Nakba. 1947. The catastrophe, they call it. The year the Jews arrived and began occupying Palestine. Over 1 million natives were dispossessed of their homes. Thousands were to be massacred as the Israeli state was carved out of Arab land by the terrorists of the Haganah. I pondered that word, Nakba, this week as I read of more death in Palestine. The Holy Land positively drips with cataclysm. But one nation’s catastrophe is, it seems, another’s prosperity. Palestine is nothing but a squalid, battle-scarred ghetto. Israel is a First world country where life is rich and good. But the Jews who came to displace the original inhabitors of this patch of desert received much more than prosperity. Let there be no doubt, Israel must have seemed like nothing short of salvation for many Jews after centuries of oppression, pogrom and, finally, one of the most evil of historical happenings, the Nazi Holocaust. This was probably second only to the genocide of 10 million Africans in the course of Europe’s exploitation of Congo at the beginning of the century.
What amazes me is how escape from evil can lead to evil-doing. Its almost as if the little picked-upon school-child is so brutalized by his own bullies that, years later, he feels compelled to demonstrate that he is now in control by bashing up his own kids. In the life of nations, we see this as much as we do in the life of the victims of violence. Take our own Afrikaners as an example. The parallels between Jews living in Israel and Afrikaners are uncanny. Within a year of each other, Zionists and Afrikaner nationalists were both in control of a state. Being minorities both, these states relied upon claims to so-called racial and religious exclusivity to justify their existence. The Afrikaners sincerely paraded themselves in black Africa as the chosen race, suffering from the same delusion many Jews evince. The Jews fought bloody battles of liberation against the British and then, just as quickly, became their lackeys. Afrikaner leaders did the same, with guerrilla fighters like Jan Smuts joining the Imperial War Cabinet faster than you could say King George.
Afrikaners suffered gravely in the very first concentration camps ever erected long before Hitler thought about this method of dealing with Jews. Afrikaners and Jews alike have had their property confiscated and their humanity denied. Through the cracks of a laager-mentality, Jews spawned their own twentieth century radicals like Leon Trotsky or Allen Ginsberg who turned their backs on Judaism and embraced international revolution. So too did Afrikanerdom’s Braam Fischer and Breyen Breytenbach escape the clutches of national identity while all around them kept the ox-wagons in place.
But the parallels also end quite abruptly. It is undoubted that Afrikaners suffered much deprivation and cruelty at the hands of the English Gestapo who stood guard over them. The pictures of emaciated Boer women staring out through barbed wire tell a horrific story. But no-one the world over has sympathy for the attempted genocide that Afrikaners suffered in 1900. Their own apartheid state was later so reviled, it excesses against black people were so ghastly, that the notion of Afrikaner suffering is something difficult to evoke support and compassion for.
Of course, Jewish suffering was numerically much greater. World War II is also still within living memory and so many people, myself included, still feel empathy for those Jews, (gypsies and gays) sent to German death-camps and the twelve million Russian soldiers that perished actually resisting the Nazi war machine. But the constant Holocaust refrain, urging special treatment of Jews is being worn very thin by the brutality of apartheid-Zionism. To witness the thuggery and state-ordered terrorism in Israel against Palestinians these days calls into question the very right of the state of Israel to exist. How can one talk of warding-off anti-Semitism when Jews treat Palestinians with an attitude even worse than that of the apartheid army when it occupied the townships of South Africa in the 1980s.
But I suppose, besides American imperial interests that hard-core Zionists can rely upon, they can also count upon the Holocaust industry to shore up some support for their rogue state. The details of this industry are laid bare by Professor Norman Finkelstein in a brave, new book. Finkelstein’s mother survived six years in a Nazi concentration camp. She received $3,500 in compensation. Finkelstein points out that those involved in the Holocaust industry have done much better than the victims themselves. Saul Kagan the Executive Secretary of the Claims Conference (the co-coordinating body that dispenses reparations) earns $105,000. Lawrence Eagleburger the then chair of the International Era Insurance Claims earned $300 000. Finkelstein carefully documents how the “Holocaust industry has become an outright extortion racket”. What is being extorted from us is not money but our silence and consent while Israel “ensures its security” through the murder and pogrom of its own Untermensch, the Palestinians.
When the abused turns out to be an abuser, sympathy and understanding can quickly turn to revulsion. Before this decade is up, the Boers of the Negev might suffer the same historical fate.