Jewish Journal

Ultra Orthodox Jews reportedly vandalized Yad Vashem

by Brad A. Greenberg

June 18, 2012 | 2:34 pm

A worker cleaning graffiti sprayed at Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem Jun 11. The graffiti (R) reads in Hebrew: "If Hitler didn't exist, the Zionists would have invented him". Photo by REUTERS/Ammar Awad

If you have any doubts about Israel’s intra-tribal conflict, look no further than news that yesterday Ultra Orthodox Jews vandalized the Holocaust memorial at Yad Vashem.

Alex Klein of the Daily Beast reports:

Beside a statue of Mordecai Anielewicz, the hero of the Warsaw uprising, dripped a crude cartoon of an Auschwitz-bound train. Below an engraved procession of victims looped rows of hateful graffiti: “Hitler, thanks for the Holocaust,” “Israel is the secular Auschwitz,” and so on.

But the neat cursive writing was not in Arabic; it was in Hebrew. And although the police have not identified any suspects, a museum spokeswoman told The Daily Beast, it’s almost certain that the can-wielding vandals were haredim, or ultra-orthodox Jews. Yad Vashem’s chairman, Avner Shalev, has already told the press that one of the tags was signed “World Haredi Jewry.” According to a guide at the site who asked not to be named, a few key grammatical errors in the Hebrew would confirm authorship by a member of the ultra-orthodox—many of whose first language is Yiddish. “Arabs didn’t write this,” he told me, visibly shaken.

There is a lot in the archives about Israel’s Jewish problem—or, more aptly put, Israel’s problem of trying to get two very different Jewish communities, built on different understandings of Jewish values, to live harmoniously. The 8-year-old girl spit on and insulted for not being dressed modestly enough; trashing an ice cream shop for “promoting promiscuity”; using Holocaust images in protests.

This latest news is particularly disturbing. Not just because the vandals made Nazi references to Israeli policies that don’t comport with the Ultra Orthodox lifestyle. But because of where they did it.

This isn’t the Knesset building or the prime minister’s residence. Yad Vashem is not a political arena. It is a global monument—a reminder of the worst that humanity has to offer and the strength to rebuild in the aftermath of such atrocities. It doesn’t matter that the Ultra Orthodox have a different perspective on the cause of the Holocaust, that they many oppose Zionism.

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