To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.
This is the story of two Hungarian Jews and their diametrically opposed responses to the unimaginable horrors of the Holocaust. The reactions and their consequences for Israel and the Jewish people to this day bear examination.
One, Haganah heroine Hannah Szenes (often spelled Senesh) returned from the relative safety of Palestine to parachute into war-torn Europe in a courageous – yet ultimately doomed – bid to save her fellow Jews. Born in Budapest, Szenes became an ardent Zionist and went to Palestine at age 18 in 1939. She joined a kibbutz and the Haganah, becoming a member of the Palmach, its elite strike force.
With the war raging, the British military hatched a plan to drop Haganah fighters with radio transmitters into Yugoslavia to help in the intensifying battle between Tito’s partisans and the Nazis. Szenes willingly entered the dangerous battle, spending several months in Yugoslavia.
But with the Nazis occupying adjacent Hungry and gearing up their deportations of the Jews there, she crossed into her homeland, planning to help her brethren resist.
A short time after crossing the frontier, Szenes was arrested by Hungarian fascist soldiers, thrown into prison and charged with treason. The Nazis, not content to wait for a trial, summarily placed her before a firing squad. She refused a blindfold, bravely facing her executioners at age 23.
In 1950, her body was returned to Israel and she was buried among the heroes of the Jewish people on Har Herzl. A prolific poet, she had left a large body of her writings at her kibbutz and they are known widely in Israel. One, “Eli Eli,” an ode to love, hope and beauty, has been put to music and is now a haunting anthem to Yom HaShoah and the lost of the Holocaust.
The other Hungarian Jew, George Soros, now 80, is a billionaire financial wizard who runs a New York-based hedge fund. He moves international currency markets with his pronouncements and, through a maze of foundations and front groups, bankrolls and backs a slew of radical far-left campaigns intended to, in his words, “puncture the bubble of American supremacy.”
Just like Szenes, he was born to assimilated parents. His father changed the family name of Schwartz to Soros both to avoid anti-Semitism and to try to shed the family’s Jewishness. But faced with the Nazi occupation, his father realized there was no shedding the Nazis’ hatred. He saved his family by splitting them up, providing them with forged papers and false identities as Christians and bribing gentile families to take them in.
The young Soros, then fourteen, posed as the godson of an official of Hungary’s fascist regime – a member of the Agricultural Ministry. The official was assigned to deliver deportation notices to Jews and confiscate Jewish property and the young Soros accompanied him on his rounds.
In interviews and his memoir, Soros acknowledged he understood the gravity of what was occurring. Asked on CBS’s “60 Minutes” if it had psychologically scarred him, he said, “it created no problems at all.”
Of course, we who didn’t live through the nightmare of the Holocaust can’t say how we would react in such circumstances, but Szenes and Soros were both put to the test and their very different reactions are worth examination. Szenes’s selfless bravery has inspired hundreds of young Israelis to join paratroop commando units and fight for the Jewish people. Soros is now a leading Israel basher who calls Zionism “a tribal” behavior that turns Jews into “oppressors” of the Palestinians and creates worldwide anti-Semitism. He also is involved with the J Street lobby, which espouses positions commonly associated with the far fringes of anti-Israel rhetoric.
Both the Szenes and Soros stories are presently very much in the public discourse. Manhattan’s Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park City is running a multimedia exhibit on Szenes through next August. Conservative television and radio commentator Glenn Beck, a staunch Israel supporter, recently explored Soros’s history and political backing of radical causes. As a result, some in the Jewish community have charged Beck with anti-Semitism – a patently ridiculous accusation given his support of Israel during the Second Lebanon War and the Gaza blockade battle.
Sixty-five years after the Shoah and when Israel is encircled with enemies – including “delegitimize, boycott and divest” leftist campaigners in America – Jews should reflect on history and who our heroes and friends really are.
Ed Lion, a writer who lives in the Poconos, was formerly a reporter with United Press International.
About the Author: Ed Lion is a former reporter for United Press International now living in the Poconos.
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The “Media” didn’t want us to know what a kind, giving, loving young woman Dalia was.
A “Palestine” could become another Lebanon, with many different factions battling for control.
Maimonides himself walked and prayed in the permissible areas when he visited Eretz Yisrael in 1165
Israel’s Temple Mount policy prefers to blames the Jews-not the attackers-for the crisis.
When Islam conquered the Holy Land, it made its capital in Ramle of all places, not in Jerusalem.
I joined the large crowd but this time it was more personal; my cousin Aryeh was one of the victims.
Terrorists aren’t driven by social, economic, or other grievances, rather by a fanatical worldview.
The phrase that the “Arabs are resorting to violence” is disgraceful and blames the victim.
Tuesday, Yom Shlishi, a doubly good day in the Torah, Esav’s hands tried to silence Yaakov’s voice.
Because of the disparate nature of the perpetrators, who are also relatively young, and given the lack of more traditional targets and the reverence Palestinians have for their homes, one now hears talk of Israel returning to a policy of destroying the houses of terrorists’ families.
In any event, the Constitution gives Congress what is popularly described as the “power of the purse” – that is, the power to raise revenues through taxation and to decide how the money should be sent.
It is difficult to write about such a holy person, for I fear I will not accurately portray his greatness…
Warsaw Ghetto: At its height, the Nazis walled in some 500,000 Jews within the1.3 square mile area.
The risks were great, but certain death awaited them if they remained. The gamble paid off, though the family was separated for the next four years of the war.
Beyond the severe discomfort there was also the danger of getting sunk by enemy submarines prowling the seas.
As his bomber lost altitude with the ground rushing up, my father remembered his last thought: “How am I going to get out of this?
Seventy-five years ago on November 10 the Nazis unleashed a wave of terror, destruction and death known as Kristallnacht upon Germany’s Jews, a fearsome presage of the Holocaust. On that day, the childhood of my then-12-year-old father, Kurt Lion, of blessed memory, was abruptly and savagely ended.
Forty years ago this week, Jews the world over watched in agony as Arab terrorists kidnapped and eventually massacred eleven Israeli Olympic athletes. The International Olympic Committee, bowing to Arab pressure, has repeatedly refused these Israelis a proper commemoration. But we as Jews ought to pay them the tribute of remembering their individual lives, deeds, and accomplishments.
Half a century ago in May, Israel hanged Nazi war criminal Adolph Eichmann for overseeing Germany’s extermination of six million European Jews, fully one-third of the world’s prewar Jewish population. The murder of the six million staggers the mind. Such a vast breadth of our people, each of them with his own individual dreams, loves and aspirations, exterminated.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/hannah-szenes-and-george-soros-a-study-in-moral-contrasts/2010/12/08/
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