De : Majxxn firstname.lastname@example.org
Date : 9 mai 2008 22:08:39 GMT+02:00
Objet : Professor Faurisson's recent radio interview and incident:
English transcript etc.
Here (both below and in Word attachment) is a verified English version, approved by the Professor, of the April 9th interview transcript, along with some commentary and explanation.
It cancels and replaces any other versions previously put into circulation.
Thank you for your patience.
Invited, but censored, on Radio Courtoisie (Paris)
Robert Faurisson, April 29, 2008
On Wednesday, April 9th, I was invited by Martin Peltier to speak on Radio Courtoisie. Our interview was scheduled to last from 7:30 to 9:30 PM but it was interrupted without warning after twenty-seven minutes, and no explanation followed. Radio Courtoisie is a modest, not-for-profit concern that calls itself “the station of all parties and groups of the right”. It is run by Henry de Lesquen. Below is a series of pieces on the affair, arranged in chronological order.
1. Statement by “Bocage” - April 11, 2008
It was in the greatest secrecy that Martin Peltier, for his monthly programme on Radio Courtoisie the day before yesterday, had invited Professor Faurisson. Both men agreed never to violate the Fabius-Gayssot Law, not just to avoid any prosecution themselves, but to preserve the radio station which, as many know, is on a sort of probation, its programming kept under scrutiny by the CSA (Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel) [Superior Audiovisual Council].
The programme began at 7:30 PM. The two participants, with extreme precautions, told of the persecutions to which revisionists the world over are subjected. Interested readers may request the [original French] transcript of this broadcast.
But, after about 27 minutes, the interview was cut off… The reason given on the spot: “The cut has been made at the CSA’s request.”
However, here’s what could be read on the website of the daily newspaper Le Parisien at 10:30 that evening:
original French now consultable at http://www.no-media.info/834/radio-courtoisie-censure
STRANGE SILENCE ON RADIO COURTOISIE
Abrupt cut of programmes this Wednesday evening on Radio Courtoisie
While the station -- which bills itself as “the radio station of all parties and groups of the right” -- was airing a programme on revisionism, transmission was suddenly halted. Without warning, the “Free Journal” presented by Martin Peltier was replaced by classical music. It did not resume.
As for the programme of the MEP Paul-Marie Coûteaux, which was to have started at 9:30 PM, it was postponed to a later date.
When contacted, station manager Henry de Lesquen explained that the broadcast had been interrupted at around 7:30 PM “by the [station’s] delegate for editorial matters, who deemed that one of the participants was making unacceptable remarks.”
He did not, however, indicate what remarks these were, nor why programming had still not resumed.
It seems that not only was there censorship by the station itself, but that there was also censorship in the above article reporting on the censorship, since Professor Faurisson’s name isn’t even mentioned!
2. Transcript of the interview, courtesy of “Bocage”
Martin Peltier: Good evening, Professor.
I must explain to the listeners why I’ve decided to invite a notorious law-breaker into this studio. We’re different in every way: you’re a university professor, I was always a dunce; you’re half-British and Great Britain is my political bête noire; you’re an atheist, I’m Catholic. Why, then?
Well, there are reasons that can’t be admitted to – first, people always like to appear clever. And then there are frivolous reasons: you like Nerval and you consider Isidore Ducasse a trickster, which is quite agreeable.
And then there are two reasons that are wholly acceptable:
The first: to begin with, I heed the Gospel where Christ says: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” However today, in our society, “the least” isn’t the jobless worker, it’s not the illegal immigrant who’s enjoyed the benevolence and support of loads of “right-thinking” organisations; the least is the revisionist, the scurvy wretch who spreads the worst of plagues: that affecting remembrance.
And there’s a second reason for this invitation: today we won’t be talking about your ideas or your work, Professor Faurisson, because it’s forbidden by law. But the manner in which you’ve been treated by the media and organs of the State is disgusting and shocking. One can very well maintain that thought and its expression must be limited, must be guided — maybe it’s even desirable; who can be sure? But for a society that’s made a virtue of blasphemy, and proclaims at every occasion its desire for total freedom, for this society to repress forbidden opinions with the utmost ferocity is intolerable from the points of view of both reason and morality. It’s therefore necessary to denounce this fact forcefully and precisely: we cannot remain our whole lives prostrate before the ukases of the mighty and the [inaudible] they impose. For the honour of the press and of the French people we must from time to time lift up at least the tip of an ear.
So today we’re going to do some history, a little history of revisionism. It will absolutely not be a question of justifying any claims whatsoever but of relating what has happened.
That said, let’s be clear: we are not going to talk about gas chambers! The 1990 Gayssot Law forbids dispute of the “crime against humanity” as defined by the Nuremberg Tribunal in 1946. And unless I’m mistaken, it forbids such dispute even by insinuation.
What is the exact text? Can you quote it for me, from memory?
Robert Faurisson: It’s correct that this law of July 13, 1990, which has come to be called, usually, the Fabius-Gayssot or Gayssot Law, forbids dispute of what are called crimes against humanity such as these have been defined, judged, and punished, in particular by the international military tribunal in Nuremberg in 1945-46. But this law of July 13, 1990 has been applied in such a way that today there exists case law making it so that not only have you not the right to dispute but, to sum things up, you haven’t the right to appear to dispute. It’s said exactly, in the Penal Code, that you haven’t the right to proceed with such a challenge, even by way of insinuation. Consequently, anything can, or just about anything can be interpreted as dispute.
MP: Absolutely. And it’s there that — I’ll pick up here — it’s no secret for anyone, Professor, that you have called into doubt the existence of homicidal gas chambers in the Europe occupied by Hitler and that you revise considerably downwards the generally accepted number — six million — of Jews who died during the Second World War. Therefore I won’t question you on this subject and if, on the spur of the moment, you should feel like going into it I’d cut you off quite firmly and without the least courtesy, I’m warning you. You are here on probation — it’s the best I can offer you — and we shall limit ourselves to three topics that were strictly defined before the programme. Furthermore, to be honest with you, even without the Gayssot Law I wouldn’t have let you expand on your revisionist arguments: apart from the legal sanctions provided by lawmakers and handed down by judges there are others, spontaneously applied, demanded either tacitly or quite openly: there are pressures on families, harassment at work, physical attacks on those who think the wrong way as well as against those who let them express themselves. There are extra-legal powers in our country operating in complete tranquillity; there are militias above the law and I admit I’m afraid of them; I’m scared of the more or less veiled power to be seen at work on the subject of remembrance of the so-called darkest years of our history.
And the first thing I’d like you to go into is precisely the persecution against revisionists in France and in the world. You yourself have been beaten and left for dead by a band of louts that the police preferred to leave alone. You’ve lost your job and several legal proceedings have ruined you. But still, you consider yourself lucky, because, in the end, you’ve never been in prison for revisionism. What is… how do you judge yourself in all this business?
RF: To answer your question: “to judge is to compare”; I compare my lot with that of many other revisionists, especially German and Austrian ones. I judge the legal system that has ruled against me but I also judge it against the German, Austrian, Swiss, and British legal systems, the system in English-speaking Canada, the American system, and others — the Australian legal system, for example. And I feel I’m fortunate to live in a land of plenty called France. I’ll add that, as I see it, the French State is well-enough behaved when it’s not at war, or in a civil war, open or latent. And finally, I must confess, I’m lucky.
MP: You’ve given a little overview. I’d like to return, point by point, to… Is it… It’s precisely some teaching that’s needed here. Again, the history of the various persecutions. Can we fill the listeners in on the various countries? Can you say, for example, how things are in Switzerland? What are the cases that there’ve been against revisionists, what are the persecutions they’ve endured? I’m thinking perhaps of Amaudruz…
RF: Well, there’s Amaudruz who, at the age, I think, of 82 was in prison, for about three months — but there’ve been others. I admit this is a subject I don’t really feel like dealing with, because talking about persecutions endured is a kind of complaining. The real question is to know whether, at bottom, we are right or not, and there you forbid me to talk.
MP: Absolutely. On that I’m very clear. But, by definition, things that can’t be talked about can’t be talked about. It’s a tautology. But I love tautologies: they’re my favourite sport. And so I think it’s still interesting — you don’t feel like talking about it but I want to make you talk about it because I believe the public, even the educated public, hasn’t… You, you’ve been immersed in it, a bit like Obelix, ever since you were little but the broad public, even educated, even well-informed, has not gauged the extreme… I won’t say severity, but the extreme bizarreness of legal sanctions brought against a number of people. All right, let’s have a look at Austria. I have two cases I’d like you to talk about: the case of Mr Honsik and that of Mr Fröhlich. I’m not asking you to tell me about them for three hours, but in two minutes, there, you can do a good job.
RF: Gerd Honsik is indeed a revisionist, who used to live in Vienna; he was convicted for revisionism; he took refuge in Spain and, not long ago, Spain extradited him, handed him over to Austria and so Honsik is in prison.
MP: They extradite people, for that offence…
RF: There you are!
MP: It’s a minor offence or a serious one? It’s a minor one, after all.
RF: Well, “minor” or “serious” offence, it all depends, doesn’t it? For example, in Anglo-Saxon systems they speak of “crime”; that can be a minor offence; it’s a question of vocabulary, no matter. The fact, the important fact — you’re right to stress it — is that a country should succeed in extraditing someone. Now, in this regard, I’ll continue, therefore, to respond, since you’ve spoken of Honsik but also of Fröhlich; I’ll talk quickly about Fröhlich then I’ll come back to this business of extradition because, you’re right, it’s important. Fröhlich is a specialist of disinfection gas chambers, and he said the Nazi gas chambers, for him, were impossible for reasons…
MP: Yes but, there we’re really going…
RF: Wait… there we are. Therefore, as a revisionist he was convicted and, I believe, has been sentenced to something like six years and five months in prison.
MP: All right.
RF: Coming to the question of extradition. You know, it’s pointed out that France has anti-revisionism laws.
RF: It’s also the case with Switzerland, Belgium, Spain, Germany obviously, and still other countries. It’s maintained that in the English-speaking countries there are no anti-revisionism laws. Pure hypocrisy! And it’s here that I get to the question of extradition. Take the United States. There you have one country where, I must say, personally I felt free. It’s about the only country in the world where I felt free. Well, that’s finished. For if we take the case of one of the main revisionists, Ernst Zündel, he lived in Tennessee and one fine day saw five burly cops arrive who put him in handcuffs, who led him away to jail, then handed him over to Canada; Canada — listen to this — put him in prison for two years in positively abominable conditions…
MP: That is…?
RF: That is: in his cell, where he froze in winter, no right to have a chair, no right to have a pillow, no right to anything, constant rectal searches and intimidation with the use of dogs – they would lay him on the floor, and their dogs – can you imagine? – slavering on him: that’s how he was treated for two years in Canada; then…
MP: A technical question, while it occurs to me: he’d been brought to Canada from the U.S. on an international arrest warrant, a request for extradition?
RF: Not even. Yes indeed, it was a request; it wasn’t international: it was Canada that demanded and got him, it was by agreement between the U.S. and Canada. So, the United States, where you have the First Amendment, where you’re supposed to be able to express yourself freely, treats a revisionist like a gangster, and with gangster methods. He was therefore handed over. And he went before a special court – I do mean: special – called “Human Rights Commission”. And I know from experience what that is, and I think the listeners will, after all, be interested in this point.
MP: So then, just what is a “Human…
RF: This: it was said, when in 1992 Zündel had ended up winning his amazing cases of 1985 and 1988 through a decision of 1992, certain persons — I won’t name them — said: this is intolerable; something has to be done. They said: we need Human Rights Commissions. And the good people of Canada said Yes. At least the legislators said Yes. Then, second step — but wait: it would need human rights tribunals, not ordinary ones, and they created special courts where the judges are recruited according to their sensitivity [in English in the original — translator’s note] — I needn’t translate — to a certain problem — and you come before these courts — it happened to me when I went to defend Ernst Zündel. They have you raise your right hand, they have you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and the next minute, if you have the misfortune to say: “But there’s nothing to blame on Ernst Zündel, since what he says is exact, it can be demonstrated, and I myself am sure I can demonstrate it,” then the court intervenes and tells you: “Be advised that here, truth is no defence.” That’s to say that here, “It doesn’t matter to us whether or not what you say is exact, what matters to us is the pain you are potentially liable to cause to a segment of Canadian society.”
MP: Very well. You were saying what happened then, – so, he was tried in Canada, in that way…
RF: Then Germany demanded him, and he was handed over to Germany, tried in appalling conditions…
MP: A second extradition…
RF: A second extradition and, in Germany not only was he convicted and sentenced to five years in prison but also they refused to take into account the two years he had done in Canada and, what’s more, one of his lawyers, a woman, is now in jail…
MP: And she’s called…?
RF: Sylvia Stolz. “Stolz” means “proud” in German. She’s regularly called “the German Joan of Arc.” And another of his lawyers will be going on trial. His name is Jürgen Rieger.
MP: That’s quite a lot, actually.
RF: Yes. But you know, if you consider the physical hardship that’s befallen some revisionists, it’s actually not so much!
MP: We’ll come back to that a little later…
RF: I don’t know if it’s really worthwhile…
MP: But for the moment we’re on the purely judicial question. There’s the case of Australia I think, there’s a Mr Toben; in [Belgium] there’s a former Vlaams [Blok] senator; and in Greece there’s Costantinos Plevris… Apart from the purely judicial questions, if we stick to sanctions that aren’t brutal or court-imposed ones, there are disciplinary or academic sanctions. I’m thinking, in France, of people like Notin, Plantin, Bruno Gollnisch …
RF: Of course!
MP: Could you still tell us a few words about them? It doesn’t seem at all negligible to me.
RF: Take the case of Notin. For having, in a truly confidential scientific review, slipped in just a little thought whereby he showed his scepticism as to the question you don’t want me to tell you about, for having done that, Notin went through hell. It began with the killing of his house pets: his dogs were killed…
MP: His cats.
RF: Yes, excuse me, his cats [in fact, after a failed attempt to kill the family dog, the Notins’ cat was killed — translator’s note]. Then they went after his wife, his children, himself, and then…
MP: Insults? Threats?
RF: Everything you like. I have to be quick; I’ll give you the results of his little run-in: his colleagues took the liberty, of course, of judging him, condemning him. The unfortunate journal that had published his article was pulped: copies of it were tracked down in all the libraries; then, he himself could no longer exercise his profession of lecturer at the University of Lyon-3; and thereupon, finding himself done for, and with a court case coming up against him, he, well, had the misfortune of selecting a lawyer — whose name I won’t give but who is one real trickster — who had him sign a recantation. I should add that Notin — today he no longer makes a secret of it, I think — apologised to me for that recantation, telling how he’d been advised to make it: it ended up serving no purpose at all: when he wanted to land a position abroad, he thought he was going to get it; “they” found out and, naturally, there was no longer any question about it. It must have been in Morocco. He finally ended up in Mexico and, of course, divorce: wife, four children — finished. And that’s one example.
And then you mentioned another case, that of Plantin. It’s extraordinary. Plantin is a very serious, prudent, moderate man. He had presented a thesis which got him the mention “Very well done” from a professor called Régis Ladous, L-A-D-O-U-S. It wasn’t, strictly speaking, revisionist but it did touch on the matter. Then the following year he took another degree. But never mind. Ten years later, when Plantin had gone his own way and it was quite a while since he’d been at the university, the matter of his thesis came up somehow. Here’s what they had the nerve to do — listen to this, it’s absolutely extraordinary; I don’t think it’s ever happened anywhere else in world history and it happened in Lyon, [département of] Rhone [, France]: they set up a phoney viva voce session 10 years afterwards! That is, they made Ladous come there, they summoned Plantin — who, of course, didn’t come — and there they pretended to carry out a viva voce! It took, I think, 10 minutes; Ladous withdrew to deliberate, and then came back declaring that the thesis, which had earned the mention “Very well done”, now, ten years later, got the mention… I don’t recall the adjective but it was something like “intolerable”! [the word in question was “inacceptable” — author’s note].
But we have some outrageous examples.
I’d like to give you, as you’re interested…
MP: Yes, this subject interests me.
RF: I’m not particularly interested but if you are I’ll make you happy; while you’re making threats, I’m going to try to make you happy.
MP: And so there!
RF: So there. Well, take what happened to me last year: I’m invited by an esteemed Italian professor to come and deliver a little lecture — “deliver” is an Anglicism — give a little lecture…
MP: That’s better…
RF: Isn’t it better indeed?! I’m with you on that.
And so I go to the University of Teramo. Do you see Rome on the map? Good, well then, shoot an arrow straight towards the Adriatic and you’ve got Teramo. I go to the university complex, it’s planned that I show up there early in the morning. And what does the university president do? I don’t know if a similar precedent exists. Well, he has the university shut!
MP: That’s very Italian. They’re very clever, because a solution had to be found.
RF: (Laughing) You practically approve!
MP: No, but a bit of imagination is sometimes called for.
RF: And then, what follows is interesting: well, we went on towards a hotel where we thought we’d be able to hold this little conference, and there I encountered a group of Italian reporters. The Italian, you know, has a tendency to be subtle…
MP: Yes indeed!
RF: … and he’s human. I found myself at the door of the hotel, which wouldn’t let me inside, and there, next to one of those pretty Italian town squares, the journalists questioned me, I answered and not the way I’m doing with you: straight to the gist — I took out my magnum, that is, the 60-word sentence which I won’t say to you…
RF: And at that point I told them, “But you know, what’s happening right now is extraordinary. Because in France it’s inconceivable that I should be able, like this, practically on the public thoroughfare and with journalists, to have an exchange on this subject.” I told them, “Up to now! So far it’s gone all right.” No sooner had I finished that sentence than I heard an uproar — it was a bunch of a particular sort of persons whom I won’t define, who’d come by train from Rome, led by a very brawny butcher’s assistant who threw a punch — and a punch that could’ve been deadly — at the professor who’d invited me, and… [abrupt cut “at the request of the CSA” (?), then continuous music].
3. Message from Eric and Monique Delcroix to Martin Peltier [barrister Eric Delcroix, recently retired, defended Prof. Faurisson and other French revisionists for nearly thirty years — translator’s note]
We were a bit too quick to take delight at hearing your dialogue with Professor Faurisson… Censorship of the most brutal sort, purportedly at the verbal request of the CSA, put an end to one final illusion… And yet you had taken every precaution not to break the Fabius-Gayssot Law. The late humorist Pierre Desproges’s prophecies are coming true. Remember his “Court of In Flagrante Delirio”, when he has the usher announce the defendant: “Mr Faurisson”, making the judge react: “No, not that name, it’s prohibited!” Soon we’ll no longer even have any name, any existence. “Blow up”! Orwell indeed told us so.
Eric and Monique Delcroix
4. Three days after the April 9th interview
Martin Peltier has received a letter from Henry de Lesquen informing him of the definitive termination of his programme. To listeners who called to express their surprise, Radio Courtoisie had explained that the order to stop the interview came from the CSA. But it’s likely that at 7:30 / 8 PM the CSA offices are empty, with nothing working but the recording devices that will be consulted the following day by the censors. In reality, the censorship decision seems to have been taken within Radio Courtoisie by Mrs Paoli, Delegate for Editorial Matters, after conferring with Mr Henry de Lesquen. In Radio Courtoisie’s defence it must be admitted that intolerance towards the press is today such that self-censorship has become almost a necessity. Martin Peltier heeded only his courage; as a result he’ll be called irresponsible for putting a whole firm in peril. “He should at least have asked other people than Faurisson to come and talk about the repression of revisionism!” Which other people?
Paul-Marie Coûteaux, MEP of the Philippe de Villiers tendency, was in his turn supposed to come on the air at Radio Courtoisie at around 9 o’clock but he made it known that he refused to take the microphone after Faurisson. Therefore he didn’t report. For their part, Emmanuel Ratier and Alain Sanders [, co-hosts of the previous programme,] volunteered to Henry de Lesquen that they were unaware Faurisson was going to speak after them. It’s unlikely that in the next edition of his monthly “Faits et Documents” E. Ratier will dare to report anything at all about this whole affair.
Breaking with usual procedure, Radio Courtoisie made no re-broadcast the next day of the Peltier/Faurisson interview. Nor did it at any later time offer any explanation or apology to its listeners. It did not even make mention of an event which, in its twenty years of existence, was probably without precedent.
5. Henry de Lesquen explains, on April 14th
Five days after the business of April 9th, Henry de Lesquen finally gave an explanation for his decision to interrupt the interview. He did so in a smug tone. He presented Radio Courtoisie as an independent station where “the freedom to broadcast is total”. He specified that the hosts of each programme were free and in no way obliged to make known their respective broadcasts’ content beforehand. He stated in passing that Radio Courtoisie’s listeners were “astute and intelligent”. But, he added, Radio Courtoisie operated subject to licence by the Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel, and, in the past, had had to pay heavy fines. He explained that, on April 9th, as “a guest” (?) had made remarks (?) liable to put Radio Courtoisie at risk, he had quickly decided to interrupt the programme. He said that, afterwards, all of the others in charge at the station endorsed his move. He termed the matter an “unfortunate incident”. He did not name either Robert Faurisson or Martin Peltier and he did not disclose the fact that he had sanctioned the latter with written notification of dismissal. He did not utter the word “revisionism” and gave no hint of the programme’s substance. He asserted that if the subsequent programme, with Paul-Marie Coûteaux and two guests — scheduled to run from 9.30 PM to midnight — had itself been replaced by music as well, this was due only to “an untoward set of circumstances” and the regrettable “unavailability” of certain of those invited. The truth is that Paul-Marie Coûteaux and his guests, upon learning that the Professor had preceded them in the studio, refused to speak “after Faurisson”.
– further developments may follow.
Current threats stressed on Shoah Day
JPost.com Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST, April 30, 2008
As Israel marked the start of Holocaust Remembrance Day under the shadow of Iran's nuclear program, President Shimon Peres said Wednesday that the world must act against global threats in order to ensure that the Holocaust never happens again.
"It is forbidden in history to be late," Peres said at the official state ceremony at Yad Vashem marking the opening of Holocaust Remembrance Day, noting that the world could have stopped Adolf Hitler had it acted in time.
In his address, Peres urged state leaders to stop the eruption of global war before it began, in what aides said was a reference to Iran's nuclear program.
"We will ask ourselves every morning what we must do in order that what was will never return again," Peres said.
The country's elder statesman said that until this very day he could not grasp how the Holocaust - where one third of the Jewish people was wiped out - could have happened, and how other nations stood silently by, or worse, assisted in the mass murder, adding that if Hitler had succeeded in building nuclear weapons, the world could have been destroyed.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert blasted Holocaust deniers for trying to strip the legitimacy of the creation of the State Israel by denying the existence of the Holocaust, and said that no force in the world was stronger than the Israeli spirit.
"Even 60 years later, who would believe that the ugly head of Jew hatred and Israel hatred is rearing all over the world; still inciting, poisoning and enticing."
He noted that the Holocaust only emphasized the need for the establishment of the State of Israel, which belatedly rose out of the ashes of the Holocaust.
"There is no force in the world stronger than the spirit of this people, that emerged from the abyss of annihilation to the summits of creation, success, building and might of the State of Israel," Olmert said.
On Thursday, a two-minute siren will sound at 10 a.m. at the start of a series of day-long ceremonies throughout the nation.
The official state wreath-laying ceremony will take place just after the siren is sounded Thursday at the Warsaw Ghetto uprising memorial at Yad Vashem in the presence of the prime minister and other VIPs.
The "Unto Every Person There is a Name" ceremony will follow - in which Holocaust victims' names are read out - at both the Hall of Remembrance at Yad Vashem and the Knesset
How a non-Jew living in Israel came to understand the Holocaust
By Michalis Firillas,1 May 2008
I did not always understand the enormity of the crime. It has been a gradual understanding, over the three decades of connection with the Jewish people, paralleling my development from childhood to adulthood. The things a child sees are different from what an adult chooses to notice - they are less political.
I had heard of the Holocaust for the first time when I was seven. At that time I heard adults talking of a very curious, terrifying phenomenon: soap made of humans. I was too scared to ask for details, but I heard the word Jews, and Hitler was mentioned too, both alien words to me.
But I still had not made the connection between Jews and the Holocaust. I had heard the word used to describe terrible results of battle, of scorched corpses of national heroes. For a young Greek child the word was one of horror, of absolute catastrophe and brilliant, destructive fires. Then in early 1978 I read in a magazine of an attack on a bus, in which many Jews were killed in a huge blaze. It was described in the article as a "holocaust." I was beginning to put together a picture of Jews, victims, fire.
Our first home in Israel was in the northern town of Nahariya. On the road to town stood a large building, a museum, where I was told 'human soap' was housed. For years, every time I passed by that building, I tried not to think about it. And when they talked about the Holocaust in school, I tried not to make the connection to that building. Instead I tried to focus on the name of the kibbutz where the museum was kept - and we were encouraged to think of its meaning: Lohamei HaGetaot (Ghetto Fighters). Somehow it made the horrors I imagined - because I still did not really know - seem acceptable. I rationalized it had been a battle, a war, full of glory and the death of heroes.
Over the years the narrative of heroism, victimhood, suffering and liberation, were not readily distinguishable to me. The order and proximity in which three days of commemoration fall, create a sense of historical order: Holocaust memorial is followed a week later by the memorial for the fallen soldiers of Israel, and immediately after by Independence Day celebrations. It is hard to miss the progression: we were persecuted for being Jews; we shed much blood to gain our independence; now we have a Jewish state. At a much later date, I also came to see an ominous warning in the progression: our lesson is that we will never again allow another Holocaust on our people - be warned.
The real change for me, the day I began to put it all together - the horror, the enormity, the narratives, the inhumanity and the perseverance - happened when I went to the store one day. The owner, a nice little old man who looked a bit like Yoda - Mr. Katz was his name - normally had long sleeved shirts on. One summer day even he succumbed to the heat wave. A barely discernible smudge on his arm, somewhere in the wrinkled old skin, stood out as he reached out to give me change. Mesmerized I stared and realized it was a number.
To me, the number came to symbolize the uniqueness of the Holocaust. It was no longer just genocide; it was something else, something for which I am still short of words. In retrospect I think that the number on the arm of Mr. Katz shocked me because it made him definitively unheroic. It stripped him of his identity, of his individualism as a human being. It encapsulated everything that organized extermination was about. The sort of killing that targets people without pathos, without feeling and afterthought: a mechanical, calculated massacre, with the kind of distance between victim and perpetrator that makes it seem almost banal.
Over the years I have had much criticism for the State of Israel. But, as time passed and I came to understand the Holocaust better, the more I realized that there are many out there who still do not fathom its horror, its uniqueness and its significance. This only strengthened my conviction in the need for a Jewish State. Indeed, I was not always a Zionist. But vitriol, hatred and ignorance of the sort uttered regularly by the likes of Iran's President, Hezbollah's leader and Hamas, have made me one. Their raw anti-Semitism, and its echoes around the world have led me to draw a red line: I can no longer imagine continued Jewish existence without the State of Israel.
I will continue criticizing Israel where I think it deserves it. And I will continue challenging the victorious, linear narratives of Jewish fanatics. The Holocaust does not make Jews or Israel infallible. Nor did the Holocaust alone make Israel - that is post-colonial gibberish of hateful extremists. But so long as there are those out there dreaming of another Holocaust, I know whose side I am on.
Michalis Firillas is an editor at Haaretz English Edition, and blogs on Worldview
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