YAD VASHEM MUSEUM AND THE 8-METER HIGH WALL A FEW KILOMETERS AWAY: ISRAEL AND MEMORIES 2007-2008
By William Walker
Almost anyone who has ever been involved in Holocaust studies knows what Yad Veshem is. It is a museum complex which was started in Israel decades ago to recall the history, background and repercussions of the NAZI-led holocaust on European Jews and Jewry seven decades ago.
In 2007, the Museum Complex Yad Vashem in Israel received the Spanish national prize for education and peace, the Premio Prinicipe de la Concordia. This was an important step for Spain to take as at this very junction in history the entire land is the leading representative of growing anti-semanticist attitudes towards Jews and Muslims on the continent.
Ironically, in contrast to the current-rating of European Union surveys, which have indicated that Spain has the highest rate of anti-Semitism in Europe, Spain’s record during WWII during the time of the Nazis had been somewhat different.
Accordingly, on the serving of the award this past September 2007, Israeli representatives concurred that, unlike many other states in Europe during WWII, Spain had provided both regular refuge and temporary refuge for Jews fleeing from across continental Europe.
Meanwhile, that same month in Madrid on the 24th of September an international conference opened under the title: “The Holocaust and its Significance for Our Times”.
While I laud much of the mission of Yad Veshem and of the direction of conferences in Madrid on the Holocaust’s historiography this past September 2007, I feel that one really needs to visit both Yad Vashem and the massive Israeli Barrier Walls around Palestine nearby to really understand what symbolism these cement-brick monoliths hold in the current cultural war involving peoples of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish background as of 2007 and 2008.
MASSIVE CEMENT MONOLITHS
The main display building of Yad Vashem was renovated a few years back.
In creating this newest central structure--formed completely of unadorned cement of over 8-meters in length (i.e. in triangular form) on three sides , Yad Vashem Museum complex has symbolically mirrored the great and horrible barriers being constructed and consecrated under the watch of Israeli security forces on Palestinian land throughout the Holy Land over the past half-decade.
Much of these so-called Security Barrier Walls are ugly and cut right through neighborhoods in and around biblical places and religious sites, like Hebron, Bethlehem, Ramallah and near Nazareth—“uglifying” the landscape and ghettoizing a great proportion of the population of inhabitants of the Holy Land in 2007-2008.
Unadorned concrete also covered much of German architecture after WWII as the peoples of post-war Germany sought a modern form of simplified architecture to create a new people, society and culture upon.
Unadorned concrete churches and public buildings blossomed across formerly Nazi-controlled Europe as a means of trying to forget—not remember—the recent past of horror.
Then in 1961, East Germany built a monument to divisions between brotherly peoples— a division which history demanded be torn down down three decades later to the delight of the entire planet.