Monday, 31 August 2009


by email on 30 August 2009

I don't perceive Yad Vashem as a place that should give you details and facts about the holocaust, nor does Yad Vashem perceive itself as such and therefore within Yad Vashem I guided "educational groups": schools, yeshivas, "Birthright" and others. Yad Vashem declaratively has educational weeks, sessions, to the IDF (army), youth movements, high schools and with bringing up questions of humanity, moral, remembrance, nationality, social justice. Yad Vashem plays a roll in fighting anti-semitism, holocaust denials, and genocides around the world. Moreover, Yad Vashem directed me to speak about the "independence war" which battle-fields lie in front of the exit of the museum; about Israel as a possible refuge for the Jews after the holocaust; about how do Israelis perceive the holocaust and about the well-implemented axis: "from Holocaust to Revival (the state of Israel).

To speak about these things without sparing a few sentences about the Palestinian/Arab point of view - is leaving the "educated" student incapable of understanding the complexity of the situation which the area is in these days, leaving him one option - a blaming finger to the Arabs (that didn't accept us in the region), Palestinian (for not saying "oh good that you came. we kept the place for you for 2000 years. We take our stuff and leave this place. You deserve it - you had the holocaust") and the "free world" that didn't do anything to stop it on time.
This the education that is stuffed into the brains of youngsters in Israel, from generations that grew into this victimhood and wars - disabling a whole society from seeing simple facts around them (like the occupation that we tend to forget or think we do it out of "SECURITY")and becoming crueller and crueller.

Jews around the world and in Israel support massive killing in Gaza while accusing the German society for not kicking Hitler out in the 30's. By racist laws, discrimination and violence against Palestinians within us - we are beyond Nazi Germany before the war (only we don't have a one-strong-leader).

If Yad Vashem puts the quotation of Martin Niemöller - a German pastor: "When they came to take the Communists, I did not protest because I was not a Communist; When they came to take the Jews, I did not protest because I was not a Jew; When they........When they came to take me - there was no-one to protest" - high in the museum - it means that Yad Vashem motivates activist-thoughts about what should people do when they see injustice, growing hatred on basis of race, ethnos etc. The fact that they can only blame the "world" and never look inside - is because they are a full part of the brainwash system that sent me and hundreds of thousands to kill, control, demolish and bring a sacrifice to the gods of arm-trade.

Hope that pictures in a way my thoughts about the subject. Maybe it is worth adding that a professor from the academic board of Yad Vashem tried to raise the subject to be discussed with the other professors of Yad Vashem - she was ingnored a whole month and then answered: "no". No will of anyone in Yad Vashem - nor the academic board neither the administration - to discuss a matter of the borders of politics in Yad Vashem, freedom of speech, formal attitude of the institution, borders of education and also not what I had exactly said in that specific tour - shows only fear and cover for something sensitive.

It is time to see the reality around us - professors are being fired for saying things in classes, researchers being threatened by the secret police when until not long ago they would touch only Arabs. And so on.

It is coming at us and can blow the whistle to a new war.

Yours, Itamar

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Father Jekyll and Monsignore Hyde

Go to a village. No, I mean go to a village in a catholic country, and look for its centre. If it is a rich country like Italy or Spain, it may be a shopping centre, a restaurant, a memorial. If the place is poor, it is the church and you will most likely find that this is not because of its more or less ancient stones, but because the Pater behaves as a father. Around the world, there must be hundreds of thousands of these people, who channel spirit and courage to their communities, console them, care for them, knows their concerns, learns from them, channel philanthropy in an honest and efficient way and creatively promote appropriate agricultural development. Many of them have the courage to listen to their parishioners and their own conscience before they listen to their superiors and in so doing they may act as humans and Christians rather than as the cogs in a wheel that some of their learned bishops may wish for. And so it happens that within the framework of the catholic church, it is possible for example for prostitutes to be advised on avoiding sexually transmitted diseases, for ordinary women to be helped to access family planning and for homosexuals to be told that there is not something wrong with them.

If you go to Rome or any city in a catholic country, you may, if you wish, meet a high-ranking representative of the Roman catholic church such as a Monsignore. He shall explain to you, why it is good to inspire guilt in those who came into the world with sexual desires, which are not like the majority's (but in all fairness often like his own, though that will not be intimated), that it is God's justice, if the ignorant prostitute dies from AIDS (though in all fairness he or she may have a chance beyond), and that it is sinful to use a contraceptive rather than begetting a child, who is, given the prevailing poverty, likely to advance from starving street-child to prostitution and an early death.

The catholic church has these two sides. Other churches and denominations also, but not in such startling contrast.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Open letter to Itamar Shapira

Dear Itamar,

I was moved, when I saw the news about you and Yad Vashem in April this year. According to the press, you were fired because you told a group of Yeshiva students about Deir Yassin and suggested to them that there are parallels between the Nakba and the Holocaust.

You were right, but I think Yad Vashem was also right to fire you. Certainly, the Holocaust's lessons would derive from historical study, including comparison with other genocides and related events, but that is beyond the purpose of Yad Vashem.

As a visitor to a museum and as a participant in a guided tour one has a right to be presented only with facts and documentation. I remember being upset, when visiting Yad Vashem the first time, about 40 years ago by a guide, who kept on commenting and interpreting, just as I was once by a tourist guide in Rome, who kept on comparing the Roman empire with Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Incidentally, I visited the new Yad Vashem in 2007 and was positively impressed by it (well, I had carefully avoided any guide).

Nonetheless, I feel strongly that you did the right thing. Being neither a Jew nor an Israeli, but with a strong affinity to your country, I believe that its future depends on people with your kind of courage. Israelis have to come to terms with what happened in 1948 and examine all that went wrong since then because of the blindness on both sides. Only on that basis would it be possible to discuss face to face with Palestinians the meaning of peace and justice.

For this, it would also be necessary to overcome the Israeli ambiguity about the Shoah. The history of Israel cannot be understood without knowing the Shoah. But that being said, Israel should make it clear that the nation is not built on the ashes of Auschwitz. Both because it isn't and because the insistence on remembrance of the Shoah as part of Israel's genesis is unhelpful to any peace process.

Itamar, it is of course intriguing that we have the same surname. I would not mind continuing correspondence with you, because I suspect, we share many ideas and would also disagree on some points.

Best wishes,

Basle, Switzerland 16 August 2009