Open letter to the President of Israel, by Jean-Moïse Braitberg: *
I am writing to you, to ask you to contact those who are authorized to do so, to remove the name of my grandfather from the memorial at Yad Vashem, which is dedicated to the Jewish victims of National Socialism. It says "Moshe Brajtberg, gassed in 1943 in Treblinka."
The rest of my family also perished in the various of the camps to which they were deported. I beg you. Mr. President, to do this, because that which has happened in Gaza, and in other places, and has defined the fate of the Arab peoples of Palestine for 60 years now, disqualifies - to my mind - Israel to be the center which is dedicated to remember the suffering of the Jews, and by extension, that of all of mankind.
Understand me: ever since I was a child I have lived among survivors of the death camps. I saw the numbers tattooed on their arms and heard the stories of their tortures. I experienced the unbearable mourning and shared the nightmares.
I learned that these crimes shall never again take place, that no person, ever again, shall despise another for his ethnicity or religion, and rob him of his elementary Human Rights, just as he has a right to a life lived in decent circumstances, with the hope of better things for his family.
Still, Mr. President, I have noticed that despite innumerable Resolutions of the international community, despite the obvious injustices to which the Palestinians have been heirs since 1948, despite the hopes of Oslo, and despite the repeated recognition on the part of the Palestinian authorities that Israeli Jews have the right to live in peace and security, the only answer of successive Israeli governments has been brute force, blood shed, incarceration, constant controls, colonization and expropriations.
You will tell me, Mr. President, that it is legitimate for a country to defend itself
against rockets aimed at its people, or kamikazis who take many innocents with them in death. To which I will answer that my human sympathies do not ask after the nationality of the victim.
You, on the other hand, lead a nation that means to represent the Jews in their entirety, but also claim to preserve the memory of the victims of National Socialism. That is what touches me and is unbearable to me. While you write the names of my loved ones at Yad Vashem, in the heart of Israel,the state holds the memory of my family prisoner behind the barbed wire of Zionism, in order to make them hostages of a so-called authority which - day after day - practices injustice.
So I beg you to take away the name of my grandfather from the memorial that testifies to the horrors suffered by the Jews, so that it can no longer be used to justify the horror which is visited upon the Palestinians.
Veuillez agréer, monsieur le president, l'assurance de ma respectueuse considération.
* Published in Le Monde, Paris on 28 January 2009