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      IAF Chief Says 'Nein' to Volkswagen

      Air Force Commander Eshel, son of Holocaust survivor, refused to upgrade his car to a German model.
      By Gil Ronen
      First Publish: 6/5/2012, 1:44 PM

      Amir Eshel
      Amir Eshel
      IDF Photo

      Recently appointed Israel Air Force Commander Major General Amir Eshel told the military that he does not want to upgrade his car to a Volkswagen Passat, although his advance to the rank of major general entitles him to do so.

      The reason for his refusal is the fact that the vehicle is manufactured in Germany. His refusal was immediate, and he said the decision came "from the head, but also from the gut."

      Eshel's mother is a Holocaust survivor.

      He was the officer who initiated and led the IAF flyover in the skies above the Auschwitz Birkenau death camp site, in 2003.

      The jets took off from the Polish Air Force base at Radom. When they flew over Auschwitz-Birkenau, Delegation Commander Eshel spoke on the radio: "We, the Air Force pilots in the skies of the camp of horrors, rose up from the ashes of the millions of victims. We carry their silent cry; we salute their bravery and promise to protect the Jewish nation and its land, Israel." 

      Many Jews in Israel and outside it refused to buy German made cars in the decades immediately after the Holocaust, but the unofficial boycott has weakened over time. Eshel's principled stand on the matter and the fact that he sees the Holocaust as relevant to his life may be of importance regarding the possibility that Israel would attack Iran's nuclear program.

      Israel believes the program's goal is a second Holocaust, and Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been compared to Adolf Hitler on numerous occasions.