Holocaust Part 2 is real

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Every time I hear of leaders around the world gathering at monuments to solemnly commemorate the Holocaust of the previous century, I want to scream out about another Holocaust that has been going on before our very eyes for the past 65 years and more.

It is orchestrated by none other than the descendants of the first Holocaust, many of whom today form the Israeli government.

The free world could be forgiven during World War II for being unaware of the crimes Hitler committed against various groups. News did not travel very fast in those days, and neither were there instantaneous broadcasts of live pictures and film illustrating the viciousness of the Nazi occupation.

Today we should not forgive ourselves for keeping quiet. For we have been witnessing live some of the events as they have unfolded. Israeli occupation forces have been systematically murdering and maiming the innocent in Palestine for over six decades now.

Who can forget the tragic image of a father shielding his eight-year-old son, as Israeli forces callously shot him dead while the cameras were running? Or the image of Rachel Corrie, an American from Seattle who defiantly stood in the face of Israeli bulldozers, only to be violently crushed to death?

Or the images of an eight-year-old girl shot in the head by an Israeli sniper out for target practice? Or more recently, of an eight-year-old and a 10-year-old child who were slaughtered as they were playing outside their homes? Or four Palestinian children playing by the sea and mercilessly shot down by Israeli aircraft? All of this at the hands of Benjamin Netanyahu who, like his predecessor Ariel Sharon, is a man with war crimes coursing through his soul and with no obvious interest in peace.

Does no one wonder about a monstrous and illegitimate wall being built in and around Palestinian lands? In the face of objections from some quarters around the world, Israel continues to go ahead. Is this what you expect as a peaceful overture from a government that does not hesitate to remind the world of Holocaust 1, but continues to disregard most international calls for restraint?

From the killing fields of Sabra and Shatila in the 1980s, to the documented cases of ethnic cleansing in Jericho, in Jenin, in Bethlehem, and a host of towns and villages across Palestine, the cries for justice ring hollow to Netanyahu and his henchmen, as they continue to remind the world of the first Holocaust and demand collective guilt.

In 2012, Hagit Ofran of the Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now denounced Netanyahu’s government for encouraging and legitimizing new settlements “in a deceitful way”. She said, “The Israeli government is proving its true policy, that instead of going for peace it is building new settlements. This is the first time since 1990 that the government of Israel decides on establishing new settlements, and the government’s maneuver, of establishing a committee to establish the settlements, is a trick aimed at hiding the true policy from the public. All the years these outposts weren’t legal, the state said they aren’t for real, and now they suddenly are.”

A few months ago, noted American author and icon Noam Chomsky added his own thoughts to the fray. An 86-year-old Jew and an individual who lived through the holocaust of World War II, Chomsky said, “I thought 40 years ago and I think today that people who call themselves supporters of Israel are, in fact, supporting its moral degeneration, its increased international isolation and possibly its ultimate destruction. I think these policies are suicidal and immoral.”

Chomsky dismissed Israel’s claim that the country’s security was threatened by its Arab neighbors. “To the extent that Israel is threatened, it’s Israel’s own choice. For the past 40 years, Israel has pursued a policy very consciously of preferring expansion rather than security,” he asserted.

More recently, a prominent Israeli journalist who previously worked for the right-wing Jerusalem Post admitted that his country had indeed become an “apartheid” state. Bradley Burston, who currently writes for Haaretz, another Israeli paper, said:

“I used to be one of those people who took issue with the label of apartheid as applied to Israel. I was one of those people who could be counted on to argue that, while the country’s settlement and occupation policies were anti-democratic and brutal and slow-dose suicidal, the word apartheid did not apply.

“I’m not one of those people any more. Not after the last few weeks. Not after terrorists firebombed a West Bank Palestinian home, annihilating a family, murdering an 18-month-old boy and his father, burning his mother over 90 percent of her body – only to have Israel’s government rule the family ineligible for the financial support and compensation automatically granted Israeli victims of terrorism, settlers included.

“I can’t pretend anymore. Not after Israel’s Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, explicitly declaring stone-throwing to be terrorism, drove the passage of a bill holding stone-throwers liable to up to 20 years in prison. The law did not specify that it targeted only Palestinian stone-throwers. It didn’t have to.

“Just one week later, pro-settlement Jews hurled rocks, furniture, and bottles of urine at Israeli soldiers and police at a West Bank settlement, and in response, Benjamin Netanyahu immediately rewarded the Jewish stone-throwers with a pledge to build hundreds of new settlement homes. This is what has become of the rule of law. Two sets of books. One for Us, and one to throw at Them... Apartheid.”

Holocaust 2 has been displayed more graphically during our generation through an expansive medium. And it is no less ugly and revolting. Let us erect monuments in every town and village in Palestine and in major cities around the world to honor the dead who have fallen in the face of this ugly aggression. Let us pay annual homage and publicly recognize this aberration amidst us. Let the current Holocaust demand the same wide audience and through a larger medium.

Holocaust Part 1 was then, but Holocaust Part 2 is now. And it’s just as real. Ask any Palestinian living under Israeli rule.

The author can be reached at talmaeena@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @talmaeen


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