Friday, May 6, 2016

Who Am I?

The thing about comments on a blog is that the blog owner has a bunch of choices. The first choice is whether to allow unmoderated comments. As any Israeli can tell you, no Israeli blog and few Jewish blogs are safe from harassment and so, the first choice for most is pretty obvious - we moderate all comments.

The second choice is how to handle comments that are less than complimentary either to the core issues you present or to a stand you have taken. More than once, I have had people ask me in anger why I didn't put their comments through - and the answer is always the same...because I don't have to, this is my blog, my life and I present it as I live it. Take it, leave it, love it, hate it - it's mine.

Sometimes, I put comments through and then answer them; sometimes I leave it to others to respond. Sometimes, I choose not to put them through at all...my right.

Sometimes, I post them, like this: Mahmood Says...

Sometimes, I put them all together... like this: Comments on Comments...

A few days ago, I posted Six Million Tears. today, Anonymous # 478 (or is it #479?) sent me this:
As a Jew living in Germany, by choice. I ask you this - who are you to condemn a whole people? Who are you to pronounce them without forgiveness, damned for ever? My family bled and suffered and died there, and yet we are still here. And we have chosen to never forget, but to find future and hope. Who are you to pronounce Judgement? You are not G-d!
I put the comment through but decided I needed more space to respond, and so I do that here.

You say you are a Jew living in Germany by choice, I'll confess that this is a choice I do not understand but I wish you well there. I will pray for your safety because I have many doubts and concerns for the Jews who live in Europe.

You ask me who I am to condem a whole people? I will be honest and say that it is not I that may have condemned them but, if anything, that would be their actions, their choices. If they are to be condemned for all time, I doubt I have the power to be the one to do it.

Who am I to pronounce them without forgiveness, damned forever? Well, Judaism is different than other religions. While other religions grant individuals to pronounce God's forgiveness, we do not. We believe there are two elements of forgiveness. The first is God - who are we to think we can grant God's forgiveness? I certainly didn't do that. God is the true and ultimate judge and I would be a fool if I believed that I could speak for God. The second is the person or people who are wronged. I cannot forgive the Nazis for the murders they committed. The only ones who can forgive that are dead. They murdered the ones who could grant them forgiveness. They also need forgiveness from those they wronged but did not kill.

I can tell you to his dying day, my grandfather never forgave the Germans...sadly, he never forgave himself for being unable to earn enough money in America to bring his mother and sisters to safety. To his dying day, my father-in-law never forgave the Germans...and sadly, he never forgave himself for not being near when the Germans came for his parents. My mother-in-law never forgave the Germans either, but worse, she lived her entire life under the shadows of what she survived.

You say your family bled and suffered and died there, and yet you are still there. If I were to say what is in my mind, I would say you are a fool. But my heart tells me I should be more diplomatic, more understanding. I don't know what keeps you in Germany - is it money?  Is it allegienece to the Deutschland? Whatever it is, it's a mystery to me.

My family and that of my husband bled, starved, were gassed and cremated. Those that survived gathered together and looked for the farthest places they could get to - Australia, Palestine, the United States. They wanted Palestine but the British blocked them; they got some visas for Australia but were not willing to be separated from their siblings and so lied and said they too were denied. And when the visas finally came through, they fled Europe for America.

You say you will never forget but choose to find future and hope and I commend you for that. I hope you will work hard to educate your friends and neighbors so that they too never forget. As for the future and hope - I live in a land filled with both; they are forever on our minds and in our hears.

And finally you ask who I am to pronounce judgment - and I tell you that I have not. I have simply said what I believe, what I felt when I was in Germany. It was a thought that crossed my mind. I found the Germans to be wonderful, interested, caring people. That was, for me, a wonderful thing. I went expecting to be challenged, to feel threatented. The first time I saw German eyes drop down and look at my Jewish star, I wondered if I had been wrong, over-proud, in wearing it. When he raised his eyes and said in a questioning tone, "Israel?" I felt my body clench but refused, in my mind, to back down and so, almost defiantly, I answered, "Yes!"

I did not expect him to smile, but he did. I did not expect the other Germans next to him to smile either, but they did. One turned to me and said, "hava nagila" and another said "shalom aleichem" - and I too smiled.

And so, going to Germany was a revelation. I have come far from where I was a few years ago when I wrote, They Put Her in a Gas Chamber. I can tell you now that I will never get to where you are.

And finally, you said that I am not God. I am very aware of that and never claimed to be. All I am is a person with a voice and an opinion. You don't have to like it, and I'm fine with that. But I will tell you who I am...

I am a granddaughter to a man who suffered for decades; I am the wife of a man who watched his parents struggle to live with what was done to them and what they suffered. I was a daughter-in-law for just over 10 years and listened as, for the first time, my mother-in-law began speaking about the Holocaust, describing the life in the camps and the life they had before. I am a mother of five amazing Israelis, two who have served, one who is serving now in the army of Israel. I have sent two sons and a daughter to Poland to face the nightmare of walking into a gas chamber.

I am a Jew. I have stood in the gas chambers of Maidanek and Auschwitz; I have seen the ovens and the ashes. I have walked on the places where they were murdered; I have cried where some remain buried in mass graves.

I am an Israeli, forever aware that it is our job to be on watch; knowing that if the day should come, as it has too many times in the past, that the Jew in Europe will have to flee, we stand here in Israel ready to open our doors and more, ready to send our sons. We have flown into Yemen and Ethiopia, we have smuggled Jews out of Russia, Iran, Iraq...we will do the same in France and Germany and England, and even the United States if we have to.

That is who I am, that gives me the right to have my opinion. I wish the Germans well. But I have lived and will live with the Holocaust...and therefore, so will the Germans.

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