Words carry real power


OLIVIA MARKSWOLDMAN, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Holo­caust Me­mo­rial Day Trust has called me an an­ti­semite. If, as Marks-Wold­man main­tains, the use of the term ‘kapo’ is con­sid­ered “down­right of­fen­sive”, then I would think so is call­ing a fel­low Jew an an­ti­semite.

Only, of course, she might be the first to protest against this ac­cu­sa­tion, in­sist­ing she never called me an an­ti­semite.

She stated that “the use of the term kapo in de­scrib­ing an­other Jew would be in­ter­preted as an­ti­semitic”.

Like her, I never called other Jews ka­pos. I in­sisted that recit­ing kad­dish for dead ter­ror­ists is “kapo’ism”.

There is a dif­fer­ence, and that dif­fer­ence lies as much in the dis­tinc­tion Marks-Wold­man would make about her choice lan­guage in crit­i­cis­ing me.

She disin­gen­u­ously be­gins her com­ments by sug­gest­ing my crit­i­cism was launched at “Jews who had said kad­dish for Pales­tini­ans killed on the Gaza bor­der”.

It’s a clever tac­tic by which to por­tray me as an ex­trem­ist. But they weren’t just Pales­tini­ans. They were ter­ror­ists who were try­ing to breach the bor­der in or­der to “cut out Jewish hearts”. The term “kapo’ism” was used only in the con­text of Jews em­bold­en­ing the en­emy against their own.

I have never used the term “kapo”, any­more than Marks-Wold­man has used the term an­ti­semite to de­scribe an­other Jew.

Frankly, I have never used the term “kapo’ism” be­fore ei­ther. But then, I’d never come across Jews recit­ing kad­dish for dead ter­ror­ists be­fore. Kad­dish is the sin­gle most sa­cred prayer in Jewish liturgy. It is an elab­o­rate praise of God, re­flect­ing the essence of the soul, as ex­ten­sion of the Di­vine, within man.

The in­ten­tion of the prayer is to con­sider the enor­mity of the loss en­dured and ex­alt the soul. Fur­ther­more, the cri­te­ria that the kad­dish should be re­cited only in a quo­rum of ten men sig­ni­fies the unique­ness of the prayer in sanc­ti­fy­ing God’s name in keep­ing with the com­mand­ment of Kid­dush Hashem. Granted “kapo’ism” is a harsh term and I apol­o­gise for any un­in­tended of­fence caused.

How would you re­act?

What term would you use to de­scribe such an ac­tion?

It’s easy to pounce on a word, thus de­flect­ing from the grav­ity of the real of­fence caused.

Too many Jews have been killed by ter­ror­ists over the years.

To use Marks-Wold­man’s own words: “We owe it to them, to learn from their ex­pe­ri­ences and strive to treat each other with re­spect, dig­nity and kind­ness to­day.”

Olivia MarksWoldman

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