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September 15, 1989 - Image 14

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-09-15

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Auschwitz Protest

Continued from Page 12

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again, this time kicking and
punching us, and dragging us
from the area. Their leader
yelled "Heil Hitler!" Nuns
peered through the convent
windows as we were beaten. A
white-haired parish priest
looked on from beyond the
fence. A Polish seminarian
cried, "Rip off their skull-
caps! Drag them out!"
Uniformed and plainclothes
police watched without in-
tervening. As we were hauled
away, dogs were set loose to
patrol the area.
Statements expressing
outrage at the attack against
us have been heard from
many quarters. The State
Department, the Israel
Foreign Ministry, and Jewish
organizations have all joined
in condemning the attack.
Janek Kuron, a Solidarity
leader, told us: "I can only
speak in my own name, but I
think that my friends will
agree with me if I say I feel
very much ashamed as a Pole
for what happened to you."
His statement, published on
the front page of the Solidar-
ity newspaper Gazetta
Wyborcza, was particularly
courageous in the light of the
close ties between Solidarity
and the Church.
Even the Polish press
agency (PAP), which ori-
ginally reported that we had
"come to attack the nuns,"
reversed its position and
apologized. At a meeting with
Janusz Solecki, deputy
general of PAP, he admitted
that no reporter had been
present at Auschwitz the day
we were beaten.
Most recently, the Polish
Deputy Foreign Minister, Jan
Majewski told Mordechai
Palzur, Israel's representative
to Poland, that because of the
latest "incidents" at the
Carmelite convent at
Auschwitz, his government
has decided to intervene to
ensure its quick removal.
The only voice that has not
yet been heard is the voice of
the Vatican. There is a prece-
dent for such silence. "When
our brothers and sisters met
their deaths in Auschwitz,"
said Markus Pardes, former
president of the Cooidinating
Committee of Jewish Organi-
zations in Belgium, "they
were surrounded by a total
silence on the part of the
world and a very significant
silence on the part of the
Church. We cannot tolerate
that prayers should take
place, even in the best inten-
tions, in this place, from those
who could have, at the right
time, raised their voice for our
brothers and sisters and who
did not do so."
The image of Jews being
beaten at Auschwitz, in the

very place in which, not so
long ago, millions of Jews
were beaten, tortured, and
gassed, evokes in Jews today
flashbacks of memory painful
in their immediacy and
Didn't the world learn
something after all from
Auschwitz? Especially the
Poles? Especially the Church?
And most especially the nuns
who came to Auschwitz to, of
all things, pray?
We did not come to
Auschwitz to be beaten. We
came — and shall continue to
come — to demand that the
convent be removed, that the
nuns leave, and that the cross
erected on ground that,
tragically, has become sacred
to' us, be removed. Let the
nuns who say they are pray-
ing for those who died at
Auschwitz, pray elsewhere.
Let them cease praying for
the Jews who were murdered
there Those who died as Jews
should be left to rest in peace
as Jews. ❑

Rabbi Weiss is rabbi of The
Hebrew Institute of
Riverdale, New York and
assistant professor of Judaic
Studies at Stern College
in New York.


JNF Reports
Fewer Fires

Jerusalem (JTA) — There
have been fewer and lest
devastating forest fires in
1989 in Israel than in 1988,
but not because the number
of arson attempts has
Moshe Rivlin, world chair-
man of the Jewish National
Fund, said the relatively low
toll of destroyed forests is the
result of JNF fire prevention.
In particular, Rivlin notes,
JNF enlisted the counsel of
the United States Forest Ser-
vice. The result has been bet-
ter equipment, better
preparedness and much bet-
ter cooperation between JNF
and all the various
authorities in Israel that col-
lectively contribute to fire-
prevention or control.
"We man 41 fire lookout
posts 24 hours a day, and we
have 30-odd fire-fighting
teams on alert around the
clock. Some are mobile
patrols; others are stationary
teams who are ready to res-
pond to an emergency call in-
stantly," Rivlin said.
The JNF has also been coor-
dinating prevention efforts
with the IDF, the Nature
Reserves Authority and the
Society for the Protection of


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