From Gush Shalom
The State of Israel has no oil wells. It has no gold mines. What has it got? It has the ownership of the remembrance of the Holocaust.
That is worth a lot. Everyone who wants to clean himself from the stain needs a certificate from the State of Israel. Such a document is worth very much. And the larger the guilt of the applicant, the higher the price of the dispensation.
What does that remind us of?
FOR MANY centuries the Catholic Church sold "dispensations." These were documents issued by the pope and the cardinals, which allowed the recipient to dispense with religious duties or to do things forbidden by the church.
The most notorious case is that of Henry VIII, king of England. The pope gave him a dispensation that allowed him to marry a Spanish princess, even though she had a remote family connection with him, contrary to church law. But when he wanted to divorce her in order to marry the daughter of an English nobleman, the Pope denied him the necessary dispensation. The result was the split between the Catholic Church and the independent Church of England, in which the King (or Queen) acts as a kind of pope.
The trouble was that, in time, the issuing of dispensations became a high-class business, from which the pope and lesser priests became rich. This situation caused the rebellion of Martin Luther and the other reformers, who created independent new churches.
THE LEADERS of Israel, headed by Binyamin Netanyahu, now act like the pope in former times: they sell Holocaust dispensations.
Netanyahu did not invent the business. He inherited it from his predecessors. It started with David Ben-Gurion, soon after the end of World War II, when he made a deal with the German chancellor, Konrad Adenauer. Ben-Gurion declared that there is a "New Germany," which is totally kosher, and in return the Germans paid the State of Israel three billion marks as compensation, as well as individual pensions to survivors.
I, too, received a small payment for "lost education," and my parents received a monthly pension which made the rest of their life bearable.
In the eyes of Ben-Gurion, this was a purely economic matter. The new State of Israel had no money, the German compensation helped it to survive the first years.
But behind the deal there was hidden another decision. Israel, as is well-known, is a "Jewish State." The government of Israel wears two crowns: it is the government of a sovereign state and it sees itself as the leader of the world-wide Jewish Diaspora. The ideological assumption is that these two tasks are one and the same.
But that is a fiction. From time to time there arises a matter which shows a divergence between the interests of Israel and those of the Diaspora. On all these occasions, the interests of Israel take precedence.
SUCH A situation has arisen now.