Why is Dr. Israel Kastner demonized? He negotiated with the Nazis to get Jews out of Europe.
Kastner really did sell his soul, as Judge Benjamin Halevy said. He sold his soul to the Devil of negotiations, lobbying, and rescue at any price. He saved 1,600 Jews, more than any other Jew. Neither the partisans nor the Warsaw Ghetto rebels, neither the fighters nor the heroes matched this.
And why was that victory — more Jews saved than anyone else — a defeat?
His path did not suit young and belligerent Israel.
We wanted so badly then to see the new Jew, grenade in hand, like the statue of Warsaw Ghetto leader Mordechai Anilevitz at Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, and to get rid of the old Jew, the elegant man in the top hat, who negotiated with the Devil – and to hell with the result, the main thing is the struggle.
Kastner left an important legacy behind him that, to this very day, we are trying to shake off: Yes to negotiations, with anyone. Do you want to know why? Ask the survivors of Kastner’s train.
There’s a general lesson here: Yes to negotiations, with anyone.
Even if they seem like Devils.
The Germans probably could have learned from this too. If your goal is to ethnically unify Europe, negotiating with The Other will help you do that — “here are your people to take away to your homeland, and God bless you” — after all, nature created us both so none of us is truly a Devil (unless we believe the Devil is a force of God?).
Today’s race-baiters could learn from this too. If you want Confederate pride, you might consider a nod to Black Pride so each group can have its own pride. Both of you seem to want the same thing — self-rule away from the other.
I think it might be time to give race-baiters, liberals and radical symbolist Christians the same option — self-rule away from the others. But we must remember to negotiate with them.