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December 06, 2012 - Image 40

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2012-12-06

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points of view

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Contributing Editor


Hamas' True Colors
Discredit Ceasefire


Vintage boxcar evokes
dekravity of Holocaust.

This historic boxcar at the Holocaust Memorial Center stands as a sentinel of justice

on rails laid on a cobblestone street reminiscent of the Warsaw Ghetto.


his railroad car is different.
It's one of the last World War II-era
boxcars and the only one brought to
America from Germany.
Now permanently housed in the newly dedi-
cated Henrietta and Alvin Weisberg Gallery
at the Holocaust Memorial Center (HMC)
in Farmington Hills, the boxcar symbolizes
the kind that took millions of Jews and other
captives to camps operated by Nazi Germany.
Conditions were so bad aboard those stock-
yards-like boxcars that many people died
before reaching the camps. Fortune decided
whether the destination for the rest was hard
labor, excruciating waiting or the gas chamber.
The boxcar will stand at the HMC as a silent
memorial to state-sanctioned genocide orga-
nized as an industrial enterprise deploying
what, in effect, were slave labor
and death trains.
The Detroit Jewish commu-
nity owes a debt of gratitude to
Bloomfield Hills philanthropists
Henrietta and Alvin Weisberg,
who funded construction of the
new HMC gallery built in memory
of her family slaughtered in the
Holocaust — her parents, Sara
and Israel Gastfrajnd, and broth-
ers, Rubin and Hershel. She and
her sister, Rachel Schwartz, sur-
vived Majdanek with bittersweet
memories of riding in a similar boxcar. The
sisters rode in a boxcar two more times before
being freed by Russian soldiers near the Elbe
River, a major Central European waterway.
"Nothing could have been worse:' said
Henrietta, recalling those days of despair
being jammed in a boxcar. "While they have
done movies and written books, you cannot
truly understand unless you were there. I want
the world to know what happened during the
Holocaust so that such inhumanity will never
happen again:'
The Weisberg gift also paid for the box-
car's 4,000-mile journey from Germany to
Michigan. The couple's generosity will seed an
HMC education endowment as well.
The boxcar exudes the power to teach. Says


December 6 • 2012


Sisters and Holocaust survivors Henrietta
Weisberg and Rachel Schwartz at the HMC

HMC Executive Director Stephen Goldman,
"Hearing about what went on during the
Holocaust is one thing, but being able to
actually show people, particularly
the younger ones, actual physi-
cal objects from this period is an
extremely powerful tool.
"Artifacts, especially large arti-
facts, have an impact like no other
piece of historical evidence and lend
a fullness of texture and richness
of surroundings to learning about


Emotive Backdrop

The Weisberg Gallery certainly will
endure long after the last Nazi who
marched the goosestep under Hitler's transfix-
ing command. The HMC acquired the boxcar
last year in cooperation with the German
National Railroad and the Technical Museum
in Berlin. The German government paid to
refurbish it.
The HMC lobby was expanded to create an
indoor environment to showcase and protect
the boxcar. Visitors can get close enough to
touch it and adorn it with memorial stones.
Rather than imagine the boxcar in a work
camp or killing center, the HMC situated it at
an embarkation site where Jews, Gypsies and
other prisoners were herded into such cars on
their way to slave labor or death.
The Weisberg exhibit hall shows the boxcar
Death Train on page 41

s it launched a barrage of rockets into the Negev and the
outskirts of population centers such as Jerusalem and Tel
Aviv during its November confrontation with Israel, Hamas
also targeted TV messages of anti-Jewish, anti-Zionist hate toward
Gaza Strip residents.
A recurring theme on Hamas' official Al Aqsa TV station called for
the killing of Jews, which Hamas defined as a religious Islamic act in
worship of Allah.
So reports Israel-based Palestinian Media Watch.
The upshot is that Hamas' conflict with Israel is as much rooted
in the ideological indoctrination of Gazans as it is in the terrorists'
manifesto of missile blasts, suicide bombings and sniper fire aimed
at Israeli Jews. Hamas is nothing if not brazenly calculated to work
multiple guerilla fronts as part of its brand of terror.
During one Al Aqsa TV music video, the screen showed:
"Killing Jews is worship
that draws us close to Allah."
But that wasn't all.
The same video contained other lyrics tainted
by bluster boasting of "terrifying the Jews" and
glorifying Hamas' fighting wing, the Al Qassam
Brigades. The lyrics preached:
"[Oh] lovers of the trigger:
The Hamas logo
Killing the occupiers [Israelis] is worship that
Allah made into law ..."
Another Hamas TV song hailed killing Jews while extolling the Al
Qassam Brigades. It went:
"Brigades, we kidnap soldiers. Brigades, we kill Jews."
The song was broadcast in Arabic, but Hebrew appeared on
the screen so Israelis understood what was being expressed.
Simultaneously, the screen showed not just pictures of Israelis being
attacked, but also an Israeli funeral. Went the song:
"Your body parts are scattered everywhere."
"The cemeteries await you."
Not surprisingly, the song put out a call to seize the land on which
Israel sits – to "destroy the usurper's dens," "set fire to the oppres-
sors" and "get [our] country back."
Ceasefire or not, the incitement stormed on. The day after Hamas
signed an agreement with Israel to stop the hostilities, a different
music video borrowed from the past to spread airwaves poison:
"Repeat in the name of your jihad: Death to Israel."
This video included explosions and Hamas rockets as the song
called to "destroy Israel" – "the house of absolute evil" and "the
enemies of humanities."
Hamas calling to kill Jews is not new. But the longer it pushes that
vitriol, the worse chances become of the Israel-Gaza border ever
turning peaceful, temporary ceasefires or not.
The hard reality is that only when Hamas, whose charter seeks
Israel's destruction, ceases to lead the Gaza Strip would that unfor-
tunate front for one of Iran's better-known terrorist cells ever have
hope for achieving a progressive, 21st-century way of life.
This Chanukah, which begins at sundown Dec. 8, let us remember
how the Jews, led by revolutionary leader Judah Maccabee, fought
off a relentless army of Syrian-Greeks led by a king, Antiochus, who
sought to Hellenize the Jews and control the Holy Land 21 centuries
ago. The Jewish triumph brought rededication of the Second Temple
in Jerusalem.
Chanukah is a vivid reminder that Jews have been targets through-
out the ages – Masada, the Crusades, the Inquisition, the pogroms, the
Holocaust – yet have survived and thrived no matter how horrific the
Hamas is underestimating the unity, determination and strength of
the Jewish people.

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