Stolen Auschwitz Sign Not "Abomination" No. 1

By Melchett Mike
December 25, 2009

English courts issuing an arrest warrant for Israel's former Foreign Minister, then defining for its Jews who shall and shall not be one of their number. Just another week for the Jews of England.

These decisions were so short-sighted – not to say absurd, discriminatory, and even dangerous – that they don't merit my time. And then readers of melchett mike will ask why I choose to live in Israel!

True, this blog highlights often disagreeable excesses of life here. But they are also largely comical. And I certainly wouldn't swap them for life back in Blighty, which is proving even less 'my' country than I had already thought.

Then, in the early hours of last Friday morning, to cap off another wonderful week for European Jewry, Auschwitz's "Arbeit Macht Frei" sign (right) was half-inched.

Without questioning the sign's symbolic import, some of the immediate Israeli reactions to the theft struck me as more than a little exaggerated or, at the very least, over-hasty. One of Israel's Deputy Prime Ministers (we need two just in case one feels an irresistible urge to embezzle or to rape a member of staff), Silvan Shalom, said it was "an abominable act" that "demonstrates once again hatred and violence against Jews", while Director of Yad Vashem (Holocaust memorial), Avner Shalev, went as far as to brand it "a true declaration of war".

Am I alone in cringing when I hear such knee-jerk pronouncements? And if they sound extreme and ill-conceived to me, what must the average non-Jew make of them? Don't get me wrong, I don't give a hoot what anti-Semites think about us, but why invite ridicule amongst right-thinking people who have no such propensity?

Did Shalom or Shalev even stop to consider that the sign might well have been nicked by a couple of Polish vodka louts? That would not have excused the act, of course, but it would have deeply impacted on its significance. (Indeed, early questioning of the five suspects arrested late on Sunday night suggests that they did not have racial or political motives. And I am not being wise after the event – I wrote this on Saturday.)

Still, you have to commend the efforts of the Polish police to recover the sign. They offered 5,000 zloty – equivalent to $1,700 or £1,050 – for information leading to its return. In spite of the sum not being too being too far off Poland's GDP, there were reports of down-and-outs across southern Poland being overheard discussing whether the reward merited an afternoon off from collecting empty bottles of Żubrówka.

You've gotta love the Poles.

Anyway, for anyone who was more concerned about a piece of wrought iron (for which a replica already existed) than the far-reaching ramifications of last week's Court decisions for Anglo – and, in the case of Tzipi Livni, world – Jewry, might I humbly suggest that they give their priorities a little rethink.


Jonathan Hoffman

Fri, 12/25/2009 - 16:48

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"If they sound extreme and ill-conceived to me, what must the average non-Jew make of them?"

If this Times Editorial is anything to go by, the average right-thinking NJ took the theft pretty seriously too ..............


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