My Visit to the Holocaust Memorial

Since the Camp David talks collapsed and freedom for Palestinians seemed more remote than ever, I have begun to see virtually everything with reference to the plight of the Palestinian people. When I see a swimming pool I think of all the swimming pools and lush green lawns in Jewish settlements throughout the Occupied Territories mocking their Palestinian neighbors who have little if no water. When I see a helicopter, I think of the helicopters used to evacuate sick Israeli settlers to good hospitals and Palestinians who often die at IDF roadblocks for want of medical care.

I visited the Holocaust Memorial in Miami Beach for well over an hour today reading the names of the victims and the history of the Holocaust. Most prominently at the memorial are the words “Never Again” yet there were several historical accounts that could be directly translated to present day Palestine. For example, a picture of a little girl with wide, fearful eyes had the caption “What to expect, what to fear, what to hope for,” could easily have been a Palestinian girl who like her countrymen have no hope for the future and are fearful of the Israeli occupying forces.

Also a picture of people being publicly hung with the caption “Public hanging of Jewish leaders. As a warning to the Jewish population to comply with all orders, the Nazis selected community leaders for public executions.” Brought to mind the current Israeli campaign of assassination of Palestinian leaders as an example to the Palestinian populace.

There were several pictures detailing the Warsaw Ghetto uprising; “For twenty-seven days, young Jewish fighters withstood the onslaught of the well armed Nazi SS men. With makeshift arms and bombs, they fought against all odds until German fire destroyed the ghetto.” was remarkably similar including the makeshift arms and bombs, to the Palestinian fighters in the West Bank and Gaza. I guess its hard for us as Americans to see this since all freedom fighters in the Occupied Territories are actually referred to as “terrorists.”

And the “Jewish resistance partisans who lived in forests and performed acts of sabotage against the Germans” who looked, and according to the caption behaved remarkably like “terrorists” what with their semiautomatic rifles slung over their shoulders.

One section really caught my eye that read “While the world watched……while the world listened……and remained silent…….” In the current situation, the last line should be changed to “and the American Media condoned…..” But everything else is identical.

The point of this is to say that we cannot lament the past suffering of one group of people while at the same time condone the present suffering of another with editorials defending of all things, assassinations.

The second experience I had today that brought to mind the tribulations of the Palestinian people was a rereading of “Letter From Birmingham Jail” In virtually every passage, if you substitute “segregation” with “occupation”, “Negro” with “Arab” and “White” with “Israeli” you have a serious condemnation of Israeli injustices against Palestinian people.

I’ll start with the passage that so clearly explains why we should all be interested in the freedom of a people we have never met. I will substitute in quotation marks appropriate nouns.

I cannot sit idly by in “Miami” and not be concerned with what happens in “Palestine.” Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.

You deplore the demonstrations taking place in “The Occupied Territories.” But your statement, I’m sorry to say fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in “the Occupied Territories” at this time, but it is even more unfortunate that the “Israeli” power structure left the “Palestinian” community with no alternative.

Virtually the entire letter can be seen in this light as a call for Palestinian freedom and justice. I suggest you reread it yourself.

Given our understanding of these two injustices carried out on our fellow man and their obvious similarities to the current plight of the Palestinian people, why do we then cheer for the oppressor? Why do we say “Never Again” yet condone the very same oppression? Is it because we don’t believe the Palestinian people are really being oppressed with the help of our editorial support and tax dollars or do we somehow believe they brought on themselves?

If you know as I do that all people are equal, regardless of race or creed, and you know that Israel is terrorizing an entire nation just because of who they are as people, then you must come out against it. You must declare everything about the Occupation as immoral and illegal and call on the US government to terminate all support of Israel until all racist policies like “the Right of Return” policy for Jews only and the prohibition of Arab ownership of land in most of Israel are terminated.