Horrifying. Soul-searing, something that will scorch your flesh and leave you frozen. I read it on the way back to Chicago tonight. Started crying on the airplane; it's a good thing the lady next to me was asleep, else she would have wanted to know what was wrong.
Perfidy tells the story of the Kastner Trial and Joel Brand and the Israeli government that was complicit and collaborated with the Nazis in sending Jews to their deaths. It is While Six Million Died as it pertains to Israel versus America.
Perhaps one of the most chilling scenes in the book:
- "It was mid-April, almost a month before my trip to Turkey (1944). One of the German agents in Budapest instructed me to wait at an appointed street corner and said that I would be brought before Eichmann.
"A half hour later, I was taken to the luxurious hotel where Eichmann had his Headquarters. I was ushered immediately to his room.
"The words which then passed between us I have imprinted themselves on my memory till I die.
Brand spoke in German. He now articulates in the dog-bark of a Nazi S.S. officer. The court hears Eichmann's menacing yips out of Brand's mouth:
"Do you know who I am?" he asked me. "I am the man who carried out all the actions [the Jewish extermination] in Germany, Austria, Poland and Slovakia. My next task is Hungary. I have checked up as to whether you and the Joint Distribution Committee are capable of getting things done, and I want to make a deal with you. Blood for Cargo and Cargo for Blood. Now tell me, what is it that you want to salvage- women who can bear children? Men in their prime? The aged? The young? Speak up!"
"I was sitting. A civilian was standing beside us. No other Jews was present. A young woman sat behind the desk, pencil in hand. I presumed that she was taking down our talk in shorthand.
"The meaning of his words dawned on me. I sat there thunderstruck. I never was a politician nor statesman and blurted out the first words that came to my mind:
"I am not empowered to decide as to whom you are to murder!" I said. "I would like to save everybody. I don't understand this deal. Where are we to get the cargo? You have confiscated everything." Then I became full of hope and went on- "The local Jews and our friends abroad may perhaps muster sums of money, if lives are to be saved."
"Eichmann answered, 'Go on then. Go ahead. To Switzerland, to Turkey, to Spain, wherever you please; so long as you can produce the cargo!"
"What sort of cargo do you want?" I asked.
"Anything at all," Eichmann said. "For example- trucks. Ten thousand trucks are worth a million Jews to me." He paused a moment and added. "Tea and coffee, too, and soap. One thousand tons of tea and coffee. All these I am in need of."
"To this I replied, 'I haven't the vaguest idea where all these cargoes are to be obtained. Who on earth will treat this offer seriously? Which official body will believe that delivery of the trucks will in fact induce you to spare a million Jews?"
"Eichmann answered that he was willing to offer one hundred thousand Jews in advance, and on receiving the proportionate payment, he would release another ten per cent. 'Pick them anywhere you want,' he said, 'Hungary, Auschwitz, Slovakia- anywhere you want and anyone you want."
- Reason three is the most obvious, and the most German. Should it turn out that the Allies do not give a hoot about saving a million Jews, and that they regard the offer with contempt and derision- that, in itself, will be a psychological victory for the Germans. The Allies will then be on record as having had no wish to save Jews when they could. How, then, will they be able to denounce Germans for killing them? Let Emissary Joel Brand come back to Budapest empty-handed, without ransom for a single Jewish child, and Germany will have proved its case against the Jews- nobody likes them. Or, more practically, will have established the fact that Germany's deliberate torture and murder of six million defenseless and unmenacing humans (Jews) did not make it an outcast from Western civilization. Germany's case?- "You not only made no protest against the slaughter, you refused to negotiate for the saving of the last million unslaughtered.
This book is damning. Had I read it in 10th grade, when Rabbi Carmel suggested I should, he would have achieved his objective. I would have been turned into an ardent anti-Zionist, scandalized, horrified and shocked by the crimes its leaders had committed. So we shall be glad I did not do so and am a little wiser now.
Why did Rabbi Carmel suggest I read Perfidy? Well, it was not his original idea. Rabbi Avigdor Miller instructs everyone to read it in his work Awake My Glory. Rabbi Avigdor Miller has an interesting view of Zionists; he sees them as pure evil. However, Rabbi Miller is wrong. He has misunderstood Hecht's intentions in writing this book. I know this because Hecht states them clearly, something Rabbi Miller chose to gloss over.
Hecht is appalled by the power of the ideal. He is horrified by the fact that people can do anything, no matter how horrifying it may be, due to the power of their ideals. He explains this vividly:
- Guilt does not make a politician outcast- be he Jewish, British, or Nazi. For the politician is never guilty as a wrongdoer; only as a wrong thinker or a wrong guesser. Even if his thoughts and guesses set bonfires raging in the world and rain disaster on large areas of it- he is still immune from guilt in the eyes of the law, and in the eyes of his contemporaries. History will sometimes take a look at him, dead in his grave, and give him a bad mark. But the contemporary verdict is nearly always the same- not guilty by virtue of serving an ideal.
Although shaken and embittered by the continuing revelations in Halevi's court room, the statement of Israel offered no visible or audible sign of any suffering.
There's the thing I find most ominous in my day- the rhinoceros hides that encase politicians' hearts. They will not react to the truth that exposes them any more than to a drop of rain. For they are never exposed. The evils proved against them reveal only that they were devoted servants of an ideal, a party, a national destiny.
Exposed in the Kastner case, the Israel politicans do not need to disprove any of the facts in order to prove themselves not guilty. They need only to flash into the eyes of their constituents the "ideal" they served. Who attacks them, attacks Zionism. Who attacks Zionism attacks the finest development in two thousand unhappy years of Jewish history. Tyrants, dictators, and all power-drunk leaders operate always behind the screen of some Ideal. The Ideal exempts them of any guilt for what they do. More, it magically converts their connivings and wicked deeds into proof of how valorously the served the Ideal.
"I understand Kastner," Eichmann writes in his autobiography, published in Life magazine. "He is an idealist like I am."
- The answer is that authority has an unshakable faith in the image of virtue it calls itself. Authority knows the thousand lies and shenanigans out of which it was created. But authority does not regard these as its true character. Its true character is not what it is, but what it can induce people to believe it is. Thus, until it is led off to the guillotine for its villainies; its true character is always glory and beneficence.
Like the actor, authority has faith in its false whiskers.
But its deepest faith is in the human hunger for illusion. People will hang on to illusion as eagerly as to life itself.
- The government of the Jews could not save the Jews. The "situation was too complex." No more can the governments of the United States and Russia save their own people. Their "ideals" are too important. Intoning implacably its ideals, government must ride its course to the Apocalypse. It cannot pause in its heroic dash for oblivion to look where it's going.
At least, so it seems as I write these last pages. I hear no voices challenging the death's-head ideals of the United States. I hear only the ideal speaking, its tongue speaking as always of love. The love of country, the love of freedom, the love of a better way of life.
What a dire word love has been in history. It has launched more carnage than any war cry of the species. For it is never love that an ideal has to offer, but love and death. It is always, "Love me, or I'll kill you."
No voices rise to challenge Authority in my country.
What does this book means to me? It shows me that all humans are flawed. There are Madoffs in the world who create Ponzi schemes that dazzle us in their horror, rabbis who abuse and molest children, men who refuse to give gets and keep their wives chained to them and leaders that chose to put their own interests ahead of those of innocent people. But does this mean that every trustee, every rabbi, every man divorcing a woman and every Israeli official is automatically flawed? That we should do away with Zionism and disregard all Zionists due to the horrors perpetrated by a few? Of course not. That makes no logical sense. As men we commit crimes in the name of our ideals and the crimes are grave. But to suggest an entire ideology must be disposed of due to the actions of some of the leaders of a society is to indict every country and every leader. The British were cruel to the Puritans and Quakers, whereas the Puritans and Quakers were awful to the Native Americans. Man has killed and murdered and shown how little other men mean to him across the strata of time. Why decide the entire institution of Zionism is monstrous without deciding humanity on a whole, every government and every country, is monstrous?
Had Rabbi Carmel succeeded in placing this book in the hand of the innocent fifteen-year-old girl that I was, he would have done me a great disservice. First, he would have shattered my illusions for absolutely no cause. It was not that he simply desired me to acquire more knowledge and information and then make up my own mind; no, he wished to turn me into an anti-Zionist. And as a child who believed wholly in the goodness of men this book would have totally confused me. It is darkly amusing that the same book which preaches that one ought not to permit everything in service of The Ideal is utilized to brainwash those within the religious camp in service of their ideal. My teachers at Templars hurt me irreparably in the service of their ideal - and yet believed they were helping me by acting as they did. The same people who place this book in the hands of innocent boys and girls with the intent to emotionally persuade them to dismiss an entire philosophy and ideology based on the actions of several flawed people are the ones who have totally ignored the message of this book. Dear my rabbis and teachers, you cannot have it both ways. Either cite the book in its entirety or don't cite it all, but to selectively teach it is to lie in precisely the manner Hecht detests. Indeed, his indictment can be extended to you, those who don the mask of false authority.