12 thoughts on “Golda Meir to Poland: We Don’t Want Sick or Disabled Holocaust Survivors – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. ״period of what’s known as Tzina or “austerity.”
    should be צנע tsn’a
    as correctly used at that time and as is correct in Hebrew

  2. This would be one of those very rare times when I am inclined to look at this from Israel’s point of view.

    In 1958 — a time, as you say, of straitened circumstances for the Jewish state — was Israel really in a position to take in some unknown but presumably large number of elderly and disabled individuals who would require care? Certainly I can see her hoping it would be possible to discourage Poland from sending such individuals.

    In 1958 Israel still lacked the assurance of unqualified support from the US — it had only been two years since the US ordered her out of the Sinai in the Suez Crisis. She had yet to acquire the total nuclear supremacy over all her neighbors she enjoys today. She was, however, at war with all of them.

    To boot, she presumably still had a long way to go in assimilating the masses of Oriental Jews she took in after 1948. Under the circumstances, it would have been foolhardy to allow herself to be made into some kind of retirement refuge for aged Poles.

    If it was a matter of — say — a thousand prospective charity cases, one could reasonably accuse Israel of hypocrisy and callousness. But how many were there? If she was looking at taking in a hundred thousand, one can see her point.

      1. Nevertheless, it would seem that in 1958 in particular, Israel was looking at a substantial — if not overwhelming — influx of Polish Jews. From Wikipedia:

        ‘…A second wave of Jewish emigration (50,000) took place during the liberalization of the Communist regime between 1957 and 1959…’

        So there were quite a few Jews suddenly coming from Poland. One can see an Israel already in straitened circumstances being concerned about just what she was about to receive. I’m not necessarily insisting Israel shouldn’t be condemned; I’m just pointing out that her fears may not have been groundless. After all, she wasn’t an America, with essentially limitless resources. In 1958, her means must have been decidedly modest.

        1. @ Colin: I understand that a politician has to weigh morality and national interest carefully. But I maintain that the enormity of the Holocaust demanded that the Israelis place national interest second to morality (and Jewish ethics). Absorbing 50,000 new immigrants was certainly a daunting task. But it did not pose an existential threat to the State. Nor would absorbing 1,000 disabled or sick individuals. So I believe morality should have trumped state interests.

          1. ‘ Nor would absorbing 1,000 disabled or sick individuals.’

            Yes — but there’s no reason to think it would have only been one thousand individuals. That figure exists solely as the hypothetical number proposed by me of what would indeed have been acceptable.

            Fifty thousand were in the process of coming in. What if in fact ten thousand of these required care and Israel had no idea of many more were to come? Would you then agree that Israel might have been justified in trying to limit the influx?

            Considering my opinions of Israel in general, the argument is distinctly bizarre. However it seems to me that given the circumstances and the absence of detailed information, the possibility remains that Israel’s concerns in this case were perfectly justified.

            One is reminded of the Mariel boatlift, when Cuba took advantage of our stated policies to offload on us various elements of her society she no longer wished to care for. We were big and Cuba was little, so for us it was merely awkward. Israel may not have felt she could afford taking a similar risk.

          2. @ Colin: The thing you must remember in thinking of this is…Holocaust. Not Mariel boat lift. Not any old catastrophe or disaster. The single most horrific event in the entire history of the Jewish people. 6-million dead. If you are what you (not you personally of course) claim–a homeland for the Jewish people and a haven for those who are persecuted–then you cannot in good conscience turn any survivor away.

  3. Richard, just to inform you that the Haaretz link called “Golda’s horrifying proposal” in your text has been removed by Haaretz. I was able to access it the day you published this post, now it’s gone.

  4. All Diaspora Jews should’ve been allowed to emigrate to Israel, regardless of their health or circumstances. No policy should be implemented that would curtail the efforts of Jews so seek refuge in the only country Jews ever had.

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