Zelda Harris
Five on the 100 aliyah from UK list!

Thoughts between Yom Hazicharon and Yom Hatzmaut

I am sitting at my computer trying to gather up enthusiasm to continue my memoirs. I am stuck. Too much information,too many memories and this whole psyche of what is and what is not, going to inspire and impact on future generations.

Suddenly,the wail of the siren.Jumping to my feet I run to the balcony.I overlook Beit Frankfurt, our normally buzzing community centre which was built with a generous donation from the Germans.It is surrounded by leafy green trees  where birds chirp and coo incessantly. Only now they are silent and I absorb the deafening sound into my soul hoping that it will purge the bad feelings, I have inside.

Yom Hazicharon creates turmoil in our guts and for almost 48 hours we are  virtually,paralysed.We can think of nothing else.

66 years after the state came into being, the plight of the few surviving victims is deplorable We really should be utterly, ashamed of ourselves. What message do we want our children to get from what happened to our people prior to and during World War Two ?

They are turned off.They cover their ears.

They may know but refuse to see that around us are people being uprooted from their homes,prevented from travelling,harrassed, threatened and their property damaged.

If they ask, we tell them that its OK we are only ensuring our security. They can be a threat to us,many of them want to kill us!

.Every leader in recent years,oops there has only been one,has put the fear of God into us “They are coming to get us,we must never let it happen again.Look at  Europe,  not to mention Iran.

See, we stand alone.” The gift of the gab.

I once took an eminent Jewish journalist and author to The Diaspora Museum. Impressed as she was with the display and wealth of history,she seemed uneasy.”Its all about war, oppression and destruction” she commented.

I was stunned.I had never looked at our history or that beautiful museum, that way.

What does a fertile young mind make of it all?

Down below I see a man in a wheelchair,his carer looks to be Asian I watch her get to her feet and cover her eyes. I wonder what connotations,she has?

We have turned this day into an excuse to present ourselves as victims nebbuchs,weak innocents. We have used every opportunity to bring up the horrors of World War Two so that we can safely go on the attack, any time it suits us.We regurgitate our peoples’ sufferings lest we forget.We should never forget, but we also should welcome a comment by an arab leader who acknowledged the holocaust as the worst atrocity in the history of mankind,not mock him.

I turn on the radio,Karen Neubach on Reshet Bet is interviewing an erudite bunch of educators. They all agree that we should stop politicizing the Holocaust. Explain to our children that the survivors were heroes.With all that they  had gone through they made a truly positive contribution to the State  of Israel in every field imaginable.We should praise and revere them and alter the narrative to suit the time that we live in.

I recently met my cousins’ teen age son who had been  on a school trip to Auschwitz.”So how was it?” I asked. Hesitantly he answered”A lot of fun”” What”! I gasped.”Well,I had mixed feelings about the value of the whole thing,but in the hotel it was fun” He would not elucidate further, except to add”Most of the other kids made the comparison and came back filled with hatred towards arabs.Their attitude was”we don’t have to give them anything,they are out to get us” They had absorbed well the message of the tour leader.He muttered.

Next week will be the height of the manipulation of the Israeli people.I hate to be cynical as I think of every soldier as if he were my own and loathe to hear a word  against  Zahal. Nothing is worse than losing a child, their heroism is sacrosanct and noble. However the mass outpouring, can never replace the intimacy of the family’s grief.

Yet,we have never truly recognised the valour of those skinny,bedraggled fighters who had for 3 years wandered from camp to camp in Europe,where no one wanted the Jews.From the British Army controlled camps in Cyprus they went straight to the battlefield and there many hundreds ended their short lives on the bloodied soil of the promised land.

When I arrived in 1949 there was no automatic citizenship or organised immigration process.The newly formed Government  had other priorities.  There was food rationing,health and welfare problems,no housing and very little work. It was a miracle that people did not starve and that there was no outbreak of disease. The lack of registration meant that many soldiers were never recognised as Israeli citizens and few had family members to look out for them.Lets hope that will also be taken in to account this year.

The holocaust did not start with extermination but with words and actions prompted by the authorities.

Denial of movement and trading,human and civil rights,dispossession,abasement,separation,isolation and a poisonous propaganda machine..

In the early years of Nazism the people magnetized by the charisma of their leader,believed that they were invincible.

To control and conquer,someone has to pay the price.

The German people paid highly, too.



About the Author
Zelda Harris first came to Israel 1949, aged 18. After living through the hardships of the nascent state, she returned to England in 1966. She was a founding member of the Women's Campaign for Soviet Jewry. In 1978, she returned with her family to Israel and has been active in various spheres of Israeli Society since. Together with the late Chaim Herzog, she founded CCC for Electoral Reform, was the Director of BIPAC in Israel, and a co-founder of Metuna, the Organisation for Road Safety, which received the Speaker of Knesset Quality of Life Award for saving lives on the roads and prevention of serious injury. She is now a peace activist, blogger for Times of Israel and is writing her life story.