Honest dialogue needed
Trust: Faith or confidence in the loyalty, strength, veracity of a person or thing. (O.E.D.)
The Holocaust is deeply embedded into the “common consciousness” of every Jewish person. An event so horrific in intensity and magnitude raises two questions for us. Can one still believe in God? Can humanity still be trusted? It is the latter which I wish to address in this letter.
In 1935, Hitler’s Nuremberg laws stripped German Jews of natural, human and civil rights. Jews adore and trust in America. We have a long, proud tradition of seeking liberty. We embrace the Bill of Rights, which guarantees individual religious freedom and protects individual liberty.
The United States is the only nation in the world founded on principles. In our Declaration of Independence, the government is instituted to secure these rights. If the government is not attentive to these natural rights, we have the ability and duty to change.
Argentina has had a history of oppressive dictatorships, suppressive of individual freedoms, rampant anti-Semitism and infamous detention center. They have harbored hundreds of Nazi war criminals.
Emil Fackenheim, a scholar of modern philosophy and Jewish thought, in his work, “God’s Presence in History” 1970, cautioned, “Never to hand Hitler any posthumous victories.”
What is it presently that disturbs the Aspen Jewish community?
We trust the Aspen town government. However, that trust can quickly become mistrust, when the council assumes a defensive stand and the mayor reflects indifference and insensitivity to those American principles of loyalty and truth. In this instance, those principles contain a Jewish historical interest.
Tony Hershey doesn’t get it. A single apology by an Argentine president does not absolve an entire nation of guilt. Marriages, corporations and institutions fail when they do not continuously affirm their moral principles. Museums, libraries and memorials are established as constant reminders of these principles to each new generation.
The present mayor of Bariloche absolutely doesn’t get it, when his spokesperson states, “We don’t think they should have been rejected in any way, just because they were Nazis.”
The governing body of Aspen has pledged to uphold those ethical standards we hold so dear in our Bill of Rights and Constitution.
I suggest a letter from the Aspen Council to that of Bariloche, as outlined by Dave Elcott of the American Jewish Committee, with an “acknowledgment that harboring high-ranking Nazis was morally indefensible.” An unacceptable response would mean that “Hitler has been handed a posthumous victory.” To forget the mistakes of history is only to repeat them.
Does Don Sheeley truly believe we can have a program to promote dialogue and cultural exchange when a significant portion of the Aspen community holds its Sister City in contempt and distrust?
A positive response would signify only the “beginning,” the start of a true, honest dialogue, which would bring economic and cultural advantage to each community.
Edward Diamond, M.D.
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