Jews being deported to the Cracow ghetto
During a seminar for geography teachers held this week at the Weitzman Institute, Amnesty representative Sarah Robinson sought to illustrate the difficulties of African refugees coming to Israel, and said that Israel is behaving terribly towards the refugees and their human rights are trampled. To demonstrate her claim she read a letter by Jews fleeing the Nazis during the Holocaust and caused uproar.
Many teachers rose from their seats and protested at the comparison and shouted that this was an outrage. Some teachers asked Ms. Robinson if Amnesty looks into Assad’s slaughtering of his people in Syria, and furthermore, has Amnesty has examined the children of Sderot who are under fire every day from missiles from Gaza. The teachers made it abundantly clear that it was a complete disgrace to make use of the Holocaust and the discussion was forced to be brought to an end.
It should be noted that during this seminar, the representative from the department of immigration was only given twenty minutes to speak, whereas Amnesty representative Ms. Robinson was given two whole hours, after which a theater performance was given were comparisons were made between the suffering of Jews during the Holocaust to the suffering of refugees and workers from Africa who come to Israel.
Many complaints were sent to the Legal Forum by participants of the seminar and the Legal Forum contacted the Ministry of Education and expressed their dissatisfaction.
In a letter to the Minister of Education and the Chairman of the Pedagogic Secretariat in the Ministry, attorney Avital Tzachor from the Legal Forum wrote that the decision to invite an organization that compares the atrocities of the Holocaust to that of the African refugees was a miserable one, un-educational and anti-Zionist and is demeaning of the Holocaust.
Attorney Tzachor requested that the Minister and Chairman of the Secretariat consider their complaint and the error in judgment of the organizers.
Furthermore, attorney Tzachor requested that the approvals given to Amnesty in the past to operate in Israeli schools be re-examined. “It seems that in the organization’s educational program regarding the refugees there is a clear case of indoctrination and lack of appropriate boundaries between the duty to educate about human rights, and the obligation to remember the uniqueness of the Holocaust, it being a singular event of that magnitude, and taking action to prevent the cheapening of the Holocaust”.
“One must remember that Amnesty operates systematically in the media to protect the rights of Arabs on one hand, and to attack the state of Israel on the other, and on many occasions totally ignores the violation of Human rights of Jews”.
The response from Amnesty International included the following:
“We are aware of the strong emotions raised by the Holocaust on the one hand, and the issue of refugees and asylum seekers in Israel on the other, and feel it is a shame that some people who chose to present it as a comparative, which has not been done. We believe it's important to learn and recognize the historical roots of the Refugee Convention, in order to better deal with current issues related to refugees and asylum seekers. We intend to continue to approach the subject sensitively and in consultation with the Ministry of Education shared, with whom Amnesty International has cooperation for many years to deepen society's familiarity with human rights”.
With regard to this response, we cannot help but wonder how it is possible that so many teachers and educators protested against this if in fact no comparison was made. We certainly trust theses educator’s judgment that the events which took place were unacceptable.
We must also remember that Jews were hunted down in their homes by the Nazis, and today these refugees leave their homes by choice in order to better their lives.
The Legal Forum is continuously working towards strengthening our Jewish identity. When events like this take place, under the auspices of the Israeli government, the Legal Forum immediately intervenes in order to make sure that no individual or organization has the opportunity to compare what was by far the biggest tragedy to befall the Jewish people, with the treatment of illegal refugees by the state of Israel.
It is also our duty to demand that the minister of Education and the Israeli government work to protect our national interests and prevent the cynical use of the term human rights and the attempt to prevent the state Israel from defending itself.