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WORLD FOCUS: Concerns of a Holocaust survivor

December 8, 2016
By FRANK SHATZ , Lake Placid News

As readers of my Lake Placid News column and my book, "Reports from a Distant Place," are aware of, I am a survivor of the Holocaust. I survived not only Hitler but also Stalin.

In the wake of the 2016 elections, I was wondering what will happen under Donald Trump's presidency with Stephen Bannon, who according to media descriptions is a certified anti-Semite, named as the president's chief strategist and counselor.

Based on media reports, I have envisaged Bannon as the reincarnation of the Biblical Haman, chief minister of King Ahasuerus, who according to the Book of Esther attempted to convince the king to order the killing of all the Jews in the lands he ruled. The plot was foiled by Queen Esther, who was herself a Jew.

Article Photos

Frank Shatz and his wife Jaroslava pose for a photo on the summit of Whiteface Mountain.
(Photo provided)

I wrote a letter to the Kushner family, Orthodox Jews, whose son, Jared, is Trump's son-in-law and was his close adviser during the election campaign. He is slated to be part of the Trump White House.

In my letter to the Kushners, I told them my hope is that Jared will play the role Esther played in the court of King Ahasuerus and will act as a counterweight to Bannon in the White House.

I remember well 1938, when Bela Imredy became Prime Minister of Hungary and one of his first acts was to introduce anti-Jewish legislations. They become the law of the land. No matter that a year later Imredy was forced to resign the premiership when confronted with evidence that his great-grandfather was Jewish.

Recently, I was watching the Michael Smerconish's show on CNN, where Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, for whom I have always had high respect, proclaimed he has found no evidence to support claims that Bannon is an anti-Semite.

My own research also confirmed that evidence of Bannon's anti-Semitism was based mostly on his ex-wife's claim that he didn't want their daughters attend a private school because it had "too many Jewish students enrolled." His chairmanship at Breitbart News, a conservative website that also served as a platform for rightist views, turned out to be more "guilt by association," than advocating or legitimizing anti-Semitism.

After the Second World War, in 1948, I married Jaroslava, a Roman Catholic Czech girl, in Prague. She has been my wife for the past 68 years. When I met her, my first concern was to make sure that she is not a crypto-anti-Semite. After my ordeal during the Holocaust, to have an anti-Semitic wife would have been the last thing I wished for.

Now, after having escaped from Communist Czechoslovakia and finding refuge in the United States, the last thing I would like to experience is to have an anti-Semite in the White House who has the ear of the president.

As I have written to the Kushners, my gut feeling is this will not happen, and our country will remain "the shining City on the Hill."


Frank Shatz's column was reprinted with permission from the Virginia Gazette. Shatz, is a Lake Placid seasonal resident. He is the author of "Reports from a Distant Place," a compilation of his selected columns.



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