Erase My Grandfather’s Name from Yad Vashem (By Jean-Moïse Braitberg)
Feb 9, 2009
Mr. President of the State of Israel, I write you so that you can intervene with those who have lawful right to have the name of my grandfather, Moshe Bratjberg, removed from the Yad Vashem Memorial, which is dedicated to the memory of Nazi Jewish victims. He was gassed at Treblinka in 1943, as well as other members of my family who died during deportation in different nazi concentration camps during the Second World War. I ask you to gran[t] my plea, Mr. President, because what happened in Gaza, and in a more general context, the fate imposed on the Arab people of Palestine for the last sixty years, disqualifies Israel, in my eyes, as the center of rememberance of the evil perpetrated on Jews, and thus to all of humanity.
You see, ever since I was a child, I have been living among survivors of these death camps. I have seen the numbers tattooed on their arms, I have heard the accounts of torture; I have known of impossible mourning and I have shared their nightmares.
They taught me that these crimes should never again be repeated; that never again should a man, strong by his alliance to an ethnic or religious group should disdain another, should deny him of his most basic rights that include a dignified life in security, devoid of obstacles, and of light, as distant as it may be, of a future of peace and prosperity.
Thus, Mr. President, I see that despite several tens of resolutions taken by the international community, despite the striking evidence of injustice bestowed upon the Palestinian people since 1948, despite the hopes born out of Oslo and despite the recognition of the right of the Israeli Jews to live in peace and security, and confirmed several times by the Palestinian Authority, that the only answers brought about by the successive governments of your country have been violence, spilled blood, incarceration, ceaseless controls, colonization and plundering.
You will tell me, Mr. President, that it is legitimate for your country to defend itself against those who launch rockets on Israel, or against the suicide bombers that take with them many innocent Israeli lives. To this, I would answer you that my feeling for humanity does not change according to the victims’ citizenships.
On the other hand, Mr. President, you steer the destiny of a country that claims not only to represent the global Jewish community, but also the memory of those that were victims of Nazism. And this is what concerns me and is unbearable for me. By keeping at Yad Vashem, in the heart of the Jewish State, the name of those close to me, your State holds prisoner the memory of my family behind the barbed wires of Zionism, and makes it hostage to a so-called moral authority that commits the abomination of denial of justice on a daily basis.
Therefore, please, remove the name of my grandfather from the sanctuary dedicated to the cruelty imposed on the Jews so that it may not justify anymore that which is imposed on Palestinians. Please accept, Mr. President, the assurance of my respects.
Jean-Moise Braitberg is a writer