There is no doubt that Michael
Handelzalts, writing in Ha'artez, (June 11, 2004)
is correct that the situation in the Occupied Territories
is intolerable in its own right. Had there been no
holocaust, the situation would not be an iota less
detestable. But it is also undoubtedly true that the
holocaust plays a cogent role in Israeli attitudes
and insensitivity towards Palestinian suffering.
as holocaust remind me of a tale related
long ago by a Catholic friend when speaking on racism
to high school students: A new Soul had been
met at the Pearly Gates by St. Peter, who then took
Soul for a tour of the wondrous surroundings. Soul
was duly impressed with the holy choir and all the
rest, but was curious to know why the door to one
room remained closed while all the rest of heaven
had been open to view. St. Peter replied to Souls
query: Oh, thats where the Catholics are.
They believe that they are the only ones here, and
we do not wish to offend them. The Catholics
in the story have a sectarian attitude towards heaven.
the notions accompanying terms as holocaust,
anti-Semitism and the like are separatist
and sectarian; they focus attention on a given group,
thus detracting attention from the broader picture.
course Jews have suffered. But so have numerous other
peoples throughout history--the Chinese, the blacks,
the Native Americans, the Armenians, Gypsies, etc.;
the list can be greatly extended. To speak of the
holocaust and anti-Semitism as specifically Jewish
phenomena is to separate ourselves (the Jews) from
the rest of humanity, and to place ourselves on a
plane not only apart from the rest of humanity but
in some senses superior to it. Our suffering becomes
worse, more horrid, than has been anyone elses.
if we are ever to prevent such phenomena as the holocaust
and anti-Semitism, they must be seen for what they
really are: anti-human phenomena rather than merely
anti-Jewish phenomena. Had Hitler chosen to solve
the black problem or the yellow
problem or the Muslim problem, killing
millions of them instead of Jews, the holocaust would
not have been less odious. The holocaust is genocide
and ethnic cleansing. Anti-Semitism is racism. We
need to think in terms of humanity at large instead
of inventing and reserving terms for special groups.
Let us speak, then, of genocide, racism, ethnic cleansing
and the like rather than using sectarian terms.
of focusing on the holocaust as a strictly Jewish
phenomenon, we should ask how it transpired; how a
country (Germany) was turned into being one that not
only did not care about the other but
was able to commit the horrors of systematic genocide
for the purpose of ethnically cleansing society and
transforming it into a purely Aryan society, cleansed
also of defective human beings, so as to create a
perfect Superior Race.
in Israel, demography is a priority, seen as essential
to ensuring the existence of a state for Jews only.
How different is this (and in what ways) from creating
a state for a pure Aryan race? Is it merely the means
that the Nazis used that are different? Are there
if Jews (Israeli and other) could begin to look at
the how it came about of the holocaust,
and the why, they would also be able to
see the similarities (as well as the differences).
Then, perhaps, they would perceive the manner in which
Israel has been brought to be a nation insensible
to the sufferings of the other (not only
of the Palestinian, but also of foreign workers, and
even those of black skin who happen to be Jewish,
at Az-Azawyia when protesting the expropriation of
the villages land and the cutting down of its
trees, I sat for a few minutes under an olive tree
and was reminded of our own yard at home, and how,
some 12 years ago, wed wanted to redo it with
the help of a professional landscape architect. Smack
in the middle of the yard is our familys pride
and joy: a huge colossus of a pecan tree. To my horror,
each of the architects who came to advise readily
informed me, That tree has to come down.
I politely and incredulously thanked each for his/her
services and said goodbye. Spouse and I redesigned
the yard ourselves; the pecan (now almost 40 years
old) continues to shade us.
attachment to even a single tree helps me understand
the attachment of Palestinians to their groves of
olive trees, some trees 100s of years old. I feel
the pain of these people as the IOF uncaringly destroys
the trees, the land, turning all into a waste land,
and in so doing destroying for many Palestinians their
sole remaining source of income.
most Israelis dont care, because they have been
sold a bill of goods, have been brought to believe
that the destruction of Palestinian life and the penning
of them up in ghettos (i.e., in conclaves that imprison
Palestinians) is legitimate, is the way to bring Israelis
security. Israelis having been taught that Palestinians
are the enemy, are unable to conceive
of them as human beings. One source of this is the
belief that Jews need a country for Jews only so as
to ensure their security, to ensure having a place
in which no holocaust can again happen. This belief
is so strong that it closes most Jewish eyes and hearts
to what Israel does to the other; consequently
Israeli Jews do not care or realize that the Israeli
government is ethnically cleansing the West Bank and
Israel of as many Palestinians as possible, not only
by killing (the IOF kills Palestinians daily) but
by starving them, by making life so unbearable that
it hopes to force them to leave.
it work? I tend to think not. But that is a different
story. Moreover, by the time it ends, the cost in
human life--Israeli and Palestinian--will have been
enormous and totally unnecessary.
is what I saw'.
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