Israel is the world’s greatest propaganda machine, or at least right up there. The spin is a democratic nation that will taken in any jew and give citizenship ; the sheer weight and swagger, read indoctrinated egotism of the Zionist ethos is a significant restraint on conceptualizing the past. But scraping away the sugar coating of the ideology reveals a reality between the lines that is less savory and digestible. It basically revolves around an established elite, a select few who control the economy and the state apparatus indirectly through management of the institutional structure; military, public services etc. guarding their turf and keeping the great unwashed masses at several arms distances from the circle of power and policy making. A nominal jewish version of social Darwinism engaged in colonialism of its own. There were tangible reasons why giants like Walter Benjamin and Franz Kafka disdained the Zionist option.
And one of the bitterest episodes is the treatment of WWII holocaust survivors and the “Les Miserables” found in the DP camps after the war. They were exactly what Zionists did not want to see; that split off side of themselves incarnating all the baggage of the Old Country. Everything the “new Jew” of Israel was against. But, to some extent Zionism was complicit in their fate, and there is nothing like an oppressed people to establish a pecking order in their own ghetto.
The holocaust story is a typical immigration story, just more extreme and intense than even the treatment meted out to religious immigrants and Arab jews who were more visible social outcasts and marginals. The holocaust survivors were asked, forced, to discard the mentality of exile, and to be baptized as new jews, in the mold of the Aryan warrior, ready for combat, strong as iron, blood and soil ready to willingly die on an altar or pyre of this new and old homeland, this natural/unnatural construction and atoning for his messiah killing. There is nothing to celebrate about the Israeli melting pot. Truth to power be known, its all a fantasy. There is a terrible priced paid by immigrants in their quest to become Israelis, to resist and accept the undoing and remaking of body and soul into some hybrid creature. And in the end they are regarded only as tolerated guests anyways.
This is an interesting documentary film, that gets much right;
The truth is, Israel in general, albeit some exceptions, denigrated and debased, defecated over everything that Holocaust survivors represented. An act of nihilism, a cultural genocide typical of colonialist convention. Yiddish was the enemy; not just the language but a culture that defined the diaspora jew, the language of the victim, the language of the torah readers. The roots of the desolation of the land, is keyed in this destruction of earlier civilizations, which include Palestinian arab culture and the entire Jewish exile experience as well. Both were victims of violent and to some degree unnecessary forces inherent in the militarism valued by the nascent Israeli state.
But aside from the select closed circle that runs the country like a corporation, the dynamic of the conflict intra-Israeli is between damaged newcomers, immigrants, older stock or newbies, and the various strategies, methods, they utilize in their struggle with the past in Europe and the present in an desolate country, still a ghetto of sorts. In reality, a transition to Israel inevitably fails to relieve newcomers of the traumas they suffered in exile, its always washed over by the dominant Zionist ideology and never dealt with except symbolically. So, everyone victimizes each other.
Yet, the conflict in Israel is not ultimately between secular and religious, left and right which are at best vulgar distinctions. The disagreement is between two types of Jewish, one that desires to be subsumed by Hebrew and its set of values, and another that seeks independence from what is regarded as a combination Brave New World of Huxley and Orwell’s 1984. It is still uncertain which will emerge the winner, but more pertinent is what will be the conclusions drawn from the victory. However, the exercise of cultural revisionism is a healthy one; Netanyahu’s father Benzion proved this, its just outside the cycle of Jewish eternal recurrence for the moment. But, without doubt, the real Israeli “price tag” policy is the bargaining between the bid and offer price negotiation ben the individual and the demands imposed on them for engaging with the Zionist project.
Poverty among Holocaust survivors in Israel is something of a dirty little secret. An estimated 70,000 survivors — one-third of those living in Israel — don’t have enough money to make ends meet, victims’ support groups say. The survivors show up in soup kitchens or government welfare agencies.
Tsipora Yaffe, 74, who escaped the 1941 Odessa massacre that killed her father, collects recyclable bottles from trash bins and off the street. “It’s humiliating,” said Yaffe, who does not live at the shelter. “But I close my eyes and do it.”
In a country where the Holocaust still shapes social and political debate, such stories stir anger. Advocates for survivors say that in the zeal to “never forget” those who died, the needs of survivors are being forgotten.
“As a member of Knesset and a citizen, I am ashamed of how the Jewish state has treated Holocaust survivors,” said lawmaker Moshe Gafni, chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee, after the government recently delayed implementation of expanded medical subsidies for survivors. “The treatment is disgraceful. (It) shames me and should shame all of us.”…
Shimon Sabag, a former food vendor who founded the shelter, said he was stunned to discover how many Holocaust victims live in poverty….
…Many survivors living in Israel receive monthly payments ranging from $300 to $1,000. But as survivors age and experience increased health problems, the payments are no longer enough.
Holocaust survivors in Israel are twice as likely to experience chronic illnesses as other people their age and nearly half report trouble sleeping, according to one recent Israeli study. Sabag said 80 percent of those seeking beds at his facility need medication for Holocaust-related mental-health disorders.
Some Holocaust survivors receive no compensation, usually because they can’t provide proof. In some cases, survivors have been required to provide witnesses or documentation that they lived in a concentration camp for at least six months, or in a ghetto for 18 months.
“They make people go through hell to get the money,” said Orly Vilnai-Federbush, an Israeli filmmaker who has documented the plight of Holocaust survivors, including one woman who returned to Germany, where she found it was easier to obtain compensation. …
…At 67, Shoshana Roza-Levy is the youngest resident at the shelter. Her claims were rejected because her parents fled Poland in 1939 and she was born in current-day Kyrgyzstan, where the Nazis didn’t reach. Still, her mother died of malaria as they lived as refugees and her father was drafted into the Russian army.
“They tell me I am not a Holocaust victim,” she said. “They make a mockery out of me.”…Read More:http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2012302650_holocaustpoor08.html