Russians liberated, which were not available until the fall of the USSR. He was assiduous about documentation both here in Alexandria VA and abroad. This whole issue, however, and “unsavory outright deniers,”as objectionable as they might be, are why I object strenuously to outlawing any jaw-jaw or serious questioning about what went on. You can’t muzzle a watershed experience like that. It lets things fester for decades and breeds its own new set of deleterious circumstances and fantastical pronouncements (remember the human lampshades). I have the same problem with people labeling others ‘conspiracy theorists’ for not toeing the party line on a topic, especially the stupid ones as annoying as they can be — perhaps you’ve caught some of my finer bon mots on the subject during late night rants — as I do with anti-semitic labels for asking questions about the Holocaust that deviate from the creed.

        Now, this could lead to a march larger philosophical discussion and interest of mine — that this strait-jacket labeling has contributed enormously to, or created, it’s own binary tea-partyish-style thinking culture in America, where everything is black or white, good or evil, jingoism or terrorism, no nuance, no forgiveness via history, nor ability to compute the consequences of actions over time — so I’ll keep this to the topic at hand.

        There were 17 million documents retrieved from a subset of the Russian archives that we got our hands on outside Russia. Those were the ones that they scanned in a some locked building during the 90s (the BBC had photos of the inside of this place with vast shelving and plastic curtains to protect against dust) and a copy of which sent over here in this century under armed guard in a private Boeing to be placed in a museum, possibly the Smithsonian…I don’t think it was the Holocaust Museum in DC. But the weird thing is no is yet allowed to see all these docs. Some historians, maybe, perhaps, but not the public. Why? What is it we’re not supposed to know about all this?

        I’m just yammering on. I’ll stop. I’m just such a 1 + 1 = 2 why are you telling me it’s 10 type of person. Maybe I’m too simple-minded.

      • Mooser
        January 15, 2010, 12:37 pm

        “I have never heard a responsible answer to this.]”

        In theKaballah the numerological significance of the number 6,000,000 is tremendous. It’s what we call, in Yiddish, “muy caliente

  8. Yaniv Reich
    January 14, 2010, 5:36 pm

    Thanks for this article.

    On my most recent visit to Yad Vashem, I too had spent the previous couple days in the occupied West Bank—Hebron, Bethlehem, and the Deheisha refugee camp, in my case. It was a remarkable transition to make from the shadows of the segregation wall, the video camera-clad military towers, the checkpoints, the system of ID cards to the absolutely stunning presentation inside the museum.

    As you know, the main hall of the new Yad Vashem is organized chronologically, so one is first exposed to the increasing oppression of the 1930s before one arrives at any of the death camps and mass graves.

    For me the most unsettling and terrifying impression was that of the similarities between the Jewish ghettos of Germany, Poland, etc., and the current system of de jure apartheid that one witnesses on any trip to the West Bank. The walls, the concentrated and deliberate poverty, the discriminatory system based on identity, the growing desperation.

    Of course, by late 1940 the Nazi regime had shifted somewhat and embarked on the quick liquidation of Europe’s Jews. To compare the current situation in occupied Palestine is emphatically not to accuse the Israeli government of the worst Nazi crimes. It is, however, to recognize the alarming degree to which modern Israel has recreated the depressing, oppressive conditions faced by Germany and Poland’s Jews in the late 1930s.

    We should know better, precisely because we as a people have suffered the same.

    • Mooser
      January 15, 2010, 11:46 am

      “We should know better, precisely because we as a people have suffered the same.”

      Sure we should, on the same principle that children who grow up being physically abused by their parents always become non-violent, understanding, parents and people.
      Why is everybody trying to do Hitler a favor? The Holocaust, no matter what the numbers, in certain ways stands as the acme of modern human evil, death factories run by the state on a business basis. It brutalised all who came in contact with it, and seems to have the power of brutalising even indirectly. So why do we have to keep on absurdly trying to claim the Holocaust should have “improved” us, in understanding and compassion. Gee, in that case, let’s have another, and become perfect!
      Yes, their are a few individual saints everywhere.
      But let me ask you, do you beat your child on the basis of making him a less violent, more understanding adult.
      I’m beginning to wonder if this insistence on the improving power of Holocausts isn’t a way of avoiding coming to grips with how badly it damaged us. By the way, that’s what it was intended to do.

  9. VR
    January 14, 2010, 6:03 pm

    No one should abide by smothering the moral voice of authority in others suffering with their suffering. This is the essential problem with dismissing everyone else because you have a corner on suffering. However, with the Holocaust, unfortunately, it has been brought to an art form – silencing the moral authority of the others voice of suffering. So as Mr. Ratner says is cheapens the Holocaust, and it has been used to gainsay the genocide of other peoples – when this is done, it becomes worse than Holocaust denial because it is bound up with many genocides in the past.

    It has always been a problem for me, that while building this great memorial of Yad Vashem that we had for many years people who were Holocaust survivors starving, trying to make a decision between drugs needed and food. This tells us something, that Zionism is interested in the “image” of the Holocaust, to take advantage of its moral voice, but not in the survivors themselves! Where these Zionists can build these monuments, and build up “greater Israel,” even with the money meant to go to survivors which somehow in many cases just disappeared into thin air…no, it was used for things it was not designated for, and for the fat fees over the money for the blood of the murdered. This causes all activity in the name of the Holocaust survivors, or in the name of the Jewish People by Israel, to be suspect.

    • Mooser
      January 15, 2010, 11:50 am

      “image” of the Holocaust, to take advantage of its moral voice,

      I sort of thought it didn’t have one, but that’s just me.
      And Gosh, I get a little uneasy, if God allowed the Holocaust, when did He change his mind and decide to boost Israel and Zionism? I haven’t heard anything.

      • VR
        January 16, 2010, 8:53 am

        “I sort of thought it didn’t have one, but that’s just me.”

        Well Mooser that does not answer the claim and the exercise of this “moral voice of authority” by Zionists. It has also become quite useful to anyone who wants to commit atrocities and genocide, because the claim is made that it is not genocide until you goose step. You could call it an unholy alliance, for lack of a better term, for the genocidal process over and over again by powerful nations – and mask it for what it really is. I face it all the time in both academic circles and in the community, so it is quite alive and well for something that does not exist.

  10. Citizen
    January 14, 2010, 6:33 pm

    How many native Americans died in the Indian wars that ended about 1890? One million, or 12 million? And didn’t 90% of them die via unintentional smallpox?
    I don’t think the exact figures matter. What we do with such events means everything.
    I find it hard to argue with the fact that the Pals had nothing to do with what happened at the hand of Nazi Germany. This means a tremendous wrong has been done to a whole
    people, and after the Nuremberg Trials. And Americans are directly to blame for being enablers.

  11. David Samel
    January 14, 2010, 6:39 pm

    Michael Ratner explores a sensitive issue involving the relationship between the Holocaust and the creation and continued existence and policies of Israel. The Holocaust was indeed an event so monstrous that it deserves investigation and remembrance on a grand scale. However, there is no doubt that a significant part of the agenda of the Holocaust commemoration community is to promote Israel. It is most unfortunate that people like the Ratners cannot immerse themselves in a place like Yad Vashem for its own sake, without feeling the extraneous pressures of that pro-Israel agenda.

    I have said it before on this website but it deserves repeating. While Raul Wallenberg is deservedly honored for his exraordinary heroism in saving tens of thousands from the Nazis, his countryman Folke Bernadotte, whose feats were similar, continues to languish in historical oblivion. Yad Vashem honors over 20,000 non-Jewish people for their heroism, and Bernadotte is not on the list. His crime was to be murdered by Jews when he was UN Mediator for Palestine. How do you honor Bernadotte without reminding the world of his murder, and even more importantly, undermining the myth that the Jewish side was willing to accept UN resolution of the crisis in 1948 but the Arab side was not. This is a dilemma that Holocaust Museums have not been able to solve. The omission of Bernadotte from place like Yad Vashem is not an isolated anomaly, but graphically illustrates the morally questionable intrusion of Israel into Holocaust study.

  12. wondering jew
    January 14, 2010, 7:28 pm

    Theodor Herzl and the other Zionists foresaw a catastrophe coming the way of the Jews of Europe and they proposed a national solution (in a particular spot). In fact Israel saved a few hundred thousand while millions died in Europe; in effect Israel the solution only came on the scene after Hitler’s solution had already run rampant.

    This historical near miss (or near success), but actual catastrophe, casts Israel as the brother survivor, who attributes his survival to his cunning and self sufficiency, who was unable to save the others who lacked his cunning.

    • Taxi
      January 14, 2010, 8:00 pm

      I attribute the Euro Jews’ survival primarily to men like my grandfather who lost his life on the battlefields of Berlin in 1948.

      Hundreds of thousands of gentiles died to save the Euro Jews.

      Nice if the Ziomuts would occasionally give credit where credit is due!

    • James Bradley
      January 14, 2010, 10:08 pm

      So hundreds of thousands had their lives ruined or destroyed to ensure that another group of people could survive.

      I mean it does sound very noble and all, but imagine if you were the group of people that had to be ethnically cleansed to make room for the other group of people being ethnically cleansed.

      The Palestinians had NOTHING to do with the holocaust whatsoever, yet they are the ones who are paying the price for it. Put yourself in their shoes.

    • Aref
      January 15, 2010, 7:12 am

      “Theodor Herzl and the other Zionists foresaw a catastrophe coming”
      Herzl did not foresee anything of the sort–I suggest that you read the Jewish State.
      What he foresaw was just the opposite for he says “the anti-semites will be our allies” (or something to that effect–I wil find the exact quote and post it). Hrzl believed that the anti-semites in Europe will be all too happy to get rid of the Jews and would see the Zionists as a positive tool in this respect.
      As to saving Jews may I remind you of Ben-Gurion’s : “If I could save all the children of Germany by bringing them to England and only half to Israel, I would choose the second.”
      Think about the meaning of what Ben-Gurion is actually saying.
      Let’s also not forget the collaboration between Zionists and the Nazis as well as the Fascists in Italy early on and during the war. This collaboration is amply and meticulously documented in Lenni Brenner’s books “Zionism In The Age Of The Dictators” and “51 Documents”.

      • Aref
        January 15, 2010, 7:20 am

        Here’s the quote by Herzl: “The antisemites will become our most loyal friends, the antisemites nations will become our allies.” Quoted by Tom Segev in “One Palestine Complete”

    • Mooser
      January 15, 2010, 12:51 pm

      “Theodor Herzl and the other Zionists foresaw a catastrophe coming the way of the Jews of Europe and they proposed a national solution”

      They had good company! Wasn’t that just how Hitler felt about Germany? And put in that exact context? Why yes it was! In that case, I would expect Zionism to end up just about as sucessful.
      But don’t let me interrupt your “national solution”. For the Jews all over the world.

  13. DICKERSON3870
    January 14, 2010, 9:59 pm

    RE: “From Hebron to Yad Vashem…”, By Michael Ratner
    MY COMMENT: Exceptionally beautiful!

  14. lethale
    January 14, 2010, 11:24 pm

    Jews 5.9 million
    Soviet POWs 2–3 million
    Ethnic Poles 1.8–2 million
    Romani 220,000–1,500,000
    Disabled 200,000–250,000
    Freemasons 80,000–200,000
    Homosexuals 5,000–15,000
    Jehovah’s Witnesses 2,500–5,000

  15. cogit8
    January 15, 2010, 3:25 am

    BenjaminGere: a forgery is a copy of something else. You would be better advised to claim the Protocols is a work of fiction, since the very purpose of all fiction is to make the reader believe in a forged reality. (You can see this talent at work in Hollywood, and we all know who the best story-tellers are.) By your definition, Shakespeare was the greatest forger of all time!

    Jews like it when wee gentiles waste our time on bullshit like the above discussion. It side-tracks the whole subject into useless activity, like arguing over when life actually begins while your tax moneys are spilling gallons of blood of the children of a lesser god in Gaza.

    The major question (never raised in public) is: How much truth is there in the Protocols about the Jews and their modus operandi. Every intelligent thinker since Chaucer has commented on the Jews, and the Protocols is an historical summary of the subject. Anyone with real-world experience can see that the Protocols contain a lot of truth, beginning with the obvious one: Jews are a formidable “one for all, all for one” tribe that has a Nietzsche-like “will to power”.

    • David Samel
      January 15, 2010, 9:54 am

      Thanks, cogit, for filling out the spectrum of opinion with your unapologetic and undisguised lunatic anti-Semitism. I am generally opposed to “moderating abusive comments,” but I don’t think I’ve seen a better candidate for censorship on this website than this. I plan to bring up the question of your punishment at next Tuesday’s monthly cyber-meeting of all the world’s Jews. While we usually plan our next move to rule the world, we will take some time out to deal with you.

      I don’t know what your motivation is, but if I were to take on the task of trying to discredit this website, I’d probably come up with something like your comment. By implementing a policy of moderation of comments, which I know has become fashionable, Phil and Adam leave themselves open to the criticism that this one made the cut.

      • Donald
        January 15, 2010, 10:11 am

        Phil and Adam don’t moderate comments before they are posted–they sometimes get around to banning someone or deleting a comment after it is brought to their attention. They’ve banned a couple of anti-semites and I think there is at least one anti-Arab racist who used to post around here who got booted off. But for better or worse, it takes a lot to get them to act most of the time.

        I agree with you about cogit’s comment.

      • Taxi
        January 15, 2010, 10:38 am

        David Samel,

        You’re better off addressing Cogit’s points instead of trying to thought-police him.

        Can you address his points? Please enlighten the people who have not read the Protocols with a convincing rebuttal?

      • David Samel
        January 15, 2010, 1:01 pm

        You want me to address cogit8’s points? Fair enough. cogit8 says, “Every intelligent thinker since Chaucer has commented on the Jews.” I say: Not so. Einstein didn’t.

        cogit8 says: “Anyone with real-world experience can see that the Protocols contain a lot of truth, beginning with the obvious one: Jews are a formidable “one for all, all for one” tribe that has a Nietzsche-like “will to power”.” I say: No we’re not. I don’t even have power over my wife and children, much less the goyim.

        Would you like me to refute the arguments that the Irish are drunkards, Poles clueless, Italians incompetent, and African-Americans shiftless and criminal? I don’t even know what shiftless means. Is it the opposite of shiftful?

        I think I’ll add you to Tuesday’s agenda. We got the first 7 cogits, we’ll get number 8, and we’ll get you too. Then we’ll celebrate by eating matzoh with a special ingredient.

      • Taxi
        January 15, 2010, 1:28 pm

        “I think I’ll add you to Tuesday’s agenda. We got the first 7 cogits, we’ll get number 8, and we’ll get you too. Then we’ll celebrate by eating matzoh with a special ingredient. ”

        Huh, David Samel, huh?!

        I genuinely wanted to hear your eloquent views, but alas you decided to respond with a personal attack.

        Also your ‘explanation’ is empty and unconvincing.

        Let’s try again, shall we?

        If you’ve read the Protocols, that is, please give me a list of the lies it espouses. I genuinely want to know as I’ve never read it.

        Give us your best shot, otherwise, it just looks like you’re thought-policing the punters on mondoweiss.

      • cogit8
        January 15, 2010, 5:23 pm

        DS: do a search for a letter that Einstein signed in regards to his opposition to the zionists, it was published in the NYTimes (and also signed by Hannah Arendt). This is what I meant by “commenting on the Jews”.

      • David Samel
        January 15, 2010, 10:01 pm

        Really? Is that what you meant by “commenting on the Jews”? Sounds to me like Einstein was commenting on Zionism. And what did you mean about Chaucer and all the great thinkers between him and Einstein? Were they also commenting about Zionism decades or centuries in the future? Were they clairvoyant? Many of Israel’s staunchest defenders love to blur the distinction between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. You make their job easy. You want me to comment on your points that Jews have an unusual all-for-one, and one-for all mentality and a special will to power? Fine – my comment is that you’re a rank anti-Semite. And by the way, my standards for calling someone anti-Semitic are quite high. People like Ahmadinejad and Meshal and Nasrallah don’t make my list, but you do.

      • James Bradley
        January 15, 2010, 11:12 pm

        I think David Samel addressed himself well enough.

        He shouldn’t have to explain to anyone why the protocols are bullshit, its ludicrous to suggest that.

        I mean sure there might be “some” vague truths in the protocols (which I highly doubt considering the entire text is a hoax) but that does not mean that the protocols main argument is even close to being correct. And even if it were, its still far to over generalizing about an entire community.

        People who claim Jewish identity may do well on average financially but so do plenty of other ethnic groups. Also, people who happen to be Jewish also lobby our governments foreign policy in certain ways, but that does not mean that there is some overall Jewish conspiracy to take over the world, it just means that many Jewish people have an attachment to the state of Israel and are willing to look past Israeli transgressions.

        All it means is that there are some Jews who believe its okay to get use American tax payer dollars to support the state of Israel. AND the only reason they’ve been successful is not because they are all powerful and control all of our most important institutions but because there has been no effective lobbying to counter pro-Israeli lobbying on washington hill.

        When we start going into conspiracy theories based completely on anecdotal evidence (or false evidence) we begin diverging away from the real issues. We start chasing an abstract enemy who has no name has no face and has no set location (or in the case of the protocols belongs to a specific ethnic group). We need to stay focused. We know how advocates of Israel in the United States keep Israel fully supported, we know how to counter that, and we should get active in that endeavor instead of argueing whether or not “Jews control everything.”

      • cogit8
        January 16, 2010, 3:19 am

        DS: You really knocked that straw-man down: I never said anything about “ruling the world”, however it’s obvious that Jews are runnin’ game on the United States.

        Apparently you’re reading too much into my words and not careful with your insults. Most historical personages (including Jews) have had something to say about the Jews, and hundreds of them have left memorable quotes. It shouldn’t have to be pointed out to defenders of the faith like you that “comments on the Jews” can be negative as well as positive, but it has to be pointed out to defenders of the faith like you that “comments on the Jews” can be negative as well as positive.

        Similarly, we all know that “all for one and one for all” is a trite way of putting it, but time was short, if you want to call it anti-semitic, go ahead (but get a grip DS because no one is denying the holocaust or accusing you personally of the crimes of Israel).

        Can’t abide the general truths in the Protocols? every media-Jew in creation was telling us how “Sadam killed his own people” and how he was comin’ to git us. It was immoral to assault Iraq, and the immoral Jews that got us into this mess are now braying that “all options are on the table” in regard to Iran. Gotta give those Protocols credit . . .

      • Taxi
        January 16, 2010, 9:54 am


        Why is it that soon as the Protocols or the question of the ‘legitimate’ number of holocaust victims is raised, an immediate social muzzle is enforced?

        Why can’t we discuss it openly for five minutes?

        Why can’t I ask David Samel for an explanation on why he thought Cogit was so offensively anti-Semitic? You know, so I can understand better, wider, deeper, etc.

        You can’t just go around slapping people with the loathsome title of ‘anti-Semitic’ without having proof and being able to produce this proof before the eyes of the world. David does actually owe us a civilized explanation for his grave and serious accusation.

        Whether David Samel is right or wrong in his assessment of Cogit is not the point, James.

        The point is that EVERYTHING under the sun should be open to questioning, reviewing, etc. And if the same facts still stand after the review, the same conclusion still stands, then it has withstood the test of time and we can depend on it.

        It’s about freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of expression.

        Nothing should be forbidden the mind and mouth of man.

      • David Samel
        January 16, 2010, 10:58 am

        Surely I have better things to do than waste my time in cyber-conversation with a dishonest anti-Semite, but unfortunately I can’t think of any right now. You accuse me of knocking down a straw man because you never said that Jews want to rule the world. No, you only said that there is some truth to the Protocols, a document which said that Jews want to rule the world; that Jews have a Nietzsche like will to power, and that Jews already rule the US. Who built that straw man?

        You say “It shouldn’t have to be pointed out to defenders of the faith like you that “comments on the Jews” can be negative as well as positive, but it has to be pointed out to defenders of the faith like you that “comments on the Jews” can be negative as well as positive.” First of all, get an editor. Secondly, your comments are all negative generalities. “Jews like it when wee (spelling intentional??) gentiles waste our time on bullshit like the above discussion.” Nice, very nice. By the time you get around to saying “immoral Jews” got us into this mess in Iraq, I am utterly disinclined to give you the benefit of any doubt about people like Perle, Wolfowitz, etx. who happen to be Jewish. The one man who said yes or no on Iraq was Bush, his principal influence was Cheney, and while some of the main cheerleaders for war were Jewish, some were named Rumsfeld and Woolsey and Limbaugh and Hannity, and the percentage of anti-war activists who are Jewish is far higher than their percentage in the general population. Some smear those who talk about neo-cons as closet anti-Semites, because all the supposed neo-cons are Jewish. You make it easy for them.

        You call me a defender of the faith? That was the one moment of utterly comic relief in this nonsense. I don’t defend faith or tribalism. I do strongly resent racism in all its ugly forms, and think that all people should be treated equally without regard to pedigree. You don’t. You single out Jews for something or other and then dig yourself deeper while defending your offensive views.

        The fact that some schmuck out there is an anti-Semite ordinarily wouldn’t bother me too much. But there are people out there who microscopically examine websites such as this for evidence of anti-Semitism. It is extremely important for them to try to discredit critical discourse about Israel with the anti-S tinge. Even anonymous commenters are fair game. If I were one of them, I’d feel I hit the jackpot with you.

        Finally, how did Mooser get away with a brief, effective attack on you and not get sucked into a bullshit conversation like this? You gentiles love it when wee Jews waste our time. I’m through with you.

      • cogit8
        January 15, 2010, 5:18 pm

        DS: Calm down! would you mind addressing the specific points I raised ?

    • Mooser
      January 15, 2010, 12:58 pm

      “Jews are a formidable “one for all, all for one” tribe that has a Nietzsche-like “will to power”.

      Aw, c’mon ya “wee gentile”! If you are going to saddle me with bigoted stereotypes, at least try to not make them mutually exclusive, huh?
      But tell me, my “wee gentile” do I get to be one of the “one for all” Jews, or can I be a “will to power” Jew? It’s only nacherl, of course, I want to stand out from the herd! Herd of Mooses? Why of course you have!


  16. cogit8
    January 15, 2010, 3:34 am

    wrong thread, sorry

    • Mooser
      January 15, 2010, 11:35 am

      Wrong thread? You might want to check your URL, too. Many comment section look alike.

  17. Julian
    January 15, 2010, 7:07 am

    Michael, did you ask your guide about the murder and ethnic cleansing of the Jews in Hebron?

    • Chaos4700
      January 15, 2010, 8:38 am

      I think they were too busy noticing the murder and ethnic cleansing being done by Jews in Hebron today.

  18. Elliot
    January 15, 2010, 9:07 am

    it was not until the end of the formal exhibits that the “logic” of connecting the Holocaust to Israel was made explicit. Hatikvah (The Hope), Israel’s national anthem, was the musical theme at end of our journey through Holocaust history, making explicit the founding narrative.

    I hosted a Holocaust memorial ceremony some years ago. The expectation on the part of the other organizers was that we would end the ceremony with Hatikvah. As the host, I successfully blocked that but other organizers clearly didn’t get why Hatikvah in the context of Holocaust remembrance is a problem.

    Similarly, on a visit to the Birkenau death chambers outside Auschwitz some years ago, as we stood in front of the furnaces that consumed the bodies, somebody was deputized to read the kaddish memorial prayer. I was overwhelmed and walked out. In the situation, respectful silence would have been the appropriate response.

    • potsherd
      January 15, 2010, 9:41 am

      Perhaps I don’t understand you, but how was the kaddish inappropriate in those circumstances? It seems most highly appropriate to me.

      • Elliot
        January 15, 2010, 12:03 pm

        I accept Zionism as one of the responses to the Jewish condition in Europe. Given the circumstances of Jews in Europe and the political options at the time of the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian empire, cultural Zionism, at least, was a reasonable option. I think the problem with Hatikva today at a Holocaust museum or memorial service is what the State of Israel has since become. The other problem I have with this is that using Hatikva assumes that all the victims of the Holocaust were Zionists – or, would have been, had they had the foresight the Zionist showed. With tha logic, it would be just as appropriate to sing the Star Spangled Banner, which I’ve never heard at a Holocaust memorial service in the United States .

        I’ll agree with you that it’s approporiate to say the kaddish as part of a Holocaust memorial service. In my case, saying the kaddish certainly honors the memory of my grandparents, observant Jews who were murdered in Auschwitz. However, standing right in front of the crematoria, I wondered what the atheist victimes would feel about a memorial prayer that praises God in response to what was done to them.
        Mostly, however, I felt that saying the kaddish was the easier way. Standing there in silence, and taking in as much of that place as we could, would have been much harder than responding with the kaddish, but far more appropriate.

      • Mooser
        January 15, 2010, 1:02 pm

        “I accept Zionism as one of the responses to the Jewish condition in Europe.”

        One of the most devastating condemnations of Zionism I have ever read.

      • Elliot
        January 15, 2010, 2:27 pm

        The great Hebrew culture in the middle of the 19th century was beginning to disappear when Zionism appeared. The contributions of Israeli culture to Judaism would never have happened without Zionism.
        What happened subsequently is another matter.

      • Mooser
        January 15, 2010, 4:55 pm

        “The contributions of Israeli culture to Judaism…”

        Good lord, seven of the most chilling words I have ever read. Please do me the inestimable favor of telling me what those might be? Gosh, can any other readers tell me what are
        “the contributions of Israeli culture to Judaism…”?
        Maybe then I won’t throw up.

      • Elliot
        January 15, 2010, 5:24 pm

        Mooser, can you not accept the successes of a culture without giving up criticism of its evils?

    • Eva Smagacz
      January 16, 2010, 5:19 pm

      When Polish nuns wanted to have silent completive order presence near Auschwitz perimeter, so that they could pray for the dead, there was an uproar from Jewish community that it is outrageously insensitive to pray for dead using a prayer of the religion that is not victims’s own (e.i. catholic prayer for Jewish victims).

      I can’t be sure, but I think that my numerous catholic relatives, local gipsies and Jehovah Witnesses, who died in Auschwitz, would probably be touched, and not a little surprised, that the Jewish groups are remembering them in their prayers.

  19. Baruch Rosen
    January 15, 2010, 10:36 am

    Aref, the Zionists were doing everything they could to get the Jews out of Europe.
    They didn’t have many options since no country would give the Jews refuge.
    If there was a country that would have given the Jews refuge that you would have a point.
    But the facts remain, every country said no to the Jews during WW2 including Roosevelt saying No.

  20. Baruch Rosen
    January 15, 2010, 10:44 am

    Taxi, you say,
    Hundreds of thousands of gentiles died to save the Euro Jews.

    Comeon, these gentiles didn’t give a dam about the Jews.
    Its why they didn’t bomb the death camps.
    Its like saying Americans died to save the Kurds during the first Gulf War.
    When we all know, Europe, America, Russia and all the Arabs didn’t say a word when Saddam was killing the Kurds in the 70s and 80s.

    • Mooser
      January 15, 2010, 12:45 pm

      “Its why they didn’t bomb the death camps.”

      I’m not sure I see how that was supposed to help. And I’d give the healthy and better protected staff a much better chance of surviving the concussions and blast than the emaciated and weak inmates. But whatever, whatever, they should have bombed the camps so all those Jews could escape to…. well, where, exactly? Weren’t the camps deep in Nazi held territory?

  21. Taxi
    January 15, 2010, 12:31 pm


    MILLIONS of gentiles died to save the Euro Jews from extinction, you ingrate revisionist!

    70,000 Soviet soldiers died in the Battle of Berlin alone!

    You really are pathetic! Gulf War One was about liberating Kuwait – nothing to do with Kurds and shmurds you clown!

    And if you must know, Gulf War One saw 148 American troops killed in battle, 24% were killed by friendly fire, a total of 35 service personnel. Also, a further 11 died in detonations of allied munitions/friendly fire.

    If you wanna play with the big boys/girls around here, you gotta at least know some history/facts before you start willfully twisting them to suit your ignorant agenda.

    Otherwise you’ll be laughed at by pro-Palestinians, and pitied by even your fellow Zios.

    • Mooser
      January 15, 2010, 12:41 pm

      Taxi, when that ziocaine starts coursing through your veins, you don’t need anybody! You feel great!
      Remember, Rosen, you’ll pay for these moments of intoxicated grandiosity with a ziocaine hangover of whiny victimisation. Try two eggs beaten up in a glass of sherry. It won’t help, but could it hurt?

  22. Mooser
    January 15, 2010, 1:05 pm

    “Aref, the Zionists were doing everything they could to get the Jews out of Europe.
    They didn’t have many options since no country would give the Jews refuge.”

    What’s that smell? Oh, Baron Rosen just stepped in it.
    Even the publisher of the NY Times knew that wasn’t true.

  23. MHughes976
    January 15, 2010, 4:11 pm

    A few comments on the above – Einstein did indeed comment on the situation of Jews and was a very committed Zionist. But among other great thinkers post-Chaucer Hobbes and Locke, the greatest political philosophers to write in English, seem not to have thought that there was a serious Jewish problem in their seventeenth-century world. The will to power as analysed by the likes of Nietzsche and Schopenhauer and before them by Hobbes is part (they say) of the human condition and could not be the property of a particular sub-group. As to the rescue of German Jews, there was the Kindertransport to the UK, which I believe took more refugees per head of population than any other country. My father was in the armed forces during WW2 and I suppose that he and others risked their lives, in some sense, to save the victims of Nazism but I think that he believed that his real duty was to ‘King and country’. Most people then and now would say that they do not have a duty to save all victims of oppression everywhere though they do have a duty to defend in war the power that defends them in peace, ie their own country.
    I share potsherd’s uneasiness with the fetished figures of Jewish deaths in WW2 but I also agree with Eva that in order to reduce these figures seriously one would have to find a reason for rejecting what seem like the most unexceptionable records of populations in different countries before and after the war. I guess that there’ s some inherent uncertainty, though, in any figures involving the Soviet Union but that doesn’t change anything fundamentally.

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