By Khalid Amayreh
A number of Muslim clerics and imams reportedly toured the site of the former concentration camp, Auschwitz, in Poland last week. The imams hailed from a number of Muslim countries, including Occupied Palestine, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, Bosnia and some of African countries.
The tour was sponsored by the American State Department and intended to educate Muslims about Jewish suffering during World War II. No other comparable program to educate Jews about the ongoing Palestinian Nakba was initiated, suggesting moral selectiveness and bias on the Americans’ part.
Israel and Zionist circles often use the holocaust as a mantra to justify the usurpation and occupation of Palestine by Zionist Jewish invaders and colonialists from all over the world.
We Muslims, including Palestinians, are not against visits by Muslims to sites of former concentration camps as a matter of principle. More to the point, we are not against sympathizing and identifying with the victims of Nazism, Jews and non-Jews alike.
However when such visits are manipulated by Israel and Zionist circles to justify and promote the ongoing Jewish-Zionist holocaust against Palestinian national existence, then we must stop and think deeply about the moral implications of such visits.
The WWII holocaust lasted for two or three years and the entire world was mobilized to stop it, but the Palestinian holocaust has been going on nonstop since 1948, with the main world political powers either siding with Zionist aggressors or doing virtually nothing to save the Palestinian people from the attempted annihilation by Zionist Jews seeking to emulate the Third Reich.
No one is claiming that six million Palestinians have perished or that Palestinian towns have been transformed into concentration camps, although Israeli blitzes against the Gaza Strip in 2008-9 and 2012 contained unmistakable elements which looked as if borrowed from the holocaust. What is the difference between the Gaza siege and the Ghetto Warsaw siege? Yes, details may differ here and there, given the circumstances in both cases, but the essence is the same.
Today, more than five million Palestinians are living as refugees around the world, waiting the moment when they can return to their homes from which they were expelled at gun point at the hands of the children and grandchildren of the holocausts.
Other Palestinians who were not deported are living a life of discrimination, humiliation, and constant repression and facing a precarious future as a result of Israeli racism, as the Jewish state continues to seek more lebensraum at the expense of the Palestinian people.
In short, Israel has been using and continues to use the memory of one holocaust to justify and rationalize another protracted holocaust, one that has been going on unabated for 65 years.
It is lamentable indeed that some Muslim imams, including Palestinians, have been duped by the Americans to serve Israeli propaganda efforts.
Perhaps, these gullible clerics should have also insisted they also visit the sites of the massacres of Deir Yasin, Tantura, Dawaymeh, Sabra and Shatilla and Ibrahimi Mosque, just to mention a few Zionist atrocities.
Perhaps the gullible clerics should have insisted they visit or meet with some Palestinian refugees, languishing in misery in Lebanon, Jordan, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
We Palestinians are not and will never be anti-Semites. Anti-Semitism, like Islamophobia, is morally and humanly repugnant. However, we will never agree to equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. Anti-Zionism is as moral and as ethical as anti-Nazism.
Indeed, when Jews or anyone else think, behave and act as the Nazis thought, behaved and acted, then we should have no problem comparing them with the Nazis.
There is no such a thing as a kosher genocide or kosher holocaust. And when a peaceable people is massacred and subjected to other forms of ethnic cleansing, we should call the spade a spade especially when we see it in the hands of our grave-diggers.
We must always uphold this truth, however unpalatable and politically incorrect it might be.
Today, Israel and her guardian ally, the United States are trying to define anti-Zionism as a form of anti-Semitism. This is a malicious effort to legitimize evil, especially when committed by Jews.
In the recent past, anti-Semites used to be those who hated Jews for being Jews. Today, we are told that anti-Semites are those who criticize Nazi-like Jewish behavior in Occupied Palestine.
Needless to say, honest people around the world, including conscientious Jews, ought to reject this brazen cheapening of anti-Semitism. It is just beyond chutzpah.
As to the naïve clerics, they should apologize to their respective congregations and Muslims in general. They should also think twice in the future before accepting such invitations from the United States or Germany, the same states that continue to supply Israel with all sorts of advanced weapons of death and destruction that enable Israel to occupy more lebensraum and murder more Muslims.
The holocaust happened nearly 70 years ago, but Israel and Zionist circles would very much like to make it look as relevant as if it occurred a few months or years ago. This is an act of sheer deception and propaganda that should never escape our attention.
This is why we should be extremely cautious and never allow any activity, however innocuous it may look, to overshadow the plight of our people. The Zionists simply want to make the holocaust the main preoccupation of the world, mainly in order to overshadow and eclipse the ongoing and unrelenting Israeli holocaust against the Palestinian people.
We must not help them achieve this sinister goal.