Then and Now
By Tim Butcher in Jerusalem
Then and Now
Last month I visited the Old Country for the first time. Poland. Land of my grandmother and grandfather, burial ground of countless unknown relatives. For six days, I wandered the country, and for six days I marinated in a deep nostalgia for a Jewish past I have never lived but have always felt far more connected to than, say, the Zionist-dominated present.
In one particularly moving episode, I walked the still-cobblestoned street where my grandfather walked as a boy, a narrow lane of Bialystok called Czysta Street where he, his parents, and eight siblings all lived [old homestead is pictured, below].
In another, I celebrated, cake and all, what would have been my great-grandparents’ 118th wedding anniversary. I visited the synagogue in Tykocin where one of my great grandfathers might have prayed. And I roamed the overgrown cemeteries of Warsaw and Bialystok, wondering which of my relatives were buried there, marveling at the tangled breadth of what once was, mourning its loss, and puzzling over why, if we’re going to insist on having some kind of a “homeland,” so many Jews demand that it be Israel when it so clearly should be Poland. Poland, land of latkes and bialys. Poland shel zahav.
This, of course, isn’t the reaction you’re “supposed” to have. In the popular Zionist narrative, the Old Country – and the unspeakably murderous brutality that Jews suffered there – is the (non-Biblical) justification for the state of Israel. It’s the narrative stepping-stone that gets people from anti-Semitism to Eretz Yisrael, from colonization to justification, and a whole industry of books, teen tours, and UJA-style delegations has sprouted up to help cement the connection.
And yet, when I returned from my trip and one of my more Zionist relatives asked the inevitable question – “So now you understand why Jews need Israel, right?” – I still couldn’t say “yes.” For me, the Old Country opened up a very different set of narratives.
Let’s start with some basic facts. Jews have a long history in the sprawling eastern European basin that is and has been Poland. Some say this history stretches back over 1000 years, and almost all agree that there have been bona fide Jewish settlements in Polish lands since at least the 11th Century. These Jews seem to have come, at least initially, from the wilds of Western Europe, driven by the rabid Jesus-freakery of the crusaders into the relatively tolerant arms of the emerging Polish kingdom (and the word “relative” really does need to be emphasized). It was hardly a picnic, but Poland’s comparative merits meant that Jews kept coming for decades and then centuries. By the mid-16th Century, as much as 75 percent of the world’s Jews on Polish soil, and by the eve of the Holocaust, Poland was home to the largest Jewish population in Europe. My own grandfather’s shtetl-town was a solid 70 percent Jewish in 1939; my grandmother’s town, Warsaw, was one-third Jewish. And as of 1998, it was estimated that more than three out of four American Jews could trace at least once grandparent to pre-Nazi Poland.
As one of these three-out-of-four American Jews, I can attest to the enduring power of my Old Country roots. My childhood was Roman Vishniac photographs and The Fools of Chelm (along, oddly, with unhealthy doses of WASPy Victorianism courtesy of my all-girl private school). It was Yiddish-accented great-aunts and uncles who’d never managed to slough their Bialystoker ticks. It was an ethos of always needing to prepare for the worst – for famine, plague, or pogroms – despite obvious security and plenty. And it was stories, lots and lots of stories, of my grandpa Harry, né Osher, a small man who barely reached 5’ 4”,who had little more than an eighth grade education but amply made up for it with sechel and chutzpa, who was generous to a fault, and who believed, profoundly, that the fate suffered by Europe’s Jews meant that you did everything possible to prevent other people from suffering the same thing.
Or, put differently, if I have any cultural proclivities at all other than those of the deracinated modern-day American, they clearly belong to the Yiddishe world of Jewish Poland – not the aggressive, militarized one of modern Israel.
This sense persisted – pecked at me, really – throughout my Polish sojourn, and by the time I was half way through the trip I’d begun to nurture a stubbornly-elaborate fantasy: rather than settling in Israel, Jews had instead migrated en masse to the Polish Old Country where they re-claimed their homes, land, synagogues, and streets. What’s more, these Jews were joined in my imagination by Romany, gay folks, all the “undesirables” of the Nazi regime along with any other oppressed and dispossessed. After all, wouldn’t that have been a far more just resolution and rebuke to the powers of European racism and brutality – creating a refuge for the persecuted right in the bastards’ back yards – than creating a distant Jewish nation on Palestinian soil? Than repeating the war’s dark lessons of nationalism? And let’s be honest, if there was a land to which Jews had a legitimate, strong connection, wouldn’t it have been the one where the majority (though not all) had spent hundreds upon hundreds of years?
No doubt any Zionists or ultra-religious folk who might happen to be reading this are probably frothing at the mouth right about now, yanking at their beard hairs. “You’re romanticizing the Old Country!” they’ll shout (even as they romanticize Israel). “The Bible makes no mention of the land surrounding the Vistula and beyond,” they’ll cry. And then they’ll accuse me of the greatest crime of all: of failing to understand the lessons of the Holocaust, of shrugging off centuries of hate.
In fact, I would argue that it’s just the opposite (though, if we’re talking guilt, I will cop in this instance to a certain regrettable Ashkenazi-centrism, though I’d also like to think this is more polemical than actual).
Like most Jewish kids of a certain time and place, I grew up with the Holocaust as a kind of cosmic microwave background, glowing radioactive in the distance. From the time I was tiny, I could recite many of the essential, horrendous details the way some young Jews can recite Talmud: six million, Hitler, Mengele, Auschwitz, Einsatzgruppen, gas chamber, death march, Final Solution. And now, having actually had the chance to visit Poland, I suspect I’ll never fully recover from the sucker-punch of the experience: from Auschwitz, Treblinka [where the author is pictured below], and the utter obliteration of an entire way of life. The Nazis (with later help from the Poles and the Communists) really did do a smash-up job of erasing a whole culture. Where there were once homes, synagogues, and artisans’ shops there are now parks, churches, and ruins. Where there were once towns full of families, there are now mass graves. And where Yiddish music and theater once thrived there is now, as we discovered one distressing afternoon in Tykocin, the Polish equivalent of minstrel shows: young Varsovians dressed as if they’d raided the wardrobe department of Fiddler on the Roof – in peyos, tzitzit, black vests, and caps – doing the sorriest wedding-dance I’d ever seen.
But far from freeing me to embrace Israel, this just made me more disturbed – more ragingly angry, frankly – by what Israel has done, and continues to do, to Palestinians. Again and again, as I stared at the remnants of ghetto walls, I wondered, baffled, how a people that was forced to live – and die – behind walls could force another people to live – and die – behind walls? Or how these same people who were pushed from their homes could push another people from their homes? Or force them to cross checkpoints, carry I.D., waste from hunger, dig tunnels to get food, and die at the blunt end of an Israeli missile? These are things I simply cannot understand. And as powerfully as I felt them before going to Poland, I feel them more powerfully now.
So in an attempt to re-wire the discourse just a bit, I would like to reclaim the Old Country from the jaws of Zionism. Instead of tours that whisk young people from Auschwitz to Israel, I would like to see trips that go from the Warsaw ghetto to the Jabaliya refugee camp. In place of a Jewish mainstream that looks only – and mistakenly – to Israel for its identity, I would like to see Jews who reach across time and space, to old countries and new countries, for a sense of who they are – and might be. But above all, if I can’t see an all-inclusive Yiddishe utopia resurrected in Poland, I would at least like to see the true lessons of “never again” enshrined in a single, consummately-inclusive Israeli-Palestinian state – a state that serves, through its unparalleled openness and respect for the rights of all its residents, as a true rebuke to the forces of hatred and genocide. I’ll admit that I don’t know exactly how to make it happen; policy often eludes me. But I do know that every reality begins with the notion of its possibility.
This originally appeared at Mondoweiss
Crossposted at Ibn Ezra
An estimated 140,000 died from the immediate effects of this bomb and tens of thousands more died in subsequent years from burns and other injuries, and radiation-related illnesses. Pres. Harry Truman ordered the use of the weapon in hopes of avoiding an invasion of Japan to end the war, and the presumed casualties likely to be suffered by invading American troops.The weapon, “Little Boy,” was delivered by a B-29 Superfortress nicknamed the Enola Gay, based on the island of Tinian, and piloted by Col. Paul W. Tibbets.
The Day the Sun Rose Twice
As if that wasn’t enough…..
On August 9, 1945
Shas’ spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.
Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski
In his weekly Saturday evening sermon, whose subject was the period between the 17th of Tamuz and Tisha Be’av fasts, the rabbi explained that on Tamuz 17, a number of calamities had occurred, including the breaching of Jerusalem’s walls which led to the destruction of the Temple on Tisha Be’av, as well as the sin of the golden calf which led to the shattering of the Tablets of Stone.
“There is no calamity that the people of Israel suffer that isn’t part of [the punishment for] the sin of the golden calf. The tragedies we’ve endured throughout generations – the Inquisition, the Holocaust – they are all part of the sin of the golden calf,” Rabbi Yosef explained.
“After all, people are upset and ask why was there a Holocaust? Woe to us, for we have sinned. Woe to us, for there is nothing we can say to justify it,” he said.
“It goes without saying that we believe in reincarnation,” continued Yosef. “It is a reincarnation of those souls. Our teacher The Ari said that there are no new souls in our generation…all the souls were once in the world and have returned.
“All those poor people in the Holocaust…we wonder why it was done. There were righteous people among them. Still, they were punished because of sins of past generations.”
Being a ‘page one’ entry on the S H I T List gives me special privileges. One of them is being the recipient of almost every piece of zionist hate mail that is written.
Yesterday I was sent a zionist position on the speech President Obama made during his recent trip to the Middle East….. ************************************************
In his talk, Obama spoke of the Holocaust, and the suffering Jews endured. In practically his next breath, however, he said:
“On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people…have suffered in pursuit of a homeland….”
And, following this observation, he went on to say:
“For decades, there has been a stalemate: two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history…”
This is deeply troubling — offensive! — and must be challenged at several levels.
There is, first, the unacceptable moral equivalency of his statement: The Jews suffered in the Holocaust…the Palestinians suffered the “nakba” — as if the historical experience of pain of the Palestinians in being “dislocated” is as great as what we endured in the Shoa (Holocaust) when six million died.
Within this formulation is a libelous implication: That just as we endured the Holocaust, we then brought commensurate suffering on another people. But I won’t go in that direction now. For there is more that is unacceptable:
What is also implied in Obama’s statement is that we are entitled to a Jewish state BECAUSE there was a Holocaust. And this too, fits with Palestinian mythology. See, they say, it is because of the Holocaust that they suffered dislocation — the Jews who had nowhere to go came here and pushed them out. Obama doesn’t say, as the Palestinians do — when they lament that they shouldn’t have to suffer because of our problems — that we are not entitled to a state, but his approach leans in this direction.
What Obama misses, when he focuses on the Holocaust as the reason we have a claim to a state, is the entire religious and historical basis for our claim here.
He says not a word about this land as divine Jewish inheritance, and this is critical. From the time of the Patriarchs, we Jews have been tied to this land. But the Muslims say today that we have no religious connection here. They have written us out in their falsified version of things, they have attempted to destroy ancient archeological evidence, and they call this land a Muslim wakf (trust) for eternity. It has gotten so bad that they call the Kotel (Western Wall ) an exclusively Muslim site: the place where Mohammad tied his horse. (Arafat denied there was a Temple on the Mount, ever, and Abbas has made similar statements.)
Make no mistake about it. The battle for the Land of Israel is at heart a religious battle, not a political one. By not acknowledging the Jewish connection to the land, Obama has left room for the Arabs to continue to make their claims.
OFFENSIVE????? TO WHOM?????
I am not in the camp of ‘Holocaust Deniers’ after having lost the entire paternal side of my family in the camps. I do, however, resent those that are cashing in on the Jewish suffering that took place during the last World War. I resent that those who are involved in the ‘Holocaust Industry’ ignore the fact the millions of others suffered as well…. it wasn’t only Jews.
Those that suffered were not given a ‘green light’ to inflict suffering on others…. BUT, that is exactly what the case is in Israel today. Jewish survivors of the Holocaust receive a cheque every month from the German government. Palestinian survivors of the Nakba receive NOTHING from the government of Israel. THAT I find offensive.
Any Jew, living anywhere in the world, has the RIGHT to ‘return’ to Israel…. even if he was never here before. Palestinians living anywhere in the world do NOT have the RIGHT OF RETURN to the homes they were driven away from during the Nakba. THAT I find offensive.
The zionists get offended if anyone denies the Holocaust ever took place. Yet, these very same people deny the Holocaust of the Palestinian people. They also use similar methods to continue their policies of genocide and ethnic cleansing in the Occupied Territories and Gaza, the largest concentration camp in the world today. THAT I find offensive.
The United States GIVES Israel 30 BILLION dollars a year in aid…. there is no indication yet that this will stop under Obama’s leadership. Yet, the following video represents the ‘thinking’ of many ex-Americans living in Israel today. The language used in the video is the rudest, most disgusting I have heard in years…. be warned!
THAT I find offensive!
The last words spoken by Julius Fučík before he was executed by the nazis were “In life there are no spectators, we are all participants.
THAT is NOT OFFENSIVE! Perhaps the zionists can learn from that quote.
Dear Mr. Wiesel,
First time I read Night, your memoir that describes your horrific experiences during the Holocaust, was in 2003. In my opinion, two books everyone in the world should read are Night and Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom.
I also suffered in my childhood. In 1992, my life was turned upside down when the civil war broke out in Bosnia, my country. At this time, I was thirteen and my sister was eleven.
My family is Serbian and we stayed in our city, Gorazde, which was held under siege by the Serbian forces. Overnight, many of our Muslim neighbors and even some friends began seeing us as the enemy. For two years, my family endured treatment that no human being should ever be subjected to. We were shot at, terrorized, put in a detention camp, starved, and eventually stripped of everything we owned. All this because of our ethnicity.
When I was seventeen, I almost killed a man who had attempted to kill my family during the war. After years of emotional struggle when I considered revenge as the only way to move on with my life, I was blessed to get involved in a youth program designed to help young people in Bosnia to become leaders in their communities. I worked with “former enemies” and this helped me open up my mind.
Over the years, yours and Nelson Mandela’s books, experiences, and work for peace made me think about my wartime experience and subsequently led me to a complete personal transformation.
I went from a teenager seeking retribution to a person seeking healing, reconciliation, and peace. I wrote about my wartime experience and search for peace and reconciliation in Not My Turn to Die: Memoirs of a Broken Childhood in Bosnia, published in March 2008 by AMACOM Books.
I found somewhere a quote where you say: “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
I completely agree with you.
I tried to find an Op-Ed, an interview, a statement made by you, in which you say something about the current conflict in Gaza and condemn the killings of innocent people.
I couldn’t find anything.
Like you, I dedicated my life to peace building and conflict transformation and management worldwide and promised to never be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation.
I am not influential like you, but I still do everything I can to voice my opinion. I write and publish articles. Over the years, I wrote extensively about Rwanda, Darfur, Zimbabwe, and other places where people suffer.
I’m currently writing about the crisis in Gaza and condemning killing of over 300 innocent Palestinian children who were brutally murdered by the Israeli forces in three weeks.
Savo Heleta is the author of Not My Turn to Die: Memoirs of a Broken Childhood in Bosnia (March 2008, AMACOM Books, New York) and a postgraduate student in Conflict Transformation and Management at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
The second quote ‘Never Again’ has also lost meaning…. never again to whom? If we look at the suffering of the holocaust victims in the death camps of Eastern Europe… we see the same suffering in the death camp known as the Gaza Strip today. The quote does not go … Never again, EXCEPT…. it’s Never Again! Yet it is happening again…. by the very people that coined the phrase in the first place.
The Palestinian Authority had hoped to raise $2.78 billion in aid, including $1.33 billion to rebuild the coastal strip after Israel’s three-week military offensive in January. Here are some of the pledges announced ahead of the one-day event.
“There had not been any casualties in Israel since the cease-fire of June 2008,” Erdogan said. “The Israelis claim that missiles were being sent [from Gaza]. I asked Prime Minister Olmert, how many people died as a result of those missiles? …The United Nations Security Council makes a decision, and Israel announces it does not recognize the decision. I’m not saying that Hamas is a good organization and makes no mistakes. They have made mistakes. But I am evaluating the end result.”
THE GRANDCHILDREN OF HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS FROM WORLD WAR II ARE DOING TO THE PALESTINIANS EXACTLY WHAT WAS DONE TO THEM BY NAZI GERMANY …
BUILDING WALLS & FENCES TO KEEP PEOPLE IN PRISON
Hitler Yesterday ~ Israel Today
THE CLASSIC PROPAGANDA MACHINE – YOU WILL FIND THE PICTURE IN BLACK & WHITE IN ALL AMERICAN AND SOME OTHER WESTERN COUNTRIES HISTORY BOOKS, ENCYCLOPAEDIAS, LIBRARIES, MUSEUMS… THAT DEPICTS A YOUNG JEWISH BOY WITH HIS HANDS UP WHILE NAZI TROOPS POINT THEIR GUNS AT HIM AND HIS FAMILY IN ORDER TO EXPEL THEM FROM THEIR HOMES… (IT’S SUPPOSED TO MAKE YOU SYMPATHIZE WITH THE VICTIMS & TO SUPPORT THEIR CAUSE FOR JUSTICE & A HOMELAND)
THE ISRAELIS PRACTICE THE SAME TACTIC
This war criminal takes time out for a coffee break while the FOLLOWING is happening to his people.
The photos are much too graphic to post… click HERE at your own discretion.
Image by Dee viaRense.Com
Mohammed Shaheen, a volunteer with Palestinian Red Crescent, was in the first convoy of ambulances to reach the site of the blast in Zeitoun since it was first occupied then shelled by the Israeli army.
His testimony confirmed accounts, first reported in The Telegraph, from survivors of the extended al Samouni clan who said they feared between 60 and 70 family members had been killed.
“Inside the Samouni house I saw about ten bodies and outside another sixty,” Mr Shaheen said.
“I was not able to count them accurately because there was not much time and we were looking for wounded people.
“We found fifteen people still alive but injured so we took them in the ambulances.
“I could see an Israeli army bulldozer knocking down houses nearby but we ran out of time and the Israeli soldiers started shooting at us.
“We had to leave about eight injured people behind because we could not get to them and it was no longer safe for us to stay.” Mr Shaheen was in a convoy led by a jeep from the International Committee of the Red Cross that made its way down war-damaged tracks past demolished houses to the town of Zeitoun.
Concerns had been growing that Zeitoun had witnessed massive civilian casualties after surviving members of the Samouni clan reached Gaza City three days ago.
They said that after the Israeli army first took the town on Saturday night soldiers had ordered about 100 members of the clan to gather in a single house owned by Wael Samouni around dawn on Sunday.
At 6.35am on Monday the house was repeatedly shelled with appalling loss of civilian life.
A handful of survivors, some wounded, others carrying dead or dying infants, made it on foot to Gaza’s main north-south road before they were given lifts to hospital. Three small children were buried in Gaza City that afternoon.
According to the survivors between 60 and 70 family members had been killed by shrapnel and falling masonry.
Convoys of ambulances twice headed to the area to look for wounded but they were driven back by Israeli shooting.
During today’s three hour lull in offensive operations by Israel, the ICRC led the rescue convoy in although it took a long time for the convoy to make its way down war-damaged.
According to Mr Shaheen, the death toll was as high as described by the survivors.
Source including video can be viewed HERE
Jan 5, 2009
On January 5, 2009 three families were massacred: Samuni, Abu Eisha, and Al-Hilou .
Seven members of the Abu Eisha family were torn to pieces by shelling, said medical officials at Ash-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. According to the medics the parents and their five children were killed when Israeli warships shelled their home in the Al-Mashtal area in the north of Ash-Shati Refugee Camp, on the shore west of Gaza City.
Medical officials at Ash-Shifa hospital also confirmed on Monday morning the deaths of seven people, including four children all members of the Samuni family in the Zaytoun neighborhood of Gaza City. Family members who managed escape the shelling claimed more than seven people may have been killed. Jalal Samuni said told Ma’an’s reporters at Ash-Shifa Hospital that more than 20 people were left inside the house which was bombarded, and he fears that many of them were killed. He explained that the neighbors gathered in the house of Arafat Samuni who came to the area yesterday. He said that advancing Israeli troops told residents to stay in their homes. Then Israeli forces shelled the house, he said.
Earlier also in the Zaytoun area killed a five-year-old girl and her grandfather, members of the Al-Hilou family. The girl’s mother was critically injured. All the victims were evacuated to Ash-Shifa Hospital (Ma’an news)
The Massacre of Al-Samuni Family
Samuni family says: Israeli soldiers gather 30 persons from Al Samuni family in one house. Ten families were in the house from the same clan. Many civilians were killed as artillery shells bombed the house. The number of victims around 14, most of them are children and women. Some are in critical conditions! Sameh A. Habeeb
Other pictures from Gaza – January 5, 2009
Photo by AFP
A Palestinian man shouts next to the bodies of two of four Palestinian siblings at Gaza Citys al-Shifa hospital.
Palestinian medics carry a wounded boy into Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City.AFP
A Palestinian father carries his wounded baby daughter into a hospital in Gaza City. AFP
Palestinian boys wounded by an Israeli tank shell wait for treatment at Shifa hospital in Gaza January 5, 2009. AFP
Wounded Palestinian children arrive for treatment at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, after an Israeli strike early Monday, Jan. 5, 2009.AFP
A wounded Palestinian boy is treated at the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, after an Israeli missile strike early Monday, Jan. 5, 2009.AFP
A Palestinian baby wounded by an Israeli tank shell is treated by doctors at Shifa hospital in Gaza January 5, 2009. AFP
Palestinian children wounded by an Israeli tank shell rush into Shifa hospital in Gaza January 5, 2009.AFP
Make sure not to miss the videos at the bottom of the original post
“This is a translation of an Arabic interview with the author”
By Khalid Amayreh
Question: Israel says it is only defending itself against recurrent attacks by Hamas and other Palestinian “terrorist” organizations?
Answer: All aggressors say they are only defending themselves. Nazi Germany said it was defending itself. Israel is the last country in the world that is fit to complain about terrorism. After all, Israel represents, encapsulates and embodies terror in its ugliest and most nefarious forms.
Indeed, from the very inception of its misbegotten birth, Israel has been a mass murderer, a child killer, a land thief and an irredeemable liar.
The genocidal rampage Israel is carrying out in Gaza represents the norm rather than the exception as far Israeli behaviors are concerned. In the final analysis, one can safely claim that Israel’s entire history has been an uninterrupted chain of massacres and terror. What makes the present mini-holocaust in Gaza look especially gruesome is the live television coverage from the field. This didn’t exist in 1984 and the few subsequent years when Judeo-Nazis thugs committed numerous even more heinous massacres against the native Palestinians.
As to the current criminal onslaught, it is amply clear for those who value the truth that Israel is fully responsible for this huge crime against humanity. Ever since Hamas won the Palestinian elections in 2006, Israel has been blockading and besieging the Gaza Strip, pushing the region’s estimated 1.5 million Palestinians to the edge of physical extermination. In brief, Israel imposed two alternatives on Palestinians, either to live a dog’s life and die quietly of starvation as a result of the Nazi-like siege, or be exterminated by the Israeli war machine.
Question: Israel claims it doesn’t deliberately target Palestinian civilians. How would you respond to that?
Answer: As an essentially criminal state which murders children and bomb apartment buildings, killing and maiming thousands of innocent children, Israel feels it has to lie to cover up her crimes. Criminality and mendacity are two sides of the same coin.
To put it simply, the Israeli claim is a pornographic lie, which unfortunately is constantly echoed by much of the western media. And there is a great deal of cynicism here because these lies are echoed while the Israeli army, air force and navy are seen raining death on apartment buildings, mosques, drug stores, private homes, college buildings including dormitories, shopping centers, petrol stations, schools, and police stations.
You see, it is a no-holds-barred approach, very much like the Nazis behaved during the Second World War.
Question: But Israel says it doesn’t kill Palestinian l civilians deliberately like the Palestinians do.
Answer: Well, first of all, whatever modest and primitive means of resistance the Palestinians possess don’t pose a real strategic threat to nuclear-armed Israel. The Palestinian projectiles fired from Gaza should only be seen as a desperate outcry by a people who are being exterminated by the Israeli war machine. Certainly, these homemade projectiles are no match for the state-of-the-art of the American technology of death such as the F-16 Jet fighter, the Bunker Busters, and the Abrams tanks which Israel is using to wreak death and havoc on unprotected Gaza and its defenseless civilians.
Second, Israel doesn’t tell the truth when it claims it doesn’t target civilians. Mistakes happen once, twice, even ten times. However, when thousands of innocent civilians, including entire families, are murdered in indiscriminate aerial bombing, it means the killing of civilians is deliberate. After all, killing knowingly is killing deliberately. And it doesn’t matter if you call it collateral damage or use other euphemisms in reference to the killings.
Besides, when the number of innocent victims is so high and so disproportionate as is the case in Gaza now, even intent becomes irrelevant.
Question: Israel says that Hamas hides weapons inside mosques?
Answer: Israel is saying many things to justify its genocidal wars against the Palestinian people. Last week, the Israeli air force bombed a small truck it said was carrying rockets. However, it turned out, as the Israeli Human Rights group B’tselem pointed out, that the truck was carrying cooking gas canisters.
Besides, are weapons stored in mosques? Last night, the Israeli air force bombed a mosque packed with worshipers in northern Gaza, killing 18 people and injuring dozens others. This is a an evil war crime and who ever carried out the bombing and gave the orders are war criminals that should be prosecuted and punished. Otherwise, we are in a huge jungle.
Question: How could Palestinian reporters and journalists function under the current circumstances?
Answer: They are trying their best, and they take nothing for granted. Last week, Israeli war planes bombed a Television station and two days ago the offices of the Gaza-based Arabic-daily, al Risala, was bombed and destroyed. So, they are targeting every thing…everything.
Question: will Israel succeed in eradicating the Palestinian resistance to the Israeli occupation?
Answer: Israel may well succeed in weakening the resistance, but it can’t destroy it. The reason for that is simple. The resistance is not a “cause” but an “effect.” The real “cause” is this Nazi-like occupation of Palestine which seeks to complete what Israel started in 1948, namely the uprooting and ethnic cleansing of the remaining Palestinians in order to replace them with Jewish immigrants from around the world. This is very much like the Nazi concept of “lebensraum.” But here in Israel they call it “security.”
In short, Israel can’t eliminate the “effect” as long as the “cause” remains intact.
Question: why have the Arab states failed to help Palestinians militarily?
Answer: Most Arab sates, probably with the exception of Lebanon, are despotic and tyrannical regimes which happen to be at America’s beck and call. These dictatorial regimes are not answerable to their own masses. More to the point, the leaders of these regimes value the legitimacy that comes from American and Israeli acceptance more than that which comes from their own people’s acceptance.
In other words, these regimes don’t represent or reflect the will of the masses. Hence, a regime-change in these states is next to impossible under the present circumstances because free and fair elections are not allowed.
Needless to say, this situation is maintained and perpetuated thanks to the unlimited support and backing by the US, the ultimate slave-master of these police states.
Question: Do Palestinians feel betrayed?
Answer: Absolutely they do. After all, we are left alone in the face of this Nazi war machine which is exterminating a people on no other account than its enduring determination to gain freedom and justice.
Question: what do you think are the main goals of the Israeli operation in Gaza?
Answer: There are many goals.
First, they are trying to break the will of the Palestinian people to resist the colonialist Israeli occupation, which is actually an act of rape. In other words, they want to continue savaging and oppressing us in ways unimaginable, and when we resist and or even complain, they threaten us with physical annihilation. It is very much like a serial rapist who threatens to murder his victims if they resists or complain. But Israel is more than just a serial rapist. It is also a murderer, liar and thief.
Another goal is simply to be able to impose a complete surrender on the American-backed Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. Israel as well as the Bush Administration think, I think erroneously, that if Hamas is neutralized, the PA can be coerced into accepting a “peace” settlement whereby Israel would take all the assets and Palestinians would take all the liabilities. I am talking about a sell-out “peace deal” that would allow Israel to keep the settlements, the bulk of East Jerusalem and decapitate the right of return for millions of Palestinian refugees who were uprooted from their homes when Israel was created more than sixty years ago.
Another goal is to boost the chances of Israeli war minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni wining the next Israeli elections. It is well known in Israel that the more Palestinian blood a given Israeli politician sheds, the more popular he or she will become in the eyes of the Israeli Jewish public. I am not saying that 100% of Israelis think this way. But I think the percentage is not less than 80% . In short, we are talking about a mostly cannibalistic and psychotic society that would be willing to murder millions of people while claiming to be the victim.
Question: Do Palestinians blame Hamas for the suffering and havoc and death inflicted on them as a result of the Israeli attacks?
Answer: Some may do, but I think the vast majority of Palestinians don’t. After all, it was Israel, not Hamas, that violated the ceasefire. Throughout the duration of the last cease-fire, which lasted for six months, Hamas meticulously observed the ceasefire. But Israel killed as many as 49 Palestinians. Moreover, Israel tightened the siege on Gaza, transforming the coastal territory into a modern-day Ghetto Warsaw.
Even the PA in Ramallah is saying now that Israel alone is responsible for this massive crime against humanity.
Question: why does Hamas not recognize Israel?
Answer: Why doesn’t Israel recognize Palestine? Besides, which Israel would you want Hamas to recognize? Does Israel have fixed borders? Moreover, how could we recognize a state that doesn’t recognize our very existence?
Question: I mean the 1967- borders?
Answer: Does Israel recognize the 1967 borders?
Question: Would you be willing to recognize Israel as a Jewish state?
Answer: Would American Jews, for example, be willing to recognize the US as an exclusive Protestant or Baptist state?
Question: When this war is over, How will Hamas look?
Answer: Hamas will be exhausted, and this is quite natural, given the unequal and asymmetrical nature of this war. However, soon after, Hamas will reassert itself and recover her strength. But the movement has already gained the sympathy, solidarity and admiration of tens of millions of Arabs and Muslims throughout the world.
Yes, Hamas’s relations with the regimes in the Middle East may not be good, given their subservience to the US. But Hamas is watching with great satisfaction millions of Arabs and Muslims who are identifying with the movement. This is exactly what Hamas is looking for and getting. In the final analysis, the Israeli onslaught on Gaza, criminal and satanic as it is, may well be proven ultimately a bless in disguise for Hamas and the overall Islamist cause.
Similarly, the pro-American “moderate regimes” will lose whatever modicum of respect that they may have had.
By Khalid Amayreh
The virtual holocaust Israel is now waging against the Gaza Strip is taking its toll on innocent civilians. The shocking scenes speak for themselves. The gruesomeness transcends reality; it exceeds by far the most eloquent of words.
Gaza-2008-9 is very much like Dresden-1945. And as Dresden was annihilated by the RAF toward the end of the Second World War, the 1.5 million inhabitants of Gaza are being decapitated and thoroughly terrorized by the Israeli army, the Wehrmacht of our time.
But there is obviously a fundamental and conspicuous difference between Gaza and Dresden. Dresden was targeted by the allies as an act of sheer vengeance and revenge for what the Nazi war machine had done, including German attacks on London and other British cities.
But Gaza committed no crime against Israel. To be sure, the opposite is quite true. Have we forgotten that the bulk of the Gaza victims, who are being annihilated with the Zionist war machine, happen to be refugees and their children and grandchildren uprooted from their towns and villages across the borders inside Israel?
In 1948, Israel uprooted them in wave after wave of genocidal ethnic cleansing, and ever since has been trying to liquidate them by bombing their homes, killing their children, bulldozing their farms and lately by trying to starve them to death.
And now, the six-decade reign of terror and death is being culminated with an aerial holocaust, all for the purpose of displaying “Jewish power” and “heroism.”!!! Well, what heroism is there in having the state-of-the-art of the American machine of death rain missiles and bombs, including Bunker Busters, on unprotected apartment buildings, mosques, streets, pharmacies, college dormitories? This is not heroism; it is a sheer act of cowardice.
The Nazis ganged up on defenseless people more than six decades ago, but they at least didn’t claim to be carrying out heroic acts as self-absorbed and gleeful Israeli leaders are doing now.
In truth, Gaza is being crucified because it refuses to succumb to the cruelty and supremacy of the “holy tribe,” because it refuses to die quietly and continues to cling to life and look forth for a better tomorrow, because Gaza is saying “give me freedom or give me death.”
The Nazis of our time want Gaza to die quietly, or at least as quietly as possible. Israeli behavior leaves no doubt as to the diabolical designs of the Judeo-Nazi entity.
But the Israeli military and political establishments don’t want to appear before the world as they really are, as Nazis par excellence who think, behave and act like the Nazis. This is why they are trying to cover up their crimes with a frantic campaign of fabricated lies.
But Nazis are Nazis even if they have Jewish names and pretend to be the victims. In the final analysis it doesn’t matter if Nazis call themselves “chosenites” or “master race” or “ubermenschen,” or even “victims.”
Israel is not only wreaking death, terror and havoc on defenseless Gazans. It is also implanting sowing hatred, a lot of hatred, in the hearts and minds millions of people who are watching Israel decapitate Gaza.
This is undoubtedly going to be one of the lasting aftereffects of this madness.
The gruesome and phantasmagoric images which hundreds of millions of Arabs and Muslims and others around the world are watching on their TV screens around the clock are a sure prescription for decades of hatred and sullen enmity toward Jews throughout the Muslim world.
Arab and Muslim children won’t have to read about Israeli Nazism in their textbooks. They are watching it live on their TV screens.
Let it be clear to all and sundry. Israel is telling an entire generation of Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims that they either surrender to the Jewish Third Reich or become “terrorists.”
They will become “terrorists” and be it as it may.
Surely, the pornographic slaughter will eventually boomerang on Israel and regretfully on Jews. Unfortunately, many innocent Jews will pay the price just as mostly innocent Palestinians are paying the price, with their lives and the lives of their children and beloved ones, for the brutal ugliness of the Zionist mindset. In the final analysis, anti-Semitism is manufactured in Israel, not in Damascus or Cairo or even Gaza.
Israel says its aim is to destroy Hamas. Well, there is no doubt that Israel possesses the
military ability to destroy the Hamas government. Israel, after all, is a military superpower which also happens to be more or less in control of the politics and policies of the United States and to a lesser extent the governments of Europe.
However, destroying Hamas’s government is one thing, and destroying Hamas the movement, is quite another.
Hamas has hundreds of thousands of supporters in occupied Palestine s well as tens of millions of sympathizers across the Arab and Muslim world. These will not disappear even if the Gaza governments does.
The ongoing huge demonstrations in solidarity with Hamas, now flooding the Arab world, shows that Hamas is more, much more, than a local nationalist-Islamic movement that can be eradicated by Israeli firepower.
Yes, Hamas has obviously been hit hard. But the movement is by no means about to die or even get weaker. In fact, there are many indications that Hamas will get stronger, at least in terms of popularity and stature.
The American puppet regimes in the Arab world may not like Hamas. Some of them may even be gloating over the Gaza calamity.
However, Hamas is definitely winning the hearts and minds of the Arab masses from Casablanca to Bahrain. This may not yield tangible benefits immediately, but the long-term gains are absolutely certain, and this is exactly what Hamas is seeking.
Well, let us suppose for the sake of argument that Israel succeeds in “terminating” the Hamas-led government in the Gaza Strip as Israeli leaders have been saying. Would this end the Islamic resistance to the Israeli occupation? Would this allow Israel to liquidate the Palestinian cause by imposing a “peace settlement” on the weak Palestinian Authority?
Nay, this won’t happen at all, because Hamas, whether we like or not, represents and encapsulates the spiritual essence of the Palestinian people and their yearning for freedom and justice.
More to the point, the contemplated elimination of the Hamas government by Israel would eventually be proven to be one of the stupidest Israeli misdeeds ever.
First of all, it would free the resistance group from the burden of government and allow it anew to carry out more ferocious attacks against Israel without having to worry about the bombing by Israel of buildings and security headquarters and hospitals.
In fact, Hamas had never wanted to be in government let alone form one. Hamas all along had wanted to be in a position to influence any Palestinian government, but not to be in the driver’s seat itself.
However, the outcome of the 2006 elections imposed the burden of government on Hamas especially after Fatah refused to join Hamas in forming a government of national unity.
So, in a certain since, the disappearance of the Hamas government in Gaza would be a bless in disguise for Hamas.
Remember these words very well. Because the conflict with Israel is not going to end in ten years or twenty or even fifty years.
“Salah wants to leave the house, but I didn’t let him,” Abu Salah said. “Who knows what will happen outside? On the other hand, who knows what will happen at home?”
He knew what he was talking about Monday morning, following what he called “the hardest night we’ve had until now. Even harder than Saturday. From 12 at night until 7 we couldn’t sleep – bombings, explosions and ambulances the whole time.”
At 1 o’clock that same night, on the other side of the Strip in Rafah’s Yibna refugee camp, a missile was fired at the home of Riad al-Attar, a senior commander in the Iz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades. Attar had already vacated the building along with his family.
Shortly afterwards, another missile was fired, this one hitting a building full of occupants, 300 meters from al-Attar’s home. The home, little more than concrete and asbestos, belongs to the Abbasi family. The father, Ziad, is a building contractor. Three of his children were killed in the strike and remained buried under the rubble: Sadki, age 3; Ahmed, age 12 and Mohammed, age 14. The parents and three other children were wounded.
On Monday at 5 P.M. a house was bombed in Beit Lahia, and according to initial reports seven family members were killed.
“Every parent understands the home isn’t safe, as the streets aren’t safe,” says Umm Basel.
“Maybe next door lives someone from Iz al-Din al-Qassam, I don’t know, or on your side they think he lives there, and that you’re allowed to fire a missile on us. He is not in his home, we are.”
Everyone sees the images on television of young children being rescued from the wreckage.
“When I turn on the generator and for a moment don’t pay attention to them, the kids run to the TV to see the girls of the Balousha family,” she said, referring to the Jabalya family which lost five girls and in which four siblings and the parents were injured.
“Yafa noticed that one of the girls whispered, ‘Where is my mother?’” she said, adding that no one in her family slept that night. “We’re always jumping out of bed because of the bombings.”
All of the windows in the home are open so that the explosions don’t shatter the glass and wound the people inside – at least, that is the case in homes in which the window panes remain whole.
Glass panes are impossible to come by in the Strip, and instead people cover the windows with plastic sheets. Such sheets, like window panes, are not among the products Israel has allowed into the territory over the past two years, and they can only be transferred via underground tunnels.
Now, with the tunnels’ closure, a shortage of sheets is expected. On top of everything else, Gazans must now deal with the bitter cold in their homes, lacking electricity most of the time, as well as diesel fuel and gas.
On Monday and the day before, Rafah residents living close to the Egyptian border were told to leave their homes.
On Saturday night, Egyptian authorities gave members of the Palestinian National Guard a message from Israel to move 300 meters from the border because shelling was about to begin. Hundreds of people went to stay with relatives in the center of Rafah, gathering their belongings and leaving for the hundredth time in their lives.