By Felix Quigley
June 20, 2008
This is a very amazing story, and although it may not seem on the surface to be, it has got great implications for the Jewish struggle for national liberation and freedom.
The wonderful Jewish news service IsraelNationalNews has just carried a story concerning a Jewish man of whom very little is known outside of Israeli and Jewish circles, and sometimes if truth be told not even there as well.
It concerns a man called Hillel Kook and his memory and it involves what is known as Yad Vashem, which is the authority set up to conserve the memory of the Holocaust (in the words of Google…Yad Vashem’s task is to perpetuate the legacy of the Holocaust to future generations so that the world never forgets the horrors and cruelty …)
[start quote here]
The family of Hillel Kook – known in the United States as Peter Bergson – has asked Yad Vashem to recognize his public actions and campaign against the Nazis during World War II. These include a Rabbis’ March on the White House demanding action to save Europe’s Jews.
Nearly a year ago, the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. agreed to recognize the activities of the Bergson group, also known as the Emergency Committee to Save the Jewish People of Europe.
Kook’s family presented Yad Vashem with a petition signed by 100 public figures, including MKs Ophir Paz-Pines and Yossi Beilin, as well as former Supreme Court Chief Justice Meir Shamgar. Yad Vashem, however, has responded coldly thus far, saying, “The work of the group headed by Hillel Kook is well-known, but Yad Vashem does not plan its museum exhibits based on pressure and petitions.”
A book published in 2002 by David S. Wyman and Rafael Medoff entitled “A Race Against Death: Peter Bergson, America, and the Holocaust,” showed that it was Bergson and his colleagues who goaded and shamed the Roosevelt administration into finally establishing the War Refugee Board – which helped save more than 200,000 lives during the final 18 months of World War II.
Kook, son of Afula’s first Chief Rabbi, Dov Kook, and a nephew of the famed Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, was a Knesset Member in the 1st Knesset, in Menachem Begin’s Herut party.
Among his prominent activities designed to raise real-time awareness of the Holocaust massacres was a massive march by 400 Orthodox rabbis on the White House in 1943, demanding U.S. Government action to save Jews from Hitler. The march was the only protest demonstration calling for Holocaust rescue activities ever held in Washington during World War II.
In pre-Israel Palestine in the 1930’s and 40’s, Kook was one of the young commanders of the Etzel organization, which conducted a policy of actively reacting to Arab attacks, as opposed to the Haganah-led restraint that was prevalent in that period. When the Holocaust started, Kook went to the U.S. on behalf of Etzel in an attempt to save Jews. His efforts to convince the Jewish and governmental establishments that the tragedy in Europe was much greater than was being reported began to bear fruit only around 1944
[end of quote]
Read whole article “Vad Yashem is asked to recognize Hillel Kook” by Hillel Fendel
The operative words in the above are of course the following:
” Yad Vashem, however, has responded coldly thus far,”
Why on earth should Vad Yashem respond coldly! This man was an absolute hero! He alone out of the whole of the Jewish community fought a battle against the Holocaust, to bring the reality of what was happening, and place it in front of the ordinary American people.
This was totally necessary because the US and British Imperialist Governments who were fighting against the Nazi Fascists were doing so in order to look after their own interests only.
Information was brought out from the Nazi occupied areas in Poland about the death camps and their operations. Special envoys had asked that the British and Americans should bomb the railway lines leading to the camps at a time when they had complete control of the skies. They could very easily have done this. The US and the Brits declined.
Meanwhile the Jewish leaders in America, part of a Jewish established elite, were in an alliance with the American Government, always a very unhealthy situation to place yourself in. The campaign of Kook was a direct challenge to this.
The amazing thing is that apparently this has not been forgotten, or forgiven, by the present establishment Jewish elite in the US. And that is the explanation for the “cold” response mentioned above.
On this I very much recommend much of the writing of Francisco Gil White.
For example see http://www.hirhome.com/israel/leaders1.htm
Finally please visit the link on Israelnationalnews above because it carries a video which I have yet to view myself.
Great people do great things as that is what they love the most and that is what they are the best at. They do not care for recognition, praise, or the Nobel peace prize. Hillel Kook, a man responsible for saving more than 200,000 jews(in addition to his contributions post war) is not spoken about, and recognized the way he should have been. Even now the stigma exists about him as Yad Vashem or the Holocaust museum is only considering honoring him after 63 years of the Holocaust. It is sad that such a man of commitment and sacrifice, has been ignored. He was the brain and finance behind Raoul Wallenburg, one of the greatest Holocaust rescuers in Budapest, when the Nazi and Arrow cross party’s genocide program had severly intensified during the late hours of the war. If appreciation to noble deeds is based on personal likes and dislikes, then we are no better than farm animals. HIlllel Kook and his Bergsonites deserve a praise and honor than what one can think of. He is one of the greatest unsung heroes.