The Other Cost Of The Holocaust

by Tovah Ben David

Those who died in the Holocaust had to pay the ultimate price. There is no heavier cost than losing one’s possessions, one’s home, one’s life, one’s entire family, one’s faith in humanity.

The Palestinian Arabs have also lost possessions, homes, lives, entire families, and faith in humanity, as a result of the Holocaust’s aftermath. The simple, yet under-asked question – Why is it that the Palestinians living on their land have had to pay the price for something that Europeans did to Jews in Europe? – has yet to produce a simple answer. It always appears to be an impossible task to explain the logic of: A had caused harm to B, and yet C has to pay for it. If there is an answer, it is likely an inconvenient one, having to do with sheer Euro-centric notions.

Following the Holocaust, it was much easier for Jewish Zionist politicians, who were personally close to significant leaders in the US and the UK, to make the case that there is an urgent and justified need for the world community to recognize the State of Israel. This led to a comfortable majority support of the State of Israel at the UN vote authorizing the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948 (the states of the region, the ones to be most affected by the vote, voted against it with passion, but their vote did not count for more than the vote of any of the distant states who were subject to political pressure by Israel’s influential supporters). The UN’s acceptance, an official recognition of the State of Israel, may be likened to a gift from Europe, a way of saying Europe is so terribly sorry over that whole Holocaust thing; a gift the cost of which the Palestinian Arabs are paying in installments to this very day. Though the UN vote and the plight of Europe’s Jews after WWII are often remembered, the 750,000 Palestinians whom the pre-state Zionist militias ethnically cleansed from their lands to create the state of Israel are not.

May the cry of those who have had to pay a painful price for not being European or Jewish reach the ears of those who can help ease their pain.

Being a Jew and an Israeli by birth, my own cry, though less intense, points at yet another cost of the Holocaust, namely, the manner in which Israel manipulates the use of the term anti-Semitism to shield itself from being subject to moral criticism.

The term, anti-Semite, which used to serve as the definition for Europeans who hated and persecuted Jews simply because they were Jews, has somehow spun and expanded to also include anyone who criticizes the State of Israel in any shape or form. How did this happen?

Being that the Holocaust was the unthinkable pinnacle of all hatred and persecution of Jews, and being that its condemnation is close to universal, the Zionist leaders have found it tempting to capitalize on the general agreement concerning the Holocaust to gain support for its ambivalently held bid for a state for Jews at the expense of the land’s current dwellers. Since then, labeling the critics of the Israeli government as anti-Semites has evolved into a bona fide profession in Israel under the title of Hasbara, which may be translated into the grammatically incorrect “explanation-ing.” This is the art performed by Israeli politicians and spokespersons when they set out to explain and justify Israel’s human rights abuses to the world and to itself. In Israel, an anti-Semite is considered such pure evil, that there is no need to further consider what the anti-Semite is trying to say, because it is based on pure hatred, irrational hatred, just like Hitler’s words were. By deeming their critics anti-Semites, the Israelis dismiss claims of their own immorality, and thus, refute outside opinion as well as suppress self-reflection.

In March 2007 a delegation of 27 bishops who head the Catholic Church in Germany visited the “Holy Land.” Aside from visiting the sites holy to Christianity, they also went touring in Israel and the Palestinian territories. On one day, they went to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem in the morning, and then later that day they continued to Ramallah and witnessed the wall that surrounds East Jerusalem as well as the barricades and the checkpoints where Palestinians are often detained for long periods of time. The Archbishop of Cologne commented: “such a thing one does to animals, not to human beings.” He further said that the wall brought back bad memories from Germany’s past: “for me it is a nightmare… I never thought that in my lifetime I would see such a wall again. Just as they have brought down the Berlin Wall, they shall bring down this one.” Upon witnessing the living conditions in Ramallah, another Bishop compared the sights from the Holocaust Museum with those of Ramallah: “In the morning we saw in Yad Vashem the pictures of the inhumane Warsaw Ghetto, and then in the evening we go to the Ramallah Ghetto… Israel surely has the right to exist, but such a right cannot be manifested so brutally.” Such were the quotes that led to the following headline inside Israel’s premier newspaper, Yedioth Aharonoth, March 6th, 2007: “The Heads of the German Catholic Church Shock in a Severe Anti-Semitic Attack.” Decide for yourselves if comments which express a concern for the well-being of other human beings deserve to be tagged as severely anti-Semitic and shocking; decide for yourselves whether this shows a manipulative effort to abuse the term anti-Semitism.

These days, Israel’s Hasbara efforts focus on depicting the Iranians as mad anti-Semites who deny the Holocaust, when in truth, the Iranian leadership is merely asking for a non-biased study of the Holocaust free of political manipulations set to justify the State of Israel. The Israeli method of treating the Holocaust as means to an end, presenting Israel as the necessary savior of world Jewry, rather than questioning Zionism’s contribution to the strong dislike of Jews in the Middle East, is far from being an honest examination of history.

Furthermore, the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadenijad, is often compared to Hitler despite the fact that during his tenure an estimated 25,000 Iranian Jews enjoy their living conditions in Iran to an extent that they dismissed Israeli attempts to lure them to Israel along with an incentive of $10,000 each.(1)

In a conference in Germany on the effectiveness of anti-missile defenses, an Iranian who previously served as deputy to the minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Mohammad Larijani, and who is the current Director of the Institute for Studies in Theoretical Physics and Mathematics in Tehran, made a call to end the Zionist project that has over the last 60 years created only violence and horrors. In an answer to a question by the Israeli press, Dr. Larijani said: “We have no problem with Israel – we have a stance. We think that Israel embodies a plan to create a Jewish state at the heart of the Muslim world, and this Zionist plan has absolutely failed and only brought about terrible damages.” Do you think that there is anything inherently anti-Jewish in his words? Eldad Beck, the same Yedioth Aharonoth reporter who brought us the headline above, seems to have thought so, and on June 26th, 2008, he gave this article the following headline: “An Iranian Anti-Semitic Performance Funded by the German Government.” One may find it hard to find a more provocative and warmongering spin of what took place.

The Israeli insistence on labeling the Iranian leadership as evil and anti-Semitic is designed to block any real consideration of the Iranian suggestion to replace the State of Israel, a democracy if you are a Jew, with an even more democratic state offering equal rights to all its citizens, whether Arab, Christian, Jew or anything else. They suggest creating as state that would offer the rightful opportunity of governance to the Palestinian Arab majority in the land that is being caged in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank (not to mention, the refugees and exiles). In order to shut the mouths of those who are bold enough to express their opinion on what is right and wrong in the Middle East, the Israelis have adopted and almost perfected the accusation of Anti-Semitism. Israel does not want to recognize the common sense in what its critics are saying, they would much rather vilify them. While Iran talks of putting an end to the Zionist state along with its ideology and modus operandi, for the benefit of those who have unjustifiably had to suffer from it, Israel would rather perceive such talk as clear expression of Jewish hatred and intention to massacre Jews. Despite Israel’s agenda, it must be understood that there is a significant difference between a call to put an end to the Jewish people and a call to put an end to the discriminatory and aggressive presence of the Jewish state. Israel, then, does not look to rid the world of anti-Semitism, but to keep anti-Semitism alive as one of its sharpest tools of self-justification. Without anti-Semitism, Israel will lose its case for Israel.

The perpetuation of the Israeli view point that anti-Semites are out to get them, perpetuates Israel’s engagement in battle in the Middle East. The other cost of the Holocaust, is costing Americans. The Jewish lobby, headed by AIPAC, recently made the proud announcement that in 2009 the US will give the State of Israel $2,550,000,000, an increase of $170,000,000 from its previous year, and part of a 10-year plan to gradually increase what is called the Security Aid for Israel. This large sum of tax money could have stayed in your pockets, could have given further support to Katrina victims, could have helped the poor anywhere in the US, could have improved living conditions in neighboring Mexico, could have improved the quality of schools and hospitals in Iraq, or it could have helped the oppressed Palestinians of the Gaza Strip by answering their basic needs for water and electricity. Instead, your $2,550,000,000 becomes shopping money for Israel’s weapons of war to negate the cries of the occupied and dispossessed, and to continue their military dominance in the Middle East. Of course, the Israelis would say the Aid is for weapons of defense against anti-Semites.

I would suggest you should email your Senators and Representatives asking them not to allow this abuse of your tax money to continue any further, but then again, they would probably do nothing about it, for fear of being called anti-Semites.

1. Iranian Jews Slam ‘Emigrant Stunt,’” CNN.com, December 26, 2007. Accessed online at http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/12/26/iran.israel.jews/