across the bow
by Aryeh Dayan
visiting the Nazi death camps in Poland
usually make a stop at the handsome
building that once housed the Lublin Sages
Yeshiva, the most important East European
yeshiva of pre-Holocaust days.
The building, which has not changed in
appearance since the 1930s, is today home
to the Lublin University medical school.
Its spacious hall, once the yeshiva's
synagogue, is now used for lectures, and
almost every one of the benches in the
hall has been somehow marked by visiting
Israelis. Rinat from Kfar Sava, for
example, carved a Star of David on one
bench. Yossi from Yehud signed his name
beneath the inscription "we will not
forgive and not forget." For Chaim from
Tel Aviv and Eyal from Haifa, simply
autographing the benches was enough.
Someone else took the trouble to write
graffiti in English, so that the Polish
students would be sure to understand it:
"F*ck the Christians."
This same mix of vandalism and phony
patriotism can be found in the death camps
themselves. Treblinka's impressive
memorial site was disfigured last week by
a tripod bearing a blackened tin can,
which declared in English and Hebrew "We
remember - Kiryat Haim Municipal High
School, Haifa, Israel." The students from
Jerusalem whose visit I accompanied
removed this eyesore.
A small flag from the Hadassah-Neurim
boarding school was found on the door of a
crematorium in Auschwitz. A small Israeli
flag made of plastic also adorned this
doorway. In addition, someone had placed a
Rabin memorial candle in a small niche in
the wall of a Maidanek gas chamber.
When she was minister of education,
Shulamit Aloni tried to initiate a
public discussion of the nature of student
missions to Poland. The enraged response
silenced her immediately. Maybe we should