A call by the Forum of Holocaust Survivors, Victims of Nazism and Members of the Second Generation:
Israeli society is like a drowning person sinking into a morass of violence and contempt for human life. Spreading like a plague, these shameful manifestations inevitably undermine the foundations upon which the very existence of Israeli society rests as a democratic society founded on the Declaration of Independence of May 14, 1948. In this situation it is our duty as Holocaust survivors who were scarred by the forces of evil, to make our voice heard: we cannot remain silent in face of a dangerous threat to the whole system of civilized norms in an Israeli society which is itself in a state of conflict and distress.
Even in the reality of war there are rules. Those who overlook them stand accused: causing grievous harm to a civilian population is a violation of these rules. In the present bloody conflict most of the casualties on both sides are civilians. No attempts at self-justification can obscure this fact, against which our protest is directed. Palestinian terror is crime which must be rooted out but in spite of the harsh reality of our own situation, neither can we face our misdeeds against another people with a clear conscience: the killing of innocents, the mass destruction of homes, the uprooting of olive trees and orchards, the far-reaching disruption of daily life and the intended or unintended brutality of Israeli military and police at checkpoints in the occupied territories. All these are no more nor less than forms of collective punishment and contradict basic human principles.
Ruling over another people against its will is a denial of the lessons of the Holocaust in both the moral, the human and the political sense. The continuation of this rule is liable to completely undermine the base on which the state of Israel was established, as the state of the Jewish people. From the cruel life experience which was our own lot, we are convinced that we must free ourselves of the occupation since it has become a grindstone around our necks, the continuation of which constitutes a threat to our existence.
Along with this, we cannot be apathetic in face of the phenomenon of Holocaust denial, and manifestations of anti-Semitism, in the Arab world. These sustain the terror and the abhorrent deeds of Muslim fundamentalism. We call upon international public opinion to conduct an all-out struggle against such manifestations.
Israel arose from the embers of the Holocaust in order to do justice to the Jewish people, as a safe haven for refugees who escaped the slaughter. As such it was recognized by the family of nations. Most of us participated in all Israel’s wars but the prolonged occupation is bringing about a dangerous erosion in Israel’s international standing, and it also influences Jewish communities in the world.
The memory of the Holocaust is a central component of Israeli identity and in our existential anxieties as a people. Our existence as a Jewish, democratic and civilized state is the essence of what we long and strive for. The memory of the Holocaust bequeathes both national and international lessons that cannot be separated from each other. In the Jerusalem Survivors Declaration& the following is written:
The Holocaust belongs to the universal heritage of all people of culture. It was the Holocaust which determined the criteria for absolute evil. The lessons of the Holocaust must become a cultural code for education in humanistic values, in democracy, in human rights, in tolerance; and against racism and totalitarian ideologies. From this Convention at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, there goes out the elder Hillel’s call: What is hateful to thee, never do to thy fellow man: that is the entire Torah; all the rest is commentary. This is our message to humanity. It is this heritage that we hand on to future generations. Above all, this is our message to the Jewish people.
We call upon all those who identify with this message to disseminate it to Holocaust survivors and to their children and to their children’s children so that our warning be heard. We are aware that there are different opinions among Holocaust survivors yet we are convinced that in everything relevant to humanistic values, what can unite us is greater that what can divide us.
Information from Zvi Gil, survivor, author, and journalist.