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Israeli Press Backs Supreme Court Ruling on ‘judenrat’ Issue

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The Israeli press today commended the Supreme Court ruling this weekend which found that Jewish leaders in Nazi-occupied Europe had aided Nazi roundups of doomed Jews but criticized efforts to brand the Judenrats–Jewish administrative committees formed under Nazi rule–as criminal organizations.

The opinion was handed down in connection with an earlier decision voiding the conviction of Hirsh Barenblatt on charges of collaborating with the Nazis. Commenting today on the judgment, the Histadrut daily, Davar, lauded the Supreme Court ruling. “We do not possess the historic perspective and the emotional distance necessary for objective Judgment,” the paper said. At the same time the paper stated that “those who believe we ought not to bring to court Jews who collaborated with the Nazis because they themselves have been moral victims of Nazis are choosing the easy way out.”

An editorial in the independent daily, Haaretz, said that the judgment revealed profound historical insight but added that it would be a great error to suggest that the judgment established what people ought to think of the Judenrat, the Jewish police and related subjects. “Anyone who believes that the East European Jews could have put up effective resistance after 1939 reveals a lack of psychological understanding and is responsible for perversion of historical justice,” the paper declared.

In the Supreme Court ruling, Chief Justice Yitzhak Olshan declared that historians and not the courts should adjudicate between the Jews who condemned all forms of cooperation with the Nazis and those who believe that such action was advisable to help slow their destruction by the Nazis.

Justice Moshe Landau, in a concurring opinion, said that those who had not shared the ordeals of persecuted European Jews would be hypocritical if they measured the conduct of the doomed Jews by standards of morality few could attain. He said that judging their persecuted brothers so severely would not ease the heartache of the Jewish people.

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