When MKs Tweet From Auschwitz

Jokes about snoring, bombastic cliches and 10 words about why America didn't bomb the camp. That's how our reps used social media to describe their visit to the valley of death.

Uri Misgav
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“Message from the Knesset director general: All groups must come immediately to the crematorium near the Auschwitz parking lot.”

This message was sent on Monday to the cell phones of Israeli elected officials during their ludicrous and contemptible trip to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. Playwright Hanoch Levin couldn’t have written a better line. But it’s good that the MKs took their smart phones with them to Upper Silesia. In the spirit of the times, their social media activity was able to break through the barrack walls and barbed wire.

So this is what the economy minister and head of the Habayit Hayehudi party Naftali Bennett wrote on his Facebook page: “It’s nighttime on the plane that’s stuck in Poland. There’s a slight chance that Amir Benayoun has gone deaf from my snoring.”

That’s how it is in the back seat in Krakow. Jokes, good spirits, and feeling sorry for Benayoun. I really like his song “Shalekhet” (“Falling Leaves”), with its chorus, “The truth is, I’m a guy who overcomes.” We all overcome lots of things. But I have a hard time getting over the cynical and nationalistic use of the Holocaust and the degrading of its memory.

“Arbeit Macht Frei. Why didn’t the Americns bomb Auschwitz?”

Thus wrote Israeli MK Ayelet Shaked on her Facebook page, complete with typo, under a picture of her and her bro’, Naftali, at the gate of the death camp. Typos are part of life, but is it so hard to check the spelling of less than 10 words sent out from the soil of the valley of death? In any case, why the Americans didn’t bomb Auschwitz is an interesting question. There’s been a lot of historical research on it, and there are varying opinions on the issue. But here’s another interesting question: Why did our traveling MK feel it was so urgent to post the question at that time and in that place? It’s good that she didn’t send another message to the Americans demanding that Prisoner of Zion Jonathan Pollard be immediately released.

On the other hand, if it’s already come up, we could ask the MK and those who share this worldview, why Israel over the years has never bombed sites of murder and genocide in Africa, or the concentration camps in North Korea? What about airborne intervention in the Syrian civil war?

“We can never rely on the world.”

A youthful epigram from Brother Naftali, accompanied by a picture of a single shoe and some clothing that is on display at the camp.

This is ridiculous, of course. Since its founding Israel has relied on generous and unceasing military and civilian aid from Western powers and Diaspora Jewry, including $3 billion in annual defense assistance from those horrid Americans. There’s also an incredible amount of aid from Germany, which not only gives us Dolphin nuclear submarines but also state and personal reparations.

Only a few years after the Holocaust, the State of Israel decided to forgive the Germans and turn over a new leaf with them. There were those that saw this as pragmatic and forward-thinking, while others vehemently objected. But about one thing there’s no argument: The State of Israel set pride aside and forgave Germany. Apparently it’s been very hard to cope with the burden and ramifications of that action. Therefore, over the years, Israel has poured out its wrath on all gentiles who are not German. All are guilty, with no exceptions other than a handful of “Righteous Among the Nations.”

“Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The Holocaust taught me two things: It taught me that we must survive on our own, because no one will come to save us. And it taught me that we must remain moral people even when we are justified in behaving otherwise…I am posting once again the speech I made this year to the Hungarian Parliament in the name of my father and the other victims, I had no mercy on my hosts in this speech, but it was important for me to make them also confront the past.”

So here we have Finance Minister and Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, who tragically had to miss the circus due to a previous commitment in Davos, but who was there in spirit. It’s important to note that there isn’t really any such thing as being “justified in behaving otherwise.” Moral dilemmas always involve questions of conflicting values or prioritizing them. And if we’re already dealing with ethics and morals, it would be good for Lapid to instill some in himself and his party colleagues who supported the amendment to the Prevention of Infiltration Law and the operation of concentration camps for asylum seekers at Saharonim and Holot.

Moreover, when an Israeli government minister is invited to address a European parliament, it would behoove him to speak on behalf of the citizens of Israel, not in the name of the victims. Because no one can speak on their behalf, or on behalf of his family, either; the state and the Holocaust are not private matters.

“We’ve been stuck on a plane at the military airport in Krakow for seven hours. When you return from Auschwitz, you learn to take things in proportion. We’re in a good mood. Michael Urich, who is sitting next to me, and who survived Buchenwald, is staying optimistic and keeping his spirits up.”

Words and music by Ayelet Shaked. In the picture with the status we see Brother Naftali donning his tefillin. If we can’t tighten our belts, we can at least tighten our straps.

I have an idea for keeping things in proportion: This Knesset circus was the ultimate cheapening of the Holocaust. From here it can only improve.

Members of the Israeli delegation at the entrance to Auschwitz.Credit: Reuters