In Israel, Independence Day always follows one week and one day after Holocaust Memorial day.
This has encouraged the proliferation of the by now somewhat tired slogan “Mehashoah Latkuma” – from Holocaust to resurrection, and a variant, “Beyn Hashoah latkuma” – between Holocaust and resurrection.
This slogan, which is meant to offer consolation perhaps, supports the pernicious and false idea that the creation of the Jewish State is logically or historically “compensation for” or the result of, the Holocaust.There is no doubt that many Israelis who are descendants of Holocaust victims feel that the creation of the Jewish state somehow makes up for their terrible loss or asserts their defiance in the face of death. But it is wrong to think that the emotional connection is a logical or historical connection. The Holocaust did not cause the Zionist movement. The League of Nations decided that the Jewish people would get a national home in 1922, before the rise of Nazism; the Zionist movement was founded long before World War I. Had there been no Hitler and no World War, it is probable that there would have been no Axis-supported Arab nationalist movement in Palestine, and that Great Britain would have honored her commitments,would not have issued the White Paper of 1939, limiting Jewish immigration, and would not have opposed the birth of a Jewish State.
The idea that Jewish independence is “compensation” for the Holocaust is pernicious. It implies that whereas Greeks or Czech or Kenyans or others deserve self-determination by right, Jews are inferior people who were only given a state because they suffered the tragedy of the Holocaust.
The artificial connection between Zionism and the Holocaust is exploited in ugly and cynical ways. A common theme of Iranian and Arab world propaganda is that Europeans victimized the Arabs by sending their unwanted Jews to the Middle East. Anti-Zionist Jews often out-do the Arab propaganda, as when “Holocaust survivor” Hedy Epstein announced, “As a Holocaust survivor, AIPAC doesn’t speak for me.”
Hedy Epstein spent the war as a child in England and was never in a concentration camp. Her parents were Holocaust victims. It happens that she is an anti-Zionist, but the fact that she was born in Germany or that her parents died there because they were Jewish gives her views no special weight. There are, as a matter of fact, millions of genuine Holocaust survivors who are Zionists, and many of them would affirm that AIPAC does speak for them. Real Holocaust survivors, people who experienced the horrors of Nazism, deserve our respect, compassion and empathy. People like Hedy Epstein, who cynically exploit an accident of their birth for a hateful political cause, have besmirched the memories of their own families and do not deserve anyone’s respect.
In a sense, every Jew alive today is a “Holocaust survivor” or the descendant of “Holocaust survivors.” This may not justify Zionism, but it certainly doesn’t justify anti-Zionism.