Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau has come out in support of the government’s program to deport illegal migrants and rejecting the tactic employed by anti-deportation campaigners to “remember the Holocaust.”
“The State of Israel is obliged to help refugees,” Rabbi Lau told Yediot Aharonot on Sunday. “But let’s distinguish between refugees and work [seeking] migrants.”
“And let’s not distort or deny the Holocaust,” Rabbi Lau said of the campaign which has sought to compare deportation of the African migrants to refugees from the Nazi persecution.
“We need to bear in mind the [Talmudic] dictum that ‘The poor people living in your own city come first’,” said Rabbi Lau. “And we have many people in the State of Israel who need to be cared for – citizens of the State [of Israel]. I’m thinking of the disabled, whom we aren’t always able to support; the Holocaust survivors living amongst us – including some in disgraceful conditions. And I’m also talking about the residents of south Tel Aviv.”
Thirty-six Holocaust survivors were enlisted in the opposition to the government’s policy last week, signing a letter against the deportations.
In a letter of response to the survivors, Rabbi David Stav, founder of Tzohar, wrote:
“I think we need to treat Holocaust survivors with a lot of respect for their determination and heroism, but nevertheless, it is inconceivable to compare the murder of children, women and men in crematoria and in gas chambers and a political, moral and social issue. This comparison is particularly outrageous.”
Rabbi Stav further warned that “if we start to compare the actions of the Nazis and the handling of the refugees, then others will begin to compare the [Israel’s] control over Yehudah and Shomron to the Vichy regime [that collaborated with Nazi Germany in World War II].” He said that within the national discourse, it must be clear “that the Holocaust was something unique and beyond compare.”
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked also condemned the Holocaust comparisons, saying that they were a “disgrace,” made her “sick,” and showed “contempt for the Holocaust.”