Josef Olmert

More on the anti-Israel ad of Holocaust descendants

Sabbath is not my favorite day of being angry,and it is not the day in which my attention is primarily focused on the politics of Israel, as I ,usually, more tuned to watching the soccer games over there[my religious readers-please forgive me…], being a life-long soccer fanatic. These days are not normal days, so I did what I did from the beginning of the current war with Hamas, looking for reasons for either being happy[very rare nowadays], or angry. And oh boy, I found so much of both…First, I was happy to see the Hollywood stars petition in favor of Israel, not all THE heavy weights, but many are , and not just Jews.
It was refreshing, though I must admit that I still do not intend to watch Schwarzenegger and Stallone… Surely, a pertition which is and will continue to be widely quoted and mentioned.
But then I got my fury of the day,and fury is a gentle word, reading the petition of 327 people , of which 40 claim to be Holocaust survivors[claim, because at least one, Hedi Epstein was in the famous Kinder Transport, and that was prior to the beginning of the Second World War], while the rest are members of
families of survivors[or so they claim]. Then I read a brilliant answer by Professor Kenneth Waltzer, a much greater expert than me in the field of Jewish and Holocaust studies.
Waltzer wrote the obvious , that this is a minute group representing a tiny fraction of the community of Holocaust survivors, and he also related to the political background of some of the signers. Every word of his is worth gold,but still I decided to pick on that particular element, the political background of some of the petitioners.

He relates to the BUND background of some, and let me simply state the obvious; the BUND, this notorious anti-Zionist group , tragically so popular
among Jews in Poland [see Bernard Wasserstein- On The Eve- a great book!], as well as some of the ultra -Orthodox Rebbes are responsible to a terrible crime, that of fighting back against the warnings of Zionist leaders, chief among them Ze’ev Jabotinsky, that a catastrophe is behind the door. Jabotinsky, in particular, who called the Jews to turn immigration to Eretz Israel into the national sport of the Jewish people, was particularly derided and poked fun by
those who were anti Zionists prior to the Holocaust, the same people who continue to be anti-Zionist nowadays, so no surprise
that some old Bundists continue to be wrong. Old ideological mistakes die hard . That said, I do NOT blame Bundists and some Hassidic Rebbes for the Holocaust, as this is the blame of the German people. I was curious enough, so I went through the list, name by name, and found the usual suspects , those who never miss an opportunity to sign anti-Israel ads. Finally, I found the name that attracted my attention, that of Daniel Boyarin, not one I know personally , not one I have any personal grudge against. Just a Talmudic scholar , somebody who I heard about in that regard.
I was intrigued by what can lead HIM to sign this particular ad, and now I know, and it is no more only about Boyarin, it is much more
about the ideology that inspires people like him to give their hand to such an obnoxious document.
Boyarin wrote years ago, that there are Christians who claim , that they lost their Christianity in Auscwitz, and he is afraid, G-D forbid[his words],
that he may have lost his Judaism in Al Khalil. A question, Al Khalil?, well this is the Arab name of Hebron. Hebron was the name used by Jews two thousands years prior to the appearance of Muslims, who after the conquest of our country, changed the name of the city to Al Khalil [the Friend-a reference to Abraham], and sanctified the Cave of the Patriarch, building a mosque there, in line with a Muslim tradition to build their holy sites on top of those
whom they occupied. I, for one, respect Muslim religious attachment to Hebron, as I respect their attachment to Jerusalem, and I have no intention of
conducting any theological debate with them. Tzadikim Bemunatam Yihyu[Righteous people will live with their beliefs], but what about our Talmudic scholar?,
Is it just a coincidence that he refers to Al Khalil, rather than to Hebron?, I do not think so, and I believe that this is where the problem is with the Boyarins. One can be a Zionist and oppose resettlement of Jews in Hebron, justifying it with all kinds of political and demographic reasons, but if one relates to Al Khalil[btw-does Boyarin speak Arabic?], it is because he wants to negate any connection between Jews and Hebron, Jews and the land of Israel.
That said, it is also so easy then to compare Auschwitz to Hebron,[ Hebron today 250,000 Arabs, in 1967- few tens of thousands]ignore the massacre of 67 Jews in Hebron in 1929, which led to the running out of the remaining Jews from there until the liberation of the city in 1967, in short, Al Khalil is thus becoming a symbol, a code word to an ideology which is no different than that of Hamas.

So, my readers[I hope there are some…], can sense the extent of my fury, but in fairness I am NOT SO furious, as I know that petitions come and go, but over 3000 years of JEWISH history in HEBRON cannot and will never be dismissed, no matter what will be the final political status of the city , which for me is still an open question to be negotiated with those Palestinians who are ready to make peace, surely not Hamas.

About the Author
Dr Josef Olmert, a Middle East expert, is currently an adjunct professor at the University of South Carolina