Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Who Will Remember?

It is Holocaust Remembrance Day today. As I see the old survivors speaking at ceremonies and in documentaries, I can't help but think that in a few years there will be no more holocaust survivors. Who will act as witnesses at ceremonies and public discussions? As the people who remember the horrible experiences fade away, will the "public memory" fade as well?

We will never forget the holocaust, but it may become something more of a historical fact than an actual scar on humanity. Young Germans, Austrians, Poles and others already see it as distant history rather than something that has anything to do with them. I can't blame them. They aren't responsible for what their parents and grandparents did.

On the other hand, for most young Jews (at least in Israel), the holocaust is still a part of life. It isn't something that's always present, like an obsession, but it is part of their background. Our parents' and grandparents' lives were changed by it. We know survivors, we know people who have lost relatives. Unlike those who only hear tales of survival through documentaries, we have heard thousands of stories from people near and dear to us - an aunt who survived the camps, a neighbor raised by nuns until his mother could return to take him, those who fled in time but lost entire families, and many more. So we remember, but will our children? Will the next generations be interested in the stories retold by those who did not experience them?

But maybe we've already forgotten one of the most important lessons of the holocaust. The eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day (27 of Nisan, according to the Jewish calendar) coincides this year with Genocide Remembrance Day in Armenia (March 24). I find it symbolic: we should remember that genocide is global. The Holocaust was not the first attempt at ethnic cleansing, nor was it the last. It is happening right now in Darfur. Unfortunately, just like in the 1940's, nobody cares. Nobody will do a thing against it, including Israel.

President Moshe Katzav and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert used the memorial ceremony to warn the world against Iran's dreams of nuclear genocide. They should have called for intervention in Sudan.

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Monday, April 03, 2006

Labor Down to 19 Knesset Members

Israel's central elections committee announced a correction today to the election results. Labor has 19 seats, not 20, while Ra'am-Ta'al, an Arab party, has 4 instead of 3. It's weird, but I'm happy Labor lost a seat even though I voted for them. The whole "social emergency Peretz government" concept pisses me off.

The original error was due to the fact that in one Arab town poll workers mistakenly listed hundreds of votes as being for Herut, a party advocating the "transfer for compensation" of Arabs, instead of Ra'am-Ta'al, which was right next to it on the voting tally form.

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Sunday, April 02, 2006

Prime Minister Amir Peretz?

After the 2003 elections, it took me about a year and a half until I was sorry I voted for Shinui. This time around, I'm feeling sorry about voting for Labor already. Amir Peretz is trying to get the right wing parties to support and join a government led by himself. There are so many reasons why this would be a disaster.

For one thing, all these parties have nothing in common other than the desire to keep Kadima out of government. Their views on just about every issue are so very different, which would make this a stalemate coalition. It will break up quickly, once its left-wing parties try something its right-wing parties oppose. That will either cause very early elections or the formation of a Kadima-led government after a few months of being stuck in the mud.

Also, though Kadima's election result was mediocre, winning 29 seats after earlier polls had shown them at the 30's and 40's. But it's still the largest party in parliament, almost doubling the number of members it had in the previous Knesset (the former Likud and Labor MKs who formed Kadima). On the other hand, Labor got just one more seat than they did in 2003. And back then, Amir Peretz ran with his small party Am Echad and got 3 seats, which later joined Labor with a combined 22 seats. So actually Labor lost 2 seats on March 28.

Another reason this is not a good idea is Amir Peretz himself. He is not a national leader, but a labor union leader. He would be a bad prime minister. Also, polls show very few people want him at the helm.

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Saturday, April 01, 2006

Confessions of a Former Bibi Admirer

I was a little kid when I first saw him. He was on CNN, being interviewed as Israel's ambassador to the United Nations. He had such perfect American English. Bibi Netanyahu became one of my favorite TV personalities. Yes, that's what he was to me back then - a TV personality. With perfect English. To this day, I have a soft spot for Israelis with perfect American English and Americans with perfect Hebrew.

I had no ideas what his political views were at the time. I doubt I really had any of my own back then. But as I became politically aware, and Bibi became head of Likud and later prime minister, even the perfect English could not compensate for his politics and horrible leadership. I really dislike him now as a politician. I even dislike him as a TV personality.

That, by the way, is his biggest failure, since he always was more of a TV star than a leader.

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