Jewish Holocaust survivors from around the world call for justice in Gaza.
Forty Jewish survivors of the Nazi Holocaust and 287 descendants of survivors and victims issued a letter this weekend condemning Israel’s actions in Gaza.
‘As Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of the Nazi genocide we unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and the ongoing occupation and colonisation of historic Palestine.’
The Holocaust survivors expressed gratitude for the opportunity to express their dismay over Israel’s assault and misrepresentation of their shared history.
The letter, with signatories from 26 countries representing four generations of survivors and descendants, was published in American newspapers. Signatories to the letter hosted a press conference yesterday.
The letter was penned in response to an inflammatory ad campaign in which Elie Wiesel compares the murder of children during the Holocaust to Hamas’ actions in Gaza.
Wiesel’s ad—which ran in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and the Guardian among others — was so distasteful that the Times of London declined to run it and the Guardian published this response for free.
In the letter, the survivors write, ‘We are disgusted and outraged by Elie Wiesel’s abuse of our history to justify the unjustifiable: Israel’s wholesale effort to destroy Gaza and the murder of more than 2,000 Palestinians, including many hundreds of children.’
The signatories hope that their letter will strengthen the claim that the legacy of Jewish suffering must mean never again for anyone, least of all, to be used in defence of Israeli violence.
Liliana Kaczerginski, daughter of a Vilna ghetto resistance fighter, said ‘What Israel is doing goes against everything that my father fought for; it is a violation of my family’s memory and I am proud to honour them with my signature.’
Hajo Meyer, a survivor of Auschwitz and the initial signatory to the letter expressed outrage at the racism coming out of Israel. The dehumanisation of Jews is what made possible the Nazi genocide.
‘In the same way, we are witnessing the escalating dehumanisation of Palestinians in Israeli society,’ he said.
Raphael Cohen, grandson of survivors who lives in the United States, called on people to take action to demand justice for Palestinians.
‘It is my own government paying for this violence. When governments won’t do what’s right, individuals and communities must speak out. That’s why I support the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions.’
Dr Hajo G Meyer was born in 1924 in Bielefeld, Germany. Not allowed to attend school there after November 1938, he fled to the Netherlands, alone. In I944, after a year in the underground, he was caught and subsequently survived 10 months at Auschwitz. He lived in the Netherlands until he passed away on August 22nd, 2014.
Hedy Epstein was born August 15, 1924 in Freiburg, Germany. She escaped Nazi Germany to England on a children’s transport. Hedy’s parents were sent to Auschwitz and never heard from again.
After the war, Hedy worked at the Nuremberg Medical Trial, which tried the doctors accused of performing medical experiments on concentration camp inmates. She lives in the United States.
Edith Bell was born in Hamburg, Germany, in 1923. Her father died in concentration camp Theresienstadt and her mother in Auschwitz.
Edith was sent to Camp Westerbork, Theresienstadt, Auschwitz and Kurzbach and was liberated by the Soviet Army in January 1945.
After the war she returned to the Netherlands then migrated in 1947 to Palestine, living in a Kibbutz. Edith has lived in the US since 1955 and has been a member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom for more than 50 years.
Margot Goldstein has taught social studies in public schools of San Francisco for over a decade, and is the daughter of immigrants from Argentina and Germany.
Her grandfather was taken by Nazis in the middle of the night to Buchenwald Concentration camp, but early on in the war, made it to Bolivia, where the rest of the family eventually met him. She is a part of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network.
Maia Ettinger is a writer and attorney living in Guilford, Connecticut, USA. Born in Warsaw, Poland, she came to the United States at the age of 5 with her mother and grandmother, both survivors of the Nazi genocide who escaped the Warsaw Ghetto as the trains began running to Treblinka.
Raised as a proud, secular Jew, Maia was a strong supporter of Israel, and struggled with the issue of Palestinian rights until her mother visited a West Bank checkpoint during the first Gulf War. In a phone call from Israel, her mother said, ‘Maia, it was the Ghetto.’
Liliane Kaczerginski’s father, was a prominent Jewish fighter against the Nazis in the Vilnius ghetto in Lithuania. A former activist with Matzpen during her 14 years in Israel, Liliane is now an activist with the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN).
She recently argued that ‘Zionism dishonours the genocide of European Jews’ and that a ‘Jewish State … means Jewish supremacy; we say no to the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian people.’ Liliane lives in France.
Alex Safron is a Bay Area based video editor and producer. His maternal grandmother survived the Nazi Genocide, after her parents were taken and presumably perished in a concentration camp, by going into hiding with other Jews in Germany, escaping a work camp in the Pyrenees, then escaping arrest by Klaus Barbie and joining the French Maquis resistance.
Dr Hani Jamah, a Palestinian living in California who lost 30 family members in an Israeli bombing said, ‘When Israel started its bombardment of Gaza, I turned on the news and discovered that 30 of my aunts and cousins had died in a single bomb blast.
‘Joining my voice with 40 survivors of the Nazi genocide adds power to our call that we must work together to bring justice to Gaza.’
‘With the growing number of people around the world holding Israel accountable for its genocidal crimes, I applaud the courageous statements by holocaust survivors and their families being on the right side of justice,’ said Monadel Herzallah, of the US Palestinian Community Network.
‘Our children and grandchildren inside of Gaza deserve a life of believing that Never Again means Never Again for Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime.’