Wednesday, March 16, 2005


Why we shouldn't celebrate Gandhi

No, not that Gandhi. I'm talking about Rehavam "Gandhi" Ze'evi, the former Israeli Tourism minister who was assassinated by a PFLP member in response to the Israeli assassination of PFLP secretary general Abu Ali Mustafa. A Knesset committee yesterday approved a bill that would commemorate Ze'evi's legacy, a legacy of anti-Palestinian and anti-Arab racism, calling for "transfer" (that is, ethnic cleansing) of the Palestinians out of Israel and the occupied territories, with a "Ze'evi Center." Leftist firebrand poet and writer Yitzhak Laor comes to the rescue in a Ha'aretz op-ed, decrying the celebration of Ze'evi's "love of the land."
What Ze'evi called "love of the land" was first of all the demand to throw the Arabs out of their land, and at the same time remove them from the historiography of the country, as he tried to do as the scandalous director of the museum from which Tel Aviv City Hall tried to remove him, but about which his "friends from the army" (from left and right) made a scandal and prevented it.

...Anyone who calls those values "love of the land" obviously thinks that everything that comes from love is permissible. Ze'evi's love of the land was perverse, and perversion does not get memorial institutes.
And on the subject of memorial institutes (as well as perversion and ethnic cleansing), Amira Hass has a very powerful piece on the subject of the re-opening ceremony of Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust memorial museum. In it, Hass excoriates both Israel and the European powers of using events like this to shirk responsibility and ignore their own wrong-doings.
One of the infuriating absurdities in every injustice, especially one of inconceivable proportions like the German murder industry (with extensive European aid), is that the victims and their offspring remember and live it day in and day out. The perpetrators, however, repress and forget it, and it is easy for their offspring to ignore it.

So let the entire diplomatic throng, which is seeking Sharon's audience today, go and talk of the European responsibility for the Holocaust in its own territory, not in Israel. Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam, Krakow, Sarajevo, and the villages and forests around them are soaked with the memories of our parents, with the forgetfulness of the perpetrators and their offspring, and with the helplessness and indifference of those standing idly by. Let the prime ministers and foreign ministers go there and raise the memory and knowledge and historic understanding. And not just once a year, on the day of Auschwitz's liberation or Germany's surrender, just to pay lip service.

We remember and feel the pain of that liquidation day by day. Let us confront them with it day by day. For example, let it be inscribed on a large marble slab outside every house in which Jews used to live, where they were deported and where they were murdered. Let every railway station from which the human transports were dispatched provide the information: when, how many trains a day, how many people. Let the names of those responsible for the transport be written down - at the police station, the railway station, city hall.

The way to fight the fading memory is not merely with memorial monuments and ceremonies. It is done mainly with an uncompromising rejection of the master race ideology, which divided the world into superior and inferior races and denied the principle of equality among human beings. We were placed at the bottom of the ladder of the Nazi ideology. Would this ideology not have been criminal had we been ranked in the upper rungs?

An ideology that divides the world into those who are worth more and those who are worth less, into superior and inferior beings, does not have to reach the dimensions of the German genocide to be improper and wrong - the apartheid in South Africa, for example.

Thirty-eight years of Israeli occupation of the Palestinian nation have accustomed generations of Israelis to regard the Palestinians as inferior, and therefore not as deserving as we are. But hush, one must not say that out loud, because Israelis will raise an indignant cry: "How can you compare?"

In the same way, it is forbidden to demand of us - with diplomatic threats - to change our ways. Because then we will remind them of our people who were murdered.

This widely covered event shows that Israel has turned the liquidation of Europe's Jews into an asset. Our murdered relatives are being enlisted to enable Israel to continue not giving a damn about international decisions against the occupation. The suffering our parents endured in the ghettoes and concentration camps that filled Europe, the physical and mental anguish and torment that our parents were subjected to every single day since the "liberation," are used as weapons to thwart any international criticism of the society we are creating here. This is a society with built-in discrimination on the basis of nationality, and the discrimination is spreading on either side of the Green Line. This is a society that is systematically continuing to banish the Palestinian nation from its land and usurp its rights as a nation and its chances for a humane future.
Strong and moving words from the daughter of Holocaust survivors.

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