(May 8, 2019 / JNS) Why not allow the families of fallen Nazi soldiers to take part in Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremonies?
If “grief is grief, and it brings us together,” as the Israeli Supreme Court justices who ruled that the Israeli Defense Ministry must allow families of terrorists to participate in a joint Memorial Day ceremony in Tel Aviv along with the families of victims of terrorism—well, why not?
The public outcry at the ruling demonstrates that most of the Jewish public in Israel does not think the way the Supreme Court does. Indeed, as everyone should realize: most victims of terrorism—both those wounded themselves and those who lost loved ones—think there is no comparison between the parents of the murdered and the parents of the murderers.
Here are a few pearls from the court’s decision: “There are 99 ways to commemorate. There are 99 ways to express bereavement,” or “sometimes, bereavement, as a shared fate, can serve as a source of empathy and unity, no matter how difficult things are.”
And then comes the key line. One judge ended her remarks by quoting a poem by Moti Hammer: “One Human Tapestry.” Do you get it? All of us, both the murdered and the murderers, are one live “human tapestry.”
When the Supreme Court fails to distinguish between terrorists and soldiers who take care to maintain purity of arms and sometimes pay for it with their lives, or are wounded (as happened to me), it cheapens the very principles the court is meant to uphold. The court’s ruling contains an almost explicit go-ahead for the Palestinians to commit acts of murder and terrorism as part of their national struggle against us. That is the message, and it is a sad development indeed.
The bereaved families and victims of terrorism who initiated the joint memorial ceremony as an alternative to commemorating fallen Israeli soldiers and terrorism victims have pained the majority of the grieving families and the wounded. Their conduct is reminiscent of Stockholm syndrome, in which the abducted begin to identify with their kidnappers. The self-flagellation of the Jewish people is an old story. Jews have always tried to find in ourselves the reasons why Jews are hated.
After the terrorist attack that killed the son of one of the main organizers of the event, she called a friend from school—none other than Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—and blamed the attack on him. “You’re at fault,” she shouted, in genuine grief.
The small but influential and well-funded group to which she belongs maintains a discourse in which it blames terrorism on settlers and the (non-)occupation. Not all of them justify terrorism, but nearly all of them understand it.
Whereas for me, the son of Holocaust survivors, everything is clear: There is one side that murders young women and children and there is another side that defends them. For me, there is no “human tapestry” that unites the attacker and the attacked. For me, there is one holy principle: All Jews are responsible for each other.
This article first appeared on Israel Hayom.