Remembering, and vowing to protect
Hebrew media review

Remembering, and vowing to protect

Failed cyberattacks and Gazan rockets fill the country's present, as citizens bow their heads to mourn the past

Aaron Kalman is a former writer and breaking news editor for the Times of Israel

IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz visiting the Auschwitz death camp in Poland, as he takes part in the 'March of the Living' on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, April 7, 2013. (photo credit: Moshe Milner/GPO/Flash90)
IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz visiting the Auschwitz death camp in Poland, as he takes part in the 'March of the Living' on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, April 7, 2013. (photo credit: Moshe Milner/GPO/Flash90)

On the morning of Israel’s national Holocaust Remembrance Day, the subject dominates the front page of all the country’s major newspapers. For some the Holocaust is the only item on the cover, while others mention the failed cyberattack against Israel and other stories not directly connected to the Shoah.

National Holocaust Remembrance Day

Yedioth Ahronoth leads with a reminder that the siren blaring for the nationwide two minutes of silence is in memory of the 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis, then gets personal with a large picture taken at a wedding in Berlin, in 1933, that shows 52 family members. All are recognizable; fewer than 10 survived.

“Exactly how many Jews were killed in the Shoah? Every Jewish child knows the answer: six million,” writes Yedioth’s Eitan Haber before plunging into a story of two people, both born to families from his father’s city, now in the Ukraine, than in Poland. The two, Haber says, heard rumors that “somewhere in the city lived devout Christian families that don’t know they were born to Jewish homes before the Shoah” — and decided to track them down.

“Not too long ago the two reached two Christian sisters, rumored to be Jewish… a short inquiry revealed that was the case.” They had been handed by their mother to a Christian friend at the ages of 5 and 7. The sisters weren’t interested, Haber writes, but one daughter and granddaughter were — and visited Israel. As a result, members of the younger generation rekindled their Jewish identity.

“Who knows how may more Jews lived, and live, as Christians and don’t know of their Jewish heritage? Who knows where they are, what happened to them and if they’d want to return to Judaism?” Haber asks. “These people, who were handed over so that they would live, don’t know and don’t remember. And we don’t count them.”

A smaller headline in Yedioth tells us that on Sunday, ultra-Orthodox Jews decided to barbecue in the capital’s central Sacher Park, exactly when the country lowered its flag to half mast at Yad Vashem just a few kilometers away.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech at Yad Vashem during the official state ceremony leads Yisrael Hayom. “We will not entrust our destiny to the hands of others,” reads the headline, quoting from Netanyahu’s address. Underneath it an extract from President Shimon Peres’s speech questions the legitimacy of an Iranian regime that denies the Holocaust.

The message is sharpened with two side-by-side pictures: on the left, the honor guard during the ceremony, a platoon of paratroopers; next to it, the IDF’s Chief of General Staff Benny Gantz walking on the train tracks of Auschwitz.

Haaretz leads with Netanyahu’s quote as well, but chooses a far less militaristic photo, one of the prime minister and others standing during the singing of the national anthem at the end of last night’s ceremony. It further juxtaposes Netanyahu’s speech — in which he thanked the international community for its help against Iran and promised Israel would know how to protect itself — with news of the firing of rockets from Gaza into the south of Israel at about the same time.

Maariv goes off-topic with its main story, telling us that Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who’s in charge of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, told foreign diplomats she doesn’t believe the Palestinians need to recognize a Jewish state before resuming talks. Her position, the paper says, is the opposite of Netanyahu’s.

Cyberattacks and a new Israeli ambassador

Haaretz offers a medical alert, letting us know that one out of nine Israeli doctors chooses to leave Israel and live abroad, while another reports that a petition was filed against the the State Comptroller’s office, for publishing tenures in Haifa for posts already staffed in Tel Aviv.

In another warning, the paper reminds its readers of the fragile situation in the Korean peninsula, reporting on a rare statement by China in which it cautioned against the region’s stability further deteriorating.

A large article deals with Sunday’s massive and massively reported cyberattack against Israel, noting that the attempt to delete Israel from the Internet failed. “Hackers attacked hundreds of Israeli sites — and failed,” details how the attackers managed to only cause some minor problems for a small number of sites, but did not come anywhere near their stated goal of toppling the country.

Yisrael Hayom emphasizes that “Israeli hackers took revenge on Anonymous,” the umbrella group that coordinated the attacks. It also highlights the 30 percent growth in anti-Semitic incidents reported during 2012.

In striking contrast to the enmity displayed by Iran, an Israeli ambassador will soon be sent to Turkmenistan, a country to the north of the Islamic republic.

In Israel Hayom’s opinion columns, Dan Margalit tackles a recently released movie about the life of Hannah Arendt, a Jewish-German philosopher who fled Germany in the 30s and later wrote a book on the Banality of Evil — referring to the trial of Adolf Eichmann.

“She passed away more than 38 years ago,” he writes, “but her criticism of Israel… still feeds those who wish bad for the Jewish State.” Arendt’s writings, he claims, are used by extremists from the right and left, as well as pseudo-intellectuals, to sever the ties between the meaning of the Holocaust and Israel as a safe home for the nation.

“This isn’t a battle over the past, [it’s not] a dispute between historians. The fight is about the present and the future,” Margalit says. Pointing out that other thinkers of her time opposed her ideas, he says “The brilliant Jew of the 20th century opened the door for the Iranians, European anti-Semites and extreme Islamists, even though she didn’t mean to.”

“Arendt didn’t mean to allow Jewish blood to be spilled,” he writes, “but that’s part of what happened from when she released the baseless idea about evil’s banality” — until the moment Netanyahu swore to defend Israel.

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