Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Miracle of Israel

As recent events have shown, Israel has not lost its ability to inspire. Professor Shapir sent me the above photo of a poster announcing the August 6 demonstration. In it is Shapir's 94 year old uncle, Philippe Szyper, with his 22 year-old granddaughter, Julie.

Shapir relates that Philippe was a Trotskyist in 1930's Belgium and is still now, which didn't prevent him from becoming a successful businessman in Brazil and later in Israel. Under Nazi occupation he was a leader in the underground in Brussels. Philippe and his wife jumped from a train headed to Auschwitz, leaving her father who remained on the train. She would later write a book (available in Hebrew and French) recounting her experiences, "Looking Back: a Jewish Fighter in Occupied Belgium."

Philippe was 23 when he told Shapir's father at 17 (his mother was 15 at the time) to escape Brussels when the Nazis called on him to show for "work". Shapir writes that: "My dad and mom (and thus us) owe him their life."

After a tortuous path, Shapir's parents made it to the Swiss border at a time when they could still cross. Shapir's mother was the only survivor from her family.

Shapir is now a professor of theoretical physics at the University of Rochester in New York and his brother Nimrod lives in Tel Aviv. And of course, Philippe, now 94, continues the struggle for social justice in Israel.

As I said on another occasion, what more can one say? Except this - I sure hope people understand what's at stake here.

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