Silence that Damns…

This is a follow-up post to my recent one on Hedy Epstein. There were so many comments, I thought I should answer one here. A former acquaintance wrote in, others did to – but one comment  – yet again from an “Anonymous” – got to me with its simplicity and it anger.

Anonymous wrote: Who the hell are you to judge what justifies surviving the holocaust?

I would answer that by saying simply – Hedy is as much a survivor of the Holocaust as my grandfather, and thousands of others refugees and people who suffered tremendous loss as a result of the Nazi plan. Yes, if you count them all – we number in the millions because, after all, isn’t my husband a survivor? His siblings, cousins. Aren’t I then a survivor too? My husband wasn’t even born and yet his grandparents suffered the same fate as Hedy’s parents and my husband’s parents suffered a hell of a lot more than Hedy – THEY were survivors.

My mother-in-law was in Auschwitz. She lost her mother and sister there; she survived months of labor and near-starvation there. They put her in a gas chamber and as they closed the door to end her life, and thus deny the future of her children and mine, the Nazis pulled open the door to grab out a few more women for a work detail. In their cursed efficiency, it wasn’t a mistake they made often, but it saved the lives of my mother-in-law and her sister. They pulled her out of the gas chambers, but the memory of Auschwitz never left her.

My husband is the child of a survivor. Hedy is not even that – because her parents didn’t survive. She did not survive a ghetto or a concentration camp. She did not spend the rest of her life dealing with that element of her parents’ reality. My mother-in-law showered her grandchildren with love but it was harder for her to express her tremendous and deep love for her own children. For her, the Germans were always a day away; always watching, waiting. She didn’t like attention brought to her family; the Nazis were never really gone.

Hedy Epstein was lucky, so blessed – to be saved early on – in 1939 before Hitler’s full plan to murder Jews was realized. She carries no tattoo – as my husband’s uncle does; she cannot bear witness to the horrors of the gas chambers as my mother-in-law did until her dying day.

For many years, I told people I had no survivors in my family…until I realized that was because NO ONE SURVIVED. We lost hundreds of relatives in Poland and Russia  – in numbers to great to count (my father estimates about 300); names, faces and families lost forever. A great-grandmother and two great aunts – did they have children? We don’t know. Did my great-grandmother have brothers and sisters? Did they have children – all gone? That puts me in the same category as Hedy – no? Am I am not a survivor? I am the child, the grandchild, the daughter-in-law of those who suffered and lived with their suffering for decades after.

Hedy Epstein uses the title “Holocaust survivor” to further her agenda – and I find that despicable. She ignores the plight of one young Jewish boy turned man while in captivity – Gilad Shalit, while floating along for her people’s enemy.

If the Palestinians are not her enemy – that is because she has no empathy for the hundreds of thousands of Israelis under daily rocket fire – another fired this morning at southern Israel. Where is Hedy’s voice for Gilad? She is silent. Where is Hedy’s voice for the Jews living in Sderot, Ashkelon, Ashdod, etc.? She is silent.

Her silent condemns her for what she is – a fraud.

A survivor is not a child who escaped and was given refuge before the Nazis even implemented their plan. A survivor is one who survived despite all efforts to kill them. To her great blessing, no one tried to kill Hedy Epstein. She lost her parents in the Holocaust – that makes her an orphan, not a survivor.

She is silent about Gilad – that makes her a pathetic excuse for a human being and certainly NOT a humanitarian.

Are my words too strong? Too filled with anger? – Good – perhaps I am finally getting to the proper level of disgust I feel for this woman who would use and abuse the memory of the darkest days of my people, to further her political agenda.

She dares…DARES…to compare Israeli soldiers to Nazis? That alone proves her incredibly ignorance. Shame, shame on Hedy Epstein and on that final day when she goes to meet her maker, I pray that He stands before her surrounded by the true Holocaust survivors. I know in my heart, at the forefront of those accusers, will be Hedy’s parents, who mourn every day, her blind hatred of her own roots.

She has betrayed not just Israel and the Jewish people – she has betrayed all that worked to save her miserable life and those who did save her, know deep in their hearts, another Jewish child died so that Hedy could have her place. Perhaps worst of all – she betrayed that child as well.

12 Comments on Silence that Damns…

  1. There are many holocaust survivors, and since there are many of them, they are not one homogenous bloc, but very different one from the other.

    And they draw different conclusions from what they went through in life.

    Some drew the conclusion that Israel is a necessity, others drew the conclusion (Satmar) that a secular state of Israel should not exist, and still others think they want to struggle against human suffering while others think they want to have a decent life and not think about suffering.

    So Hedy came to the conclusion that the blocking of Gaza borders for security reasons is not legitimate. Who are you to judge her?

  2. Dear Henry – you seek to protect the bulk from the one. I am not criticizing Holocaust survivors as a group – certainly not. I am saying:

    1. Hedy Epstein is NOT a Holocaust survivor. She didn’t experience the Holocaust. She was sent out of Germany in 1939. She is a Holocaust orphan, true; and she is a refugee (or was).

    2. I have very right to judge her and others who take a stand – that isn’t the question. You asked why I judge her not to be a survivor – and I have answered that. To say that she is struggling “against human suffering” is an absurdity. First – again and again, the evidence – including the United Nations and the Red Cross – both organizations ON THE GROUND – where Hedy is not – have both confirmed that there is no crisis. Second, Hedy Epstein ignores the suffering of millions of Syrians and Egyptians, Tunisians and Libyans – all to run to condemn Israel. She ignores the suffering of Gilad Shalit – supposedly a son of her own people. For that alone, I do not forgive her and I do condemn her.

    Her mother agonized to get her to safety – do you, does she, think that Aviva Shalit agonizes any less over her son?

  3. “for that alone, I do not forgive her and I do condemn her.”

    ehhhm. Do I not remember a post you wrote some time ago explaining why you would NOT free Gilad Shalit at any price? A post condemning the Shalit family and their supporters for their actions?

    Where did your great love for Gilad Shalit come from all of a sudden?

  4. No, Henry – I have NEVER condemned the Shalit family for their actions. I commend them and I only wish that were I ever, God forbid, to find myself in their situation, I would only pray that God give me the strength to fight as they have fought for Gilad. I’m afraid I would sit in a corner of my house, sobbing and unable to move.

    I do condemn the possible prisoner exchange because I believe it would endanger many more lives – soldiers and civilians. I have nothing but admiration for the Shalits and love and prayers in my heart for Gilad.

    And no, with all the heartache in my heart, with all the pain it would cause, I would not go for the prisoner exchange.

    And when I listened to my sons tell me why they would not want me to demand such a price for them – the mother in me rejected it. I would walk to the ends of the world for my sons…and for Gilad, if it would help. The only thing I cannot do, the only thing – is risk more lives…even for Gilad.

    So, I would say you might want to come up with another argument, this one went bust.

  5. Who are we to judge anyone’s experience about themselves? Hedy Epstein identifies as a survivor of the Holocaust, you disagree, why must you attack her for it? Why must you be so defensive? Why can’t you accept that her reality is different from yours? After all, there are Jewish people, as Henry cited, that don’t believe that the State of Israel should exist. There are Christians who believe it should and by existing it will bring the second coming of Christ. I am a Christian who disagrees with that, but do I need to attack them for their beliefs? Actually, no I don’t. There are scriptures in the Old Testament that discuss that the Land of Israel should only belong to the Jewish people if they are just, if they are welcoming (Isaiah). According to those scriptures the State of Israel as it exists right now, should not exist.

    *sigh* In the end, I see you wanting peace, but your words and actions are the very opposite. For peace to exist we have to start where it is a) the easiest and b) also the hardest.. in our own hearts.

    I disagree with you, and your anger and judgements scare me. I have been to your land and seen the impacts of the actions of your state on the Palestinian people, and I have seen the impact on your people. There is such a great fear there on both sides, and such anger. Is this really the way to peace? Is this what God has taught us? Is G-d really about might vs right, my way or the highway, or is God about love and respect? I believe that the God that you, I, and the Muslims all believe in is a G-d that demands from us the difficult thing, to find peace without might. You probably disagree with me, and that’s fine. It doesn’t mean that I stop honoring you and the fact that you are doing what you believe is right.

  6. Ah, I see that you play the Shalit card as it suits you: once like this, once like that…

    Good rhetoric trick, but you can’t play them with me…

  7. Dear Mary, I do not attack Hedy Epstein for describing herself as a survivor, though I do not believe she is one. I “attack” her for using that term in an abusive manner, to promote a cause that would see my nation destroyed. I condemn her for the very type of silence that killed her family, as she goes to Gaza but ignores the suffering of Gilad Shalit, a young Israeli soldier kidnapped by Hamas and held with no communication with his family for over five years.

    And Henry – I do not play the Shalit card – if you bothered to read my blog, you will see that I have consistently called for his unconditional release. He was taken illegally and he has been held illegally and if the Gazans don’t like the naval blockade – all they have to do is release Gilad.

    I have consistently said that I agonize over the situation and if you look back over my blog, you’ll see that long ago I said that though my heart aches, I do not approve of paying any price. No card – consistent position. Here are some examples:

    And many other posts. Try reading them before accusing me of playing the Shalit card, please.

  8. This is such a moving story..thank you so much for sharing it. Your words are not too strong, they come from a wisdom denied many of us who haven’t known such experiences. I am an American who finds the history of Israel to be both tragic and inspiring. The American people are with Israel…we understand your connection with the land and how you’ve suffered throughout many ages. Regardless of the feelings and grave errors of our president, we remain with Israel. We feel America is in jeopardy by the same forces Israel faces. We must remain committed to each other.
    I pray for peace knowing there are forces that would take it from us…

  9. I must say that I, for one, do not believe that your reaction to this situation is inappropriate in any way. It is YOUR opinion, YOUR feelings. I happen to agree with your point of view, but even if I did not,I would not criticize you for expressing your feelings. I have not posted here in a long time but I read your blog as often as I can.Which brings me to another point. The people who condemn you and your point of view have an easy solution to their discomfort and anger- STOP READING this blog! No one is forcing you to read this. This lovely woman whose adult children stand every day to protect Israel has chosen to make accessible to the public her personal feelings about her children and her life in Israel. If what she has to say disturbs you so much- then go away. To the author: thank you for sharing with us your experiences and thank you for your children and what they stand for. I am a Jew living in the US and your blog gives me a window into life as a parent in Israel. We are celebrating Independence Day here in the US today and there is a saying here that applies to Israel as well: We live in the land of the free because of the sacrifices of the brave. Thank you again for your blog.

  10. Anonymous Henry said…

    Ah, I see that you play the Shalit card as it suits you: once like this, once like that…

    Good rhetoric trick, but you can’t play them with me…

    Henry: I’m a frequent reader of this blog, but I don’t recall reading where Paula condemns the Shalit family for their actions — would you please be so kind as to cite your reference?

    Thanks so much.

  11. To make it simple.
    Since there is freedom of speech, why Paula/Asoldiersmother should not say, what ever she wants to say?
    So you guys better ask why do you come up with “Who you are to judge Hedy Epstein” (and what are your reasons to be outraged about it), plus who are you to judge her!?
    And be happy to have freedom of speech,have the possibility touse it. This is a privilege!

    Lots of love.

  12. Come on, Henry. We’re waiting…

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