Friday, April 13, 2007

Surviors' anguish - Israeli wounds

Somber salutes to the Holocaust victims will mark this Monday, April 16th, with special poignance because many of the quarter million ageing survivors here in Israel are nearing the ends of their natural lives. About one third live in poverty, according to government census records.

Scandalously, these holocaust survivors-- so distinctive with their wrist tattoos, woe-filled faces and obliterated families-- have not always been viewed as heroic inside Israel. This shocked me. Many gruff Israelis tend to view the first Zionist pioneers as far more admirable than European Holocaust victims, the ones who hid, ran away, or did not fight back. Few of these European survivors went into Israeli politics, perhaps because such a life story was a reminder of weakness and self-deception to voters, who tended to shun them. Before they can get Israeli state medical compensation these days, holocaust victims are forced to prove that their health problems were caused by Nazi maltreatment and are not the inevitable decrepitude of old age. Even inside Germany, the compensation for concentration camp survivors is more generous. This situation is deplorable and activists are working towards change.

Against this prevailing attitude, Yossi Zur is making sure that attention is paid to ordinary Israelis who are killed out of hatred. The bereaved father, whose teenage son, nicknamed Blondi, was killed by a suicide bomber on a Haifa bus four years ago, has pledged to remember all civilian victims in the country. He quotes Winston Churchill: "A nation that forgets its past has no future."

Zur has not purged the anger that festers inside the families of the fallen who stay inside contemporary Israel. But commemorating the sacrifice of lives-- whether at Kiryat Shmona, the successive Intifadas, or under Qassam rocket fire-- gives a focus to his grief. Ynet features his campaign to document all civilian memorials to terror victims and name each one. His work will also be showcased in an exhibit at the Castra Gallery in Haifa. The show is called simply "A People Remembers," and a website lovingly compiled by Assaf Zur's bereft father accompanies it.
The memorials to civilians come in myriad shapes and sizes, and Zur photographs them all.

Little Sara, a young Palestinian Christian acquaintance, has dubbed this website a Jewish Cyber-Shaheed. This is her way to comprehend the tears behind each random death. It's more of a cyber-Kaddish. Visitors can lay a pink, red, or white flower in cyber-space for each terror victim.


Red Buu said...

It's shameful that Israel was so late in honoring its Holocaust survivors --only when it became convenient to play the 'victim' globally. These survivors were the true heroes.
Red Bull

Anonymous said...

Partisan resistance fighters inside Europe were also seen as more valiant. But things are definitely changing.
Hey, the cyberKaddish is a good use of electronic data bases...worth a visit