June 11, 2012

THE EXISTENTIAL CRISIS:

Ultra-Orthodox Jews Vandalize Jerusalem's Holocaust Memorial (Alex Klein, Jun 11, 2012, Daily Beast)

On a typical Sunday afternoon, the central courtyard at Yad Vashem, Jerusalem's storied Holocaust memorial, is filled with visitors: Tel Aviv tourists, Israeli Defense Force cadets, American Birthrighters. But on an unseasonably cool day yesterday, the memorial's gates were ringed with security tape, its walls stained with black paint. Beside a statue of Mordecai Anielewicz, the hero of the Warsaw uprising, dripped a crude cartoon of an Auschwitz-bound train. Below an engraved procession of victims looped rows of hateful graffiti: "Hitler, thanks for the Holocaust," "Israel is the secular Auschwitz," and so on.

But the neat cursive writing was not in Arabic; it was in Hebrew. And although the police have not identified any suspects, a museum spokeswoman told The Daily Beast, it's almost certain that the can-wielding vandals were haredim, or ultra-orthodox Jews. Yad Vashem's chairman, Avner Shalev, has already told the press that one of the tags was signed "World Haredi Jewry." According to a guide at the site who asked not to be named, a few key grammatical errors in the Hebrew would confirm authorship by a member of the ultra-orthodox--many of whose first language is Yiddish. "Arabs didn't write this," he told me, visibly shaken. [...]

Why would Jews desecrate this place? Because, in the eyes of far-right fundamentalists, even Nazism is preferable to the secularism of the Jewish state.
So why would Jews desecrate this place? Because, in the eyes of far-right fundamentalists, even Nazism is preferable to the secularism of the Jewish state. The first killed merely the body, while the latter kills the soul. And a liberal Israel that fosters strong Reform and Conservative Jewish traditions--an Israel of nightclubs, shopping malls, and topless beaches? Blasphemous.

The haredim believe that no formal government should exist in Israel before the Messiah comes and reestablishes a Jewish kingdom. Some on the far right even subscribe to the classic anti-Semitic lie that the Holocaust was made up to provide a pretext for the establishment of Israel. One wall bore the phrase, "An alternative museum will be built next to the selective Yad Vashem"--a museum, apparently, for the "true" Jews: the orthodox Ashkenazim from Eastern Europe, and not the "Sephardic Jewry" demeaned in another line of paint.

Posted by at June 11, 2012 4:20 PM
  

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