On March 22, 1943, the Jewish community of Macedonia was marched to the Monopol concentration camp and loaded on trains to Treblinka, where they were stacked on top of each other like logs, covered in gasoline, and lit on fire. They burned for days until they all died. Among them were my grandfather and grandmother, Mushon and Gentil Kalderon; my uncles and aunt; my cousins five and six years old, and the other seven thousand members of the Jewish community of Macedonia who had lived there for almost five hundred years. (My mother’s family, the Kalderon, being expelled from Spain, settled in Bitola in 1495.)

I am the only living survivor of that camp.

On March 11, 1943, Bulgarian soldiers gathered all seven thousand, one hundred and forty-four Jews and marched us one mile from town to the Monopol concentration camp. On that walk from our homes to our death, some of our fellow Macedonians stood on the side of the road screaming at us, spitting at us, shouting curses and obscenities. Not one of us said a word. Nobody shouted back, nobody cursed back, and nobody defended themselves. I remember that we walked as though we deserved to be taken to our deaths as if we were guilty, guilty of something.

I believe that for thousands of years, anti-Semites have succeeded in lodging in our heads that feeling of guilt. We have been told we are guilty of being complicit in Jesus Christ’s crucifixion; of being financially well-off by cheating and or stealing money; of building a secret society to take the world over….. none of it was true, but they succeeded in instilling in us that sense of guilt.  Marching to our death we accepted the death sentence. We were guilty.

Do you notice how many Jews hide their Jewish origins, hide the identity of their Jewish parents or grandparents, or change their name?

This hatred exists even in counties that have no Jews. None.  Arab countries for instance. How come? People need an explanation for their troubles. Taking responsibility is not easy. Accusing someone of it is much easier. If the Jews did not exist, they would have to be invented.

I am in Serbia, a country with major problems. One of my best friends asked me if I believe it to be true that the Jews are trying to take over Serbia and use it as their back-up country because Israel is in danger.  He based that assumption because Israeli firms are investing an enormous amount of capital in building high rise developments all over Belgrade.

We are accused, practically daily, somewhere on the globe of being the cause of whatever is wrong in that country.  How convenient. Ready-made diagnosis. Ready-made solution: kill all the Jews.

But the Jewish community although WORLD WIDE is only made up of twelve million people, those twelve million people have contributed per capita more to humanity than any other group. We have more Nobel Prize winners per capita than any other community. We have contributed to science, to literature, to music, to art, to everything, but we don’t get the credit. We are the guilty party.  Someone has to take the blame for social ills.  A ready-made, weak group, a group that will accept the verdict of being guilty without a fight, a group that can be punished and thus gives the impression that there is a solution to those ills.

Why we don’t fight back? Have not only a museum of tolerance, ( pay attention to the word “tolerance”. It is a museum of the atrocities made at the Jewish people but called a “museum of tolerance.” To me, it reads like “  See what you did to us. So, please stop killing us. Please tolerate us…” ).

Why don’t we have a museum of Jewish achievements? Present all the scientists, actors, intellectuals, philosophers, you name it, leaders of the world, who were Jewish.

Gays have a pride parade. So, should we.

Ah, those feelings of inferiority, lodged in our consciousness for thousands of years.

The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the weakest ministry in the Israeli government. When I consulted with the Israeli government, I asked, “Why don’t we tell the world about our worth and contributions. We need to balance the hate and lies thrown at us.”

Do you know what I was told? “It will not work. They will hate us anyway.”

Just thinking,

Ichak Kalderon Adizes
Founder And CEO, Adizes Institute Worldwide