(Republished with author’s permission from the Israel Hayom news website)

A storm of criticism has erupted over the possible nomination of Israeli war hero Effie Eitam, the son of a Holocaust rescuer, to the chairmanship of Yad Vashem, Israel’s main Holocaust institution. At issue are two remarks that Eitam reportedly made concerning Arabs fourteen years ago. 

If a transcript of Eitam’s remarks is ever published, we will finally be able to see the full statements and their context. And when Eitam chooses to publicly address the matter, we will learn whether he still subscribes to those statements, which he made at a memorial service for fallen Israeli soldiers back in 2006. Eitam had a distinguished 29 year career in the IDF, which included the Operation Entebbe in 1976, and retired as a Brigadier General; he later served in the Knesset for six years.

Eitam’s critics should consider the ramifications of the “canceling” out any Israeli or Jewish figure who has ever made an offensive remark be they comments about Arabs or other ethnic or gender groups. Let’s review some of the prominent public figures who would have been shunned according to this standard:

TEDDY KOLLEK: After a group of women were violently assaulted at the Western Wall by opponents of their prayer service, Kollek, the longtime mayor of Jerusalem, accused the victims of “provoking” the attack and “using prayer as a means of protest.” (New York Jewish Week; 4-14-1989).

In a Boston Globe interview in 1992, Kollek declared: “The way of the Palestinians is the way of war and bloodshed, not peace … The Arabs say ‘We will again rule all the lands of Islam as we once did’—this is an essential Islamic concept. It is hard for me to say all this, but I have to acknowledge it.”

SHIMON PERES: At a 1981 election rally, Peres denounced Moroccan Jews in Israel as “barbarians” and “disgusting Arabs.” (The footage of the rally can be seen in the 2002 film, “Kaddim Wind – Moroccan Chronicle”)

ABBA EBAN: In a speech at the Jewish Theological Seminary, in Manhattan on February 29, 1952, Eban warned of “the danger lest the predominance of immigrants of Oriental origin force Israel to equalize its cultural level with that of the neighboring world…Our object should be to infuse them with an Occidental [Western] spirit, rather than to allow them to draw us into an unnatural Orientalism.”

AMOS OZ: One of Israel’s most celebrated novelists, and a prominent Peace Now activist, Oz said at a “Writers Talk About Peace” symposium in 1987: “The Palestinian national movement is one of the most insensitive, ugly and wicked national movements of the 20th century” and is characterized by “fanaticism, hardheartedness, and violence.” (Al Hamishmar, 5-15-87)

Among Holocaust scholars, consider these men and women whose remarks would have disqualified them from chairing Yad Vashem:

YEHUDA BAUER, the longtime senior historian at Yad Vashem, has minimized the Nazis’ persecution of gays as “a political invention” and a “red herring.” The famed historian of antisemitism, Prof. George Mosse, said in response to Bauer’s remarks: “That’s absurd. That’s like denying the Holocaust.” (New York Jewish Week, 5-22-97)

LUCY DAWIDOWICZ, renowned author of “The War Against the Jews,” demanded that Israel pay restitution to Arabs who fled in 1948, comparing it to German restitution to Holocaust victims. Dawidowicz never retracted her Israel-Nazis comparison, but that didn’t stop the American Jewish Committee from hiring her as its director of research, nor did it stop Yeshiva University from choosing Dawidowicz for the first named chair in Holocaust Studies in the United States. (New Leader, 1-19-1953)

HANNAH ARENDT, the renowned philosopher and author of some of the most famous studies of totalitarianism, in 1961 derided Sefardi Jews as “an Oriental mob” who “looked Arab but spoke Hebrew.” (Cited in The Forward, 4-25-14)

Surely the most startling and ironic name on this list is Yosef “Tommy” Lapid, who served as chairman of Yad Vashem from 2006 to 2008. His statements about minorities were so extreme that the Jerusalem Report dubbed him “an articulate Archie Bunker.” Lapid called Orthodox Jews “parasites,” “barbaric primitives,” and “enemies of progress.” (Tablet, 5-31-2013) He minimized spousal abuse, speculating that “some sociologist heard that his neighbor beats his wife, and are to the conclusion that in every house, there is at least one husband who beats his wife.” He complained about the prominence of Sefardi Jews in the Israeli music scene, claiming their style showed that “We didn’t conquer [the Arab town of] Tulkarm, Tulkarm conquered us.” Lapid’s statements about Arabs were so controversial that in 2006, Yad Vashem had to publicly dissociate itself from one of his remarks. (Haaretz, 1-8-2003)

Writing in Newsday on December 7, 1995, the eminent Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt pleaded for greater tolerance within the Jewish world. “Judaism is a big tent with room for vastly differing views,” she wrote. “And Jews must recognize that—within reason—no one can be read out of the Jewish community solely for his or her point of view.”

Lipstadt’s caveat, “within reason,” remains to be defined. But if it is defined in such a way as to “cancel” out anybody who has ever made an offensive remark about an ethnic or gender group, then quite a few of the best known figures in Israeli politics and the world of Holocaust studies, past and present, belong on that list alongside General Eitam.

Whitewashing FDR’s Abandonment of the Jews

by Rafael Medoff and Stephen H. Norwood

Franklin D. Roosevelt is widely remembered as a strong leader who boldly led America out of the Great Depression and to the brink of victory in World War II. Yet when it comes to the Holocaust, some defenders of FDR’s record want us to believe he was not responsible for keeping Jewish refugees out of America—as if that was all the handiwork of the State Department, which supposedly ran U.S. immigration policy and foreign policy independently of the president’s wishes.
Sorry, but you can’t have it both ways.

Prof. Daniel Greene, speaking recently at the University of Oklahoma, continued to perpetuate the implausible notion that President Roosevelt was too hapless to make his own foreign policy. Remarkably, Greene spoke for nearly an hour about America’s response to Nazism and the Holocaust, yet barely mentioned the president.

This tendentious approach is consistent with the theme of the controversial exhibit on “Americans and the Holocaust” at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, for which Greene was senior curator. The exhibit has been criticized by many scholars for downplaying President Roosevelt’s abandonment of European Jewry.

Greene told his Oklahoma audience that the reason so few German Jews were admitted to the U.S. in the 1930s was because of “bureaucratic walls put in place by the State Department” —as if the White House had no occupant. 

What actually happened is that the State Department implemented Roosevelt’s policy of restricting immigration far below what the existing law allowed. The annual quota of German immigrants—about 26,000—was filled only once in FDR’s twelve years in office; in most of those years, it was less than 25% filled.

There are letters from the president himself at the time in which he acknowledged and defended the fact that visas were, as he put it, “considerably under-issued.” There are documents showing that State Department officials briefed the president on their efforts to keep refugees out.

Equally troubling was Greene’s deeply flawed description of the American response to the Nazis’ Kristallnacht pogrom in 1938. Greene simply omitted any mention of the offer by the governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands to open his territory to Jewish refugees, and FDR’s rejection of the offer. The exhibit at the museum likewise fails to mention the Virgin Islands as a possible haven for refugees.

The sad truth about President Roosevelt and Nazi Germany in the 1930s—never acknowledged by Greene or the U.S. Holocaust Museum—is that FDR consistently sought to maintain good relations with the Hitler regime prior to the war.

Under President Roosevelt, the U.S. government warmly welcomed the swastika-bedecked German warships Karlsruhe and Emden, which Hitler sent to American ports in 1934-1936 to promote good will between the Third Reich and the United States. The warships visited American Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf Coast ports at a critical time, when Nazi Germany was emerging as a major military power. High-level U.S. military officials openly fraternized with the Nazi warships’ officers, helping to legitimize Hitler’s rearmament program, which put all of European Jewry in extreme danger. With the assistance of Roosevelt’s State Department, the U.S. Navy even helped the Nazi warships improve their combat readiness.  In numerous speeches to American business and civic groups, the German warships’ officers aggressively promoted Nazism and Hitler’s expansionist policies.

The Roosevelt administration ignored  fierce protests by American Jews and trade unionists against the Nazi warships’ visits. The administration’s policy helped enable Nazi Germany to present itself as a respectable member of the community of nations, with many legitimate grievances. Greene mentioned none of this, nor can it be found in the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s exhibit. 

The hosting of the Nazi warships was consistent with President Roosevelt’s policy of maintaining cordial, sometimes even friendly, relations with the Nazi regime. From 1933 until the end of 1938, FDR never publicly criticized Hitler’s persecution of German Jews. He never suspended diplomatic or trade relations with Nazi Germany before World War II. And even as many Americans were boycotting German goods in the 1930s, the Roosevelt administration was helping the Hitler regime evade the boycott by allowing it to use deceptive labeling on their goods so that American consumers would not recognize their country of origin.

Toward the end of his talk in Oklahoma, Greene described how the Holocaust Museum’s exhibit was intended especially for younger audiences, so he and his colleagues polled high school students in advance. He said he was surprised when “high school students didn’t do well on the question of who was president in World War 2.” 

Sadly, neither the exhibit nor its roving spokesman is doing much to improve the situation. So long as they depict Roosevelt as the amazing vanishing president—who suddenly goes missing when the embarrassing abandonment of the Jews is discussed—how could high schoolers be expected to know any better?

(Dr. Rafael Medoff is founding director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies; his most recent book is The Jews Should Keep Quiet: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, and the Holocaust. Dr. Stephen Norwood is Professor of History and Judaic Studies at the University of Oklahoma; his latest book, which is in press, is Prologue to Annihilation: Ordinary American and British Jews Challenge the Third Reich.)

The Political Structure in Israel is Buckling

The unthinkable has actually happened. The Knesset now has 21 days to decide who will receive the mandate to build a coalition. There are no parties in this decision, just individuals.

It is important to understand that this process is necessary and part of the shattering of the pre-Messianic vessels that are not fit to hold the light of Redemption within them.

Israel’s system is not based on direct voting, but rather voting for a party, which determines the slate of candidates. This ultimately means that Israeli’s hand over their free choice to others to decide for them who should rule the country. Since coalitions are based on the handout of jobs this effectively sets up a system that can be easily manipulated, creating a parochial class of politicians.

The chaos we are now witnessing within the political structure in Israel flows from the beginning of Creation in what the mystics term the “Olam HaTohu,” World of Chaos, which is only chaotic due to the intense supernal light that was uncontainable within the vessels of Creation. The vessels we have in the State’s current structure are not rectified in a Messianic sense and therefore the light descending now, which is of Redemptive source cannot be contained within them.

This chaos within the system will lead to a new order. However long this will take, the product will be a set of rectified vessels within the State to handle the next stage of Redemption. This is why there should be no expectations or predictions on our current stalemate and the ensuing chaos. We are no longer in the stage as we were post Gush Katif. The Nation has grown. The younger Israelis have embraced an organic experience that has not been dictated by the trauma of the Holocaust or the political machinations of the early state bureaucracy that burdened their parents. The current generation has come of age within the blend of knitted kipas, powerful army, and an integrated Judea and Samaria.

This is the generation of Gush Katif and the Second Lebanon War – now come of age and ready to lead. They are not bound by the same nostalgia of State institutions as previous generations and yet while understanding the State is a vessel for the Redemptive process, its structure can be and probably should be changed to allow the Redemptive light to flow more freely.

When leading to a more stable structure chaos dis not only unavoidable, but necessary.

MAKING ISRAEL JUDENREIN: Are Trump and Bibi Close to Freezing Jewish Construction Again?

As the vaunted Regional “Peace Deal” appears to be in the process of being cooked up between Bibi Netanyahu and the Trump administration, the question persists why the need to restrict building outside of the generally accepted “settlement” blocs?  Let’s assume for a second that peace is at hand, that the Arabs really will sit down and make peace with Israel, then what would it matter if Jews are living anywhere beyond the arbitrary green line or even the “blocs?”

Israel is a tiny state.  Even with Judea and Samaria added in, the width is about the size of New Jersey’s waste line, not big.  Blocs are a convenient way of expressing areas that are built up, but in most cases “isolated” Jewish communities exist within minutes of the defined “bloc.”  There is no real way to draw the line. Ten years ago no one considered Kochav Yaakov or Ofra North of Jerusalem part of the Greater Jerusalem bloc, but in 2017, most Israelis do.

In a letter to the government the Land of Israel Lobby wrote the following:

“The freeze is illegitimate, not even ‘in the meantime’ or as an ‘interim stage’, and certainly no freeze or construction restrictions outside the blocs,” the letter said. “The bloc plan is the plan of the Palestinian State and there is no justification for a right-wing government to accept it, either temporarily or partially,” the heads of the lobby say.

The Peace Camp Should Stand Against Building Freezes for Jews

Those who genuinely want peace should stand against the Arab demand that Jews refrain from building in any area of their ancestral homeland.  The litmus test for peace is not borders or security, but whether the other side can tolerate the other among them.  The Arabs demand that any future “Palestinian” state be void of Jews or judenrein essentially proves they are not ready for peace.  Furthermore, those in the Israeli government or the USA supporting such ideas must be taken to task for their support for racist and anti-Semitic policies. Whether it is the Trump administration or Bibi’s government contemplating the next “freeze,” they must be told in a serious manner that no peace will come from Jews being told they cannot build simply because they are Jews. After all if another minority would be told they cannot build or own a house simply due to their religious, national, or cultural background, it would be deemed racist.

The Spirit of the Holocaust Has Never Ended

The State of Israel afforded Jews around the world an opportunity to shrug the millennia of exile and rebuild their nation inside their ancestral homeland.  The Holocaust, encapsulated by the Final Solution was just the most extreme measure of Hitler’s desire to make Europe judenrein or free of Jews.  Construction freezes for Jews only is denying the Jewish people’s right to self determination as Jews.  True, there are no gas chambers or crematorium’s waiting for the Jewish Nation these days, but the spirit of judenrein continues unabated from Hitler to now.  Arab hate for Jewish life in the Levant will not cease by freezing Jews out of their right to build and live as they wish. In fact, the opposite is true. Construction freezes will never satiate the Arab world, for its hate for Jews stems from a deeper place so they will always ask for more, just as Hitler moved from simple deportation to the Final Solution.

In order for there to be peace, all demands on Jews to refrain from building should be dropped and instead demands should be placed on the Arabs to deal with their Jewish neighbors as neighbors and fellow human beings. Until then their is nothing to talk about.


The Irony of International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Did you know that Israel commemorates the Holocaust on a different date than the International Holocaust Remembrance Day?

The world would have preferred to forget. In 2005, Israel finally succeeded to attain UN recognition of an internationally recognized Holocaust Remembrance Day. January 27th was chosen as this was the date of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1945.

Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Day is determined by the Jewish calendar, not the international (Christian) calendar. The date chosen does not mark a specific occurrence- it signifies the place of the Holocaust within the framework of the Jewish experience.

Holocaust Memorial Day is commemorated one week after the end of the Passover holiday which celebrates God liberating the Jewish people from slavery in ancient Egypt, the Exodus, receiving the Torah and returning as the Nation of Israel to the promised land, Israel.

One week after Holocaust Memorial Day, Israel marks the Memorial Day for IDF soldiers and victims of terrorism. The attempt to exterminate the Jewish people did not end with the Holocaust. To this day, we must fight to survive, free in our own land – not like the slaves our ancestors once were, not at the mercy of the “civilized” of the world as our grandparents were… Today we have the power to fight our own battles and sadly, fight we must. Terrorism is proof that the hate against us has not abated, only morphed in to a different form with different excuses used as justification.

Caught outside with no protection, an Israeli mother shields her child from Hamas missile bombardment

Even in our own land, the Jewish people are still being victimized.

The night of Memorial Day for our soldiers is the beginning of our Independence Day celebrations. This gut-wrenching juxtaposition is our reality. One does not exist without the other.

For the rest of the world the Holocaust is an event that occurred during a war that effected most of the globe. For Israel, the Holocaust is a concentrated example of the Jewish experience – the hate directed at us simply because we exist, the horrors civilized people are capable of, the sacrifice of silent heroes, the resilience of a people determined not only to survive, but to thrive and make the world better than it was before. The miracle of our existence, a miracle renewed throughout our history as described in the Passover story, part of what we must repeat each year so that our children remember: “In every generation people rise up against us, to exterminate us and every time God saves us from their hands.”

Not once. Every time.

The Holocaust was a defining moment in history but it is not what has defined our people. Our legacy is more ancient and our experiences more complex even than the unspeakable horror that was the Holocaust.

Our suffering, inverted and appropriated

An International Day for Holocaust Remembrance in today’s world is bizarre and almost laughable.

Today Jews are denied the right to live safely in our own land while the world denies that a problem even exists.

“Never again” has become a commonly used slogan but there is no action behind the words. When people are being persecuted and slaughtered on the basis of their religion little to know action is taken to save them. Few give them refuge. Instead the slogan is bandied around in anti-Trump rallies, used to protest nonexistent persecution of Muslim while Christians and Yazidis are left to the tender mercies of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq or Boko Haram in Nigeria.

While there continue to be Holocaust deniers, others claim the Holocaust for themselves, saying that Jews are today committing the horrors of the Holocaust against defenseless Arabs. In this twisted imaginary reality, the victim becomes the perpetrator, making it logical, even honorable to attack the ex-victim.

The Jew hatred that almost exterminated our people is today being used to justify modern Jew hatred.

Once it was the “scientifically proven” inferiority of Jewish genetics that made it reasonable to round up Jews. Today it is the “proof” of social media, UN resolutions and campus demonstrations that defines Israel as an immoral oppressor that must be “resisted” (read = terrorized / boycotted / divested etc.).

The Jews of Europe were told they should “go back to Palestine” because Palestine was Zion, homeland of the Jewish people. Now the Jewish people are being told that Israel is Palestine which they are occupying illegally.

From slavery in Egypt, the rise and fall of hostile empires, exile, the Spanish Inquisition, pogroms, the Holocaust, the wars against Israel and terrorism. Nations that witnessed and said nothing. Nations that blamed us while they were attacking us or allowing others to do so, hoping their collaboration against us would be their salvation from the violence of others.

What is different today?

What is the point of an international Holocaust Remembrance Day in a world desperate to forget? Around the world, the “civilized” remain silent. Or gleefully join in the “fun,” perverting the memory of our suffering, using it as a weapon against us…

Remembering Heroism

The Nation of Israel is a people commanded to remember. The idea is less to remember the suffering (though that too is important) and more to remember the lessons that are learned from the experiences.

What you do not remember, you are doomed to repeat.

In Israel, a single, critical word was added to the name of Holocaust Memorial Day: Heroism.

On the “Memorial Day for the Holocaust and Heroism” we remember what truly defines us as a nation. It is not the horrors perpetrated against us that shape who we are. It is heroism, the indomitable spirit of Israel that ensures our survival, against all odds. Ground in to ashes, we rise like the phoenix, reborn, stronger and more beautiful than ever before.

This is our miracle.

The Jewish resistance during WW2 was obviously heroic as was the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. We honor this heroism but also another, more quiet and profound:

The parents who hid their children, allowing themselves to be taken by the Nazi soldiers, hoping that their children would somehow survive. The parents that gave their children parting instructions: “Grow up to be a good person.”

The people who gave their food to those who needed it more.

The people who picked up their friends during the Death March and helped them continue walking so they could live another day.faith

The people that sang, created poetry and theater in the ghetto. The people that, even when they had nothing left, kept their prayer shawls and phylacteries. The people that celebrated the Sabbath and the holidays of Israel in the concentration camps.

The survivors who walked in to the unknown to create a new future for themselves. They got married, had children, pretending they were normal in hopes that their children could grow up to be truly normal.

The people who did not talk about the humiliation, starvation, torture and psyche twisting experiences they experienced because they felt that if they began talking everything would pour out and their children would drown in the horror.

The people that did talk about their experiences, in hope that their children would cherish those that did not survive, in hope that their children would be able to recognize new danger when it comes.

The people that had every reason in the world to give up but didn’t.

That is heroism.

What is different today?

The players have changed as have the locations but the story is still the same: Horror. Apathy. Memory. Heroism.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day is a nice idea. If only it meant something…

It is up to the Nation of Israel to remember the lessons of the Holocaust; it’s place within the framework of the Jewish experience and the spirit that has enabled our survival throughout the centuries.

“In every generation people rise up against us, to exterminate us and every time God saves us from their hands.”

It happens every time. We must never ever forget that.

Originally Published on Inspiration from Zion.


Nigeria as a Genocidal State

In spite of all apparent reality to the contrary, and for reasons just as varied as the people, there may be a few individuals and interest groups who still wish for the survival of the Nigerian state as it is presently constituted. Such well-wishers naturally are interested in seeing the country move forward in the positive direction. For some obvious reasons this much desired forward march has remained an impossible goal for about the entire span of the country’s history. Perhaps one of the most important first steps that is needed by the country to go forward in the desired direction is to find a way to unify the many divergent national, religious, ethnical and other aspiring groups which are the various strands that form the national fabric of the Nigerian country.
Involuntarily, the Igbo ethnical, national, religious and linguistic group is one of those major strands which were forced by colonial fiat to be parts of the national, etc. groups that constitute today’s Nigerian state. Within six years of Nigeria’s existence as a colonially united country crisis broke out in the new country and collectively the other groups as described above chose to attempt to exterminate the Igbo, claiming that the Igbo were responsible for the country’s many problems. Therefore, from 1966 to 1970 the new country – the government and its citizens pursued vigorously a national genocidal program of trying to totally wipe out Igbo people from the Earth as solution to Nigerian problems. At the end of the ordeal, though forced and patched up to rejoin the now badly frayed Nigerian union fabric, the Igbo emerged from this systematic crucible of hatred, shedding forever their Nigerian citizenship.  

Throughout history and in all regions of the world where there has been genuine and honest response to the crime of genocide, separation has always been the only sensible response. 

So, the best way to understand the Nigerian country and Igbo’s place in it is to look at it from this point of view: Nigeria as a genocidal state and its Igbo population as the victim of the crime. Genocide is the word to have in mind while responding to the question of whether the Igbo should continue to maintain their stake as partners in the colonial union known as Nigeria. Throughout history and in all regions of the world where there has been genuine and honest response to the crime of genocide, separation has always been the only sensible response. At the end of the crime, the victims are usually removed far away from the perpetrators. Separation is the only solution that permanently prevents future occurrences of the atrocities of genocide in any society (such as in Nigeria) where it has taken place.
While the international community is saying “Never Again” at the end of any genocide, it goes without saying that the only reliable guarantee that is capable of safeguarding such a promise is the shield and assurances that sovereign independent international boundaries provide for a persecuted people like the Igbo. The smart approach, as they say in Igbo, is that while anyone tries as much as possible to keep fires away from combustible gunpowder, they should also make as much effort in keeping the gunpowder away from fires.
Here following, let’s mention a few of these genocide victims (like the Igbo) who of necessity had to be separated from the perpetrators of their ordeal in order to ensure that the victims do not suffer the same fate in the future within the same place and from the same people. In Igbo tradition there are two traditional sayings which support this call for separation; 1. Igbo people believe that the cripple is not expected to die in a previously announced warfare. Due to their handicap, he or she is not expected to wait till the last minute to move away to a safer place. 2. The Igbo also believe that it is only a tree which is known to stay put and does not make efforts to escape the blows from the ax of the feller after it had been told the previous day that it would be cut down.
About two weeks ago, in the midst of threats from the Turkish government which perpetrated the crime, German legislators officially recognized the Armenian Genocide as such. Soon after the Turkish Ottoman Empire committed the genocide of the Armenians in 1915 with the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians, the Armenian people separated themselves from Turkey into an independent country of Armenia with administrative capital in Yerevan. After German Nazis committed the genocide of the Jews in Germany and the rest of Europe in which 6 million Jews were massacred, the victims had to separate themselves far away from the perpetrators. This Jewish Genocide is better known today as the Holocaust. The genocide ended in 1945 and the Jews established an independent state of Israel in the Middle East in 1948. It should also be remembered that it is the accusation of genocides that led to the breaking up of the united country of Yugoslavia into several different sovereign independent countries. The genocide of the East Pakistanis by the government of the West Pakistan led to the separation of the East from the West, where the East became an independent sovereign state of Bangladesh. The list goes on.
The genocide such as the one that took place in Nigeria against the Igbo is an institutional genocide. Most genocides are institutional crimes, anyway. In most cases it is only states that have the capacity to muster such elaborate machineries usually required to carry out such great massacres. The government as well as the other peoples of Nigeria committed the genocide of Biafrans between 1966 and 1970 in which 3.5 million Biafrans were killed. Igbo people alone made up 3.1 of the 3.5 million who died in that genocide.
The root cause of the Igbo Genocide in Nigeria is hatred. Therefore, the hatred that produced the act is institutional and not merely individuals hating their Igbo neighbors and friends. The Nigerian state as an institution is the primary source of the prevailing Nigerians’ hatred of the Igbo. Because its source resides in the institution of the federal republic of Nigeria, it will be near impossible to uproot this hatred from the Nigerian society. It will be near impossible to create a lasting atmosphere in the Nigerian society where the Igbo will be eventually accepted and allowed to exist side by side with the other Nigerians in the spirit of true brotherhood.
Institutions run as continuums therefore the established government policies, customs, norm and culture such as the society-wide hatred of the Igbo in Nigeria, run from one generation to the next. Agreements, armistices and promises such as “Never Again,” “No victors and no vanquished” and other similar lofty pledges, when they are genuinely made, can only hold for a short while in genocidal societies like Nigeria. Eventually there will always emerge the biblical Pharaoh who did not know Joseph and who sees no reason in honoring any pacts made by their predecessors. Once such Pharaohs arrive in power, the vicious cycle resumes and genocide repeats itself. Therefore, the only real solution that will permanently prevent any more future genocides of the Igbo in Nigeria is for the Igbo to embark on a Moses’ kind of exodus from the Nigerian Egypt into their own ancestral homeland in Igbo territory.

Like Manna From Heaven – For Israel’s Detractors

“Israel has been infected by the seeds of fascism …There are no serious leaders left in the world who believe the Israeli government.” – Former PM, Ehud Barak, Channel 10, May 20.

“Today we have a country afflicted with ultra-nationalistic extremism, infected with the seeds of fascism and chauvinism.” Head of opposition, Isaac Herzog, Knesset, May 23.

“Israel has truly become today the last bastion of fascism, colonialism and racial discrimination in the world.” Nabil al-Arabi Secretary-General of the Arab League, Cairo May 28.

“I fought with all my might against the phenomena of extremism, violence and racism in Israeli society that are threatening our national resilience and are seeping into the Israel Defense Forces; in fact already harming it… But to my great regret, extremist and dangerous forces have taken over Israel and the Likud party.” – Former defense minister Moshe “Bogie” Yaalon, Resignation speech, May 20.

“Today Israel is suffering a process of ongoing radicalization and increasing extremism, which has brought criticism from senior Israelis against their government. They all say that Israel behaves in a fascist and racist manner. They say so. Like the deputy chief of staff of the IDF said ‘Our behavior is reminiscent of the behavior of the Nazis prior to WW II.’”Mahmoud Abbas, Head of the Palestinian Authority, Cairo, May 28.

May was a very good month for the myriad of eager Israel-bashers across the globe.

Beyond wildest Judeophobic dreams

With no effort on their part, the recent rash of stupid, ill-considered — and gravely misleading — public proclamations provided them with more to bash Israel with than they could have wished in their wildest Judeophobic dreams.

What more could they have hoped for? Some of the most senior figures in the Israeli establishment have now publicly corroborated precisely what they have been trying to convey in their toxic tirades against the Jewish state for years. Now they have it on the best of authority — straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak:
The Jewish state is a fascist, racist entity — indeed, one of an evil kind in today’s world.

Who could argue with them now? Israel is descending inexorably in to the lowest depth of human depravity comparable to the darkest times humanity has known in modern history.

Indeed, they need not even make these horrific accusations themselves — and expose themselves to charges of antisemitism. All they need do is quote the vitriolic condemnation of Israel by its own political and military leadership. And if they embellish or distort them slightly — who would notice, or even care enough to wrangle over details. After all, when the principle has been made so indelibly clear, who has time for splitting fascist hairs?

Abominable analogy

The point of departure for this deplorable and distortive portrayal of Israel can be traced to the abominable analogy made by the IDF’s deputy chief of staff,  Maj-Gen. Yair Golan at a Holocaust commemoration ceremony on May 4. Golan suggested — or, at least, could plausibly have been interpreted by Israel’s fiercest detractors as suggesting — that Israel is undergoing  a process reminiscent of those that heralded the advent of fascism and the rise of Nazism in Europe in the 1930s. He proclaimed:  “If there’s something that frightens me about Holocaust remembrance it’s the identification of the horrific processes that occurred in Europe in general, and particularly in Germany, back then…and detecting signs of them here among us today in 2016.”

It matters not whether that such a parallel was his intention or not.  Once the anti-Israel cohorts could spin it that way, it took on a life of its own.

But Golan went on further, painting — or giving Israel-bashers the opportunity of painting — a grossly distorted picture of the emerging trends in Israeli society. He pontificated: “There is nothing easier than hating the “other”, nothing easier than fear-mongering and instilling panic. There is nothing easier than to adopt callous, thick-skinned bestiality and holier than thou self-righteousness.”

Irrelevant and unrepresentative rebuke

This apparent rebuke raises two issues.  Firstly, if Golan chose to articulate it, he clearly must believe that the objectionable features he mentions, comprise a significant trend in Israeli society. Otherwise why bring it up — especially in a Holocaust commemoration speech? But if they are not, it is a rebuke that is totally irrelevant.

Secondly, if Golan feels that these features do represent significant propensities he is hopelessly out of touch with the dominant characteristics of Israeli society — and his implied rebuke is wildly unrepresentative.

Perhaps he missed the wide coverage of Israeli humanitarian missions to disaster areas such a Haiti and Nepal among a host of other afflicted countries to which Israel extends aid. Hardly indicative of “callous thick-skinned bestiality.”

Other things might have slipped his mind, like the extensive medical treatment provided to casualties of the gruesome civil war in Syria.  Or the hospital services given to the family members of Israel’s sworn enemy, Hamas — including those of its leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh. Indeed, Haniyeh’s  own mother-in-law, grand-daughter and daughter were all admitted to Israeli medical facilities in 2013-14, the latter “just weeks after a 50-day war [Protective Edge] between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement” (The Telegraph, October 20, 2014). OMG – just how much “hate for the ‘other’” can a country harbor!

“Providing weapons to Hamas propaganda…”

Perhaps one of the better gauges of  just how damaging Golan’s remarks — and those of others that followed them — were to Israel, is an interview with journalist, Ben-Dror Yemini, on Tel Aviv Radio (May 4). For the record, Yemini is a left-leaning publicist and self-confessed supporter of Herzog’s left of center Zionist Union in the last election.

At the outset of the interview, Yemini described Golan’s abhorrent allusion as an “appalling mistake” especially for anyone who has any idea of ongoing developments regarding Israel in the world.  He went on to remind listeners that Israel was fighting “on two fronts, and today the PR front is no less important than the military front”

He lamented: “To compare Israel to Nazi Germany reflects a kind of insanity that, regrettably, is beginning  to dominate us…If the deputy leader of the British Labor party…who we accuse of antisemiticsm …had have said that, he would have been thrown out of the party.”

With evident bitterness, Yemini claimed: We are providing weapons for the Hamas’s propaganda…I have been engaged in a world-wide effort to repudiate the false accusations against Israel, and suddenly someone like [Golan] comes along and ruins years of work.

Greatly agitated, Yemini continued: “Anyone who compares Israel to the Nazis is not someone who usually wants to criticize Israel. It is someone who does not want Israel at all!…Moreover it is all a lie! But when he [Golan] says it, it gives them a boost. The whole social network is abuzz. All the anti-Israel and antsemitic sites have made him a hero”.

“As damaging as a terror attack…”

With a touch of drama, Yemini informed the interviewer: “I was in Auschwitz, at a conference on the Nuremberg Trials, when I heard Golan’s remarks. I was there! Right there! I spoke with some of the participants, who were not right-wing people. The general perception was this [Golan’s speech] was equivalent to a terror attack. No less!…”

Still greatly troubled, Yemini penned an article five days later entitled “A PR terror attack” (Ynet, May 9). In it, he strongly refuted any slide toward large-scale fascism or racism in Israel, which despite the grave threats to its existence, still compares favorably, in terms of the liberalism and tolerance, to other European democracies. By way of comparison he cites Sweden, often a vehement critic of Israel, where “dozens of refugee centers were burnt” and “polls show up to 15% backing for a party representing neo-Nazi supporters.”

True, like any other society, Israel has its blemishes. There are instances of hooliganism, social intolerance and even ethnic bias.  But there are no politicized movements of any significance, and certainly none with any electoral prospects, that promote doctrines of racial superiority or promulgate the principles of fascism.

Accordingly to suggest that Israel is in anyway afflicted with the seeds of fascism is not criticism. It is indeed  as Yemini states, a blood libel.

Hollow ring to cries of dismay

Any allusion by any Israeli of prominence that any such phenomena exist, betrays not only a poor grasp of the socio-cultural realities in the country, but also raises grave questions as to his/her motivations and/or quality of judgement.

Of course the chorus for dismayed voices warning of the impending advent of fascism/racism/extremism was amplified in the wake of the Golan address by the replacement of Moshe Ya’alon as defense minister by Avigdor Lieberman.

Admittedly, I have serious reservations as to what to expect from Lieberman, and as to the rationale for appointing him to such a crucial post in the wake of what was a devastating electoral failure at the polls last year (with his faction diminished by over half and reduced even further by his most prominent MK — Orly Levy — quitting the party). However, that said, the distraught cries by many of his detractors as to the danger he poses to Israeli democracy, have a decidedly hollow ring to them.

Indeed, many of his current critics have, in fact,  served with him in governments in the past, without expressing undue alarm as to the grave threat he posed to Israeli democracy — even when his electoral success was far greater. Indeed, Lieberman has served, including as deputy prime minister, in every government since 2001, when Arik Sharon wrested power from Ehud Barak.

It is thus difficult to avoid the impression that the current deluge of opprobrium for him is motivated more by political and personal chagrin than any real genuine concern for the future of democratic governance in Israel.

Tolerating terror as anti-fascist litmus test

Take for example Ehud Barak, who served as deputy prime minister together with Lieberman both in Ehud Olmert’s government (2006-9) and in Netanyahu’s (2009-13), with nary a concern expressed for Israeli democracy.

In his Channel 10 diatribe (see opening except), Barak sought to illustrate his point  regarding the “seeds of fascism” taking hold in Israeli society by referring to legislation promoted by members of the current coalition. Among these allegedly “egregious” undemocratic initiatives was the law to lift the parliamentary immunity of Knesset members who support terrorism (Haaretz, May 20).

This of course leads one to wonder whether, according to Barak, the litmus test of democratic governance is giving elected legislators in the national parliament license to support terror organizations, dedicated to the destruction of the society that that parliament represents, secure in the knowledge that they will be  immune  from any punitive action.

Apparently in Barak’s eyes, for a country to avoid being afflicted by the “seeds of fascism”, it must give priority to the rights of legislators to support terror over the rights of intended victims of that terror to life.

This is, of course, an “interesting” perspective and one that might explain why in the past Barak proclaimed that, if he had been a Palestinian, he too would have engaged in terror.

Isaiah 49:17

The howls of dismay at the approaching demise of Israeli democracy are utterly unfounded and uncalled for.

When they come from highly-placed Israelis, who put short-term personal and political interest before the long term national one, they inflict incalculable, perhaps irrevocable harm on the country, inevitably compelling us to recall the words of Isaiah 49:17

“Thy destroyers and thy demolishers shall emerge from within thee. “

So it would seem.

Headlines: Stabbing Attack, Earthquake, Iran Holocaust Denial Cartoon Contest

One man wounded after stabbing attack along Hanevi’im Street in Jerusalem. Arab terrorist arrested.
[Arutz Sheva]


Light earthquake measuring 4.8 hits southern Israel; No injuries reported.
[The Jerusalem Post]


Iran mocks the Holocaust by staging a Nazi-themed cartoon contest, as Israeli prime minister claims the Islamic Republic is ‘preparing another genocide’
[Daily Mail]


The planned French international peace initiative will take place without Israeli or Palestinian Authority participation.
[The Jewish press]


Nasrallah: We must be vigilant against the ‘Zionists’. Hezbollah leader warns of Israel’s moves in the region, calls for vigilance.
[Arutz Sheva]


Two suspects have been arrested and are still being questioned for the Hizme checkpoint bombing earlier this month.
[The Jewish press]

Headlines: Ceasefire / Holocaust Remembrance / Terror Tunnels

Egypt brokers a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas after clashes between both sides began after Hamas fired mortar shells at IDF positions near the Gaza border. The IDF has been performing operations near the Gaza border exposing terror tunnels that Hamas builds in order to infiltrate Israel and attack civilians.
[Jerusalem Post]


The IDF has uncovered a second terror tunnel from Gaza into southern Israel, mere weeks after a previous tunnel was exposed and destroyed.
[Arutz Sheva]


Israel pauses to remember millions murdered in Holocaust. Air raid siren brings country to a standstill for 2 minutes as dignitaries prepare to mark Shoah Remembrance Day.
[Times of Israel]


The bodies of the eastern Jerusalem terrorists who committed recent attacks in Israel will be returned to their families, the High Court ruled on Thursday.
[Arutz Sheva]


Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas admitted that the PA is paying salaries to terrorists incarcerated in Israeli prisons despite previous public assurances that such payments had ended.
[Jewish News Service]

Crossing Paths with Professor and Writer Elie Wiesel

Freud observed that to mourn and to move on you have to know what you have lost or mourning can turn into a permanent melancholy.

I have never seen any photographs that connected my mother to the extended family she so often talked about. I was frightened, confused, and also ashamed that I did not believe her. In order for my child’s mind to reconcile something I could not comprehend, I had decided that my mother had made this family up, that those people never existed.

As a child I remember my mother, mourning her five nieces and nephews. “So young and innocent, they should be among the living,” is what she repeated, often. Growing up with this made me a witness to what had happened. For my first twenty years, I went from feeling sympathetic to feeling nothing but contempt. I was angry and also overwhelmed for being connected to my mother’s ongoing grief.

We were living with the ghosts of my mother’s vanished family. Her decision to run away from Warsaw after the German invasion haunted her all her life. A young woman of twenty-two, she said good-bye to her entire family, thinking she would be back in a few weeks. To stay alive, she had to keep going east into the unknown on trains crammed with other refugees. She found herself deep in Stalinist Russia, far from home and family, full of remorse and regret. But this decision saved her life.

Throughout my childhood I saw never any evidence that my mother’s family actually existed. I tried to understand how they could have vanished, Adek, Sala, and Anja, their 5 children. I grieved with my mother, although in truth, I could not comprehend how her family could have just disappeared. I had never seen any photographs to prove they had existed. I was ashamed that I did not believe her. I decided that my mother had made those people up.

I was frightened by my mother’s stories about surviving the bombing of Warsaw and the six years of war. Overwhelmed, I looked for ways to feel safe. I focused my attention on what I perceived to be my mother’s incredible adventure in Russia. I tried to picture her living in exotic, interesting places: the beautiful cities of Saratov and Moscow where she even experienced romance and love. She lived in Uzbekistan, in the desert, under a hot sun, and ate exotic food. I never allowed myself to see her hungry or sick. My mother was heroic and strong, splendid and beautiful in her tailored black coat. From those early childhood stories, I decided I wanted to be like her, to travel, to go to unusual and faraway places. I remembered that when I was still a child all I ever wanted was to follow in my mother’s footsteps. After all I was my mother’s daughter. I inherited her spirit. We saw the world through the same set of eyes. When I traveled to Israel, to study ancient and present cultures, it was like revisiting the landscape of my childhood. I got to work under the hot sun, live in a tent, ride a camel and like my mother did in Uzbekistan eat exotic food. I excavated in the desert at Tel Beer-Sheva. I observed the lives of Arab men and women, evoking my mother’s stories of strange lands.

Professor Elie Wiesel was instrumental in my translating, researching and eventually publishing my book, based on my mother’s journals.

But my awakening to the dark period in the chapter of our Jewish Polish history happened earlier, in 1971-1974, at City College of NY when our paths crossed while I was taking his classes at the department of Jewish studies. Here the things that bewildered me as a child growing up in communist Poland in the shadows of the Holocaust aftermath started to make sense. When Prof. Wiesel introduced us to his experiences in Auschwitz-Birkenau and Buchenwald concentration camps, I started to understand my parents. Reading his books made me realize that although my parents were survivors, that in losing their entire families, they could not escape their past. I was already in my late twenties when I first understood the importance of the stories my mother passed on to me throughout my childhood. When I told Wiesel about my mother he said, “Your mother must write her story. Future generations must know. You must help her to do it.

In the words of Elie Wiesel “silence is never an option.” So at great risk to her sanity and her health my mother agreed to commit her memories to paper and I was left with a greater understanding which in turn allowed me to confront the ghosts of my childhood.

Throughout my life I was torn between letting go and staying connected to my complicated history, somehow I continually found myself being pulled back into my mother’s world despite myself. My conscience would not allow anything else. And with my mother’s death, memories became sacred. On the day my mother died and for the next six years I entered my mother’s world and confronted my childhood in Poland. And Wiesel’s words would never leave my consciousness. “Not to be afraid of the journey ahead.”

I was born in communist Poland after the war, where I lived with my family until the late 1960s. Before leaving for America, I attended High School, Szalom Alejchem in Wroclaw. I graduated from CCNY with a BA in Anthropology. I received my MA in Archaeology from UCLA, and was awarded a grant, allowing me to conduct research and travel to Poland and Israel. Meeting professor and writer, Elie Wiesel, through the Department of Jewish Studies at CCNY, I realized the importance of Holocaust survivors’ stories. I insisted my mother write down her incredible accounts she shared with me throughout my life. Ultimately, I addressed the trauma of growing up in the shadows of Holocaust aftermath and how this trauma is transferred between generations. For me, the 2G, I had no way of knowing, but the seed for writing “Memory is Our Home” was planted in my childhood. Looking back in time, I know now that my entire life was a preparation, to be “a memorial candle”. I assumed the burden of my parents’ emotional world and I became the link between the past and the future. This history is embedded deep in my memory, my soul, it is part of my DNA.

My book, Memory is Our Home was published April 2015: http://www.memoryisourhome.com/