Donate

Why Israel Never Brought Josef Mengele to Justice

Sept. 8 2017

The Nazi physician Josef Mengele spent most of World War II at Auschwitz, where he performed horrifically sadistic experiments on selected inmates. After the war, much like Adolf Eichmann, he escaped to South America, where, again as with Eichmann, the Mossad sought to capture him and take him to Israel for trial. Now that the Israeli intelligence agency has unclassified its file on Mengele, details of his escape, and of the Jewish state’s decision to give up on its hunt, are publicly available. Ronen Bergman writes:

Mengele fled Germany to Argentina in 1948, using false documents given to him by the Red Cross. (According to the Mossad’s file, the organization was aware that it was helping a Nazi criminal escape justice.) In Buenos Aires, he lived at first under an assumed name, but later reverted to his own name. He even had a nameplate on his door: Dr. Josef Mengele.

Though much about his wartime activities was known, the German government had not requested his extradition, and even supplied him with documents clearing him of a criminal record. The German ambassador in Buenos Aires is quoted in the Mossad file on Mengele as saying he received orders to treat Mengele as an ordinary citizen since there was no arrest warrant for him. When, finally, a warrant was issued in 1959, Mengele caught word. He went into hiding, first in Paraguay and then in Brazil.

In 1962, the Mossad agent Zvi Aharoni successfully tracked him down, and reported to his superiors.

But the head of the Mossad at the time, Isser Harel, ordered the matter dropped. On the same day, the agency had learned that Egypt was recruiting German scientists to build missiles; disposing of them was Harel’s top priority. The Mossad was still a young agency, short of resources and manpower. . . . Half a year later, Harel was replaced by Meir Amit, who ordered the Mossad to “stop chasing after ghosts from the past and devote all of our manpower and resources to threats against the security of the state.” . . . With the backing of Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, Amit focused on the Egyptian missile program until that threat was resolved . . . and then on gathering intelligence on the Arab states that proved critical to Israel’s victory in the 1967 war.

The hunt for Mengele resumed in 1977 under the orders of the newly elected Prime Minister Menachem Begin. But it was not until the early 1980s that the Mossad learned that Mengele had died in 1979.

Read more at New York Times

More about: Brazil, History & Ideas, Holocaust, Israel & Zionism, Levi Eshkol, Menachem Begin, Mossad, Nazis

The Movement to Return Jewish Worship to the Temple Mount Has Gone Mainstream

Sept. 25 2017

During the eruption of violence against Israelis in Jerusalem this summer, and the subsequent struggle over metal detectors, the Islamic authorities briefly boycotted the Temple Mount. As a result, Jewish visitors, normally prohibited from praying there, immediately began to do so. Meir Soloveichik puts the episode in context and describes its meaning:

The Temple Mount is fast becoming a pilgrimage site for religious Jews. In the past, most abstained from visiting out of concern that they might enter a sacred area in a state of ritual impurity, but many now believe that, with a knowledge of the layout, history, and religious laws pertaining to the location, it is permissible to visit certain parts of the Temple Mount plaza. They thus visit the site under religious guidance—immersing first in a ritual bath, or mikveh—and tread only in specific areas. What was once a trickle of pilgrims has become a stream, and this year they numbered in the many thousands. . . .

[Indeed, a] sea change has taken place in the past fifteen years: . . . the segment of Jews visiting the Temple Mount is becoming more and more mainstream, supported by rabbis noted for their liberalism in social or religious affairs. . . .

Visiting Jews were, for a brief and brilliant moment [this summer], able to utter several words of prayer without interference. The Israeli media published photos of a diverse group of Jews standing on the Temple Mount reciting the kaddish, so close to where their ancestors, on Yom Kippur, had once stood listening to the high priest pronounce the Name of God. Soon after this kaddish, the [status quo ante] returned; Jews again were no longer free to pray at the site toward which all Jewish prayer has been directed for thousands of years. But images of that one unimpeded kaddish remain; to study them is to look back on the miraculous and heartbreaking past half-century in Jerusalem, to celebrate what has been achieved, and to mourn what might have been.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Judaism, Palestinian terror, Religion & Holidays, Temple Mount