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Yad Vashem fires employee who compared Holocaust to Nakba

By Yoav Stern

Yad Vashem has fired an instructor who compared the trauma of Jewish Holocaust survivors with the trauma experienced by the Palestinian people in Israel's War of Independence.

Itamar Shapira, 29, of Jerusalem, was fired before Passover from his job as a docent at the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, after a teacher with a group of yeshiva students from Efrat made a complaint. Shapira had worked at Yad Vashem for three and a half years.

This is the first time that Yad Vashem has fired a guide over political differences, an institution official said Wednesday.

Shapira confirmed, in a telephone conversation with Haaretz, that he had spoken to visitors about the 1948 massacre at Deir Yassin.

He said he did so because the ruins of the Arab village, today a part of Jerusalem's Givat Shaul neighborhood, can be seen as one leaves Yad Vashem.

"Yad Vashem talks about the Holocaust survivors' arrival in Israel and about creating a refuge here for the world's Jews. I said there were people who lived on this land and mentioned that there are other traumas that provide other nations with motivation," Shapira said.

"The Holocaust moved us to establish a Jewish state and the Palestinian nation's trauma is moving it to seek self-determination, identity, land and dignity, just as Zionism sought these things," he said.

A Yad Vashem official said the institution objects to any political use of the Holocaust, especially by a docent working for it.

The institution's position is that the Holocaust cannot be compared to any other event and that every visitor can draw his own political conclusions.

Yad Vashem spokeswoman Iris Rosenberg said that after holding a hearing for Shapira, at which he refused to accept his superiors' instructions and change his teaching methods, it was decided to terminate his job as a guide in the institute's school for Holocaust studies.

"Yad Vashem would have acted unprofessionally had Itamar Shapira continued his educational work for the institute," Rosenberg said.

Yad Vashem employs workers and volunteers from the entire political and social spectrum, who know how to separate their personal position from their work, she said.

Shapira said Yad Vashem chooses to examine only some of the events that took place in the War of Independence. "It is being hypocritical. I only tried to expose the visitors to the facts, not to political conclusions. If Yad Vashem chooses to ignore the facts, for example the massacre at Dir Yassin, or the Nakba ["The Catastrophe," the Palestinians' term for what happened to them after 1948], it means that it's afraid of something and that its historic approach is flawed," Shapira said.

From Ha'aretz, 23/04/2009

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Obama gets it, Eli Wiesel does not???



Obama: Holocaust’s lesson is not to be silent

http://jta.org/news/article/2009/04/23/1004610/obama-holocausts-les...

Obama: Holocaust’s lesson is not to be silent

April 23, 2009

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- The lesson of the Holocaust is never to be silent in the face of inhumanity, President Obama said.

"How do we ensure that 'Never Again' isn't an empty slogan, or merely an aspiration, but also a call to action?" the president asked while speaking Thursday in the Capitol Rotunda at a commemoration organized by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. "I believe we start by doing what we are doing today -- by bearing witness, by fighting the silence that is evil's greatest co-conspirator."

Obama said that "evil has yet to run its course on earth," describing "mass graves and the ashes of villages burned to the ground, and children used as soldiers and rape used as a weapon of war" as well as Holocaust deniers.

He called the State of Israel a signal of hope.

"The hope of a chosen people who have overcome oppression since the days of Exodus; of the nation of Israel rising from the destruction of the Holocaust; of the strong and enduring bonds between our nations," Obama said.

The reference to Holocaust deniers might have been an allusion to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who at the last minute removed, at the urging of U.N. officials, what has become his routine Holocaust denial from a speech he delivered this week at a U.N. conference in Geneva.

Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor famed for his chronicles of the period, thanked Obama for boycotting the conference and joined Israeli U.S. Ambassador Sallai Meridor in describing the Iranian regime as the major threat to the Jews now.
What does Obama really get Mazin?.
OK Paul, I will take this as an honest question. Obama gets it that Never again means never again to any human being and that we all need not be silent on atrocties regardless of who the perpetrators or the victims are. Wiesel does not get and never did. Wiesel found no problem with the pogroms and ethnic clewansing of Palestinains and Armenians and continued to get away with lies even as he accepts "awards" from politicians beholdent to racist lobbies. Quoting him in the San Francisco Chronicle speaking about Ahmedinujad "When he says he wants nuclear weapons to destroy the state of Israel, I must believe him," Wiesel said. "I have learned to trust the threats of the enemy. How is it possible for the leader of a nation to say that and not to be isolated by the civilized world?" http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/05/10/BAGIFPO8MF1... Ofcourse Ahmedinujad never said any such thing or even remotely close to that. Wiesel's loyalty is not to the truth but to racist Zionism, see:
http://www.counterpunch.org/mickey07072004.html
http://umkahlil.blogspot.com/2006/11/elie-wiesel-again.html

IMHO Wiesel (who is personally wealthy from pillaging a book) shames all holocaust survivors and all Jews by his lies and distortins and devending Zionist Israeli crimes against humanity.
Hi Mazin,

Again, a never mind the facts but feel the faction and the emotion kind of response.

Again I think that you are footloose and fancy-free with analogies and facts.

It was an honest question. Thank you for the honest response.

I do not really understand from your response what Obama "got". You did tell us what you got. But you are not Obama.

You again ignore that there was mutual ethnic cleansing directly related to Palestine. There was no genocide in around and related to Palestine like there was of the Armenians by the Turks.

How does Iran's peaceful and honest and humane leader intend to reform Israel? With flowers or weapons of mass distraction, or what?

Yes! Never again!
"...he refused to accept his superiors' instructions and change his teaching methods..."

When they closed down that Arab youth orchestra whose leader made a performance for holocaust survivors,
people here generally took the position that since she was disobeying the wishes of her superiors, the closure and banning her from the city were justified.

How is this any different? Or are we seeing a double-standard now on mepeace?
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth?...
I just don't see the point to link the two cases.

The refusal of Yad Vashem, the Holocaust remembrance authority in Israel, to acknowledge the Nekba is very typical of the general attitude of the Israelis towards the Palestinian catastrophe.

In the Palestinian-Israeli conflict there are no symmetry and no equality: on one side, the Israeli one, there are the oppressors and on the other side, the Palestinian one, there are the persecuted. This is obvious, why can't you accept this simple truth once for ever?

In Palestine, the Jews did, and still do, a very immoral thing, which they try to disguise in a highly moral one exploiting the trauma of the Holocaust, which is even more immoral...

Zionism transformed the Jews in a bunch of gangsters, thieves, murderers and liars, offering by the same token an objective ground to antisemitism... What a success story!!
Shaul,

"Zionism transformed the Jews in a bunch of gangsters, thieves, murderers and liars."

That comment is so off base that if we had any moderation policy at all, it would have to be deleted. What would you say if someone wrote that something had turned "the Arabs into a bunch of murderers and liars"? That it was a racist statement? Typical colonialist terminology for the perpetuation of the oppression of the masses? But for you to generalize like that about Jews is just supposed to be business as usual?

That is another beautiful example of what I meant by a double standard.
Thank you for illustrating the point so well.
Shaul should have used "some Jews". Maybe because his English.
Hi M,

Thanks. But you know that was just a tangent, anyways.
The real issue is the absurdity of it all.
Not every place is the proper forum for every type of expression. I may have freedom of speech, and religion; but if I'm working as a bank teller, of course the bank can dictate what they are paying me to tell customers, and can tell me to take my personal missionizing for my religion, or advocating for my personal causes, outside -and on my own free time. Yad Vashem has at least as much right to focus on what it wants to focus on as any other institution. That has nothing whatsoever to do with asymmetries of power, or differences in culture, or other cliches he threw in there as distractions.
People had no problem understanding that concept when it came to the woman and her orchestra.

For Shaul to state "I just don't see the point to link the two cases" means that he is not looking at the principle involved, but only at the parties.
"Some Jews"?

Well, most of the Jews, except for a few ones...

The world Jewry supports blindly Israel policies, shutting up any dissident anti-Zionist voices, accepting the total identification of Judaism with Zionism...

As a Jew and an Israeli, I am more and more disgusted and enraged by the cynical insensitivity of my fellow citizens and co-religionists towards the suffering they inflict to the Palestinians, while requiring from the entire world mandatory affliction and repentance for their own past suffering... And all this while claiming to be the most moral of all peoples, with the most moral religion, the most moral state, the most moral army, etc. etc...

Who spoke about double standard?!

And all this to maintain at all costs a fake choseness and exclusiveness, void of any real content ...

Mazin, ask your friend Gilad Atzmon about it !... It is not about my English (which is certainly not perfect, I admit)...
Is to be against a criminal ideology, which most unfortunately is supported by the vast majority of the Jews around the world, racist???

The Palestinians have all the objective reasons not to like much Jews, but, pretty amazingly, many of them are still ready to talk about peace with Israelis...

Sure that I count you out!

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