Holocaust Survivor Hajo Meyer Condemns Modern ‘Zionism’
By Jordan Friedman; Posted: 02/10/2011
Hajo Meyer — an author, political activist and Auschwitz concentration camp survivor — compared Israel’s relations with the Palestinians to Nazi relations with Jews during the Holocaust at a conference held at Emory on Wednesday.
Meyer was hosted by the Emory Advocates for Justice in Palestine (EAJP). The appearance was part of the “Never Again for Anyone” tour, which has plans to visit 13 cities in the United States and Canada.
A Holocaust survivor, Meyer drew upon memories of his own past to demonstrate how he believes they relate to events in the present. Meyer left Nazi Germany at the age of 14 and lived as a Jewish refugee for the next three years in the Netherlands. He lived underground and worked with Jewish resistance groups for approximately a year but was eventually betrayed and landed in the Auschwitz concentration camp, where he remained for 10 months. Since then, Meyer has been the director of Philips Electronics, a violin designer and, today, is a writer and speaker for Palestinian rights.
“There are many forms of genocide,” Meyer told the Wheel before the conference, noting that as a teenager, he was unable to attend school in Nazi Germany. “So one form of genocide is preventing young people who want to learn something and want to develop their personality from doing so. Mass deportation is genocide, and hunger is genocide. There are ... many, many forms of it.”
Before the lecture, Meyer also explained that he hopes students and other audience members would come out of the lecture recognizing “that the Holocaust has a lesson. Never genocide on any group, no matter whom it may be.”
Meyer began his speech by stating his views on the differences between Zionism and Judaism. Zionism is usually defined as the movement for Jewish rebirth and sovereignty in Israel, he said.
He said Zionism is in “stark contrast with Judaic ethics; it’s racist and separatist.” He claimed Zionists have one goal: to garner the maximum Palestinian region, but with the minimum number of Palestinians in it.
Meyer said he feels those who support the “inhumane and unjust policies of the Israeli occupation” misuse the Holocaust to justify policies toward the Palestinians.
“They say nobody will ever or has ever suffered as much as they did in the Holocaust,” Meyer said, adding that Zionists have created a “‘monopoly’ that justifies the dispossession of Palestinians.”
According to Meyer, Israel use their suffering during the Holocaust to lessen the “injustice” of their current actions against the Palestinians. Meyer added that he feels students often are not educated enough on the implications of the Holocaust to see a clear connection to events today.
Prior to the Holocaust, Meyer said, Germany “conditioned the dominant society to participation in dehumanization.” For the Jews, he said, that meant arrest without warrant.
“Only those who have been dehumanized through ... brain washing attempt to dehumanize others,” he said.
Similarly, Meyer said he feels the Israelis utilize “indoctrination through propaganda” toward the Palestinian people, a tactic he also compared to those of the Nazi Party.
Meyer also discussed the early roots of Zionism. He said Zionism was founded by Theodore Herzl. It followed European ideas of colonialism and ethnic nationalism. Meyer said Herzl “didn’t even understand a thing about what he was doing, I think.”
In reiterating his belief that Zionism is the opposite of Judaism, Meyer said that unlike Zionism, “modern enlightened Judaism” developed in the 19th and early 20th centuries and spread through central Europe.
College senior Sarah Green, president of Emory Students for Israel, wrote in an e-mail to the Wheel that, as the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, the lecture offended her.
“It is unfortunate that so many pro-Palestinian organizations focus more on spreading anti-Zionism than on drawing attention to the true Palestinian oppressors,” Green wrote.
Other students reacted positively.
“I thought it was interesting,” College freshman Bryan Cronan said. “He was very strong with his opinion, [but] no matter what he said he is a hero for surviving the Holocaust.”
Meyer is a member of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network. He published The End of Judaism in 2003, in which he accuses Israel of misusing the Holocaust’s legacy.
— Contact Jordan Friedman.