Soul Searching and Yad Vashem

Once again, in a scene repeated time after time over the past few decades, a memorial to the Holocaust has been damaged, defaced and desecrated. In what can only be termed an evil act, graffiti was daubed across sculptures, walls and pathways. This time, however, the scene isn’t set in some eastern European country, or a former Soviet republic, or, as has also been the case, actually in one of the concentration camps. The scene was right here, in Israel, in Jerusalem. Yad Vashem, the world renowned site built in the holiest Jewish city, as a constant reminder of the horrors of the past, has been vandalised by a perpetrator as yet unknown. 

Not that that’s stopped people taking guesses. Probably fairly educated guesses too.

The graffiti was scrawled in Hebrew, stating such things as, “If Hitler hadn’t have existed, the Zionists would have needed to invent him,” or another which states that “The Zionist leadership wanted the Holocaust.”

Anti-Zionism from within the Jewish world is nothing new. It may have become more frightening over the years, with leaders of groups (sects? fanatical cults?) such as Neturei Karta (literally meaning the Guardians of the Walls) becoming so obsessed with their anti-Zionism that they felt that meeting with Iranian President Ahmadinejad was a worthy and rightful course of action. They, of course, have been quick to issue a denial of any connection to the actions at Yad Vashem. He, in the meantime, carries on claiming that he isn’t antisemitic, just anti-Zionist, giving the Neturei Karta cause to join him. The term “useful idiots” comes to mind.

Innocent until proven guilty, I know. However, it’s hard to see where such antagonism, such pure, baseless hatred would have come from otherwise. I don’t claim that it was an organised action, it may well have been one misguided individual taking that one step too far. Even misguided individuals, however, have their roots somewhere.

After the assassination of Yitzchak Rabin, the entire Modern Orthodox world underwent a public soul-searching after one of their own, Yigal Amir, turned their world upside down. It is this kind of action that needs to happen now within the anti-Zionist world.

Neturei Karta may feel that their path is the right one. They follow their beliefs that the State of Israel is wrong and that their way is right. In democratic Israel, it is their right to do so. They feel that the path Judaism should be following is one of Torah study only. In democratic Israel, it is their right to do so. They think that Ahmedinejad is the answer to their prayers. In democratic Israel, it is their right, slightly bizarrely, to do so.

The State of Israel, however, whether they like it or not, has allowed for Torah study to flourish more than ever before. Thousands upon thousands of students sit and study in peace thanks to the fact that no other foreign power can tell them not to, and thanks to the fact that the State and its security forces enable them to do so.

They have their rights, they have their privileges. Claiming that they gain no benefit from the existence of the State may make them feel better about themselves, but they haven’t faced up to reality.

Reality is that Zionism, irreligious roots and all, has brought about a resurgence of Judaism and Torah life that would never have otherwise occurred.

Hitler and the Holocaust killed Jews because they were Jewish, irrespective of whether they were Zionists or not, religious or not, affiliated or not. When you desecrate the memorial to those millions, you desecrate the memory of each and every one.

And as for Ahmedinejad? His missiles aren’t going to have a setting that avoids anti-Zionist Jews.

Neturei Karta and your ilk, you can keep hold of your traditions and your beliefs. You can keep yourselves closeted away from the dangers of the modern world. You can hide your children from the so called evils of Zionism. Whilst you do, however, it’s time for a little soul-searching. You never know, you may just find that your soul and mine are closer than you thought. And certainly closer than that Iranian madman.

About the Author
An Israeli who's returned home after ten years serving the London public as a Paramedic. Author of