However, we must never allow the difference between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism to be blurred. A person who fights against anti-Semitism may consistently condemn a Zionist Israel. But one needs to be in the position of Ariel Sharon when accusing hundreds of Jewish intellectuals who condemn Israel of anti-Semitism.
When I visited Yad Vashem -- a museum which commemorates the victims of the Holocaust -- in Jerusalem, I felt sick and I cursed the Nazis. Two days later, I visited Sheikh Ahmed Yassin at his ever-so-simple house, which increased my respect for his leadership, and he said to me, “Everyone and everything loves peace, even plants and animals,” and I thought that the Palestinians should have their own Yad Vashem as well.
When you put the Hamas leader, who was in a wheelchair and shanty house when I met him, next to the formidable military power of Israel, a country founded by the victims of the Holocaust; its nuclear weapons; its bullying behavior in the West, never accepting any criticism; and Israel’s transforming the Holocaust into an industry which shields it from all of its atrocities and cruelties, you have to give serious answers to serious questions.
Was Yassin, condemned to use a wheelchair all the time and later murdered by Israel, a real threat to Israel, or was Israel just trying to cleanse a Palestine which it had settled as if it were a piece of land devoid of people? Does the relationship of Israel, founded by Jews who are always viewed as being “ethnically cleansed,” with the Palestinians completely refute the theses of their being victims of the Holocaust?
When Norman Finkelstein, a Jewish-American academician, said, “The state of Israel, one of the world’s most formidable military powers, with a horrendous human rights record, [can] cast itself as a victim state in order to garner ‘immunity to criticism’,” he was banned from entering Israel for 10 years because of his anti-Zionist ideas. He was also forced to resign from his office at DePaul University in 2007.
The mother of Finkelstein was a Polish Jew who had survived the terrible Warsaw Ghetto, Majdanek concentration camp and two labor camps. His father survived the Warsaw Ghetto and Auschwitz concentration camp. The father of Finkelstein was the second husband of his mother, Maryla Husyt. Her previous husband died in the war. After escaping the Nazi death camps, her mother had, throughout her life, cursed only one thing: the day that she was saved. On that day, she learned that her first husband, her children, her parents and all of her relatives had been murdered.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who was described as the “walking dead of Israeli politics” before the massacres in Gaza, is now the most popular politician in Israel. Photos showing Barak wearing sunglasses and leather jackets and Barak bending over a map and making “fine” calculations over the next military operation are everywhere in Israel. He is now depicted as being the Gen. MacArthur of Israel.
In the war administered by this MacArthur of Israel, 30 members of the Samuni family were massacred last Saturday. These 30 people did not die simultaneously, but some of them suffered the throes of death for several days as the Israeli army did not allow the Red Cross to reach them. “My head was bleeding. My father tried to crawl, but his legs did not work. My 10-year-old cousin, Abdullah, was falling down whenever he tried to stand up. My 12-year-old brother Yakup was trying to remove big pieces of shrapnel from his abdomen. My 9-year-old sister did not move at all. My 12-year-old brother Ishak was wounded in the leg, which bled for two days before he died. My mother, Leyla, had already died.” This is the story of 16-year-old Ahmed Samuni.
When, three days later, Israel finally allowed the Red Cross to reach the Samuni family, the aid workers found four children who were about to die of hunger waiting next to their long-dead mother. The Israeli army, administered by Israel’s MacArthur, did allow ambulances to go for help. The ambulances were stopped at an Israeli military checkpoint, and the medics had to walk for one kilometer to reach the Samuni family and carry the wounded on carts pulled by donkeys back to the ambulances.
Now imagine Finkelstein’s mother side by side with Ahmed Samuni. Both are cursing the day that they were saved. Is this what we should expect from the children of the Holocaust?