vrijdag 2 mei 2008

Benjamin Pogrund over Israel: "Why we are here"

In een eerdere post schreef ik dat vandaag (2 mei) Holocaust Remembrance Day zou zijn. Dat had ik blijkbaar verkeerd overgenomen van een kalender op internet: het was woensdagavond en donderdag..
Voor een verduidelijking van de relatie tussen de Holocaust en het stichten van Israël, zie Ami Isseroff's commentaar: Holocaust, Israel, Zionism
The foundation of Israel was born out of the Holocaust. For me, the fact that murderous antisemitism still exists more than justifies the Jewish state
Benjamin Pogrund

May 1, 2008 2:00 PM
The sirens went off throughout Israel at 10am today. They wailed for two long minutes. In cities, towns and villages, people stopped doing whatever they were doing and stood still and silent. Cars and buses stopped, on city streets and on highways.

It was the annual observance of the Day of the Holocaust, Yom Ha'Shoah, to remember the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis.

Last night, television and radio stations were shut down. Restaurants and cafes were closed. The streets were deserted.
One television channel was open. Until the early hours of this morning I watched the rescreening of the brilliant, harrowing BBC documentary Auschwitz: The Nazis and the Final Solution, produced by Laurence Rees.

As anyone who has seen the series knows, it raises more questions than it can answer: how so many people, and from the land of Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, Goethe and Schiller at that, were capable of inflicting such cruelty and death on Jews (and for that matter, on Gypsies and three million Russian prisoners of war who were regarded as subhuman).
I was born and grew up in South Africa. My family escaped the Holocaust. But aunts and uncles and cousins who had remained behind in Lithuania, from where my parents came in the 1920s, perished.

The sirens, and the reminder of what happened during my lifetime, confirmed my awareness of why I live in Israel. I want to contribute towards ensuring that Jews have a haven in this world, so that no Holocaust can ever again befall us. I want a state to stand up for the rights of Jews wherever they might be threatened. I want a state that can tell the antisemites in the world, whether they are nakedly so, crypto- or whatever, to go to hell. It's as rudimentary as that.

I am sorry that the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 created so much loss and suffering for Palestinians. There were no angels on either side, just as there aren't now. Israel came into being through the UN. Jews accepted partition and Arabs didn't. The conflict continues to this day.

I want peace between Jews and Arabs. We cannot unscramble the omelette of 1948, but we can and must work to heal and to end Arab anger and deprivation.

Israel's accomplishments in 60 years are astonishing. It is not a perfect society: it has problems of education and problems related to minority groups and immigrants and corruption which are common to many other countries, and it has unique problems in terms of the conflict with Palestinians, unending armed vigilance and care for Holocaust survivors.
No doubt this expression of my feelings will bring into the open those readers of the Comment is free who rant at every mention of Israel. They cannot abide the existence of a Jewish state, and a proud and successful one at that, and they are not open to rational arguments. Our survival is the best answer.

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