Fickle friends…writes Michael Kuttner

August 31, 2018 by Michael Kuttner
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Throughout our very long history, with a few exceptions, we have been abandoned by those who claimed to be our “friends.”

Michael Kuttner

Two quotes I found seem to succinctly sum up the situation.

“We don’t lose friendswe just learn who our real friends are.”

“A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.”

 How true this has been in the past and gazing around the international landscape these days how still very true.

Once it was individual Jews and communities which survived or perished at the pleasure of rulers, despotic or even democratic. More often than not, once political or economic circumstances changed, “friendships” transformed from benign tolerance to outright hostility. The result was a smorgasbord of discriminatory edicts ranging from expulsions, exploitation, exclusion, confinement to ghettos, humiliations, conversions and of course death.

This plague interestingly enough was not confined to the “lower uneducated classes” but in fact emanated in the first instance from Church and lay leaders alike. It was the “enlightened” strata of society which one would have imagined was immune to this sort of primitive hate that generated and spread the venom far and wide. Professions of friendship more often than not were worthless declarations and when the inevitable crunch arrived, apart from some commendable brave souls, we found ourselves abandoned by the vast majority.

Nowhere is this more exemplified than what happened during the Holocaust years. Again with some notable exceptions, the vast majority of neighbours and family “friends” simply became either willing or apathetic collaborators in the genocidal plans of the authorities. The Danes are credited with collectively rescuing most of their Jewish communities but the Dutch are tainted with handing over most of theirs. We all know about the French Vichy who with the willing co-operation of their police and railways managed to turn in large numbers of Jews. The rest of occupied Europe was no better and even in the British Channel Islands the few Jews living there were betrayed.

This brings us to today and the situation we currently face.

Although there are still some countries where being Jewish is fraught with danger the mutation to anti Israel or anti Zionist behaviour has become the norm. Expressing friendship with Jews (“many of my best friends”) while articulating the vilest slanders against the Jewish State is seen as a safe bet and one which seemingly insulates the perpetrator from censure.

One has only to witness the spectacle of the UK Labour Party breaking out in Judeophobic eruptions to realise that all is not well. The take over of established political parties by zealots of the extreme left or right is something which should concern us. As in the case of England all it needs are a sizeable group of “believers” led by someone convinced that Israel was established in sin and that Zionists born in the country are not really true Brits. All of a sudden a political party ostensibly dedicated to fighting racism finds itself overwhelmed by Israel haters coming out of the Jew hating closet. Who would ever have believed that Jewish MP’s and delegates supporting the Jewish State would need bodyguards at the annual conference?

This is the sad state the British loyal opposition party finds itself in today and as it stands on the threshold of possibly winning the next election one has to wonder where this leaves Jews and those supporting Israel. In the USA the Democratic Party under the influence of “born again” socialist activists is slowly but surely divorcing itself from supporting Israel and instead preferring to throw in its lot with those who sponsor terror and denial of civil rights. Unlike the UK where the majority of British Jews have divorced themselves from the toxic embrace of the Labour Party, 75% of the rapidly assimilating US Jewish population prefers to stay on board the Democratic ship. Either they have already abandoned any connection with the Jewish State or they still live in the vain hope that the rising tide of incitement against it will not affect them.

How many other examples are there waiting in the wings? How many other “friends” are poised to demonstrate their new found beliefs that Israel is the source of all current woes?

After all, if the Secretary General of the United Nations who touts himself as a “friend” can assert that only a UN force can protect Gazans from Israel, then any sort of unbelievable rubbish is possible. As the UN prepares for its annual hate fest against Israel it is useful to observe how our “friends” react.

Do they walk out and boycott the slanderers and liars? Do they stop the flow of funds which fuels terror, incitement and perpetual refugee status? Watching the French frantically marshalling EU support for Iran is a sobering lesson in how “friends” can be duplicitous while still professing friendship.

At least those who openly plot our demise are more honest. Despite clear signs of their intent there are still far too many innocents who fail to heed the warning signs.

There are indications that the Trump Administration is finally waking up to the 70 years scam of the now 5.2 million “refugees” and the continuing “pay to slay” scandal whereby foreign aid helps to finance pensions for terrorists. However the howls of outrage emanating from those who profess to be our friends prove that solidarity is wafer thin. Actions speak far louder than empty slogans.

The bottom line is that we do not need “fair weather friends” who melt away at the first sign of UN disapproval. Those prepared to stick with us through difficult times are thin on the ground but they should be nurtured where possible.

After all – what are real friends for?

Michael Kuttner is a Jewish New Zealander who for many years was actively involved with various communal organisations connected to Judaism and Israel. He now lives in Israel and is J-Wire’s correspondent in the region.


2 Responses to “Fickle friends…writes Michael Kuttner”
  1. Elisabeth Holdsworth says:

    I wish to reply to Michael Kuttner’s assertions that the Danes managed to save most of their Jewish community during the Holocaust, but ‘the Dutch are tainted with handing over most of theirs.’ Before doing so I must establish my interest in this area.
    I am a Dutch Jew born in the immediate post war period. My mother survived Dachau. My father and two of his brothers served in the Dutch Resistance. An aunt was lady in waiting to Queen Wilhelmina and accompanied her to exile in England. Two of my uncles were executed by the Gestapo; a third uncle was eliminated by the Resistance for his pro-Nazi sympathies. One set of grandparents were held under house arrest and watched the Nazis loot their belongings (they were Calvinists). Yet, my Jewish grandparents continued to live in their village on the Belgian border alongside Lutheran neighbours who did not betray them.
    The reasons for the low survival rate of Dutch Jews have interested researchers for decades. Interestingly, the Dutch are conspicuously mentioned at Yad Vashem for having saved many Jewish lives.
    To the Danes first. There were some 4,000 Jews living in Denmark, mostly in Copenhagen. There was time to warn the community and “move” them by land and sea to Sweden before the Germans invaded. Recall that Sweden managed to remain neutral.
    There were 160-170,000 Jews living in the Netherlands in 1939. Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Middelburg, Leeuwarden, Groningen, Arnhem all had sizeable, integrated communities dating back to the late 16th early 17th centuries. Amsterdam was the receiving area for mainly German Jews who arrived there from about 1925 onward.
    The Netherlands was neutral in WWI and fully expected to be neutral in the coming war. We are a Germanic people, our language is a variety of German. As late as May 14, 1940 Queen Wilhelmina reiterated our intention to remain neutral. The next day the German Luftwaffe, in the first example of Blitzkrieg – total war, bombed the port areas of Amsterdam, parts of The Hague, obliterated Rotterdam and moved on to Middelburg where I come from. Our city, too was destroyed. At a stroke, all exits from the Netherlands by sea and land were closed. Arnhem and Groningen lie on the German border.
    Many people were traumatized and many more were made homeless. Able bodied men were rounded up as slave labour. In the photos my father took of that time the impression is of chaos and people moving here and there. The allies began bombing German positions in the Netherlands from 1942 onward. Our home was bombed by the Germans and later the Brits.
    The Germans began the process of identifying Jews in 1941. They established two Dutch camps: Westerbork and Vugt. You either registered as Jewish and wore the yellow star or you went into hiding. Escape was impossible. The Netherlands is an open country, with little forested areas. Those Jews who refused to register and were able to hide with farmers had the greatest chance of survival.
    Writing in Holocaust and Genocide Studies, V20, N3, Winter 2006; Marnix Croes of the Research and Documentation Center of the Netherlands Ministry of Justice points out the spectacular success of the Sicherheitspolizei in locating Jews. In 1944 the failed British liberation initiative, Operation Marketgarden, resulted in the Germans clearing out the population of Arnhem. The following winter is known in Dutch history as the Hongerwinter. The winter of starvation and death.
    If we Dutch are guilty of anything it is that we are meticulous record keepers. Behind every name in a council record there is a careful C for Calvinist. K for Catholic and J for Jew. Some council authorities destroyed their records or claimed their records had disappeared during the invasion. But Dutch Jews were highly visible; they were bankers, goldsmiths, jewelers, trades people, importers and exporters, professionals of all sorts and had been established in the Netherlands for centuries.
    After the failure of Operation Market Garden the Dutch government in exile made the decision to dynamite the dykes of Zeeland to flood the Germans out. My father, a dykes engineer, was given the task of carrying out this awful task. The civilian loss of life during the Honger winter and after the destruction of the dykes was terrible. By that time the majority of the Jews had been rounded up and sent elsewhere.
    One of the last conversations I had with my father was about survival rates. The Government had just made available the figures. Some 27,000 had survived. My father said he was surprised it was as high as that. ‘There was so little we could do,’ he said.
    Marnix Croes gives a multiplicity of reasons for these low numbers. I hope I have added some context. We Dutch certainly did not just ‘give up’ our Jews.
    My mother walked home from Dachau to Middelburg over a period of six months. Of our Jewish community of 2,000 a handful survived. On our island there are three villages where all the men and boys shot by firing squad. Their crime? They hid Jews.

    • michael kuttner says:

      Shalom Elisabeth

      Thank you for your heartfelt comments and personal family experiences during the dark days of the Holocaust There is no doubt that many Dutch citizens bravely hid Jews – in fact my wife’s cousin was hidden as a baby and saved as a result.

      However unfortunately there is another darker side to the way Dutch Jews were betrayed by citizens, Government and yes even the Queen. Below is a link to a detailed account written by an expert on Dutch Jewry of how and why Holland has the distinction of having more percentage wise of their Jews betrayed than any other country.

      It makes painful reading but the truth should not be wished away no matter how many myths it demolishes.

      Nothing can take away the courage and sacrifices made by those few who stood up to the Nazis but at the same time we should not close our eyes to reality.

      Shana Tova

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