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 Posted Saturday, April 3, 1999

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March 31, 1999

Needs of Holocaust survivors are ignored

MailI AGREE with D.M. Schonberger (CJN, Dec. 24) that the remarks of Irving Abella were deeply offensive. To refer to the Holocaust as a "metaphor" in education (CJN, Dec. 3), whatever his meaning, is an insult to all of us who lost members of our family.

Unfortunately his insensitive words reflect the attitude of an elite group of Jewish leaders, who for many years avoided Holocaust education, as if it had never happened, and later appeared to use it as a bargaining position.

For this reason, many of us who returned from the services in 1945, remained ignorant of the mass killings in Nazi death camps until years later.

It is no wonder that leaders capable of seeing the Holocaust simply as a metaphor have little empathy or concern for the welfare of survivors, most of whom were people with real and immediate needs. The larger question that should be addressed then, appears to be: "Who should speak for the Canadian Jewish community?" Diaspora Jews are not a nation with democratically elected leaders, and it seems clear that the policies and practices of our self-appointed ones do not represent the best and most humane principles of our people.

Now of course, Abella can proudly state, "It would be inappropriate to end the 20th century arguing over how to divvy up assets." Does he mean that the struggle to make ends meet for needy Holocaust survivors would be inappropriate after 1999? Or that those who have robbed them are now fighting over the spoils?

Samuel Levy, Ph.D.

Our opinion
 THE Canadian Jewish News is the chief news outlet of Canada's Jewish community. The Irving Abella referred to (and roundly criticized) in the letter is a history professor and second from last head of the influential lobby group, the Canadian Jewish Congress.

If you write to a newspaper don't forget: 1. keep it short; 2. add your mail address and a daytime telephone number; they will not print it otherwise.

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© Focal Point 1999 e-mail:  write to David Irving