Israel Has No Right to Be Called 'Heir' to Holocaust Victims

Zionist leaders have little cause for pride in their actions during the Second World War - Zionist financiers withheld funds, while the JDC refused to help save Europe's wretched Jewry, instead prioritizing the needs of the Yishuv.

Ilan Sadeh
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Ilan Sadeh

The State of Israel has always claimed the mantle of "heir to the six million" - but Zionist leaders have little cause for pride in their actions during the Second World War. Zionist financiers withheld funds, while the JDC refused to help save Europe's wretched Jewry, instead prioritizing the needs of the Yishuv.

A visitor is seen in the Hall of Names at the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem in April, 2010.Credit: AP

The only way to save European's Jews would have been to bomb the extermination camps and German cities from the air until the massacre ceased. Had Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill set a 'price tag' on the murder of Jews; and had Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt shared the fate of Dresden, the genocide would have ended. Yet no such action was taken; not a single bomb was dropped on the camps.

There was a need for an active Jewish lobby. Yet most of the Zionist movement's leaders remained inactive - whether through apathy, fear of anti-Semitic reprisal or through preference for serving the 'needs of the yishuv', or perhaps a concerns they might be accused of endangering the lives of U.S. troops.

There were a few important figures, like Hillel Kook, who did their best to arouse public opinion in the United States. They even recorded a few successes, such as recruiting the First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt. But Kook and his allies were silenced by Zionist leaders like Abba Hillel Silver, who worried about an anti-Semitic backlash in America and urged U.S. authorities to work against the Jewish lobby. Jewish campaigners stayed silent, as did Roosevelt and Churchill ? while the gas chambers continued to operate.

Holocaust survivors were loyal soldiers in the struggle for the State of Israel. They, above all others, paid a price in blood. Yet they won no laurels; no hymns were written to them. Holocaust survivors simply integrated themselves into the effort to build the state. They gritted their teeth and bickled under the humiliation heaped open them by their leaders. They will not forget how Ben Gurion described them as "lambs to the slaughter" and "human dust".

Since the creation of modern Israel, the Holocaust has become part of a national tin-rattling culture - and Israel is a world champion at tin-rattling. Foreign donors have supplied the state with over 300 billion dollars.

In 1952 Israel signed a reparations agreement with West Germany. Not one of the negotiators was a Holocaust survivor. None had the authority to negotiate on survivors' behalf. But protests came to nothing. The deal was simple: Money for the state and its economic partners in return for absolution at the expense of survivors and their heirs - who according to Israeli law were now forbidden from suing Germany.

An example of Ben Gurion's contemptibility is his treatment of the Templers, Germans expelled from mandate Palestine by the British. As part of the agreement, Konrad Adenauer, the West German Chancellor, demanded compensation for Templers, to be paid out of reparation funds. Money destined for Holocaust survivors went to Nazis, while their property passed to the state. All the while Ben Gurion preached "a different Germany" - conveniently ignoring the fact that former SS officers had been appointed to Adenauer's staff.

A corrupt political system and a rotten judiciary combined to trample the rights of survivors and their descendents. The Dorner Commission was superfluous and damaging, serving only to perpetuate the government's deceit. Its conclusions were risible. The required remedy is to divorce the state from any right to represent Holocaust survivors. We need to throw out the reparations treaty that names Israel as "heir to the six million" and bring the matter before an international tribunal.



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