The Gaza Ghetto

There are fewer than 4000 Jews left alive in Poland today. There are more than 6000 descendants of the Schindler Jews.

One of my favorite movie directors/producers is Steven Spielberg, but not for the reasons that he is rated as such by most people. Rather, I rank Spielberg so highly is because of his more thought-provoking movies like Amistad and Schincler’s List. Especially , a movie that takes place in Krakow, Poland during theHolocaust and tells the true story of how one group of Polish Jews escaped the Nazi “Final Solution” thanks to the efforts of a German enamel-ware maufacturer.

I was in Poland in 1983. I saw for myself what is left of the Jewish ghettoes in Krakow and Warsaw, as well as Lublin, which once was a center of Jewish culture in Eastern and Central Europe. I saw several of the Nazi “death camps,” which were left standing as a memorial to its victims and a reminder for future generations – “Never again.” After seeing those camps, I know for a fact the level of cruelty that humans are capable of and I too, although I am not Jewish, swore “Never again!” Not just “Never again” for the Jews, but “Never again” for any people.

Unfortunately, things similar to the Holocaust have happened since then and are still happening today – the “Killing Fields” of Cambodia come to mind as a recent variation on the theme of the Holocaust. And now we have a situation that has many similarities to the early days of the Holocaust – the enforced ghettoization of a people and a governmental campaign of deprivation of those people. The ironic thing is that the government enforcing the ghettoization and deprivation is government of Israel – a political entity whose sole reason for coming into existence was to provide a homeland for the survivors of the Holocaust. The victims have become the victimizers.

As I was reading Gaza Strip shortages bite hard and Gaza Fulbright grants reinstated, both from the BBC, I kept flashing on scences from Schindler’s List as well as some of the research I did on the Jolocaust in my time in graduate school. The similarities are striking. The only thing missing, so far, are the death camps, but I fear those are a very real possibility for the future if Israel continues in its current direction. History has a tendency to repeat itself in the strangest of ways.

Israel, since its inception in 1948, has been extremely concerned about its right to exist, and, frankly, it sometimes acts like a person suffering from a persecution conplex. I am not denying that there have been some serious threats to its existence in the last 60 years, but as the Six Day War proved, Israel is the preeminent military power in the Middle East, thanks in large part to the supply of state-of-the-art military technology it receives from the United States, as well as the fact that Israel, despite the posturings of the Bush Administration about Iranm is the only country in the Middle East with nuclear weapons and the capability to use them [see my post Profits Before Principles: US Foreign Policy]. I fear that this obsession with security, this persecution complex, has blinded Israel to the lessons of its own history.

The history of the relationship between the Israelis, or to use the Biblical term, the Israelites, has a long history going back to the days of the first Exodus. And it a history full of war and ahtred, couched in religious terms since Joshua and the walls of Jericho. The fact that there has been no Jewish political entity in the Middle East since 6 B.C., when Judea became a Roman province. And what little power the Jewish people had after than was demolished with the destruction of Second Temple at the end of the First Jewish-Roman War [66 – 73 C.E.] Even with a haitus of almost 2000 years, the Jewish people claim the lnad of Israel as theirs because they feel it was given to them by God. After all, are they not God’s Chosen People? How that meshes with the fundamentalist Christian claims that they are the new Chosen People would be an interesting discussion, one for the near future, perhaps.

Desmond Tutu, s Nobel Peace Prize Winner and the former Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, was in Gaza recently on a fact-finding mission for the United Nations. Here’s what he had to say about the situation in Gaza: My message to the international community is that our silence and complicity, especially on the situation in Gaza, shames us all. It is almost like the behaviour of the military junta in Burma.Tutu: Gaza blockade abomination.

I could not agree more. And in both cases, I feel that the United States has played a large role in shaping both situations. If we had a President with some real moral principles rather than one who mouths meaningless platitudes, a President who actually practiced what he says he believes, the world wouuld be a much better and, ultimately, safer place for all humanity. But when the so-called leader of the free world is a moral dirt bag, how can we expect other countries to be any better?

A final note for those of you who, like Dubya the Dirtbag, classify Hamas as terrorists, read these articles:

Hamas Sweeps Palestinian Elections, Complicating Peace Efforts in Mideast

If you are not familiar with the histHamas Wins Sweeping Victory in Palestinian Parliamentary Electionsory of the region, you should read this and be sure to follow all the links to get a complete picture of the historical context.
Formation of Israel

The history of Zionism and the creation of Israel

A History of Zionism and Modern Israel

Remember, more often than not, those opposed to the establishment are branded as “terrorists
by that establishment. King George III, the British monarch during the American Revolution, considered George Washington a terrorist, while Americans consider Washington a patriot. The Palestinians consider Hamas as true Palestinian patriots, while the US and Israel consider them to be terrorists. Ut all depends on which side of the fence you are on.

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