Haredi politicians’ Holocaust revision deepens divisions in…

Over the past few weeks, the Israeli public has once again been subjected to the stomach-wrenching experience of listening to its “partner for peace,” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, repeat the outrageous and unfounded assertion that Jews were to blame for the Holocaust. 

This is to be expected from someone like Abbas, who got his Ph.D. in Holocaust revisionism, but what hurts more this time around is that members of the Knesset are also gaslighting Jews.

President Abbas went on Palestinian TV claiming that “Hitler fought the European Jews because of their usury and money dealings; it was not about antisemitism.” Abbas wrote his Ph.D. dissertation at a university in Moscow titled “The Other Side: The Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism,” so we could not expect anything more from the “moderate” Palestinian leader.

What is sad is that it isn’t just the PA President spewing falsehoods about the Holocaust.

Israeli haredi politician goes on anti-Zionist tirade

During the days leading up to Rosh Hashanah, tens of thousands of Jews planned to pilgrimage to Uman, Ukraine, which houses the burial site of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, a respected hassidic sage. 

United Torah Judaism parliament member Israel Eichler speaks during a session at the assembly hall of the Israeli parliament, June 12, 2019 (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Although the government tried to procure security guarantees for Israeli citizens from Ukraine and Russia, the government still discouraged travel to these lands due to the ongoing war. 

To emphasize the danger to this mostly religious demographic, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu referred to the hundreds of years that Jews were mass murdered in Europe by stating, “God has not always protected us, not on European soil and not on Ukrainian soil.”

In response to Netanyahu’s fair warning, outrage erupted among his religious political bedfellows. The Shas and the United Torah Judaism parties released statements condemning Netanyahu, denouncing what they perceive as heresy.

A particularly scathing and unhinged admonishment came from MK Rabbi Yisrael Eichler, who took the opportunity to counter Netanyahu’s cheeky history lesson with a smattering of falsifications about the Holocaust and an outright assault on Zionism.

According to Eichler, because “Zionists did not prevent the Holocaust in Europe,” they should bear some responsibility for the annihilation. Similar to Abbas, Eichler makes vague and unsourced claims that Germany failed to conquer the Land of Israel due to “miracles.” 

He also credited unspecified miracles for the survival of the State of Israel, as opposed to the generals of the IDF, whom he slandered in the past. He adds that all Holocaust survivors who stayed in the Diaspora lived in relative peace, whereas only in Israel are Jews subject to violence. 

The United Torah Judaism party’s official stance is an opaque non-Zionism. However, this thin veil often comes off, and the party’s anti-Zionism is fully displayed.

Attributing “evil values” and “idols of power” to Zionism, Eichler echoes the same drivel available on Iranian Press TV or Palestinian newspapers. Netanyahu’s anti-Zionist partner held no punches, attributing any success of the Israeli state to God and none to Israelis. 

It is challenging to argue logically against the assertion that events occur due to miracles. However, the idea that Israel and Zionism have been a net loss for Jews is unbelievably easy to counter. 

The “secular regime” that Eichler aimed venomous bile at was responsible for rescuing millions of Jews, regardless of religious devotion, from North Africa, the Middle East, Ethiopia, and, indeed, post-Holocaust Europe from endless violence and dispossession. 

Eichler’s own strand of Belz Hassidism was saved from near collapse when the World Zionist Organization smuggled his spiritual leader Rabbi Yissachar Dov Rokeach from Hungary to Israel from the Nazis’ clutches in 1943. 

As Rokeach bravely fled and left nearly all his followers behind, he assured them that “peace and tranquility will reign here for residents of this country.” The only “peace” those people received was the “rest-in” kind, as half a million Hungarian Jews were subsequently slaughtered. 

Eichler knows this, but just like Abbas, decides to ignore history and blame the Zionists for every malady between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. 

Eichler’s bizarre Holocaust lesson continues the degradation of relations between the diverse groups of Jews in Israel. Mahmoud Abbas’s bizarre Holocaust lesson continues the degradation of relations between the Palestinian Authority and the State of Israel.

However, in a heartening display of backbone, 100 Palestinian academics penned a letter condemning their spokesperson for peddling hatred and lies. They rebuked Abbas’s “attempt to diminish, misrepresent, or justify antisemitism, Nazi crimes against humanity, or historical revisionism vis-a-vis the Holocaust.” 

In doing so, these people make clear that there is an opposition to their leadership and helpfully keep those responsible for representing an entire demographic to account. 

Our Torah-based, intellectual haredi (ultra-Orthodox) community in Israel is responsible for speaking up against those in their ranks who falsify history and cheapen the memory of the Holocaust. 

Haredi civil society has a responsibility to reclaim their voices and help heal the divide that is being created by our leaders and condemn Eichler for his sinat hinam against secular Jews and Zionists. 

At the end of the day, Israel and the “Zionists” that Eichler endlessly bashes will have to bear the responsibility should anything happen this season in Uman. 

However, the blame would lie jointly at the feet of the Russian war machine for targeting a civilian area in Ukraine and at the individual irresponsible hassidic rabbis who encouraged their flock to visit an active foreign war zone.

Zina Rakhamilova is a social media activist with over 10 years of experience working for Israeli and Jewish causes and cause-based NGOs. She is co-founder and COO of Social Lite Creative, a digital marketing firm specializing in geopolitics. Jonah Hart is a financial services professional from Toronto and has worked with Jewish and pro-Israel organizations and charities.

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