“Remove My Grandfather’s Name from Yad Vashem!”

The leading French daily Le Monde today has a striking editorial, in the form of an open letter to Shimon Peres, the Israeli president, from the French writer Jean-Moïse Braitberg. That double first-name amounts to what in English would be “John-Moses,” so this is someone of the Jewish faith, in fact someone whose grandfather died in the gas chambers of Treblinka and of whom other relatives also perished during World War II in various other Nazi camps. The name of his late grandfather, Moshe Brajtberg, is even enshrined at Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust memorial, but now M. Braitberg is publicly writing the Israeli president to have it removed. “I ask you to accede to my request, Mr. President, because what has happened in Gaza, and more generally the fate given to the Arab people of Palestine for sixty years, disqualifies Israel in my eyes as a center for the memory of the evil done to Jews and thereby to all of humanity.”

He goes on:

You see, since my childhood I have lived within an entourage of survivors from the death-camps. . . . It was necessary, they taught me, that these crimes never resume again; that never again could a man, due to his belonging to an ethnic group or religion despised by others, be scoffed at while trying to assert the most elementary rights such as a dignified life in safety, without being shackled but with the light, however distant, of a future of serenity and prosperity.

Nonetheless, all that M. Braitberg writes that he has seen from Israel over decades towards the Palestinians has been “violence, spilled blood, confinement, incessant controls, colonization, [and] despoiling.” But what about the rockets that Hamas incessantly launches at Israel? What about the suicide bombers? “What I will say to you is that my feelings of humanity do not vary according to the citizenship of the victims.”

Then further:

On the contrary, Mr. President, you guide the destinies of a country that claims not only to represent Jews collectively, but also the memory of those who were victims of Naziism. It’s that which concerns me, and which I find intolerable. By preserving at the memorial of Yad Vashem, at the heart of the Jewish State, the name of my nearest relatives, your State keeps my family-memory a prisoner behind the barbed-wire of Zionism to make it a hostage of a self-proclaimed moral authority that each day commits the abomination that is the denial of justice.

So he wants his grandfather’s name removed. It’s all fairly powerfully – and, of course, publicly – expressed, not that Israeli officials will bother to take any notice. Still, together with the new accusatory Internet meme – “The grandchildren of Holocaust survivors from World War II are doing to the Palestinians exactly what was done to them by Nazi Germany” – it is clear that Israel is harvesting the whirlwind that she sowed with her December attacks into Gaza.

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