Two weeks ago we reported that the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem was vandalized. Now Israeli police have detained three men in connection with the crime.
All three are ultra-Orthodox Jews and have confessed, police said.
The front of Yad Vashem was covered in Hebrew graffiti, including slogans such as, “Thanks Hitler for the wonderful Holocaust you organized for us. Only thanks to you we got a state from the UN.”
Some members of the ultra-Orthodox community don’t recognize the state of Israel, saying it shouldn’t exist until the coming of the Messiah. The BBC reports that some radicals even believe that Hitler and top Zionists plotted to create the Holocaust so that the Jews could create Israel, which has got to be the dumbest conspiracy theory we’ve ever come across, and that’s saying something.
The defacement was signed, “world ultra-Orthodox Jewry.”
The men are due to appear in court today.
Photo courtesy USHMM/Belarusian State Archive of Documentary Film and Photography. Click link to read the names of these children.
Israeli police suspect ultra-Orthodox Jews are behind Monday’s vandalism at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem.
Anti-Zionist graffiti written in Hebrew was sprayed over several parts of the building, with lines like, “Jews, wake up, the evil Zionist regime doesn’t protect us, it jeopardizes us,” and, “If Hitler hadn’t existed, the Zionists would have invented him.”
As implausible as this sounds, many ultra-Orthodox Jews believe that Israel shouldn’t exist until the coming of the Messiah. I myself know one family that subscribes to this belief, although being decent human beings they would never vandalize a Holocaust Memorial.
This is only the latest in a string of controversial incidents involving Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community. Recently vandals seriously damaged a 1,600-year-old mosaic from a synagogue. The Tiberias mosaic was one of the finest examples of Jewish art. Vandals broke into the museum and smashed parts of the mosaic, while spray painting slogans in Hebrew calling archaeological excavations a sacrilege.
Last year the country was stunned by the news that Ultra-Orthodox Jews had spat on an 8-year-old Jewish girl and called her a whore for not dressing modestly enough. Another group have been picketing a girls school they think is immodest and throwing feces and rocks at the kids. Back in 1990, some fellow archaeologists and I had rocks thrown at our vehicle because we drove through an Orthodox neighborhood on the Sabbath. Travelers beware.
[Photo credit: Getty images]
Here at Gadling, our goal is to introduce readers to travel ideas that are relevant. While we strive to find the new and the cool, we realize that some journeys must occasionally lead us to confront difficult episodes in our past, whether on a personal or global scale.
Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, designated by the United Nations in 2005 to mark the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp on January 27, 1945. As we get further away from the Nazi atrocities of World War II and as we lose more Holocaust survivors to old age, a day to commemorate the Holocaust becomes ever more important.
During college, as I was considering a career as a Holocaust historian, I interned as a research assistant at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in Washington, DC, one of the most comprehensive collections of Holocaust artifacts and documents in the entire world. My job was to transcribe video testimonies from Holocaust survivors, in particular men and women who had lived in the Jewish ghettos of Warsaw, Riga, and Vilnius. Watching those films and, indeed, encountering documents, photos, and memorabilia from the Holocaust on a daily basis brought home to me the significance of the mission of the USHMM and other Holocaust museums throughout the world.
While the best way to fully understand the magnitude of the Holocaust is to visit Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, Dachau, Sachsenhausen, or any of the other concentration camps in Central and Eastern Europe, museums and memorials in numerous cities and countries around the world serve to educate young and old and ensure that we never forget those who perished or the ones who lived to tell their stories. Take some time to reflect on this Holocaust Remembrance Day with this gallery of some of the world’s most renowned Holocaust museums and memorials.
The Islamic Society of North America is defying Hamas and urging Palestinian youths to visit the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., the Jewish news service JTA reports.
A group of A-students from the Gaza Strip are to visit the nation’s capital on a UN-sponsored educational visit. Their tour is to include the Holocaust Museum, but Hamas, which runs the Palestinian Authority, has criticized the plan. A Hamas spokesman says Palestinian children suffer enough persecution and can’t deal with learning about other people’s suffering.
That prompted the Islamic Society of North America to make a public statement endorsing the plan, saying they’ve taken Muslims there before and that it has had a positive effect on Muslim-Jewish relations.
I’ve never seen this museum, but I have been to the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. Although I went nearly twenty years ago, I have a very clear memory of speaking to a German student who I met there. Her reason for going? “I feel it’s my responsibility as a German.” She became a friend, and although she often criticizes Israel’s policies, she’s fully aware of what happened in the biggest crime of the twentieth century.
Who knows? Perhaps this will encourage Jewish-American children to visit Palestinian high schools, or Iranian and American kids to set up an exchange program, or North and South Korea to create a communal youth group.
Hmmm. . .is that too much to hope for this holiday season?
[Image courtesy user AgnosticPreachersKid via Wikimedia Commons]
During World War Two, German industrialist Oskar Schindler saved some 1,200 of his Jewish workers from extermination. His enamelware and munitions factories were considered vital for the German war effort and he claimed his workers all had special skills vital for the operation of his factories, whether they had or not. Many of his “skilled mechanics” were in fact children or handicapped people.
Schindler became the subject of the book Schindler’s Ark and later the movie Schindler’s List. Now part of his factory in Krakow has become a museum to the city’s war years.
The exhibitions cover the outbreak of the war, the German invasion of Poland, Polish resistance movements, and Schindler’s struggle to save his workers. The museum is a branch of the Krakow City Historical Museum. The front page of their website has a short video about Schindler that’s quite powerful, even if you don’t understand Polish.
Photo courtesy Noa Cafri via Wikimedia Commons.