The Ripple Project
Liron Unreich describes himself as an enabler of creativity. For several years now, when not producing and installing high-end art exhibitions, he has been capturing the memories of holocaust survivors in an ambitious project called the Ripple Project, a collection of documentary movies and art installations, which trace survivors’ memories and their continuing effect as they ‘ripple’ through the generations. It is a saintly work, which not only touched the audiences, but is also often transformative to the lives of the survivors themselves, as well as their families and descendants.
Unlike other Holocaust memorials and commemorations, the project is not about the death camps, the war or the Nazis, but, rather, about the expressions of humanity within the horror; the acts of creativity and kindness which took place amidst starvation, deprivation and death. A new kind of heroism is upheld, not that of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising kind, but that of the musical theater staged by children at Terezín kind.
The implications of this approach are profound. The assertion “never again”, which is at the basis of the state of Israel’s founding, is nowhere to be found in the Ripple Project. The most important lesson we were supposed to learn from the Holocaust, about the need to be able to defend ourselves as people. But the stories told by the Ripple Project are not a call to arms. The Nazis are shadowy demons. They rule over captive people and harvest us at will. Violent resistance, and even escape, are not discussed. They appear futile; perhaps besides the point. It’s the survival of Humanity, of empathy, kindness, creativity, which we are concerned with, not merely the survival of human beings. And since violence makes us more like these Nazi demons, resorting to violence in order to resist and survive implies that we have already lost the fight for humanity anyway.
This pacifist reaction implies a critique of Zionism. The Zionists have, in a sense, participated in the demise of an ideal. The survival of the Jews as, essentially, defenceless people, gave way to a militant stance, which makes us just a little bit (or a lot, depending on who you ask) more like the Nazis. A general disappointment of State of Israel appears to be obvious to the people sitting in the Room. When asked specifically about this, Liron takes on the mantra “Never Again” mantra and confesses that he expects that it, meaning slaughter of Jews on a massive scale, is likely will happen again. And yet – for a reason that is not completely expressed – it remains our (maybe sacred) duty to be Jews and to continue to tell our stories.
It was a fascinating and thought-provoking presentation/conversation which I will be thinking about for a long time.