.Around lunchtime today May 1 2019, Holocaust Remembrance Day, I got home after my annual visit to Yad Vashem to read the names of my mother’s close family and relatives who perished in the Holocaust in Warsaw based on Mother’s Yad Vashem Dapei Ed forms. I always reflect that I owe my good fortune to be able to go to Yad Vashem and stand in line to be able to read the long list to my dear father, Reuven Herman, of Blessed Memory, who, in 1938 went on a fact-finding mission to Poland to see the condition of the Jews there at first hand, and there met my dear mother Rachel, they fell in love and overcoming major bureaucratic obstacles, he managed to bring her to England, and there in 1939, a few months before the Second World War broke out, they married and, not long after, I was born in the comparative safety of London during the Blitz. And here I am today, thanks to that extraordinary love meeting in Poland, here I am today alive and well in holy Jerusalem.
During the dark days leading up to Holocaust Remembrance Day my thoughts have been preoccupied with the depressing resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe and America and trying to think of ways and means to be rid of this curse that has dogged the Jewish people for the last two thousand years and shows no sign of declining since the establishment of our very own State of Israel. Apparently, it’s something that we shall have to live with and keep at bay until the Messiah comes.
Not enough that we Jews, this tiny handful among the billions of inhabitants on this planet, have been the butt of envy, hatred, demonization, victimization, mass massacre, pogrom, Holocaust persecution and the Nazi Final Solution to rid the world of this “pest” once and for all, and how close they came with the annihilation of the Six Million.
Not enough that the persecuted Jews and the Jews living happily in the democratic and liberal State of Israel have for generations given humanity some of its greatest gifts and today is among the leaders of progress and innovation in the world.
But apparently, all that the Jews have given and are giving in terms of culture, philosophy, thought and science to improve the lot of mankind not only has it not impressed the majority of their fellow human beings, but has even increased and exacerbated the feelings of hatred and envy towards the Jews.
At the heart of all of this resurgence of dislike and contempt for the Jew in 21st century Europe and America, marked by increasing acts of violence and abuse against the Jews, lies to my mind the simple fact that the average non-Jewish Europeans, Americans or Asians etc are woefully ignorant of what the Jew is and why the Jew, despite his lack of numbers, is essential to the happy and prosperous and peaceful future of humanity.
So how do I, a very ordinary Israeli, propose to make the civilized world more cognizant, appreciative and welcoming of the Jew and diminish as far as possible and even completely reverse the anti-Semitic trend and eventually consign it to oblivion, leaving us with a far better, cleaner and more loving world.
My solution involves cooperation between Israel and the European and other governments and of course with the US government, and it is to ensure that every child in every school is officially supplied with a booklet entitled “What Is A Jew?” and which tells the story of the Jewish people, their religion, their numbers, their various sectors, their suffering and the Holocaust, and their outstanding contribution to the betterment of humanity, with inspiring life stories of such major figures as Einstein, Herzl, etc. In short, a little book that will completely change the attitude to the Jew from someone who is to be hated and abused to someone who is to be admired and cherished and looked up to.
Such a book can undo all the distortions and fantasies that breed hatred, fear, distrust and violence that are rife in anti-Semitism, and revolutionize attitudes and feelings towards Jews throughout the world. In other words, a little book that can transform the hatred and fear of anti-Semitism into appreciation and brotherhood.
My suggestion therefore is to approach the Minister of Education, the President and Prime Minister with this idea and to produce an attractive little book called “Who is the Jew?” (From Hate to Appreciate) which will be run off in millions of copies and presented with due honors to every young pupil in every school in every country so that he/she will learn all about the Jews, their history, their contribution to history and society and lay the foundation for a totally new attitude towards the Jews.
It is my firm belief that such a book or booklet, maybe at different levels for different age groups, can radically transform and revolutionize the prevailing negative attitudes towards the Jews.
Therefore, I urgently call upon the leaders of our country to undertake this important operation and give a new meaning and understanding to untold millions of young pupils and their families to the words Jew and Jewish and deal a devastating blow to the tragic venom of anti-Semitism.