From Ian M
I hope the small minded individual who created the banner
"Israel, is this your final solution"
is pleased with their handywork?
Whatever your feelings are for the current situation in Gaza, how dare you dishonour the suffering and deaths of millions of people at the hands of the Nazis through what I am sure you smugly believe was a clever satirical statement.
From Barry G
When we saw the banner Ian, we had exactly the same response. The current situation in Gaza is awful but.....
From Ron Taylor
Mea culpa. I am the small-minded person who thought up the offending slogan. But I make no apologies.
I had in mind the view,held by myself and many others, that what the Israelis are doing to the people of Gaza is the final solution to the 'Palestinian problem'- that is the ultimate crushing of any Palestinian resistance, the complete destruction of Palestinian society and to end forever Palestinan hopes of a viable state.
Yes, I also wanted to make the point that many of Israel's policies over the years can be compared to some of those used by the Nazis (there are many examples in history where the oppressed have in turn become the oppressors).
I am in good company in this respect.Richard Falk, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, in 2007 published an article titled "Slouching towards a Palestinian Holocaust". In it he wrote, "Is it an irresponsible overstatement to associate the treatment of Palestinian with this criminalised record of collective atrocity? I think not." Mr Falk is an American Jew. He has also been prevented from entering Israel.
In 1982, a Holocaust survivor living in Israel, Shlomo Shmelzman, wrote in a letter to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the following, "In my childhood I have suffered fear, hunger and humiliation when I passed from the Warsaw Ghetto, through the labour camps to Buchenwald. I hear too familiar sounds today, sounds which are being amplified by the war (Israel's 1982 war on Lebanon). I hear about closed areas and I remember ghettoes and camps. I hear 'two-legged beasts'(a common Israeli term for Palestinians) and I remember 'untermenschen' (sub-humans). I hear about tightening the siege, clearing the area, pounding the city into submission and I remember suffering, destruction, death blood and murder. Too many things in Israel remind me of too many things in my childhood."
But it is not just critics of Israel who invoke Nazism. In 2002,an Israeli officer Uzi Benziman, in the same newspaper urged the Israeli army to " analyse and internalise the lessons of ....how the German army fought in the Warsaw ghetto."
There are many other examples. Some of the fiercest critics of Israel are Jews and many of them,too, point out the similarity between some Israeli and Nazi actions. Ilan Pappe, for example has written the definitive history of the terror inflicted on the Palestinian people during the ethnic-cleansing of 1948. "The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine" shows how Jewish forces committed scores of massacres of unarmed civilians when it forced 750,000 Palestinians from their land.
Finally, I wish to say that I have visited Auschwitz, Majdanek and also Yad Vashem (the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem) and I have been moved to tears.
I have also spent 5 months in the West Bank of Palestine working with Palestinans and Israeli Jews against the occupation.
I have seen the Jewish settler graffiti on the walls of Hebron which says "Gas the Arabs."
I will not hang my head in shame, that should be for those who have denied Palestinians justice for 60 years.
Postscript: For a much more eloquent response I urge people to read John Pilger's article in the current edition of the New Statesman "Gaza under fire". It can be accessed on line, just Google New Statesman.
From Ron Taylor
I will not be taking the offending banner to tonight's Vigil as it has obviously caused offence to at least a couple of people. However, a letter in this week's New Statesman is worth a read.
From Chris Barnett
Like many other people, my initial reaction to seeing the phrase "Final Solution" used in the context of current events in Palestine was one of dismay, and a feeling that its use in this context was totally inappropriate.
After reading Ron Taylor's moving and eloquent responses,and as the situation in Gaza becomes more and more intolerable, I now find myself agreeing that the use of these two terrible words is justified.
Comparisons with historical events should never be made lightly, but sadly, Israel's behaviour in Palestine makes uncomfortable comparisons inevitable.
From Claire D
I too agree that the use of these words is totally justified and accurate in view of the current situation.
I believe that the Israeli government will no doubt agree to a ceasefire, just before Obama is president, how conveniant!
The Israeli people are to be the ones hanging their heads in shame.
From Ian M
Out of a European population of nearly nine million, the estimated Jewish population annihilated by the Nazis was just under six million. Nearly 70% of an entire race of people. In some countries nearly the entire population was wiped from the face of the planet.
The sole aim of "The Final Solution" was to eradicate an entire race of people.
Again, whilst the Israeli tactics cannot be condoned anyone who believes that the use of these words is justified should do a little bit more reading other than the Guardian!!
From Chris Barnett
I'm rather puzzled by Ian M's assumption that I read nothing but The Guardian .....any suggestions for further reading that could expand my blinkered views would be more than welcome.
I would recommend that anyone interested in the subject of Israel and Palestine reads this article published in The Guardian on 7th January by Avi Shlaim, Oxford professor and former Israeli soldier.
From Graham Barker
Call me a pedant if you like but ‘Israel, is this your final solution?’ is a question, not a statement. It permits the answer ‘No’ and so is perhaps more of a debating point than an accusation. Knowing how keen the Israelis are to keep us all mindful of the Holocaust, and having now read the articles on or linked from this thread, it seems quite appropriate to ask such a question about the Gaza atrocity. It may be a long time before there is moral equivalence between what the Nazis did to the Jews and what the Israelis do to anyone, but the gap is narrowing and it does no harm to point this out. Less harm than a tank shell through your bedroom wall, anyway.
From Ron Taylor
I think perhaps I need to make things a little clearer. I would never in any way seek to dishonour the suffering and deaths of those who died during the Nazi’s war against the Jews. And I would never attempt to equate what happened during that period with what has happened during the Israel/Palestine conflict. But to compare is not to equate and one of the purposes of making comparisons is to see if there are any crucial common features.
In my first post I wrote that my intention was to raise the question of Israel’s intention towards the Palestinians living in Gaza. There is a strong feeling that Israel wants to push the Gazans into Egypt, thereby ridding itself of a troublesome unwanted population, less than human. The use of overwhelming military power could be seen to be part of that process; make life so difficult for them and they will leave.
I also said that many of Israel’s actions over the years can be compared to some of those employed by the Nazis. In particular I was thinking of the ethnic-cleansing of Palestine (the Nakba or Catastrophe) which led to the establishment of the state of Israel; it was planned, systematic and ruthless. It was characterised by terrorising the indigenous population, driving largely defenceless people from their homes, massacres, torture and, in some instances, rape. Very similar I would argue to the early part of the Nazi war against the Jews (and others, of course) before the industrialised killing of the death camps.
The reason for the similarity of methods was the similarity of purpose. The Nazis wanted to rid Europe of its Jewish population, both for ideological reasons and to make room for German settlers (superior to others – Jews, Slavs etc). The Zionist movement wanted to rid Palestinian territory of Arabs so it could settle the land for Jewish immigration and to bring Zionist ideology to fruition (the establishment of an exclusivist Jewish state at the expense of an existing, inferior population on land promised to them by God).
A candidate for the Likud party (tipped to win the election scheduled for February general election) is Moshe Feiglin. In an interview some years ago with the Israeli daily Haaretz he said "Hitler was an unparalleled military genius. Nazism promoted Germany from a low to a fantastic physical and ideological status. The ragged, trashy youth body turned into a neat and orderly part of society and Germany received an exemplary regime, a proper justice system and public order. Hitler savoured good music. He would paint. This was no bunch of thugs. They merely used thugs and homosexuals." He went on to say that “When they asserted at the United Nations that Zionism was racist, I did not find much reason to protest. The people who take racism to mean a distinction between races - and this is a very primitive distinction - must argue that Zionism is racist."
Later in the interview, Feiglin addressed the Palestinians. "There is no Palestinian nation. There is only an Arab-speaking public which has suddenly identified itself as a people, a negative of the Zionist movement, parasites. The fact that they hadn't done so earlier only serves to prove how inferior they are. The Africans have no nations either. Only Zulus, Tutsis."
As far as reading is concerned there is much to be recommended. Ilan Pappe’s ‘Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine’ is a must. Pappe is an Israeli academic now living in the UK (rather wisely).
Norman Finkelstein’s ‘ Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict’ and ‘Beyond Chutzpah’ are both excellent insights into to the way Zionists have manipulated history to their own ends. The former includes a chapter comparing Zionism with other expansionist ideologies including Nazism. Both Finkelstein’s parent were survivors of the Warsaw ghetto and the Nazi death camps.
This letter was in Saturday's Guardian, and I thought I should share it for the benefit of anyone who, like me, is fed up with feeling that there's nothing we can do to help.
"We, as Israeli citizens, raise our voices to call on EU leaders: use sanctions against Israel's brutal policies and join the active protests of Bolivia and Venezuela. We appeal to the citizens of Europe: please attend to the Palestinian Human Rights Organisation's call, supported by more than 540 Israeli citizens: boycott Israeli goods and Israeli institutions; follow resolutions such as those made by the cities of Athens, Birmingham and Cambridge (US). This is the only road left. Help us all, please!"