By William A. Cook
Within days of the fifth anniversary of “Shock and Awe,” I received a solicitation from the Simon Wiesenthal Center to help “Combat Global Hate against the Jewish People.” Rabbi Marvin Heir, Dean and Founder of the Center, presents a frightening picture of “institutionalized hate” that “has Jews feeling threatened and demonized. Many living in fear.” He decries in militaristic terms the “blatant attack” on Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish State, the “growing campaign against Israel” that “equates Zionism with racism and urges the elimination of the Zionist movement.” He then declares that the Wiesenthal Center “will go head-to-head with the haters and extremists, fighting their lies with truth,” from every one of their headquarters in Los Angeles, New York, Toronto, Paris, Buenos Aires and Jerusalem.” With the forces of the Wiesenthal Center and its headquarters around the globe enlisted “…we can stand … in this noble –and absolutely crucial – battle against the forces of hate. This is a struggle none of us can afford to lose.”
Would that the good Rabbi sought our love, concern, and compassion for all the afflicted on the earth; sought to mobilize human sympathy for the oppressed, the homeless, and the starving; sought to ignite heartfelt passion for beliefs that unite, not divide; sought a dialogue with those that see exclusivity a danger, not something to be celebrated; sought to bring together those that find fault with disproportionate force used against the defenseless; sought to understand the dishonesty of those that defy International Law and the Resolutions of the United Nations while they exert pressure to blunt criticism of that defiance; sought to seek solutions with those who criticize the actions of the Israeli State since they see injustice in Israel’s occupation of Palestine; sought to create an atmosphere that encourages dialogue the better to find solutions, not an atmosphere of conflict; sought, in short, the truth.
Seven years ago, before the regimes of Ariel Sharon and George W. Bush took power, the Wiesenthal Center had no need for such a solicitation. Seven years ago before Sharon and his entourage of 1000 desecrated the al Aqsa Mosque, before the explosion of illegal settlements poured over 400,000 immigrants on to Palestinian land in the West Bank and Gaza, before Sharon’s introduction of the lawless State that rid itself of rights of due process reverting to the barbaric practice of assassinations without arrest or trial by jury (228 targeted and 377 ‘accidentally killed), before the erection of the heinous, inhumane, and illegal Wall of Fear, before the exertion of disproportionate force that has cost the lives of 2400 infants each year in Palestine through deliberate, intentional and war criminal actions (see UNICEF website), before 4,604 Palestinians were killed by Israeli soldiers and settlers since September 29, 2000, a number greater than America’s loss of soldiers in Iraq, most of them civilians (2113-3044), many of them children (982) [figures from B’tselem], before Sharon’s ruthless siege with attending massacres of Jenin and Rafah, before his merciless killing of a wheelchair bound blind quadriplegic cleric in a crowded street as he and his hapless friends emerged from a Mosque after prayers, before indifference to human life became the standard of the Israel government that inflicted ID cards, colored license plates, 500 check points, humiliating lines to force delays, babies delivered in the streets because the mother was denied an ambulance, before racism became imbedded in the IDF mentality, before George W. Bush released Sharon to his savagery, there was no outcry of anti-Semitism against Jews, only that inflicted on their Semite brothers and sisters in Palestine.
Given this litany of inhumane behavior inflicted by the State of Israel on a population that has been systematically squeezed into ever smaller Bantustans of overcrowded, dilapidated, rubble strewn landscapes, deprived of water and sanitation, deprived of control of their own lives and resources since all ingress and egress is controlled by the occupying forces, since their economy has been trashed and unemployment has risen above 50% in the West Bank and 70% in Gaza, since they have no military forces, no government that is allowed to govern without US and Israeli intervention, and no access to the outside world, can anyone not expect normal people who seek knowledge about the oppression of the Palestinian people to be critical of the Zionist Israeli government and of the Jews that do not criticize?
Today as I write this account, Gaza remains under siege. Yet here is a Guardian report from January 23, 2008, a month ago. Add two month’s horror to this picture. “Gaza is on the threshold of becoming the first territory to be intentionally reduced to a state of abject destitution, with the knowledge, acquiescence and – some would say – encouragement of the international community. An international community that professes to uphold the inherent dignity of every human being must not allow this to happen.” (Karen Konig AbuZayd in Gaza City). Who is responsible for this human disaster? The Jews of Israel. Who knows the suffering of forced imprisonment, starvation, torture and death? The Jews of Israel. Who proclaims a religion enriched by a moral strength that finds compassion the route to survival with all peoples? The Jews of Israel. Why then this unparalleled effort to destroy? Why this heinous approach that suffocates slowly, acid-like as it eats away at the mind and emotions of its victims, calculatingly punishing the infant, the young, the mother, the elderly, the infirm –an indifference as brutal as any undertaken by the most barbaric civilizations our planet has ever experienced.
“Israeli officials have publically embraced and defended their totalitarian policies of cutting off electricity generation in the Gaza strip, thus drastically reducing or eliminating the supply of safe water, halting all sewage treatment, electricity for hospitals, refrigerators, food and vaccine storage, home, and school and business lighting. The Israeli Supreme Court has approved this policy of mass, brutal collective punishment of over 1.4 million people. (Harretz, February 2, 2008).” (James Petras, February 2008, War without End). The Supreme Court is not alone in approving collective punishment; Harretz marks this remarkable occurrence: “ … several rabbis led by Rabbi Lior have issued a precedent setting halakhic ruling that Israel must shoot civilian populations in areas from whence attacks on Jewish communities originate.” (20/03/2008).
There exists, however, true Jews, those that know the value of life because they and their families have suffered severely to maintain it. Gideon Polya, an editor with MWC News, writes “Comparison of the Palestinian Genocide and the Jewish Holocaust in Hungary is appropriate.” And he continues, “Whereas the Jewish Holocaust involved rapid, anti-Jewish anti-Semitic, race based extermination for Nazi and Nazi collaborator benefit and gratification, the Palestinian Genocide has involved slow, anti-Arab anti-Semitic, ethnic cleansing for Zionist lebensraum.” This from a man that in his own words is “… an anti-racist, humanitarian, agnostic, Humanist scientist whose family has suffered racist genocide, dispossession and exile.” (MWC News, February 2008).
The Jerusalem Post reported in January that “The United Nations Human Rights Council condemned Israel for the 15th time in less than two years on Thursday.” Yitzhak Levanon, the Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations, commented on this development, “We have witnessed another round of the circus…I think that this is a farce.” How unfortunate that the Israeli State feels chagrined to be castigated by its inferiors; perhaps it should reflect on its behavior in Gaza, to put its actions in parallel with those they suffered under the German genocide and ask themselves to remember, for that was their admonishment to the world in 1945.
And the world community responded on behalf of the Jews who suffered under Hitler even to the point of providing them a homeland? “Never forget,” they were admonished, and they did not. They look now at another people that have been systematically expelled, murdered, imprisoned without charge, tortured, and brutally slaughtered with the most horrible of weapons including unmanned bulldozers that demolish their homes, unmanned planes that fire missiles down crowded streets and into apartment buildings, depleted uranium, white phosphorus, and cluster bombs, and they remember, “Never forget!” Never forget” lest this population, the Palestinians and the Lebanese, find themselves ethnically cleansed from their respective homelands to satisfy the Zionist agenda to turn these lands into greater Israel.
Why criticize the critics of Israel? Praise them. They have accepted the admonition of the real Jews, “Never Forget.” They have made public a brutal and calculated ethnic cleansing that exposes the Zionist forces that control in Israel, control not just the Palestinians and the press but the Jews themselves. That reality has been their modus operandi since 1939 when they turned against their benefactors, the British Mandate government that had made possible the implementation of the Balfour Declaration without which Israel would not exist. To deny this history is to deny the facts as presented in recent histories of Palestine by Israeli historians using the State archives, historians like Benny Morris and Ilan Pappe, and the corroborating documents from the Rhodes House Library of the Bodleian that uses seized Jewish documents to corroborate their investigative reports. These archival documents contain the official ethnic cleansing plans of the Zionist “Consultancy” that ruled in Palestine, a determined system of attack, killing, expulsion, and destruction of the Palestinian homeland.
No laws of the British mandate government, no international laws or agreements, no regulations enacted or imposed by the Yishuv or Jewish Agency could make the Zionist forces conform against their will. No law but Zionist law. Today’s Israeli government has individuals in it like Avigdor Lieberman who proclaim these same objectives. Indeed, a number of political parties hold to expulsion of the Arabs from the land of Palestine by force if necessary. Critics of Israel point to a danger in the world for Arabs, a concerted and systematized racist agenda to inflict harm on the Islamic people.
Is it not the goal of the Wiesenthal Center to “Never Forget”? Should that Center be concerned that a small but powerful group in Israel has executed plans to deprive Palestinians of their homes, their natural resources, their way of life, and their lives? Should that Center be working to change the government in Israel so that a new and peaceful agenda could be enacted? Should this Center that claims to be a champion of the oppressed demand of the United Nations that the Israeli government obey the resolutions that have been brought against it for its illegal actions, all 160 of them passed by the UNGA and 30 passed by the UNSC? Should the Wiesenthal Center be the first to recognize that Israel is not an equal among nations since it has defied every civilized international law of aggression, occupation and oppression in its dealings with the Palestinian people, the central tenets of the Geneva Accords, and the humanitarian doctrine all nations of the UN have accepted, the International Declaration of Human Rights? It should. That is its purpose, not the justification of evil.
-William A. Cook is a professor of English at the University of La Verne in southern California and author of Tracking Deception: Bush’s Mideast Policy. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org