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Jewish Holocaust survivors from around the world call for justice in Gaza

Press Release

Tuesday 26 August 2014, by siawi3


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – August 24th, 2014

[8/24/14 San Francisco, CA] 40 Jewish survivors of the Nazi Holocaust and 287 descendants of survivors and victims issued a letter this weekend condemning Israel’s actions in Gaza. “As Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of the Nazi genocide we unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and the ongoing occupation and colonization of historic Palestine.” The letter, with signatories from 26 countries representing four generations of survivors and descendants, ran on page A13 of the Saturday, August 23rd edition of the New York Times.

The letter has been reported by Ha’aretz and the BBC among others. As of 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Saturday the Ha’aretz article had received more than 15,000 facebook likes and had been shared on twitter nearly 5,000 times. Signatories to the letter will be hosting a press conference on Monday, August 25th, 2014 at 11:00 am Eastern Time.

The Holocaust survivors expressed gratitude for the opportunity to express their dismay over Israel’s assault and misrepresentation of their shared history. Liliana Kaczerginski, daughter of a Vilna ghetto resistance fighter, said “What Israel is doing goes against everything that my father fought for; it is a violation of my family’s memory and I am proud to honor them with my signature.”

Hajo Meyer, a survivor of Auschwitz and the initial signatory to the letter expressed outrage at the racism coming out of Israel. “The dehumanization of Jews is what made possible the Nazi genocide. In the same way, we are witnessing the escalating dehumanization of Palestinians in Israeli society,” he said. [Meyer passed away on 8/22/2014, the day before the letter ran in the New York Times.]

The letter was penned in response to an inflammatory ad campaign in which Elie Wiesel compares the murder of children during the Holocaust to Hamas’ actions in Gaza. Wiesel’s ad—which ran in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and the Guardian among others—was so distasteful that the Times of London declined to run it and the Guardian published this response for free. In the letter, the survivors write, “we are disgusted and outraged by Elie Wiesel’s abuse of our history to justify the unjustifiable: Israel’s wholesale effort to destroy Gaza and the murder of more than 2,000 Palestinians, including many hundreds of children.”

Dr. Hani Jamah, a Palestinian living in California who lost 30 family members in an Israeli bombing said, “When Israel started it’s bombardment of Gaza, I turned on the news and discovered that 30 of my aunts and cousins had died in a single bomb blast. Joining my voice with 40 survivors of the Nazi genocide adds power to our call that we must work together to bring justice to Gaza.”

“With the growing number of people around the world holding Israel accountable for its genocidal crimes, I applaud the courageous statements by holocaust survivors and their families being on the right side of justice,” said Monadel Herzallah, who is part of the US Palestinian Community Network and has family in Gaza. “Our children and grandchildren inside of Gaza deserve a life of believing that Never Again means Never Again for Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime.”

Raphael Cohen, grandson of survivors who lives in the United States, called on people to take action to demand justice for Palestinians. “It is my own government paying for this violence. When governments won’t do what’s right, individuals and communities must speak out. That’s why I support the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions.”

The signatories hope that their letter will strengthen the claim that the legacy of Jewish suffering must mean never again for anyone, least of all, to be used in defense of Israeli violence.

Press Contact: Lee Gargagliano, survivorsletter

***Interviews are available in English, Spanish, French, Hebrew and German***

Dr. Hajo G. Meyer was born in 1924 in Bielefeld, Germany. Not allowed to attend school there after November 1938, he fled to the Netherlands, alone. In I944, after a year in the underground, he was caught and subsequently survived 10 months at Auschwitz. He lives in the Netherlands.

Hedy Epsteinwas born August 15, 1924 in Freiburg, Germany. She escaped Nazi Germany to England on a children’s transport. Hedy’s parents were sent to Auschwitz and never heard from again. After the war, Hedy worked at the Nuremberg Medical Trial, which tried the doctors accused of performing medical experiments on concentration camp inmates. She lives in the United States.

Raphael Cohen is a writer and educator based in Oakland, California. His maternal 2 grandparents survived the height of the Nazi genocide in Poland, hidden alongside several dozen other Jews by a non-Jewish Pole. Raphael lives in the United States.

Dr Hani Jamah is a dentist and Palestinian-American who lost 30 members of his extended family in a single Israeli bombing. Dr Jamah lives in San Jose, CA. He said, “When Israel started it’s bombardment of Gaza, I turned on the news and discovered that 30 of my aunts and cousins had died in a single bomb blast. Joining my voice with 40 survivors of the Nazi genocide adds power to our call that we must work together to bring justice to Gaza.

Edith Bell was born in Hamburg, Germany, in 1923. Her father died in concentration camp Theresienstadt and her mother in Auschwitz. Edith was sent to Camp Westerbork, Theresienstadt, Auschwitz and Kurzbach and was liberated by the Soviet Army in January 1945. After the war she returned to the Netherlands then migrated in 1947 to Palestine, living in a Kibbutz. Edith has lived in the US since 1955 and has been a member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom for more than 50 years.

Margot Goldstein has taught social studies in public schools of San Francisco for over a decade, and is the daughter of immigrants from Argentina and Germany. Her grandfather was taken by Nazi’s in the middle of the night to Buchenwald Concentration camp, but early on in the war, made it to Bolivia, where the rest of the family eventually met him. She is a part of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network.

Maia Ettinger is a writer and attorney living in Guilford, CT. Born in Warsaw, Poland, she came to the United States at the age of 5 with her mother and grandmother, both survivors of the Nazi genocide who escaped the Warsaw Ghetto as the trains began running to Treblinka. Raised as a proud, secular Jew, Maia was a strong supporter of Israel, and struggled with the issue of Palestinian rights until her mother visited a West Bank checkpoint during the first Gulf War. In a phone call from Israel, her mother said, “Maia, it was the Ghetto.”

Liliane Kaczerginski - Schmerke Kacerczynski, Liliane’s father, was a prominent Jewish fighter against the Nazis in the Vilnius ghetto in Lithuania. A former activist with Matzpen during her 14 years in Israel, Liliane is now an activist with the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN). She recently argued that “Zionism dishonours the genocide of European Jews” and that a “Jewish State…means Jewish supremacy; we say no to the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian people.” Liliane lives in France.

Suzanne Weiss is a Jewish holocaust survivor hidden and saved by a peasant community in Auvergne , France. Her mother died in Auschwitz, 1943. Suzanne Weiss now lives in Canada.

Alex Safron is a Bay Area based video editor and producer. His maternal grandmother survived the Nazi Genocide, after her parents were taken and presumably perished in a concentration camp, by going into hiding with other Jews in Germany, escaping a work camp in the Pyrenees, escaping arrested by Klaus Barbie and joining the French Maquis resistance.