Monday, 28 November 2016

Hanging From Lampposts

Amsterdam has the largest documentary film festival in the world, the IDFA. It takes place in November. I am bound to the IDFA by family. So, I do go and see some documentaries.

I saw “Shalom Italia”, the story of three Jewish brothers who were the remaining members of a family that had hidden in a cave in Tuscany during the latter part of the Second World War. After the war the family emigrated to Israel.
In the documentary they return to Tuscany to search for the cave.

For the eldest brother the documentary is the first time he has talked about his war experiences. He had buried them in his subconscious for the 70 years he had been in Israel.

This was not unusual.
I lived in Israel in the 1960s. Everybody older than me who had come from Europe was a Holocaust survivor. Nobody ever talked about their war experience and I never thought to ask.
I knew all I needed to know about the Holocaust from the Jewish history lessons that were part of Hebrew classes. I went to these classes from the age of twelve.

There was one incident.
On my kibbutz I had moved from a wooden hut to a concrete room. There were four of them in a row. I was on the right. Zvi, Rahele and the Romanian parents of Yossele lived in the other rooms. We all had our own small terraces.

One night I was woken by the sound of a woman wailing and sobbing. I sat straight up in bed. I did not know what to do. It seemed to go on for a long time but, in hindsight, I think it lasted about 15 to 30 seconds
The next day I waited until someone mentioned the wailing to me. Nobody did. Having been brought up British, I did not mention it either.

A few days later it happened again. The wailing and sobbing were very disconcerting.
This time I wanted to know what was going on.
The next day I asked Zvi about it.
“Oh that,” he said, “that was Yossele’s mother. She sometimes goes through bad periods. You know, the Shoah. Then she has nightmares.
She dreams there are Jewish children hanging from the lampposts.
It does not happen often. You get used to it and turn over and go back to sleep.”

Zvi was right. Now I knew what it was, I did get used to it.
I did not mention it again. 

Thursday, 24 November 2016

White Privilege

It is June 1964, I am eighteen.
Just taken my A levels. To the chagrin of everybody, I am leaving in four or five months to go and live for good on a kibbutz in the Negev desert.
I went with a few friends up west to the Flamingo, an R&B and jazz club in Wardour Street. It was in a basement underneath the Whiskey A Go Go, a more upscale club.
White people dressed to the nines went up to the Whiskey and slobs like me went down to the Flamingo.
The black people were always dressed smart, but they did not go to the Whiskey. The wrong music and only whites.
They came down to the Flamingo, that was a more integrated club. Though I sometimes had the feeling it was only black people and us.
We were at the club quite early. There was a supporting act from Newcastle. I had never heard of them before. The place was half empty when they performed.
Their name was The Animals.They had just released “House of the Rising Sun”. A week later it came into the charts at number 1.
I liked their performance because of Alan Price’s Vox Continental organ. I was an organ fan.
A friend of mine worked in a record shop. He used to import Jimmy Smith and other Blue Note records for me.
For the musical illiterate: Jimmy Smith was the greatest Hammond organ player ever.
The Animals performance was good and after them came an even better performance from Sonny Boy Williamson. However, I remember the evening for a less salutary reason.
You could dance there. Unfortunately there were few single white girls. I would not have dared to ask a black girl to dance. I do not think I had even met one at that time.
I saw this rather attractive white piece of skirt lounging against a wall, all on her own.
I swaggered over to her and said, ”Do you want to dance?”
She fluttered her eyelashes at me, smiled and replied in a posh voice, “I’m ever so sorry, but I don’t dance with white boys”.
I was used to anti-Semitism. That was the first time I had been put down because of the colour of my skin.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Shout "Amsterdam"

Kristallnacht was a pogrom against Jews throughout Nazi Germany on 9–10 November 1938, carried out by SA paramilitary forces and German civilians.
The name Kristallnacht comes from the shards of broken glass that littered the streets after the windows of Jewish-owned stores, buildings, and synagogues were smashed.

In 2015 a so-called platform against racism invited Hanin Zoabi to be the keynote speaker at an alternative Kristallnacht commemoration in Amsterdam. 
She held a virulently anti-Israel speech where Israel was equated with the Nazis.
This platform is headed by anti-Israel zealots (including some Jews). They are financed by a who's who of mainstream Dutch political and religious organizations.
Their strategy is/was to dejudaize and trivialize the Holocaust. 
According to them, it was an unfortunate coincidence that Jews were targeted. The Palestinians are the "Jews" of today and Israelis are the new Nazis. 
By separating Israel from the Holocaust, they hope to remove any sympathy people might have for Israel.

No, do not shout "Amsterdam" yet. There is more.

In 2015 the platform of Israel-haters held their desecration of the Kristallnacht commemoration at the monument for Jewish resistance. The descendants of the Jewish resistance wanted to protest this hijacking of their monument.

The police threatened to arrest these descendants of Holocaust survivors if they demonstrated as, according to the police, this would desecrate the "dignity" of the event.

No, do not shout "Amsterdam" yet. There is more.

In 2016 a Jewish group was clever and claimed the Jewish resistance monument.

So what did the haters do? They found a gullible synagogue and booked that for their Kristallnacht travesty.
When the synagogue realized who the group was, they tried to cancel the booking. 
They could not because they were afraid of being hit with a big claim for damages.

No, do not shout "Amsterdam" yet. There is more.

Remember, in 2016 a Jewish group had reserved the Jewish resistance monument for their commemoration of Kristallnacht. The descendants of Jewish resistance fighters were going to speak there.

The mayor of Amsterdam and the police forbade this commemoration on the grounds that it would disrupt the "public order".

Now is the time to shout "Amsterdam".

Monday, 14 November 2016

In the footsteps of Anne Frank

Early evening, cycling through the Maasstraat. This used to be a Jewish area.
Not recently, before the war.
I decided to buy some chips at Oase, a snack bar in a side street.
Before the war Oase was an ice cream parlour run by German-Jewish refugees. Anne Frank used to love the ice cream that was sold there. It is mentioned in her diary.
Yes, this is the neighbourhood where she lived before she went into hiding.
Last time I was there, Oase was a part of the Anne Frank Walking Tour of Amsterdam. 
For just $54.70 you can, “enrich your knowledge of Anne Frank’s early life on a private 1.5-hour walking tour of Amsterdam-Zuid.” 
The dead Jews of Amsterdam are revered. They are a good tourist attraction. It is the pesky live Jews who are the problem.
Nowadays, the Netherlands is a better place than in Anne Frank's time. Not all Jews are hated. Only the 90% plus of them who are not willing to bleat in unison with the prevailing hatred of Israeli Jews and Zionists.
Getting back to Oase. It was not there anymore. At this rate there will be nothing left over for the walking tour.
A bit further in the Maasstraat there was another snack bar. A football match between Egypt and Ghana was being streamed in Arabic onto a large flat-screen television. The commentator seemed to get hysterical every time an Egyptian had the ball.
The man working in the snack bar was watching the match intensely.
I bought my chips there and took them home.
They tasted like salted chewing gum. I am glad I did not try the ice cream.
Afterwards I worked out that he had overcharged me 50 cents.

The neighbourhood is not what it used to be.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Dutch Waffen-SS volunteers do not apologize

At least 75% of Dutch Jews perished in the Holocaust. The highest percentage for western Europe.

Remarkably enough, the Germans were not very involved with the rounding up of the Dutch Jews and sending them to the transit camp Westerbork in the east of the Netherlands.
The civil service informed the Germans where the Jews lived and the Jewish Council drew up a list of names for transportation to the transit camp.
When enough Jews did not turn up voluntarily, Dutch police arrested Jews randomly in "razzias" to make up the numbers.

The resistance did not blow up the rail tracks to stop the transports. Some did want to, but this was nixed by the Dutch government in exile. They said the money the Germans paid for the transport of Jews was needed for the economy.
Eichmann was full of praise. He was very pleased the trains ran on time.

A few months after the end of the war, the Dutch Minister of Transport Steef van Schaik, praised the railway workers for their collaboration with the Germans.
He said they were doing their “duty”.
This Dutch “duty” is one of the main reasons why so many Jews perished.

In 2005, more than 60 years after the transports took place, the CEO of Dutch Railways apologized.
Nice of him.
There have been a stream of apologies from Dutch authorities, organisations and companies for their collaboration during the Holocaust - some 60 to 70 years after it happened.
However, not everybody has apologized.

The Nazis called the Dutch a “brother people” and a lot of emphasis was placed on getting them to cooperate with the German occupation.
They had more success in the Netherlands than in other occupied countries. Especially when it came to the SS.
"...approximately 25,000 Dutchmen volunteered to join the ranks of the German Waffen-SS. This number was not only relatively but also absolutely, the largest contingent of non-German volunteers from all of the Nazi occupied territories in Europe."
(NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Netherlands)

After the war it was claimed that the Dutch volunteers had not taken part in the Holocaust. They said all they did was fight on the front.
The Dutch authorities accepted this. Those who wanted to, were integrated into the Dutch army.

Later some diaries were found that had belonged to the Dutch SS volunteers. They were full of proud stories about how they killed Jews.

Here are two fragments from one diary (my translation):
“..we arrived at a village near Tarnopol.
There were a lot of Jews there. We took some of them and made them polish our car until it shined.
We shaved the Jews. We let one half of their beard remain and cut off the other half with a scissors. Some of the beards we burnt off with petrol.
Then we had some fun. We took a sword and a piece of wood and started beating them until they were screaming with pain.
Then we took them to the commander who led them to the river where prrt, prrt, they and the other Jews were shot with a machine gun.
The next morning we went to the river. It was full of half-dead and dead Jews.
What a wailing and it stank terribly.”

“I forgot to tell you how great it was to hang a chief rabbi from the tower of his synagogue and then torch the synagogue with the Jews inside.”

Nobody apologized for this.

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Tuesday, 1 November 2016

I want you

I have always disliked Ari Shavit. That pompous, arrogant asshole who writes for Haaretz.
It is hard for me to suppress a hateful chuckle at his fall from grace for making passes at American Jewish women.
However, in Leadbelly's words I am, "laughing to keep from crying". This whole sordid episode also reminds me of a deep traumatic experience I had as a young man.
I had difficulty with the permissive sexual mores on my kibbutz. I believed in strict monogamy and sex only after marriage.
I would never ever make sexual overtures to a woman as I did not regard women as sex objects. I was a paragon of virtue, like those fine, upstanding young men in "The Little House on the Prairie".
There were three American Jewish women volunteers on my kibbutz.
They arrived with two suitcases of different sizes. The small one was for clothes. The big one was full of state of the art contraceptive devices.
They were sexual predators.
I was home on leave. There was some kind of festival in the communal dining room. The California one (the other two were from New York) casually swaggered over to me, whispered "I want you" and licked her lips.
I mean, can you imagine my shock. It would have sounded bad enough with a British accent, but that California drawl made it even more menacing.
I have never recovered from this verbal rape experience. It has been a trauma that has haunted me all my life.
Then I got to thinking. They say that parents who beat their children were often beaten by their own parents.
Could that be it? 
Was Shavit, like me, the victim of American Jewish predatory volunteers when he was an innocent young man? 
Is that why he, in later life, became a sexual "pervert" who makes passes at American Jewish women?
Ik wil u poster