Sixty Years from Now
Your Honor, The President of Shelterel, esteemed Knesset Members, Ministers, Prime Minister, Honorable Audience - -
This confession is not that easy to make.
Not that easy since - unlike during those dark times - it comes non-coerced, from the depths of my heart.
I was young then - relative to the present - and have grown older, yet the thing does not leave me alone. Her voice echoes inside my head when I go to sleep and as I awake.
Her name in Shelterel was Citizen C.
Very little I knew of her, but of course it is impossible to know all the time all about all the citizens - this is not even our duty. Enough to know that they are naive and alive, that they trust us and that on the decisive day they will know for sure to insert the right piece of paper inside the right box.
Citizen C. did trust me, I had no doubts about it whatsoever. To me she came, here and there, with the stories of citizen-with-no-citizenship Anisa, as-if-citizen Salim, corruption in the small townships and why not have a country-wide publicity against sexual harassment at the work-place - I swear to you that at our Ministry even seventy years ago such things never occurred, for sure, I told her so... etc.
I assume that my assistant took well care of her calls.
Things went on smoothly, me doing my thing, she doing hers. I trusted her.
Then, one day - she'd find the right time to call! - in the midst of a most fateful elections time, really fateful for me as citizen and as chairman of a party so close to it's fall, to mine.
Sixty five years have passed. I well remember and will never forget:
"Do listen, please: Those who were children during the Holocaust times - not the death camps survivors, but the ones whose turn to be sent there had yet to come... they are still alive, here, tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, myself included - and they are not young anymore. Sick, poor, robbed of their compensations by The State of Shelterel who'd reached the Reparations Agreement with Germany in our unasked-for name, and undertook to compensate us itself.
"Shelterel had taken hold of those monies!They interrogate each claimant!Come, do come to the Justice House and see for yourself the march of the robbed and dismantled. People in their eighties, leaning on a cane or in wheel-chairs, coming to explain to the eternal judge aligned to the eternal legal representative of the Finance Ministry - explain and prove minutely, have them spread out in the court their bitter fate - all in all just to get a few more crumbs of disability percentage to enable a few additional pennies to their Holocaust Survivors' Disability Pension.
"Come and see how law representatives of the Finance Ministry interrogate at the court: a woman who was raped by German soldiers was asked to say what color the soldiers' uniform was; if it was the color of the local 'legionars' (enabled by the Nazis) then she is not entitled to compensations - that is The Word of the Law in Shelterel!
She couldn't remember the color of the uniforms - and her appeal for that meager Disability pension was denied!
She had no strength to appeal to a higher court, so appalled she was, so shaken.
Come, Come and hear the Legal Representative of The State of Shelterel uttering lightly the sentence frequent in the vocabulary of the Holocaust Denial: "It was war-time, so everybody suffered. At war-times everybody suffers."
It is mandatory to change that law once for all!Now we have Basic Human Rights and Freedom Laws!They are robbing the Holocaust Survivors!Those robbed of childhood are robbed now by The State of Shelterel!"
As if I have not know all along that much.
I told her, this was sixty-five years ago, I well remember and will Never Forget:
"The naked truth is, Citizen C., that people as well as the government and all the bureaucrats are really fed up with the Holocaust.
"Look here, I'm now immersed in the elections. I give you my honorable word that immediately after the elections I'll harness myself wholly to this task of having the law changed. Take my word for it."
The truth is, she gave me more than one day of grace after the elections, more than the conventional ninety days.
Then she called.
The secretary received her calls and letters. Passed them on to me.
I was immersed in negotiations with the Finance Ministry. A Minister of Education has great responsibility towards the children of Shelterel. Faced with that dilemma which I now share with you undisguised, I had to make a selection, to choose between the children living their childhood with us here and between those robbed of their childhood way back over there. It was not us who'd robbed them of their childhood - the German Nazis did it, let their name be erased!
We'd only robbed them of their reparations. Yet we provided them with tents, we provided them with housing and lands taken from you-know-who. We've built a Shelter State exactly as proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence.
I was busy with a multitude of activities, with the Party needs. There is a limit to the age a Minister of Education can be made responsible for, there is a limit to how much one can bargain and quarrel with the Minister of Finance and his well experienced clerks. I well knew that right away they'll throw into my face: "How much of your budget are you willing to do without?"
Their childhood had lasted three or four years. Their olden days with us weren't long either.
There is a limit to the quantity of pain a heart can hold.
The hour has come to say, without any monetary commitment - True, Mr. Minister of Finance, true? None of them is with us by now, true?
Simply, a confession:
Her voice echoes inside my head, inside my whole being, to this very day:
"Yosiniu, Yosiniu, do not forget who you are!"
The voice, the warm, hugging trust that only a naive citizen is able to express. Lost.
"Yosiniu, Yosiniu, do not forget who you are!"
Even if she is not with us at the Distingushed Guests gallery, she's here, shouting inside my head.
Enough is Enough! Have her Shut-Up! Till when?!
Any semblance to Reality is not by chance.
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