Holocaust survivors and children of survivors on Wednesday took Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to task for failing to condemn statements — made by a hardline Knesset candidate in his Likud party — implying that refusal by IDF soldiers to carry out directives to evacuate settlements would be comparable to Germans refusing to comply with Nazi orders during World War II.
The candidate, Moshe Feiglin, had said on Monday that “a state that enshrines the values of freedom must reserve a place of honor for conscientious objection.”
If Israel failed to do so, Feiglin continued, “then we need to go to the beach and ask forgiveness of [Adolf] Eichmann, whom we executed and cremated, and whose ashes we scattered in the Mediterranean — because that’s precisely what he claimed: ‘I was only following orders.’”
“We, the survivors of the inferno and their families, who raise families in Israel, are appealing to you following the interview with Feiglin,” read the letter to Netanyahu, which was quoted by Ynet. “We were shocked and dismayed to learn of his demand that we go to the beach to beg forgiveness of Eichmann for his execution by an Israeli court.”
Feiglin’s statements came in the wake of a torrent of criticism leveled against Naftali Bennett, the leader of the right-wing Jewish Home party, who last week said that, if commanded to participate in the evacuation of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, he would opt for the path of conscientious objection.
After evoking Eichmann, one of the masterminds of the Nazi Holocaust against European Jewry who was executed by Israel in 1962, Feiglin clarified his statement, saying that the comparison was not about specific personalities but rather about “the principle.”
“There must be a red line, determined by the conscience of the individual, and any sweeping assertion that commands must be obeyed in any case is a fascist statement,” Feiglin said. “I deliberately employed the term ‘conscientious objection,’ rather than ‘insubordination,’ because I’m opposed to insubordination.”
In their response to the statements, the Holocaust survivors called Eichmann a “terrible fiend” who was responsible for “solving the Jewish problem, and personally signed orders to deport millions of Jews to death camps, including our family, relatives and friends who went and never returned.”
Lashing out at Netanyahu for failing to reign in Feiglin, the letter continued: “Our stomachs churn and we weep at the sight of the contemptuous treatment of the memory of our families and loved ones whom you chose to sacrifice once more on the altar of the elections.”
After years in which Netanyahu succeeded in denying him a realistic spot in his party’s list, Feiglin is currently situated in the comfortable 24th spot on the joint slate of the Likud-Yisrael Beytenu party, which is virtually guaranteed to win him a Knesset seat in the January 22 elections.