Child Holocaust survivor Eddy Boas addressed an intimate audience at the home of Israeli ambassador Amir Maimon in Canberra this week.
In attendance were around 30 ambassadors, including from Germany, Sweden, Poland, Croatia, Lithuania and Austria, and various other diplomats.
After his presentation, Boas answered a range of questions about rising antisemitism and the importance of Holocaust education.
“I am not a religious Jew, I am not a Zionist, but I am a strong supporter of Israel,” Boas told the audience.
“Israel must prevail because if Israel gets wiped out then 15 or 16 million Jews are in danger of being wiped out, especially if the world stands by and lets it happen.”
Boas was born in The Hague, Netherlands, in 1940 and was just three months old when the Nazis invaded. At the age of three, he and his family – his mother Sara, father Philip, older brother Samuel – were rounded up and deported to Westerbork concentration camp. From there they were sent to Bergen-Belsen, but they miraculously survived as a family unit before migrating to Australia.
Since launching his book in 2017, Boas has maintained that antisemitism still lingers under the surface.
“Some of my friends said I was paranoid, but history told me that it doesn’t take much for a population – like we’re seeing here in Australia, which in my opinion is one of the worst – for antisemitism to show itself,” Boas told The AJN.
“I have written to both Labor and Liberal and told them straight up that these hate marches should be banned. I said in an interview recently that I believe we have a weak government.”
Boas said his tendency to “say it like it is” occasionally gets people offside, but it comes from genuine concern that Jewish leaders have become too complacent about the rising antisemitism.
It’s a situation that he strongly believes is comparable to what happened to Dutch Jews when the Nazis invaded.
“It’s easy to become complacent, this point has been proven, and I compare it to Holland prior to 1940,” Boas said.
“Back then Jews were welcomed with open arms, they were regarded as Dutch Jews, but as soon as the Nazis took over they were no longer Dutch – they were just Jews. More Jews per capita were murdered in Holland than from any other western European country.”