Israeli Holocaust Survivors Split Over Iran’s Acknowledgement of Nazi Crimes

Some Cheer Hassan Rowhani's Acceptance of History

Chava Hershkovitz, winner of last year’s Miss Holocaust Survivor pageant, sees reason for hope.
nathan jeffay
Chava Hershkovitz, winner of last year’s Miss Holocaust Survivor pageant, sees reason for hope.

By Nathan Jeffay

Published October 05, 2013, issue of October 11, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Israel has brusquely dismissed Iran’s moves away from the Holocaust denial of its previous president. But actual Holocaust survivors in Israel are divided on how to react to the development.

“Personally, for me, it was important — it made me feel something,” said Chava Hershkovitz, 80, at the Yad Ezer L’Haver home for survivors in Haifa.

Hershkovitz, winner of last year’s Miss Holocaust Survivor pageant, was one of several survivors interviewed who saw some reason for hope in the recent statements of Iranian leaders. ““I think the population in Iran will understand Israelis and Jews better.” It could acquire a sense of “why we’re so scared,” she added, and soften towards Israel.

In contrast, Jerusalemite Chaim Maltz said that he doesn’t need anyone to validate his experiences. “As far as I’m concerned it’s irrelevant to me — I know what happened.”

Maltz, 77, thought that Iran was using Holocaust recognition to ingratiate itself with the West while continuing its anti-Western and anti-Israel agenda. “I think they want a caliphate, to knock out our state, and this may be a way towards this,” he said. “I don’t really care what they say because they are our enemies.”

The diverse reactions underlined the diverse nature of Israeli Holocaust survivors themselves. Often caricatured as a monolithic group, the survivors’ responses to the Iranian leaders’ recent remarks on the Holocaust is no less complex than those of Israelis in general, albeit with the extra twist of personal experience.

Though the issue of Iran’s nuclear program remains front and center as the core of Israel’s concerns about Iran, Israelis have been decrying the Islamic Republic’s position on the Shoah for many years. Iran’s former president, Mahmoud Ahamdinejad, frequently voiced his doubts in public about the historical reality of the Holocaust.

And for Israel, the issue acquired so much significance that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cited it as part of the reason he ordered the country’s United Nations representatives to boycott the September 24 speech by Ahmadinejad’s recently elected successor, President Hassan Rouhani, to the world body’s General Assembly.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.