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Israelis Must Be Taught to Identify with Holocaust Victims. Not Just Resistance Fighters

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A Hebrew University historian said here that Israelis must be taught to identify themselves with the victims of the holocaust, not just the resistance fighters. Prof. Shimon Hermon, professor of modern Jewish history at Hebrew University, said that Israeli educators have been stressing the aspects of resistance during World War II. He said this was a partial approach and Israeli children should be brought up to identify themselves totally with the Jewish past in the diaspora.

Speaking at a symposium on the holocaust during the annual meeting of the board of trustees of the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, Hermon declared: “It is immoral, and will be even more immoral as time goes on, to ask the question, whether the martyrs of the holocaust could have done more in active resistance. This attitude could well make children hate the victim rather than the persecutor.” However, he noted that since 1967 this attitude has changed and the holocaust is much more pronounced in the consciousness and behavior of Israelis.

Brig. Gen. Yitzhak Arad, director of Yad Vashem in Jerusalem and a former partisan fighter against the Nazis, stressed that it was not always appreciated that it sometimes took more courage to stay with one’s family and try to protect and feed them than to leave the town and join the partisans. He said many Jews who tried to join partisan units were not permitted to join.

Arad, who was a tank commander in the Israeli army, said the lesson Israelis have learned from the holocaust is that the only answer is to be strong and able to defend oneself.

AWARENESS CAN PREVENT NEW HOLOCAUST

Dr. Yehuda Bauer, head of the Institute of Contemporary Jewry at Hebrew University, said the only way to prevent another holocaust is for Jews and non-Jews to be aware of what happened. “We are only at the beginning of our efforts to teach the holocaust to future generations, though the Israelis have already learned the lesson of how to defend themselves,” Bauer said. “Because Israel is there, another holocaust becomes very remote, in fact unlikely.”

Prof. Irving Greenberg of the City College of New York, in dealing with the religious aspect of the holocaust, said that as far as he was concerned the reality of God was greater than ever, the rebirth of Israel was the redemption of his faith and the line between secular a and religious Jews was no longer credible. “After all, the rehabilitation of Jews is a much more important religious precept than prayer.” he said.

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