A Short History of Yad Vashem

March 29 2016

Long before Holocaust memorials and museums sprang up in Europe and the U.S., Israel had Yad Vashem, which gets its name from a verse in the book of Isaiah. Elliot Jager tells the story of its creation and development:

The idea of a Zionist memorial to the victims of Hitler’s war against the Jews came to Mordechai Shenhavi (1900-1983) before anyone even grasped the horrifying scale of the Holocaust.

In August 1942, Shenhavi, a member of Kibbutz Beit Alfa in the Jezreel valley, had a terrifying dream. In it, he saw millions of Nazi victims marching toward Zion, carrying tombstones on their shoulders. Gripped by this vision, he struggled to persuade the pre-state Zionist institutions to take up the proposal. . . .

In a May 1945 article in Davar, a Hebrew-language newspaper and the powerful workers’-union mouthpiece, Shenhavi presented the nuts and bolts of his ideas for how the Holocaust should be memorialized. Finally, in August 1945, three months after World War II ended in Europe, delegates to the General Zionist Council meeting in London embraced his vision. . . .

How society treats Jewish people is often a reliable barometer for the moral state of humanity. . . . A small number of Christians actively tried to hide or help them escape. Most looked the other way. . . .

As time takes its toll on the last remaining survivors and witnesses—and as the enemies of the Jewish people brazenly deny that the Holocaust happened—Yad Vashem stands as an everlasting memorial, a beacon to light the way for mankind in a darkening world.

Read more at Israel My Glory

More about: History & Ideas, Holocaust, Holocaust remembrance, Israel, Righteous Among the Nations, Yad Vashem


When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount