In Stefan Zweig’s autobiography The World of Yesterday, he says in the foreword,
If I conclude this survey of my life at a certain particular date, I do so intentionally – that September day in 1939 drew the closing line under the epoch that had formed and reared those of us who are of the generation now reaching the age of sixty. But if we can salvage only a splinter of truth from the structure of its ruin, and pass it on to the next generation by bearing witness to it, we will not have lived entirely in vain.
He wrote this as World War II was raging. His autobiography was published in 1942 and, as a Jew who had to flee the nightmares of Nazi Germany, he abhorred the war and suffering brought about in the name of nationalism.
Therefore, I don’t want to speak for him, but I can imagine he’d be pretty distraught at what’s happening this September day.
Israel is claiming about 1,000 acres of the West Bank and annexing it. So near Bethlehem (you know, where Jesus was born), the government of Israel is forcefully taking away the land from the people who live there and claiming it as Israeli territory.
It’s all part of the expansion of settlements throughout the West Bank, while Israel massacres Palestinian civilians in Gaza. So in the east, you have Israel forcefully stealing land from people and the west, you have Israel bombing civilian populations and calling it “self defense“.
That’s like Germany responding to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and calling it “self defense”.
Isn’t it notable that the token image of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is little children throwing rocks at tanks?
So whenever people talk about ceasefires, it’s important to have this image in mind. Jon Stewart (believe it or not) had a segment on the U.S. supplying Israel with weapons a few weeks ago that was actually worthwhile:[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvA7NhehocY]
Let’s not forget when Israel used white phosphorous supplied by the U.S. in 2009!
These aren’t isolated war crimes. This is a systematic genocide, supported by the United States.
I know that’s a heavy word, but seriously, let’s look at the United Nations definition of “genocide”:
“any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”
That’s a pretty solid definition, I’d say.
So what’s happening when Israel does all of these things to the Palestinians?
This is the 75th anniversary of the invasion of Poland. Germany’s subsequent destruction of Europe and Africa marks the fundamental shift in our cultural perceptions of genocide. We as a society have, at least superficially, said that genocide is unacceptable.
But here we are, 75 years later.
The Israeli Defense Forces pummel Gaza into dust and dye the sea red with blood. And they do it all with U.S. taxpayer money. And CNN puts U.S. senators and Israeli ambassadors on to say, “Israel has a right to defend itself.”
Defend itself against what, exactly?
Does the word “defense” cease to mean anything in this Orwellian twist?
Meanwhile, I remember seeing those despicable forest-green IDF shirts that people wore in my college classes. Or the sorority girls talking about their time on Birthright Israel, a program that takes young people and tours them around the Apartheid state. The program is called BIRTHRIGHT. As if that’s not the most vile name they could have chosen.
“We saw some villages in Lebanon controlled by Hezbollah in the distance. It was sooo scary!”
It makes me sick to my stomach, honestly.
We need to salvage more than a “splinter of truth” and instead struggle against the systematic destruction of the Palestinian people. If we remember, remember the 1st of September, we should be fighting any and all genocides with every tool in our bag.
Especially the ones that we have the ability to stop.