Archive for Auschwitz

Survivor From the Holocaust Converted to Islam and Married a Palestinian

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 24, 2012 by loonwatch

 

Helen Brashatsky_Leila_Jabarin

Leila Jabarin (Helen Brashatsky)

A Holocaust survivor by the name of Helen Brashatsky (Leila Jabarin) who arrived in mandate Palestine in 1948, married a Palestinian and converted to Islam.(h/t:MasterQ)

Quite a fascinating story, AlJazeera Arabic has an interesting article in Arabic about her being denied the payments that Holocaust survivors received because she converted to Islam: Survivor From the Holocaust, Converted to Islam and Married a Palestinian.(h/t: ArabAtheist)

She likely would be an excellent individual to educate children on the consequences of hate and genocide. Her story would also help dispel Holocaust denial:

Holocaust survivor finds haven as Muslim in Israel

UMM EL-FAHM, Israel — For more than five decades, Leila Jabarin hid her secret from her Muslim children and grandchildren — that she was a Jewish Holocaust survivor born in Auschwitz concentration camp.

Although her family knew she was a Jewish convert, none of them knew of her brutal past.

It was only in the past week that Jabarin, who was born Helen Brashatsky, finally sat down and told them the story of how she was born inside Auschwitz, the most notorious symbol of Nazi Germany’s wartime campaign of genocide against Europe’s Jews.

In an interview with AFP to mark Holocaust Memorial Day which begins at sundown on Wednesday, Jabarin, now 70, chuckles as she talks about what to call her.

Her Muslim name is Leila, but in this Arab town in northern Israel where she has lived for the past 52 years, most people call her Umm Raja, Arabic for “Raja’s mother” after her first-born son.

Like most Jewish children, she also has a Hebrew name — Leah — but she just likes to be called Helen.

She was six when she came to live in Mandate Palestine with her parents, just months before the State of Israel was declared in May 1948.

They arrived in a ship carrying Jewish immigrants from the former Yugoslavia, which was forced to anchor off the coast of Haifa for a week due to a heavy British bombardment of the northern port city, she says.

Despite the war which broke out as soon as the British pulled out, it was a far cry from the savage reality the family had witnessed inside Auschwitz, says Jabarin who is dressed in a hijab and long robes, but whose pale skin and blue eyes belie her Eastern European parentage.

Her mother, who was from Hungary, and her father, who was of Russian descent, were living in Yugoslavia when they were sent to the Auschwitz with their two young sons in 1941.

“When they took them to Auschwitz, she was pregnant with me, and when she gave birth, the Christian doctor at Auschwitz hid me in bath towels,” she says, explaining how the doctor hid the family for three years under the floor of his house inside the camp.

Her mother worked as a maid at the doctor’s home, while her father was the gardener.

“They used to come back at night and sleep under the floor and my mother used to tell us how the Nazis were killing children, but that this doctor saved us,” she says, recalling how her mother used to feed them on dry bread soaked in hot water with salt.

“I still remember the black and white striped pyjamas and remember terrible beatings in the camp. If I was healthy enough, I would have gone back to see it but I have already had four heart attacks.

“It is scary and very, very difficult to remember that place where so many people suffered,” she admits, speaking in a mix of Hebrew and accented Arabic.

She also speaks Hungarian, a little Yiddish and some Russian.

The family were finally freed when the camp was liberated in 1945 and left for Mandate Palestine three years later.

At first, the new immigrants were put in camps at Atlit, some 20 kilometres (12 miles) south of Haifa, but two years later, they moved further south to Holon and then to Ramat Gan near Tel Aviv.

Ten years later, when she was 17, Helen Brashatsky eloped with a young Arab man called Ahmed Jabarin, and they moved to live in Umm al-Fahm, which caused a huge split with her family.

“She ran away with me and she was 17 when we got married,” her husband says. “The Israeli authorities used to come to Umm al-Fahm and take her back to her family in Ramat Gan, then she would come straight back here.”

Initially, her family did not speak to her for two years, but later they were reconciled.

In the end, it was her mother who suggested she convert to Islam when her eldest son turned 18 and was asked to do his compulsory military service.

“My mother advised me not to send my son to do military service because if he did, my daughter would also have to do it.

“She said I should convert to Islam to save my daughter from serving in the army because Muslims would not let a girl live away from home on an army camp.”

So she converted.

But she never told her family the full extent of her history.

“I hid my pain for 52 years and the truth about my past from my eight children and my 31 grandchildren. I hid the fact that I was born in Auschwitz and what that painful past means.

“I was just waiting for the right moment to tell them.”

The moment came several days ago when a man turned up from the Israeli social services and got talking to her about her past, just days before the annual ceremonies remembering the Holocaust.

“Whenever it is Holocaust Memorial Day, I cry alone. There are no words to describe the pain that I feel. How can children eat dry bread soaked in water? If this happened to my children, I don’t know what would become of me.”

For her family, the revelation was a huge shock — but it answered a lot of questions, admits her 33-year-old son Nader Jabarin.

“Mum used to cry on Holocaust Memorial Day watching all the ceremonies on Israeli television. We never understood why. We all used to get out of the way and leave her alone in the house,” he told AFP.

But by telling her long-kept secret, it had brought release to both her and her family, he said.

“We understand her a bit more now.”

Holocaust Survivor’s Planned Talk Angers Jewish Leaders

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Rabbis with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2011 by loonwatch

Does a Holocaust survivor have the right to speak his mind and say ‘what happened to me during the Holocaust, I see it happening again to Palestinians, Never Again for Anyone.’ Should he be labeled an anti-Semite for such statements?

Holocaust survivor’s planned talk at mosque angers Sacramento Jewish leaders

By Stephen Magagnini

(Sacremento Bee)

Sacramento’s carefully cultivated interfaith bonds are being stretched to the limit by an 86-year-old Holocaust survivor who is scheduled to speak at a local mosque about the Nazi Holocaust and Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

Auschwitz survivor Hajo Meyer makes the 11th stop on his national “Never Again for Anyone” tour at the Sacramento League of Associated Muslims Islamic Center at 7 p.m. tonight.

Meyer has equated the Holocaust to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories, drawing intense fire from Sacramento’s Jewish community and the Anti-Defamation League.

“Comparing Israel to Nazi Germany is repugnant, anti-Semitic and defiles the sacred memory of millions who perished during the Holocaust,” said Rabbi Reuven H. Taff, president of the 13-member Board of Rabbis of Greater Sacramento, in a civil but emotional exchange of letters with SALAM’s Imam Mohamed Abdul Azeez.

The Board of Rabbis praised Azeez for his bridge-building with other communities of faith, but asked him to either boycott the event or stop it from happening at SALAM. If he doesn’t, Taff said in a letter to him, “then all the good work you are doing to foster relations with the interfaith community will be severely undermined.”

“The event is not going to be canceled,” said Azeez, who encouraged “any of our friends in the Jewish community to attend, ask questions and engage the speakers.”

Azeez noted that eight national organizations and nine local organizations are sponsoring it, including the Florin Japanese American Citizens League and the local chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace.

Azeez said that a member of American Muslims for Palestine reserved the hall and the event is not sponsored by SALAM. He said SALAM’s board investigated the speakers, who in addition to Meyer include UC Berkeley political scientist Hatem Bazian, a Palestinian American.

“You have a Holocaust survivor talking for the first time to the Muslim community about the Holocaust and putting it in a modern context that the rights of all people should be respected,” Azeez said. “The world is changing, and it’s time for us to have more dialogue about these untouchable idols,” such as the Israeli treatment of Palestinians.

Azeez agrees that the rabbis raise a legitimate concern – “any attempt to equate the Holocaust with what is happening in Palestine is an atrocity.”

Azeez said SALAM’s management will not allow the speakers to compare Israel to the Nazis.

But Taff said Meyer’s views are intolerable to the Jewish community, and added that the rabbis could produce Holocaust survivors to talk to Muslim Americans without inciting Muslim-Jewish hostility.

Rabbi Nancy Wechsler-Azen of Congregation Beth Shalom said Meyer’s speeches and writings are “most offensive – the program promotes hate. It’s an attempt to de-legitimize Israel and Judaism, as opposed to having a meaningful discussion over a political policy.”

Wechsler-Azen said the event isn’t the way to heal people “who have such profound wounds between them … we have forged a very meaningful relation with SALAM, and we’re heartsick about this.”

Meyer, in an exclusive interview with The Bee, said he survived 12 years under Hitler and 10 months in Auschwitz.

“I have a number on my arm and they dare to call me an anti-Semite?” he said.

Because he was not allowed to attend high school in Nazi Germany, Meyer said, “I can identify with those Palestinians who undergo slow-motion genocide when they are not allowed to go to their schools,” which have been bombed.

“Nearly all Jewish religious organizations in the world have mixed up Judaism – which is universal, humanistic and friendly to anybody – with Zionism,” said Meyer, who defined Zionism as an ideology based on a well-defined Arab enemy that must be destroyed.

Jon Fish, president of Sacramento’s Interfaith Service Bureau representing major faiths in the region, said Palestine is a social issue, not a religious one.

“The rabbi and the imam have to work it out,” Fish said, “But this might be a no-win situation.”

Taff said he welcomes a discussion between Jews and Muslims “in an atmosphere of collegiality and respect.” But if SALAM hosts an event that Taff believes is “clearly anti-Semitic,” he said, “it makes it very difficult to sit down at the same table with anyone who supports or endorses a program of hate.”

Read more: http://www.sacbee.com/2011/02/16/3406350/holocaust-survivors-planned-talk.html#ixzz1EEagFbNE

 

Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie: Auschwitz and the Mosque Near Ground Zero

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , on September 30, 2010 by loonwatch

A good article from Rabbi Yoffie. He discusses why the analogy of the nuns at Auschwitz doesn’t comport with the mosque near Ground Zero.

Auschwitz and the Mosque Near Ground Zero: The Problems with This Analogy

Jewish Americans have generally been more supportive of the Cordoba House project than other Americans. Jews have been denied religious freedom and been the victims of religious discrimination so frequently that their natural sympathies lie with others who now confront these burdens. Nonetheless, even those most firmly committed to building the community center/mosque in lower Manhattan have struggled with the seemingly powerful argument that what happened at Auschwitz in the 1980s is a reason to rethink their position.

This argument goes as follows: A group of Carmelite nuns attempted to establish a convent on the grounds of Auschwitz in the mid-1980s. Pope John Paul II was sensitive to the concerns of Jews, who saw Auschwitz as sacred ground and the convent as an attempt to obscure the memory of the Jewish slaughter that happened there. In 1989, the Pope ordered the Polish nuns off the grounds of Auschwitz to a different location. Therefore, Imam Feisal Rauf should demonstrate similar sensitivity and move the Cordoba House from its current site.

There are two problems with this argument.

The first is that all Holocaust analogies are profoundly suspect. The Holocaust, with Auschwitz as its central symbol, was an endeavor of pure evil, involving a fanatic, obsessive, and single-minded six-year campaign to exterminate an entire people. Words fail us in attempting to describe or explain the Holocaust. We Jews, therefore, rightly discourage others from making comparisons that must ultimately fall short. The Holocaust is analogous to nothing because it is utterly unique.

The second problem is that if there is a lesson to be learned from John Paul’s actions, it is exactly the opposite of what Cordoba House opponents are now claiming.

I agree that Ground Zero is a sacred place. It is a mass grave, the site of a terrible atrocity. One can reasonably argue that anything that detracts from the memory and the message of the site is out of place there, and that a mosque — or any place of worship — might do that.

But that is where the similarities end. The Jewish community was outraged in the 1980s because the convent was located on the grounds of Auschwitz. At the request of the Pope, the convent was then moved to another building across the street, off the grounds but only 600 yards away. The Jewish community was grateful to the Pope for his actions. Jews saw nothing problematic about the convent being only a third of a mile from Auschwitz. What was important was that it was no longer on the grounds of the camp that had been the place of an unprecedented and unthinkable slaughter of Jews.

The Cordoba House, of course, was never to be located at Ground Zero. It is to be two and a half blocks away — close by, but still at a respectable distance, as in the case of the convent after the move, and not only that, in a highly congested urban neighborhood where its presence will be barely noticeable. Just as the Jewish community had no problem with a Carmelite convent that was so close to Auschwitz, so too should it have no problem with a community center/mosque that is so close to Ground Zero. If moving the convent a short distance from the death camp was seen as a step to be applauded, why should a community center/mosque a short distance from Ground Zero be seen as troubling?

For Jews, emotions run deep on the Holocaust, which is burned into our consciousness. But we must not let these emotions be exploited. Twenty years ago, by a short move from sacred ground to secular territory, the dispute over the convent at Auschwitz was resolved. Common sense and a spirit of mutual understanding triumphed. In dealing with plans for Cordoba House, to be constructed in a busy and very worldly section of downtown New York, let us hope that they will triumph once again.