The happiness of children, in Terezin and in Ramallah
|Jiri Bader with his schoolmates before being deported|
On April 1, 1943, Jiri Bader celebrated his bar mitzvah in the ghetto at Terezin. The celebration came a year late because his family was deported right before his 13th birthday from Kyjob, Czechoslovakia.
His friends at the ghetto made a bar mitzvah album for Jrir, illustrated by a relative of his, celebrating his life.
Passover fair in the 30s. Everything is in motion, dynamic, and even though it is April 1st, everyone wants to believe that this is not a joke: the much wished-for son has arrived at the Bader home. All the relatives are glowing: grandfathers and grandmothers, uncle and aunts, for he has declared his presence with gusto: a son. They called him Jiri.
He is growing up surrounded by love. Grandpa and grandma delight in his talking about “Gaga” [the ducks] and his discovery that the nanny waits for the “mail”.
…Years come, years pass, and the future looks secure and rosy. But things are turning out differently… because in our good old house – which stands firm as in days gone by – many things have changed: the Aryan landlord is busy.
They sent all of us away from our dear, beloved homes, where we were happy. Now we live in Terezin, but even here, we manage to live. All kinds of entertainment, opera, “clothes store”, café, fleas, mashed potatoes and vegetable soup. … Terezin has the best cook: a cook called “hunger”.
…Today, Jiri, you are being accepted into the established, larger community. Here too you are enveloped in love and friendship.
Remain loyal to your people, even when times are hard, and never be small. Grow and become strong, and God-willing you will be one of our best.
Even in the midst of unspeakable horror, the Jewish community tried to ensure that their children – most of whom were doomed – would be raised with as much love and happiness as possible.
Jiri and his father were murdered in Auschwitz in October, 1944.
Exactly 73 years later, on April 1, 2016, the SkyLand amusement park in Ramallah opened up his facilities to all children of “martyrs” and terrorists in Israeli prisons.
A drawing of the Dawabshe baby who survived the arson attack last year was prominently displayed during the Ramallah ceremony to get the audience good and angry at Israel.
Ramallah’s governor, Laila Ghanam, said that “we are responsible to put a smile on the face of the martyr’s kids… the oppression of the Palestinian children is the responsibility of the world that is silent in the face of our people’s suffering under occupation.”
She also said “Happiness is resistance, happiness is victory over the occupation that wants to plant desperation in our hearts, but we insist on being happy, and it is the right of the children of the martyrs that sacrificed themselves for our freedom to have us stand with them,” adding that they will remain steadfast until the flag of Palestine flies over Jerusalem’s mosques and churches and walls.
For the Jews in Terezin, providing happiness for their children was the goal. They didn’t try to sugar-coat their circumstances; instead they accepted the bleak situation with black humor and by attempting to keep life as normal as possible. The children were the future and the adults felt their prime responsibility was to ensure they were “enveloped in love and friendship.”
For the Arabs in Ramallah, children aren’t prioritized – only those whose fathers were murderers and attempted murderers. To the Arabs in Ramallah, happiness for its own sake is worthless. Joy is fuel for anger and happiness is a means to exact vengeance. Ghanam expressed it succinctly when she said that the Palestinian goal was to raise children to believe that “happiness is resistance” and that the hated Jews want to take that away from them. The very concept of joyfulness is enmeshed with fantasies of violence and revenge.
The Jews celebrated life amidst their own genocide. 73 years later, the Palestinians are fetishizing murdering Jews while inside an amusement park.
(h/t Ibn Boutros)
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