There are some practices of the Israeli government which I find merely offensive. Then there are some that go far beyond that. Like the denunciation by an Israeli diplomat in Germany of Holocaust survivor, Alfred Grosser, who is due to keynote the dedication of a Kristallnacht memorial in Frankfurt. What is Grosser’s crime? He apparently is a little to sympathetic to Palestinian suffering and a little too critical of the Israeli Occupation for the Israeli foreign ministry’s comfort. Which is why they issued this odious statement:
Israel’s deputy chief of mission in Germany, Emmanuel Nahshon, said that Frankfurt’s decision to invite Mr. Grosser to speak at the memorial “casts an unfortunate and unnecessary shadow on the event.” He also said that Mr. Grosser’s criticism of Israel was “illegitimate and immoral,” and suggested that his “extreme opinions are tainted by self-hatred.”
Excuse me, but where does a two-bit Israeli underling get off smearing an 85 year-old Jewish victim one of history’s deepest injustices? Where does he get the chutzpah to do such a thing, the twerp? Since when is criticizing Israel “immoral?” And how in God’s name can anyone with a brain in their head accuse a survivor of “self-hatred?” The very thought is odious. This man hates suffering and injustice because of what he himself suffered. He doesn’t hate himself.
Before we go slinging mud at Grosser, let’s consider that he’s a retired professor of political science and generally considered the architect of postwar German-French reconciliation. Which should give him a small amount of credit in judging the bona fides of Israeli policy toward the Palestinians in that regard.
The Israeli MFA has managed to get the German Jewish communal leadership to carry water for it as well. Keep in mind once again, that the words below are being used to describe a Holocaust survivor:
Germany’s Central Council of Jews condemned the invitation to Mr. Grosser, saying that he “does not tire [of] equating the situation of the Palestinian population with the fate of millions of Jewish men, women and children during the Shoah… and for this reason plays down the Holocaust and the unspeakable suffering of the victims of National Socialism.”
How does a Holocaust survivor “play down the Holocaust?” This is an event that is at the core of their existence, one they think of every day, probably more than anything else in their life? And yet because Grosser disagrees with the Council’s views of the Israeli Occupation he is somehow cheapening the Holocaust? To her credit, Frankfurt’s mayor has not yet buckled to the unseemly pressure of the Council or Israeli apparatchik. I hope she stands her ground. Holocaust survivors owe no explanation to anyone for the moral code they espouse. When Emmanuel Nachshon has walked for a step, let alone a mile in the shoes of Alfred Grosser, then he can criticize. Till then, stom et ha-peh (“shut your mouth”).
And lest anyone argue that Grosser is in the minority as a survivor in his criticism of Israeli policy, there are a long line of such distinguished Jewish figures including Pierre Mendes France, Nahum Goldman, Saul Friedlander, Martin Buber, and Albert Einstein.
For any German speakers, his book From Auschwitz to Jerusalem is available at Amazon.
- The Lede: Kristallnacht Memorial Criticized (thelede.blogs.nytimes.com)