and Reflections of a survivor on Yom Hashoha, The Holocaust Day
was in the garden feeding our cat called ginger when the sirens
went off, officially announcing the day of the Shoa. The shrill,
piercing sound made ginger jump in the air and arch its back. Then
she came scuttling down to hide between my legs, while I stood at
was ten in the morning and the sirens were sounding all over Israel,
from Metula in the North, to Eilat in the South. Israelis wherever
they are, stop and stand at attention for several minutes in honour
of the six million Holocaust victims. For two minutes the whole
country stops in its tracks. For us Holocaust survivors, this is
of great emotional significance. We know that we are in the only
country in the world that honours our perished families and friends
in such a dignified manner. We, the Holocaust survivors, our children
and grand children can hold up our heads and say, yes, this our
home and no one will ever get us out of here, no matter what.
is the most beautiful time of the year in Israel, just before the
harsh summer heat invades the country. The orange groves are in
bloom, and the sweet delicate bouquet of orange blossoms permeates
the country side. Passover, is also behind us and soon we
will celebrate Israelís 54th Independence day. Yet, today is the
Holocaust day, the saddest day of the year for us survivors. Memories
of the horrors I saw in my childhood surface in my mind and heart.
Sadness is mixed with certain rage and resentment. Why did the world
allow it to happen and did nothing, keeps going through my mind.
If only Israel had existed ten years earlier, when Hitler was still
willing to let the Jews go, there wouldnít have been a Holocaust
and all that is near and dear to me would have survived. My mother
and brother, my uncles and aunts, cousins, friends, teachers, rabbis,
actors, writers and their descendants would all be alive today.
But Israel did not exist, and they all perished in the flames of
the Holocaust, leaving a painful void in our hearts and souls.
we live near the sea, on every Holocaust day I go down to the beach,
to sense, to smell and feel. To smell the sea, feel the sun on my
body, and sense the presence of perhaps something good, anything
that would keep me from thinking, anything that would keep me from
remembering. The sea always had that calming effect on me. Its vastness,
as it stretches from horizon to horizon. The acrid smell of salt
and kelp. The gentle murmur of the waves as they wash ashore
on the sandy beach. And how it changes colour gradually from dark
blue, to turquoise green. One canít help singing hosannas to G-dís
marvellous creation. And yet, I think of his supreme accomplishment,
the creation of man: Cruel, vengeful, destructive and in many ways
stupid, despite his intelligence. We canít help but observe the
shape mankind is in and the shape of this beautiful planet that
is gradually sinking in the muck created by ourselves.
I am being too harsh on ourselves. Perhaps it is due to the memories
I experienced as a child, on this Holocaust day. Perhaps it isnít
really our fault.
these bitter thoughts are also influenced by the death and destruction
that surrounds us today. Suicide bombers, attacking our civilian
population, as a strategic weapon hatched in the sick minds of Arafat
and his Iranian, Iraqi, and Syrian backers. Our subsequent attacks
on the Palestinian towns and villages raining down more death and
destruction on them. Soon the bombers will be on their way to our
towns again and we back to theirs. No end to the cycle of violence.
And my God, it could have been so different.. Just imagine if they,
the Arabs, had accepted the United Nations decision in 1947, for
the creation of two states living in peace side by side; Israel
and Palestine, instead of trying to destroys us, war after war,
after war. Imagine what the Middle East would have been like
today. To start with, we wouldnít have fought five major wars with
hundreds of thousands of dead and wounded and continuos destruction
of the area. There wouldnít have been three million Palestinian
refugees with all their misery, condemned to rot in camps.
could have placed our know how for the whole regions advantage,
and the Middle East would have been today an area of prosperity
and peace. To support this claim, all one has to do is to observe
the achievements of tiny Israel in the last fifty years, even
while it had to spend billions of dollars to defend itself. From
a pauper state in 1948, with millions of penniless refugees flooding
the country, it built its industry, agriculture, made great medical
discoveries, built a high tech industry that is only second to the
famous Silicon Valley, built a formidable army, to name but
a few of the achievements. Then observe what had happened
to our Arab neighbours since 1948, and the conclusion is obvious.
They have regressed year by year and the only thing they have produced
is a new generation of frustrated fanatics, who hate the West, because
they are envious of its achievements and hate its culture, because
it is repulsive to them. And let us not make any mistakes, they
donít hate America and the West because it supports Israel; on the
contrary, they hate Israel because they see it as a bastion of the
West in their midst. We had so much to offer them, instead they
chose to fight us, and still do. It is a great pity. They never
seem to learn. We are here to stay and they might as well make peace
with that idea instead of forever fighting it. After all it is just
a matter of concept. We are Israel and they are Ishmail, and we
are supposed to be cousins.