My mother, lost all her relatives except for one older brother who had survived, quite miraculously, when he himself, was sent to Siberia during the war years, where he was tortured.
My mother’s story was itself quite miraculous, as were the stories of so many who had survived.
Everyone had a story that seemed somewhat unique.
My father’s story of survival was even more unique than the others. The stuff that almost defied belief. My father, the only survivor of his family, survived – along with a couple of cousins of a larger extended family.
His story was different.
My father – of Blessed memory – survived 13 concentration camps. Thirteen. Unprecedented.
It meant everything to me. It shaped my very being.
His misfortune, as was the case of my mother’s, was in some peculiar, perverse way, my good fortune.
Because I came to understand human nature, and what it was capable of doing.
That damn human race.
Others read about it through Viktor Frankl, or even Mark Twain, I got it at home, at an unusually early age. A victim of the brutal anti-Semitism of the Nazis, he – as did my mother – made his way to Eretz Yisrael. The Land of Israel. They arrived on January 17, 1946, on a small ship – or more accurately, a large boat, the Enzo Sereni.
This was a 410-ton wooden vessel, driven by a 300 hp diesel engine that allowed it to make its way to the Jewish home, at a speed of 7.5 knots. The vessel sailed on January 7, 1946 from a small fishing pier in Italy, carrying 908 Ma’apilim – Jewish refugees – on board.
It arrived ten days later. Illegally.
Because the gates to the Land of Israel were closed, even to Jews who had survived the most murderous episode in man’s history. The Land of Israel. Where both my parents were summarily arrested. And imprisoned. Incarcerated in Atlit. In northern Israel. When it was still Mandatory Palestine. Under British rule.
My mother was released after a couple of weeks; my father after 2 months.
Finally – despite the fear of expulsion to Cyprus, they were allowed to stay. And, they were actually issued papers that made their presence in the Land of Israel, legal. Or more accurately – extra-legal.
You see – there were no Palestinian people then – as there was no sovereign nation of Palestine. There never had been.
It was a cleverly devised political ploy to legitimize a fraudulent claim to a Palestine that was equally fraudulent. It was the lie that the world lives today.
I was born in Israel, only a few years after my parents arrived.
At a very early age, my parents taught me – and my siblings – about the world. And that damn human race.
If you paid attention during Israel’s short modern history – well, you understand.
Are you getting the picture? Or was it all in vain?