“The people of Gaza don’t deserve to suffer,” Ehud Olmert said on the first day of the three-week assault in 2008. In other words, these excesses are not punitive. Even obedience will not make them cease. Before each new stage of that offensive, leaflets bore polite warnings addressed to “residents of the area.” They repeated words that fly in the face of reality and sense: “For your own safety you are required to leave the area immediately.” Leave to where? Nowhere is safe. That is the horror.
I am a survivor of the Jewish Holocaust, the Nazis’ mass murder of Europe’s Jews. The tragic experience of my family and community under Hitler makes me alert to the suffering of other peoples denied their human rights today — including the Palestinians.
True, Hitler’s Holocaust was unique. The Palestinians are victims of ethnic cleansing and apartheid. Hitler started with that, but went on to extermination. In my family’s city in Poland, Piotrkow, 99 per cent of the Jews perished.
Yet for me, the Israeli government’s actions toward the Palestinians awaken horrific memories of my family’s experiences under Hitlerism: the inhuman walls, the checkpoints, the daily humiliations, killings, diseases, the systematic deprivation. There’s no escaping the fact that Israel has occupied the entire country of Palestine, and taken most of the land, while the Palestinians have been expelled, walled off, and deprived of human rights and human dignity."