By Lillian Rosengarten
Where is the heart of the Jewish soul? Soul as ethical compassion, the Jewish spirit as it struggled to survive the darkest nightmare of Nazi racial laws. How do the first and second generation of victims of such heinous blood curdling racist crimes during the Nazi progrom of ethnic cleansing, live it’s present form of nationalism in Israel? By what demonic twist of fate can Jews, who merely two generations ago suffered as victims of Nazi anti-Semitism and racial purity laws, justify destroying an entire Palestinian population by plowing through their land, driving out it’s inhabitants and by wielding power through military force to establish their ownership by “right.”
How can one justify complicity of Israeli’s dehumanization of the Palestinian population by the American Jewish community including many scholars and camp survivors who have played a defining role in understanding the Holocaust experience. How can Jews, so collectively brutalized themselves, look the other way to justify another ghetto that is the largest prison camp in the world, Gaza? How do we still turn our faces away, swallow the lies, the myth of the Jewish state that must protect itself from destruction by the surrounding forces of evil. In the name of this fear, what insanity could possibly justify decades of brutalization, humiliation, the rape of land, the endless faces of the IDF with a mission to kill the other, to hate the other, to suppress ”the animals” who do not count as human beings. The young soldiers who have bought the racist lies follow orders and have lost their humanity. It is not beyond comprehension to understand aspects of the Israeli brutal and paranoid policies in light of the Jewish history perpetrated on them as victims of the Nazi progrom. Then, vitriolic anti Semitisms inflicted the most vile collective punishment and unspeakable brutality. Without question there had to be inflicted an extraordinary psychological impairment internalized in the surviving victims of such an irrational monstrous Nazi ideology. Left to fester from one generation to the next, the internalized hate is buried, yet ultimately the brutalized victims themselves find a target to project their hate so that the cycle of irrational paranoia and abuse continues on its destructive course.
One cannot understand this cycle of madness simply in rational terms. Its life force is laced inside a growing cancer, an irrational fear of extermination, victimization and hatred now targeted on the last victims of the Holocaust nightmare, the Palestinians. The cycle repeats itself in the form of racism and collective punishment that give rise to excruciating suffering as the victimizers blinded in hate, cease to be human. How else can one explain the vitriol coming with such emotion from the CUNY trustee Jeffrey Wiesenfeld when he pronounced, “They are people (Palestinians/Arabs) who worship death for their children and they are not human.” Racism gives permission to dehumanize the other. The Nazis could justify their crimes by a process of dehumanization as well as reinforcing a nationalistic ideology of the most grandiose proportions. Within this cycle of horror, Jews and Palestinians are the last victims of the Holocaust.. The Israeli’s in their efforts to “survive” have been haunted by a deeply rooted fear of extinction played out in this last chapter as the victimizers who see their former Palestinian neighbors, (prior to 1948,) as evil destroyers who plot only to destroy everything that is Jewish in Israel.. Within this last chapter, Jews are transformed into victimizers who must wipe out the Palestinians.
The NY Times reported on Nakba Day: “Israel’s borders erupted in deadly clashes on Sunday as thousands of Palestinians — marching from Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank — confronted Israeli troops to mark the anniversary of Israel’s creation, Nakba.
At day’s end after violent clashes between the IDF and the Palestinian demonstrators, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the protests had been aimed at destroying Israel, not creating a Palestinian state alongside it. He continues, “The leaders of these violent demonstrations, their struggle is not over the 1967 borders but over the very existence of Israel, which they describe as a catastrophe that must be resolved,” he said. “It is important that we look with open eyes at the reality and be aware of whom we are dealing with and what swe are dealing with.” This is a sanguine message to the world and in particular to American Jews who still needs to see Israel as an idealized version of a democratic country in enormous danger of extinction.
Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, saluted the protesters in a televised speech, referring to the dead as martyrs. “The blood of the Nakba fatalities was not spilled in vain,” he said. “They died for the Palestinian people’s rights and freedom.”
Israel has become increasingly isolated and cannot survive if it continues on this path of paranoia and racism. Jews must open their eyes to recognize who are the true victims. This necessitates the ability of Israelis to bestow dignity and humanity on Palestinians as human beings with hearts and souls equal to their own. The alternative is too horrible to consider, a continuous cycle of hate , a festering gangrenous wound that knows no end in its nihilism and destruction.
We have now an extraordinary opportunity to engage in an open discussion and dialogue about Jewish racism. In the past any idea of Jews as racist has been responded to as abhorrent and unspeakable. Dissent has been crushed and critics of Israeli policies have been labeled “self hating Jew, Jewish anti-semites and enemies of Israel.
We, the defenders of freedom and dignity for all human beings must continue to speak out and support a free Israel and Palestine, one state, symbol of the right for all displaced victims of racism to live in harmony and with dignity.
– Lillian Rosengarten, a refugee from Nazi Germany is a Buddhist practitioner, poet, writer and a pacifist. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact her at: [email protected]