Memorable Quotes

Shmuel Yoseph Agnon
In his acceptance speech on receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1966, Shmuel Yoseph Agnon said

“Through an historical catastrophe – the destruction of Jerusalem by the Emperor of Rome – I was born in one of the cities of the Diaspora. But I always deemed myself as one who was born in Jerusalem.”

Isaiah Berlin speaking about Chaim Weizman
In his 1957 Herbert Samuel lecture on Chaim Weizman, Isaiah Berlin said

“Weizman had all his life believed that when great public issues are joined one must above all take sides; whatever one did, one must not remain neutral or uncommitted, one must always – as an absolute duty – identify oneself with some living force in the world, and take part in the world’s affairs with all the risk of blame and misrepresentation and misunderstanding of one’s motives and character which this almost invariably entails.

“Consequently in the Jewish war of independence he called for no compromise, and denounced those who did. He regarded with contempt the withdrawal from life on the part of those to whom their personal integrity, or peace of mind, or purity of ideal, mattered more than the work upon which they are engaged and to which they were engaged and to which they were committed, the artistic, or scientific, or social, or political, or purely personal enterprises in which all men are willy-nilly involved. He did not condone the abandonment of ultimate principles before the claims of expediency or of anything else; but political monasticism – a search for some private cave of Adullam to avoid being disappointed or tarnished, the taking up of consciously utopian or politically impossible positions, in order to remain true to some inner voice, or some unbreakable principle too pure for the wicked public world – that seemed to him a mixture of weakness and self-conceit, foolish and despicable.”

Helmut Kohl
As Chancellor of a united Germany in 1990, Helmust Kohl said

“We must never forget, supress or play down the crimes committed in this century by Germans … Above all we owe this to the victims of the Holocaust, the unparalled genocide of European Jews.”


General Charles de Gaulle
Before the 1967 war de Gaulle said he believed in Israel’s right to defend itself but not to initiate a war. After the 1967 war de Gaulle said, in a much-criticized statement before the press and on film

“the Jews comprise an elite people, sure of itself and domineering.”

This led to a cartoon by Tim that summed up for many their response to those words.

Sir Anthony Eden,
then Foreign Secretary and later British Prime Minister, at a meeting in 1943 with his U.S. counterparts, where the fate of Jews who might be able to be rescued from Europe was discussed. At that time the fate of Jews being killed in the camps, was well known, even to ordinary citizens.

“The whole problem of the Jews of Europe is very difficult and we should move very cautiously about offering to take all Jews out of a country like Bulgaria. If we do that, then the Jews of the world will be wanting us to make similar offers in Poland and Germany. Hitler might well take us up on any such offer and there simply are not enough ships and means of transportation in the world to handle them.”

In doing so, Sir Anthony Eden ignored that to save some would have better than to save none. It is a false argument that none could be saved because all might prove too much for the available transportation.