Remembering the Holocaust in Ukraine: Never Forget

The following is a transcript of Episode 91 of the Identity Crisis Podcast. Note: This is a lightly edited transcript of a conversation, please excuse any errors.

Yehuda: Hi everyone. Welcome to Identity Crisis, a show about news and ideas from the Shalom Hartman Institute. I’m Yehuda Kurtzer and we’re recording on Monday, March 7th, 2022. 

“Never again” and “Never forget.” Two slogans of Jewish and our global maternity that have been with us with all sorts of implied and sometimes explicit, moral, political, and religious consequences for over 80 years. See Jews have actually been saying a version of never forget for thousands of years, actually hearkening back to the attacks against the Israelites, by the devious and demonic Amalekites in the wilderness, as recounted in the book of Exodus and which then became a religious mandate, carried forth into our celebration of the book of Esther on Purim until this day. 

There’s also the obligation in the Bible to remember that we were slaves in Egypt, of course, which defines Passover, which is just a little further down the schedule in this memory season of the Jewish calendar we’re now in. So whether it’s remembering Amalek or remembering our oppression in Egypt, Jews have burdened ourselves for a long time with memory and its obligations, whether in telling the story or in living lives, which enact these values and these commitments. But “never again,” the phrase “never again” is newer than “never forget.” And since the Shoah, since the Holocaust, it’s everywhere, Elie Wiesel used the phrase, never again, often in his own words, as a vow of sorts, American presidents have used it often as well, but if never again, meant to convey some sort of universal commitment to prevent genocide, it utterly failed, in Cambodia, in Rwanda, in Darfour, in Bosnia, and elsewhere. 

Meir Kahane, meanwhile, popularized the phrase in the Jewish community, never again, but to very different ends. For Kahanem it was a way of saying that never again will Jews fail to fight back against our own victimization. Meantime, never again has found even more recent usage in other universalized contexts about American gun violence, about the immigration detention debate, in general never again has gotten caught up in the web of some of our society’s thorniest moral debates between universal and particular commitments and in the Jewish community specifically, between those who want to use that phrase to talk about our responsibility towards Jews in a time of distress, and those who would prefer to universalize it as a principle for all humankind.

And what does it actually mean as we watch a war of conquest by an aggressive superpower today in the news in Eastern Europe of all places, the birthplace of never again. I’m struggling with this personally, both emotionally and practically. As a Zionist I know that this ideology has fueled a lot of Israel’s security consciousness since its founding.

And I’m basically okay with that, so long as it’s always defensive and protective. It’s a diaspora Jew, I worry that if never again, never passes the tests of moral and particular responsibility, it’s just a slogan. Even as I know that there are limited avenues for me personally, and for us as Americans to envision or actualize a different strategy than the American administration is currently pursuing in response to this war from so many miles away. 

So we have essentially the worst of both worlds. An epigenetic trauma about the past, which obligates us to act in the presence and a tremendous sense of powerlessness or at least confusion about what that obligation should actually entail. And of course we Jews over here are not the only inheritors of this complicated past Ukrainian Jews are victimized by the Russian attack though it’s not actually about them. 

Then again, Putin has used the phrase de-Nazification to justify the attack, as though he is the protector against the rise of Nazi style antisemitism. This invasion is reacquainting many of us who are very far away with the sacred Jewish geography of our relatively recent past, reminding us of our heritage.

Both as it continues to house living and breathing Jewish communities, and as it resurfaces images of its destroyed past in the images we now see, of abandoned synagogues and destroyed Hillel houses. Meantime Ukrainians and Russians and Poles and Lithuanians and other neighboring countries, they have their own politics of memory of the second world war and the Holocaust, which hover right above our news cycle, daring us to pretend that we Jews are the only ones who remember.

I’m really honored and excited that my colleague and friend Paul Shapiro is joining us today, uh, as a guest on Identity Crisis. Since 2016, Paul has served as the first director of the office of international affairs at the United States Holocaust Memorial museum in Washington, DC, with the goal of enhancing the museum’s international presence and impact.

For the previous 20 years, where I met Paul, he was the director of the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel center for advanced Holocaust studies at the museum. Previously, he had spent time at the state department and the USIA. He’s an author of a monograph on the Kishinev ghetto, a major leader around the world on Holocaust memory and memorialization and internationally decorated to that end.

Paul, thanks for joining us. And let me start by asking you a big question, but a simple one. What is the scope of never, again, as you understand it, whether it’s for us as Jews or for us as Americans? 

Paul: Thank you, Yehuda. It’s really wonderful to be with you today. to see you again. Look, never again and never forget are intertwined with one another. And your introductory remarks really made that clear. Uh, never again, depends on whose obligation you’re talking about. From a Jewish perspective, most often, I think the term has been used, never again should we find ourselves in a situation where we are isolated and helpless. Now that of course has led to the state of Israel, the policies of the state of Israel, on the one hand, and it’s led to the direct participation and enthusiastic participation of Jews in democratic countries, in the societies of those countries, in the politics of those countries, and the cultures of those countries.

So for Jews, it is don’t find yourself isolated, don’t find yourself helpless. And that has played out the entire post-war period, as I’ve just said. 

Ellie Weisel often used the term, never again, in parallel with never forget. I knew him very well. If he had the time to expound further on that, he would say that never again is an admonition to the world to not remain silent. He told the story of his own experience. And he often said, if we had known that what was waiting for us was mass murder and death we’d have hidden ourselves, we’d have acted differently.

So the obligation for the rest of the world to not forget is to not forget that you must not be silent. Don’t fail to do what you can. Speak up, even if what you’re able to do turns out to be limited in terms of saving people, your moral and ethical responsibility is to be involved and not remain silent. And I think in the situation that we’re in today, uh, we face the dilemma that that definition presents, we certainly are not keeping secret what was happening. 

You know, in World War II, there was a lots of information available to allied governments about the mass murder of Jews. It was available quite early and in quite powerful form. And yet those governments didn’t mobilize that information with the general public or, sad to say, in its own policies. Today, the picture of what is being done by the forces of the Russian Federation in Ukraine are all over the news. Our leadership, very eloquent, I think in describing what’s happening. At the same time, of course, there are limits to what it is possible to do because of the military situation there, because of the nuclear situation that the world finds itself in.

Finally, I would say that never again means fulfilling your own responsibility from a Jewish perspective it has a certain angle. From the broader international perspective, the humankind perspective, it’s slightly different. What you cannot do is sit by and do nothing. Doing nothing is not a neutral act, doing nothing empowers the killer. 

Yehuda: You’re drawing a powerful distinction, which I hadn’t thought about before of never, again, as a particular call to action versus never again as a kind of call for narration, for telling the story for making things public. And sometimes you are in position, I think many individuals feel this right now, I’m not as an individual in position to change the American administration’s calculus, around its form of intervention or not intervention. 

I do have a responsibility to pay attention, to speak, to make noise, to make sure that all of the costs are transparent. And I, I guess the thing that, um, I I’m so scared of Paul truly is, um, I don’t know whether what’s happening in Russia will turn into a genocide.

Um, I, there is no indication that it is or that it will. Um, but there’s always going to be moments that are, I’ll very crudely call them, “bomb the train track” moments, and that’s the kind of classic example with respect to the FDR administration, had they bombed the train track to Auschwitz, it would have had a huge material effect on the perpetration of the final solution. So I guess, the thing that I’m scared of, and I wonder if you have insight on, is how do we, as people who are paying attention to this and trying to be public and noisy about what we are scared of and what we are seeing, how are we going to know when we reach a moment of a kind of no return for the perpetration of some terrible thing that then we’re going to feel 30 years later, 40 years later, that anxiety that maybe we didn’t speak out enough. How do we know when we reach those points?

Paul: The situation is an evolving situation. You can’t know for sure 

Yehuda: Hm. 

Paul: What you can commit to, is providing some form of humanitarian assistance in the immediate period. And I think that many organizations have stepped forward to do that. And I think many individuals are contributing to try to help these poor people, whether they are Jewish or not Jewish, who are being massively displaced. That of course is a direct echo of the Holocaust period.

You use the term genocide and here is the nub of the issue, Vladimir Putin, in his rambling explanation and rationalization of what he was doing said again and again, there is no Ukrainian people. Well, you can’t be more genocidal than that. To deny the nationality of a nation, a nation with a long history happens to be a long history that’s involved having lots of Jews mixed into the society. Their denial of the existence of Ukrainian nation, that’s something that shows genocidal intent. The reality is, there is a Ukrainian nation. Ukrainians will be on the ground in Ukraine, and that reality in the end will win out. But in the long term, I’m afraid, not in the immediate term. 

Yehuda: You know, one of the ways that I experienced the museum where, you know, you’ve been for quite some time and a major leader in the creation of the museum, and since then. One of the ways I experienced the narrative that the museum tells is that it’s kind of a museum to the importance of interventionism. It has that quality to it. As an American museum, it tells the story of not only the Holocaust, but America’s entry into the war.

It kind of culminates with the story of the GIs. It’s situated very powerfully on the mall in Washington and therefore there are kind of overall messages, this isn’t merely quote unquote, a monument to a genocide that took place in Europe. It’s a monument to the importance of the Holocaust as part of the American story.

Uh, you created this office for international affairs, presumably with the mission of, and I would love for you to talk about this, kind of bringing the message of the Holocaust into international considerations and maybe even into domestic political considerations. So I’m curious if you could reflect a little bit on what voice the museum is supposed to play in moments like this, precisely around awareness or even overtly, politically pushing towards a greater involvement or engagement to prevent something like what happened eighty years ago from taking place again in Europe. 

Paul: The museum’s first obligation is to ensure the authenticity of the history of the Holocaust as it is presented, as it’s taught to encourage research about the history and of course, to encourage memorialization of the victims. In doing that, we secure that never forget. Remember the victims, remember what happened. And at the same time we give meaning to that experience in the contemporary national and international setting, and by doing that, at least in my mind, and maybe from a Jewish perspective, we’re giving meaning to the existence of people who didn’t have a chance to fulfill their own special meaning in life, their own special goals, their own potential. So there’s a kind of mitzvah involved there. 

One of the things that we do internationally is encourage other countries, especially countries where the Holocaust took place to confront their own histories. We try to do it by example, and by encouragement. Today, the special exhibition that is at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum is called Americans and the Holocaust.

And it is a revelation of what Americans knew, what Americans did, what Americans didn’t do, what our government knew, what our government did and sad to say, mostly what our government didn’t do, when confronted with the genocide of the Jews of Europe, as it was taking place. It’s very hard to show a population that wants to believe that its own society and its own government always makes the right choices.

I mean, we all wish that we would always make the right choices, but that exhibit is quite a hard lesson for Americans, as they see our failure to admit refugees. Well, contrast it with what’s happening today. As they see the paperwork, the mountain of paperwork that was required of people who were running for their lives to find a place of safety, we can measure what’s happening today against that benchmark. 

In Ukraine, it’s quite quite interesting, that in spite of a history that includes many instances of extreme anti-Semitism. You can go back to Bohdan Khmelnytsky in the 17th century and look at the few years of independent Ukraine at the end of world war one. And think about the, the decades of Soviet official antisemitism after the war. It’s quite extraordinary that in that country, over the past decade, there has been quite an active movement in the direction of confronting the history of the Holocaust in Ukraine and educating the population about that.

There is a center for Holocaust studies at the national university, the Taras Shevchenko National University. You would look a long time to find a similar center in the Russian Federation. There’s quite an active movement today to build a Memorial institution. Let’s call it analogous to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum at Babyn Yar, which is the site of one of the major mass shootings of Jews in Ukraine.

We encourage those activities. We fail if that culture of remembrance and learning from the past doesn’t exist in the countries where the Holocaust took place. 

Yehuda: So a big piece of what you’re describing of the museum’s legacy, internationally, is essentially on the never forget column. Right? If we divide between the never forget and the never again, where we know right, that there’s meant to be a relationship between those two things. Once we create cultures of memory and memorialization, it should have the effect of acclimating us towards the culture of never again, right, that we don’t allow these types of things to take place in our midst. 

So I want to come back to the Eastern European situation a second, but I want to go back to the America side first, if we can, which you alluded to the piles of paperwork that faced refugees when they were coming into America, during the second world war, the amount of Jews who were turned away.

And I, I have to ask, like, how are we doing? We’re, we’re very good at the Memorialization Process here in America, but I genuinely don’t know whether it actually works. Has it really changed American attitudes about immigration? We take many fewer refugees than many other countries in the world that are much smaller than us.

There’s this phenomenon that takes place where somebody says an antisemitic thing and they go through this ritual of coming to the Holocaust museum in Washington as though it should work. Most recent example was Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Green, who, you know, and, on Twitter it was, well, I guess the visits to the museum didn’t work, um, you know, came out, following that visit and continuing to double down her antisemitic comments.

So we tend to think that it’s going to work, Paul, that like we’ll, we’ll, we’ll create this culture of memorialization and policy will change and attitudes will change, but I’m worried that it doesn’t actually happen. Are we as Americans, even if the lesson, for instance, is not military intervention, if let’s say the lesson was wow, we should radically transform our refugee and asylum seeker policy today as the biggest country with the most resources to take in the most possible people, I just don’t see it happening.

And it makes me really worried that the bridge between never forget and never again, doesn’t actually get domesticated in us that we’re able to absorb it. 

Paul: One thing is for sure you heard there’s no straight line. You can make progress vis-a-vis immigration and it can be turned back quite easily. If there are people in positions of power who want to make that the case. That doesn’t mean that you can stop pursuing that goal of respect for every individual, equality of treatment of individuals, whatever their religion, whatever their color. We are not perfect in that regard. I would say that we’ve been through a period of slippage when issues relating to people who are different, let’s call it that. Differen in race, different in religion, different because they’re not American citizens, their treatment has been politicized. It’s still politicized. There seems to be a movement today, in a more positive direction than we’ve had over the, say the last five or six years. 

But of course that needs to become a reality. The Congress is debating whether to lift the quota on immigrants from Ukraine so that we can legally bring refugees to the United States. It’s not a sure thing. There seems to be a lot of support for it. I think we’ve got to ask the question, whether a crisis of this size in an African country would generate the same feeling of responsibility and welcome. 

Uh, this is just the reality of our life. What’s for sure, however, is that the chance for correct decisions, positive decisions, lifesaving decisions to be made, is much greater in a democratic society with all of the trials and tribulations that we’ve got, than in an authoritarian society, you know, someone described fascism, Yale professor described fascism as a, as a system in which one person said he had all the answers and everyone else was required to keep silent.

While we are not in that society, on the other hand, if you look in the Russian Federation today, you do have that situation and it enables the kind of brutality that we’re seeing in Ukraine. We’re also seeing it in the Russian Federation.

So I think in the US today, we’re moving in a more positive direction and it’s important. And I, so appreciate your asking this question. It’s important not to see what’s happening in Ukraine as solely a military issue. It’s a human issue of the greatest magnitude. And we have a responsibility to respond in a human way that, uh, actually recognizes the dignity of every human being.

Yehuda: So let’s, shift back to this work that you described underway in trying to, uh, kind of inculcate a Holocaust consciousness, and a Holocaust memory into these places. And I guess the place where there has been at least the most news coverage about the politics of memory has been about Poland and meantime, a million and a half now, Ukrainian refugees, the largest number of refugees in the smallest period of time I believe in history, um, and a great number of them are fleeing into Poland. 

Uh, there’ve been multiple news stories over the last number of years prompted by a law passed in Poland,  kind of colloquially known as the Holocaust law, which prevents memorialization of the Holocaust from disparaging Poland’s role in the Holocaust.

And you know, I guess a similar law hasn’t been passed in Ukraine, but the same type of story is that play of the question of national complicity between Ukraine and Poland and other countries to the Nazis, whether on an individual level or even on a national and collective level. I guess I’d love for you to unpack this a little bit. What happens to this story when Poland is able to present itself as now the receiver of refugees, that of Ukraine, even as it has been kind of contesting the notion that many of us who study this history know that there is greater Polish responsibility for the Holocaust.

So how do you parse that very sensitive divide of trying to help the Poles? And I’ll put it like this. We don’t want the Poles to do Holocaust memory if they’re going to do a bad job, but that’s worse. Um, and at the same time, they’re essentially now on the good side of this story as being the receiver of all of these refugees.

So maybe you can unpack some of the politics of what that work looks like. 

Paul: The foundation remains insuring the authenticity of information about the Holocaust as it actually took place. And for decades after the fall of communism, Poland was a leader in that regard. Polish government has supported in remarkable ways the preservation of the death camps that the Nazis built in occupied Poland, and they have been used for education purposes, showing both the victimization of Jews and the victimization of Poles and others.

And that is reality. That was the historical reality. The government of Poland was the principle funder of the POLIN museum, museum of history of Polish Jews. As that museum was developing, of course, there were some controversies about content, but in the end, the exhibitions that are there are accurate and very powerful, both in terms of the long Jewish history in Poland, in terms of the Holocaust.

And even in terms of the post-war antisemitism in Poland, that, resulted in survivors of the Holocaust leaving Poland, even in the 1960s quite large numbers. So on the one hand you have a situation where Polish society, Polish government, have been very, very supportive. We have at the Holocaust museum, millions of pages of documents, copied from Polish public archives relating to the Holocaust, every aspect of what happened on the ground in Poland. And I think that, uh, it’s important to recognize that reality. Now it’s also true that politics can intrude. The draft law that you described generated huge pushback and the law was adjusted a bit to decriminalize the kinds of statements that the government wanted to criminalize. It doesn’t mean that civil action is not possible in those cases, this having to do basically with the involvement of Poles, of some Poles, in, uh, the final solution.

That was a few years ago. Just this past week, president of Poland vetoed a law that had passed through the Sejm, through the Polish parliament, that would have mandated a somewhat distorted presentation of Holocaust related events in public schools. So there is no straight line. What we have to do, and you’ve asked this question a few times, what we have to do is speak up when the real history, the documentable history is challenged in some ways.

And the museum does that. We do it in many ways, sometimes through public statements. We’ve definitely made our voice heard publicly, most recently with, President Putin, totally distorting the realities of the Holocaust in his rationalization of aggression in Ukraine. So sometimes it’s public statement, and the Memorial to the murder Jews of Europe in Berlin is the German partner, together with the more visibly governmental organizations, like the department of say foreign ministry, as an example of how the museum can make it’s voice felt and better fulfill its international mission. 

Yehuda: I wonder if you would comment on some of the criticism that’s come out about Yad VaShem and its own complicated response to what’s taking place, which is connected to the fact that Israel is in a politically precarious position vis-a-vis how vociferously it can respond to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, both because of its national security considerations, Russia in Syria, as well as because of various ties that are alleged to various oligarchs. And those include Yad VaShem donors. So I wonder if you could reflect on, not necessarily the rightness or wrongness of how they are responding, but what it is to hold those as political considerations for a museum of the Holocaust. 

Paul: I don’t want to limit what I’m going to say to Yad Vashem, or to any other institution, or to Israel. Some of what we are witnessing today is a result of governments and institutions not responding firmly enough and clearly enough to earlier manifestations of the kinds of aspirations and aggressiveness that have been coming forward from Vladimir Putin and those who surround him for the last couple of decades. It’s not the first assault on the territory of other countries, by the Russian Federation led by Vladimir Putin. Many organizations and governments have been prepared to fall victim to the appeal of financial support from Russian oligarchs who have made their billions of dollars by playing along, and reaping the benefits of relationships with that aggressive figure who we’re seeing today in the Kremlin. Now Yad VaShem is not different from many other institutions and many other governments.

Some of those oligarchs have Israeli citizenship. They function from a platform in Israel. Many international Jewish organizations, as well as other organizations, have accepted financial gifts, huge financial gifts from those individuals. What I know, and here I will speak about Yad VaShem. What I know from my many good friends and colleagues who have been on the staff of Yad VaShem for a long time, that when it appears that Yad VaShem, is prepared to deviate from that dedication to truth and authentic history, internally people object. And I know that sometimes Yad VaShem comes under governmental pressure to do X, Y, or Z or say X, Y, or Z. Most of the time, Yad VaShem says, forget it. We can’t. Occasionally there’s a blip in that screen. And then internally people are vociferously opposed. 

I won’t hide from you that there can be moments when our own institution, us Holocaust Memorial museum is also asked. Our record isn’t perfect. But I can assure you that the staff at the museum from the leadership on down pushes back whenever such a thing happens. We were outspoken at, uh, Vladimir Putin’s distortion of the record of the Holocaust just a couple of weeks ago. We were outspoken when White House statements, commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day, failed to mention the persecution of Jews. 

Outspoken through public statement, we were outspoken when an American administration permitted the Ronald Reagan building to be used by a Holocaust denial Neo Nazi group, simply as a rented meeting space. Uh, so I, I, I know that there’s material in the news now relating exactly to this issue as it plays out in Israel. None of us is perfect. In some ways this will serve as an alert in Israel, not just in Yad VaShem. In Israel, to aspects of the work of those oligarchs, and the role that they are playing. It’s one of the great ironies actually of the moment that many of those people are of Ukrainian Jewish background.

They happen to have made their billions of dollars by working in cahoots with Vladimir Putin. I know that there’s a risk there and the recent event, well, you know, perhaps Yad VaShem has sent up a caution flag that we should all pay attention to. 

Yehuda: I mean, the paradox of adjacency to power, right, is that on one hand is very good for the business of remembering the Holocaust, it attaches us to power. It gives us the ability to convey those messages inside the halls of power. At the same time, it brings in some of its same constraints, partisanship, polarization, misuse, etcetera, on a very different scale.

So you’ve been very generous with your time. I’ll ask you one last question, which is, look, I was so pained, and I can’t imagine how you were feeling about the original news reports, that Babyn Yar had been bombed. And then it was clear that they bombed in the area near the Holocaust Memorial of Babyn Yar.  

I felt this weird, it’s strange to feel relief, right? Uh, oh, a different civilian place was bombed, which means, you know, it’s this, it’s the same thing. It’s just, it happened to not hit a museum of Memorial and I can’t help but shake the feeling as a historian, as a Jew, of this, it’s like they’re bombing an archeological site that hasn’t been fully excavated.

I’d love, if you could just end by telling us, you know, what it feels like to you as a historian, uh, who’s been to these places so many times, to watch the places that we’ve been so focused on holding them as a memory of an atrocity in the past, what it looks like now to see them once again, under fire and even some of the risks I feel of what we still haven’t excavated from these places and what it might feel like those places, once again, become covered in rubble.

Paul: That’s a great question. Look, there was no Holocaust Memorial of any kind at Babyn Yar until 1991. The Soviet Memorial, which was put up in 1976, didn’t mention the victimization of Jews. It was a Memorial to the peaceful Soviet citizens murdered by the Nazi fascists. Uh, that’s the Memorial that is closest to the television tower that was actually the target of the rocket attack. It’s about 900 feet between the two of them. The menorah Memorial, that is actually a Memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. It’s quite a bit further away. It’s well, let’s say 2000 feet away. And it was not touched. Now, there are many other memorials on the side of the Babyn Yar ravine as well.

The importance of creating a real Memorial on that site can’t be overstated. This is a place where in two days in September, 1941, over 33,000 Jews were shot, one by one, into a ravine. The fact that the government of the city of Kiev, the fact that now, it seems actually the national government is willing to participate in the creation of a Memorial institution there. The fact that there are Ukrainian scholars, not just Jewish scholars, working hard on getting it right, at that site? Well, that’s really, that’s really significant. And it speaks to the progress that’s been made in Ukraine in the 30 years of democracy that they’ve managed to have up to now. Remember in Soviet times, the Holocaust was a taboo subject. The state was a purveyor of official state anti-Semitism.

So to be building a memorial to the Jews of Kiev and ultimately to the Jews of Ukraine and remember one and a half million Ukrainian Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, a quarter of all of the victims of the Holocaust. Uh, but this is a powerful statement. And it’s, it’s why both in terms of Holocaust remembrance, and in terms of civic responsibility in Ukraine, that apparent attack on the Memorial generated so much pushback, inside Ukraine and outside. 

What will happen it’s quite difficult to say. I know that in the Jewish world people often see Ukrainians as the worst antisemites. Well, maybe it’s because of Khmelnytsky, more likely it’s because we saw some Ukrainian guards who participated in, the murder of Jews or Ukrainian nationalist movements in world war two that for a time collaborated with the Nazis. I would say that we need to better understand the real history. 

Collaboration in Ukraine took a form that was different from collaboration let’s say, in the Netherlands. In the Netherlands, civil servants had all the records about where Jews lived and Dutch police picked up the Jews and turned them over. It was a much more civilized process. But the degree of collaboration was not different. It in fact was fairly consistent all across Europe. The fact that the Ukrainians in the face of that reputation, that we so often apply to them, I would say wrongly applied to them. The fact that they are involved in Holocaust commemoration and memorialization today is a real statement about what they are trying to make of their country. 

Let me go back to your very first question. It’s a statement about why it’s so important that the world do what it can to help them preserve what they’re building.

Yehuda: Well with that, thank you all for listening to our show this week and special thanks to my guest Paul Shapiro. Identity Crisis is a product of the Shalom Hartman Institute. It was produced this week by David Zvi Kalman and edited by M Louis Gordon with assistance from Miri Miller and Shalhevet Schwartz, and music provided by so called. 

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