Holocaust survivor denounces refugee deportation
With hundreds protesting outside houses of government officials against recent decision to expel African asylum seekers, one protester stands out—a Holocaust survivor, trying to come to terms with 'criminal' state policies concerning people she says represent the history of the Jewish people.
Trying to strike a chord with the people who promoted, supported or willfully ignored the government's decision to expel African asylum seekers, demonstrators marched and stationed themselves near the houses of Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Chairman of the Knesset's Labor, Welfare and Health Committee MK Eli Elalouf.
Standing out among the rest was Veronica Cohen, a Holocaust survivor, who stood silently, holding a sign reading, "This Holocaust survivor remembers what it means to be a Jew and remembers what it means to be an asylum seeker."
"We are facing the greatest of crimes; to deport them to a place where they are likely to die," said Cohen, one of the protesters stationed outside Deri's house in Paris Square, Jerusalem.
"I ask myself, I ask my people, I ask my brothers and sisters: tell me, how can that be?" Veronica added, asking how is it possible for Jews to forget their past and "join in on this crime."
In an interview with Ynet, Cohen thanked the organizers of the demonstration for giving her a "place to express something I feel that every person with a conscience, and certainly all Holocaust survivors, must stand up and say: This cannot be allowed."
"It cannot be that we will be a people that expel people to their death. It just cannot be," she stressed. "I cannot live with the thought of them taking women, children, men, and forcefully driving them away to a place where suffering and even death awaits them. It's as simple as that."
Another who stood out at Paris Square was Rabbi Micha Odenheimer, a renowned social activist and journalist.
Odenheimer directly attacked Deri, calling his devoutness into question.
"What makes you Jewish?" he shouted outside Deri's residence. "Judaism is not just about kashrut and niddah (Jewish laws). Judaism is not just rituals and marriage. Where is the Aryeh Deri who took care of the transparent?
"The (1951) Refugee Convention was held over the situation of the Jews after the Holocaust. This is blasphemy."