Thursday, January 23, 2020
Today marks the launch of a new section on Z-Features we’re calling: Views Inside Israel. Marc Coles, a licensed private tour guide and founder of Believeland Tours will start us off. Today, Marc comments on the mood inside of Israel as the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz was commemorated at Yad Vashem.
We Need Deeds, Not Words
By Marc Coles
Nearly 50 heads of state converged on Israel today to symbolically commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Israelis aren’t overly focused on the ceremonial pomp, rather the tachlis – the deeds, as opposed to the words.
Israelis are cynical by nature. We live in a rough neighborhood and have a lot on our plates. Totally underwhelmed by lip service and high phraseology, whether reluctantly or not, Israelis put their money where their mouths are when they lace up their IDF boots. We don’t need reminders about anti-Semitism, racism, hatred and violence; it comes with the territory and when necessary, we deal with it.
Many were critical of last night’s dinner that preceded the opening of today’s Fifth World Holocaust Forum. While there was great vitriol and cynicism, some wanted to know why Auschwitz survivors weren’t invited to partake? The Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel posts on its website that today, there are approximately 215,000 Holocaust survivors living in Israel. Around 45,000 of them live below the poverty line. Against this backdrop, the perceived festive atmosphere of last night’s opulent dinner, hosted by Israeli President Rubi Rivlin, didn’t go over well and left many highly critical. Add in a dash of leveraging the Holocaust for political gain and the backlash becomes even more toxic.
The sideshow has captured much of the attention – Macron on so-called “sovereign French territory” in the Old City, indignantly yelling and pointing his finger at Israeli security personnel as he entered the Crusader era Church of Saint Anne. The residents of Jerusalem who daily confront exasperating traffic jams, were hunkering down for the anticipated gridlock as diplomatic motorcades crisscross the city along cordoned off routes to the ceremonies at Yad Vashem.
However, Israelis are most interested in the plight of Naama Issachar, the 26-year-old Israeli woman who was sentenced last October to seven-and-a-half years in a Russian prison for allegedly possessing drugs in her luggage while on a layover in Moscow as she headed home to Israel from a trip to India.
At 11 a.m. this morning in Jerusalem, Naama’s mother, Yaffa Issachar, met with Vladamir Putin in a dramatic plea for her daughter’s pardon and release. In news that was released earlier today in Israel, Putin assured Yaffa that “everything will be OK.”