The Siege of Gaza: Israel Uses Hitler’s Methods Against Palestinians

By Suzanne Weiss. The following is the text of a talk by Socialist Voice Contributing Editor Suzanne Weiss to a joint meeting of Muslim and Jewish supporters of Palestinian rights at the Taric Islamic Centre in Toronto, on June 14, 2008.

[This article is also available in Spanish. See Rebelión, August 17, 2008]

This inspiring meeting seeks to reach out to Jewish and Muslim communities, to build understanding of the conflict in the Middle East. Thank you for the honour of inviting me to participate.

My life has been shaped by the Jewish Holocaust under Hitler. My mother died in Auschwitz, and I barely escaped the same fate. Like many others, I have sought to resist the forces of war and oppression that we saw in Nazism and that still live on. We have won victories, such as the destruction of apartheid in South Africa.

But today we see the methods of Nazism being employed against the Palestinians, with the ultimate aim of wiping them out as a people. And this horror is justified with reference to the victims of the Holocaust. What a lie!

It is Israel that uses many of the methods of Nazism to oppress the Palestinians. Meanwhile the Palestinian resistance struggle stands in continuity with the resistance of my people and others in Europe to Nazism.

The primary aim of the Nazi Holocaust was ethnic cleansing — to rid Germany and the territories it occupied of all Jewish people. The Nazis considered shipping the Jewish people outside of Europe, but found no way to do this and decided to kill them all. The Jews were driven from their homes, robbed of their belongings, herded into ghettos, and sent by millions to the gas chambers.

The Holocaust is one of the best documented historical events of all time. The Nazis were methodical — they counted their victims and kept meticulous records. In my family’s Polish home town of Piotrkow there were 30,000 Jews. Only 100 survived. On the train that took my mother to Auschwitz there were 1,000 Jews, of whom only ten survived. There is no denying the truth of this deplorable chapter of human history.

Another historical fact that cannot be denied is al-Nakba, the catastrophe inflicted on the Palestinians by the Zionists in 1948. The basic idea was the same: ethnic cleansing. Dispossess the Palestinians and drive them from their homes and lands. The Zionists did not aim to kill all the Palestinians — only to kill enough to expel them and seize their homeland.

Zionist historians invented a story of a massive “voluntary” exodus of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, who, the Zionists said, had decided temporarily to leave their homes and villages to make way for the invading Arab armies. This is a big lie. It is as dishonest and absurd as Hitler’s stories of how the Jews supposedly started the Second World War. In fact, the Palestinian expulsions began in 1948 in conditions of peace.

The Zionists and their allies displaced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, stole their traditionally agricultural land, and made them homeless. They did this with the aid of mass killings.

The Zionists’ aim is to remove Palestine from the world’s family of nations. They hope that the world will forget that a Palestinian people ever existed. That is the Zionist “final solution” for the Palestinians.

That, too, is a form of genocide and it continues today.

Let me tell you a few things that the Nazis did in Piotrkow, my family’s home town in Poland. You will find it very similar to what is going on today in Gaza and the West Bank.

The German Gestapo and its allies expelled the Jewish people of Piotrkow from society and confined them in a ghetto, surrounded by an immense wall. The idea was to keep everyone on both sides of the wall ignorant, to segregate the lepers, the Jewish people, so that the Nazis could do their dirty murderous deeds in secret.

Inside the ghetto, the Jews were deprived of essentials of life and prevented from entering or leaving. They were harassed and humiliated at checkpoints. Thousands were killed arbitrarily, including the innocent children.

The Piotrokov ghetto swelled and became increasingly crowded as Jewish people from other cities of Poland were herded into it. Ghetto conditions deteriorated. Housing was shockingly overcrowded, and sanitary conditions extremely bad. Epidemics began to spread.

There was a Jewish government and Jewish police in the ghetto, but they were controlled by the Nazi authorities. Some Jewish leaders, including a member of my family, Yakov Berliner, organized resistance, but they were hunted down and executed.

To anyone who knows conditions in Palestine today, all this sounds very familiar.

Today the vast majority of Palestinians have been dispossessed and driven from their lands. In occupied Palestine, the people are confined to small enclaves, surrounded by high walls and intimidating checkpoints. They are humiliated, even forced to crawl naked. Gaza resembles Hitler’s ghettos. The Palestinians are sealed off and deprived of the necessities of life.

There is a Palestinian Authority, but its power is limited by the Zionists. The Palestinian police, trained by the enemies of their people including the Canadian government, are used to repress the population. Palestinians suffer continual persecution and humiliation. They cannot earn a livelihood and must endure life-threatening poverty.

The Palestinians suffer unprovoked and arbitrary attacks, demolition and bombings of their homes and villages. Leaders of the Palestinian resistance are hunted down and slaughtered.

In Gaza, the Palestinians have been able to maintain a government established in free elections. For this crime, they are placed under siege and bombarded.

Israel’s deputy defense minister, Matan Vilnai, has made a horrifying threat against the people of Gaza. Young Palestinians use the only means of defense at their disposal. It doesn’t compare to the bombs and tanks destroying their society. The Palestinian people have inalienable rights to defend themselves, their land, and property through whatever means they can, including through their democratically elected government, Hamas. Yet Vilnai has said, if rocket fire intensifies, “they will bring upon themselves (the Palestinians) a bigger holocaust because we will use all our might to defend ourselves.”

A bigger holocaust — the reference to Hitler’s actions is clear. This means that Israel will attempt to physically wipe the Gaza population off the map.

Powerful forces have tried to erase the crime against the Palestinians from the world’s public memory. But the Palestinian people have survived, and their resistance continues, with the sympathy of peoples around the world. The truth about the crime against the Palestinians cannot be silenced.

The Zionists misuse the memory of the holocaust to breed and justify new wars in the Middle East. This is a crime against the memory of my family and other Jewish victims under Hitler.

The Zionists act with strong support from the United States, which has its own criminal reasons to see the Palestinians defeated. The Zionists want their exclusively Jewish state, and they want it to expand and dominate the region. The United States, with Ottawa’s support, wants the oil and other resources; it wants to control all of the Middle East. That’s why they conduct war in Iraq and Afghanistan and are menacing Iran.

To be against the government of Israel is not anti-Semitic. We must stand up for justice and for humanity. We oppose the system of Zionism that oppresses one people — the Palestinians — and endangers another — the Israeli Jews — while condemning them to the hatred of the world.

If the crime against the Palestinians prevails, it would mean that Hitler’s spirit had triumphed. To be true to the memory of the victims of the Jewish Holocaust and of all Hitler’s victims, we must defend the Palestinians.

We must join their resistance struggle to win back their homeland. We can do this here in Canada.

We need a united campaign for peace and justice for Palestine, for a society in which all inhabitants, Jewish and Palestinians, have an equal voice and equal rights. All the Palestinians expelled from the country should have the right to return.

During Hitler’s time, world governments silently supported these crimes against the Jewish people — including the Canadian government, which refused to accept Jewish immigrants escaping the Holocaust. Today, we cannot allow silence about the crimes perpetrated on the Palestinian people. We must demand justice from our own governments.

I belong to “Not in Our Name (NION): Jewish Voice Against Zionism,” and I am also with the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA). These organizations support the Palestinian right to return and to regain their homeland. They call for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against Israeli Apartheid policies.

The day will come that the Apartheid wall will fall and we will see the liberation of the Palestinians. It will be a new day for freedom for all of us around the world.

Let us work together for that day of liberation.

Freedom for the Palestinians!

See also:

8 thoughts on “The Siege of Gaza: Israel Uses Hitler’s Methods Against Palestinians

  1. David

    Hi Gil,

    I’m very glad to hear you say that you disagree with the worst of Israel’s policies. And that you’d like to end the humiliation of Palestine. As far as I’m concerned, that is really all the agreement we need. That is a really key issue – and one that needs to be resolved in order for there to be real peace.

    This question of Hamas is smaller, because Hamas is just a group in Gaza, not all of Gaza, and not all of Palestine. I was worried that even by replying to this thread, I’d be giving Hamas too much press time.

    A bit of history: Zionism’s main project for Israel is to create a “safe haven” for Jew’s to exist by having an ethnic majority. Jews have never had a safe haven, they claim, and the only way to have one is to have an ethnically pure state. Many Zionists would love for us to talk about Hamas all day. Hamas is for them evidence that rejectionism and militancy against the occupation proves the need for an ethnically pure state for Jewish security.

    I don’t think I need to point out the irony that this perceived need for an ethnically pure state – and the continuing exclusion of Palestinians from their homes, Jew-oriented policies, and all the rightful outrage (that doesn’t mean every expression of this outrage is appropriate) this creates among Muslims – is the real threat to Israel right now.

    A lot of people I’ve talked to have gestured at Hamas’ founding document, and found there an obviously an “end colonialism by force” document. It was twenty years ago, that’s true.

    I think it’s intellectually lazy and perhaps dangerous, however, to conflate this document with the behavior and attitudes of most Palestinians, or even most Gazans, or even Hamas’ real objectives now that they’re in political power (and no longer just a militant group). There are militant rejectionists on both sides, and plenty of Jews have called for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians (and Israel has already forcibly moved millions of Palestinians in 1948, 1967, and ethnic cleansing continues today according to all major human rights groups).

    One thing I want to make extraordinarily clear. To say that the election of Hamas equals Gaza’s support for that document is, intellectually speaking, lazy.

    That is a similar notion, which many in the world have, that reelecting Bush was the US voting that the Iraq war was a good idea.

    And it lends a deadly and incorrect support to Zionist’s idea that Israel must be ethnically pure, or else it can’t be secure. When really, the best way to find security for Jews, Muslims and Christians in the Holy Land is to have a multi-ethnic democracy that is dedicated to the well-being of all its people, that is completely blind to ethnic or religious difference, and ends all land-policies based on religion.

    People would argue that Hamas would never agree, based on a twenty year old document. I think they would, but the point is, most Palestinians would definitely agree to true fairness and democracy for all who now live in the Holy Land.

    I hear a lot of “well if Hamas would only play nice we would love to create a real democracy” from Israel. But it’s just a blame game. Real fairness would almost certainly lead to real peace. Israel can create that anytime. They choose not to. And they refuse to take responsibility for their choice. That’s a real problem that they can really solve anytime.

  2. Gil

    Dear Suzanne

    Israel’s democracy and policies have many faults, I myself oppose a lot of what Israel is doing and I certainly oppose the ongoing humiliation of the Palestinian population and the setelments. I’m the first to advocate giving the Palestinians their dignity and a state of their own.

    The Palestinians can vote for whoever they want. But choices have consequences. The Gazans voted Hamas. I’m sure you’re familiar with the Hamas Charter (article 7 for instance). There isn’t much ambiguity as to their intentions or strategy. I don’t think it matters what borders Israel agrees to, we’re not talking about recognition of this or that border but recognition of Israel as a legitimate entity. Not all Jews think Israel should exist at all. Do you?

    Any ‘compromise’ in Hamas’s eyes is simply a stage along the way of banishing all the Jews from the land (sorry, killing not banishing – in their own words). Just what options Israel has in dealing with that ideaology I really don’t know, I wish I did, and I wish there is a non-violent solution out there.

    The way I see it we can have either a win-win situation or a lose-lose, I know which one I want. We all have our points of view, and they are all valid. But that’s all they are, points of view. The problems start when we take our points of view to be the truth.

    The sad thing or paradox is that at heart we all want the same thing, to live in peace and dignity. There is enough space in the Middle East for us all. Maybe it’s time to move on from being right about the past, and to talk about what kind of future we want for our children.

    With love

    Gil

  3. Suzanne

    Reply to G.

    Thank you for your comments on my article.

    You say, “Zionism simply means the support for a home for the Jews in that part of the world.” This speaks to the heart of the issue. But your sentence is incomplete. It should continue: “…without considering the rights, desires, and needs of the existing population in this territory.”

    Previous waves of Jewish refugees from the intolerance of Christian Europe came to the Mideast as immigrants, to join and make their contribution to the society in which they settled. The Zionist rulers, however, have developed a philosophy of conquest – subjugating, dispossessing, and expelling the host population. That is why Israel, the settler state, has encountered resistance and has resorted to increasingly horrific forms of violence and oppression.

    I do not say that the crime against the Palestinians resembles that of Hitler against the Jews. Please recall, it was a Zionist stateman who predicted that Israel’s assault on Gaza would be a “holocaust.” In fact, the actions of Hitlerism and Zionism are two different forms of genocide; each is unique.

    But it is indisputable that the Israeli government has increasingly has chosen methods of oppression that resemble those utilized by Hitler.

    You say that Israel has a right to exist within its “internationally recognized borders.” What borders? The pre-1967 borders? Hamas has declared its readiness to coexist with an Israel that accepts those borders. Israel has not considered that offer worthy of reply.

    In fact, by settling almost half a million citizens on occupied Palestinian territory, Israel has declared to the world that it cannot exist within its internationally recognized borders. It refuses to declare where its new borders are to lie – making the notion of “recognizing” Israel impossible. Meanwhile, it has made the occupied Palestinian territories into Bantustans – a series of enclosed and brutalized enclaves.

    Given that Israel rejects its “internationally rejected borders,” and has acted systematically to make a two-state solution impossible, what is the road to peace and democracy in Palestine? The answer is obvious: an end to Israeli apartheid – full and equal rights for all Palestinians, including the right to vote for whom they choose, and the right of return of Palestinian refugees.

    It is sad that so many supporters of Israel interpret this solution as “wiping out Israel,” “denying its right to exist,” etc. On the contrary, if Israel were to be truly democratic, it would be a secular state embracing all the people living in historic Palestine. This would free Israeli citizens of the burden imposing oppression and endless war and enable them – at last – to make a positive contribution to land on which they have settled.

    Suzanne

  4. Suzanne

    Reply to G.

    Thank you for your comments on my article.

    You say, “Zionism simply means the support for a home for the Jews in that part of the world.” This speaks to the heart of the issue. But your sentence is incomplete. It should continue: “…without considering the rights, desires, and needs of the existing population in this territory.”

    Previous waves of Jewish refugees from the intolerance of Christian Europe came to the Mideast as immigrants, to join and make their contribution to the society in which they settled. The Zionist rulers, however, have developed a philosophy of conquest – subjugating, dispossessing, and expelling the host population. That is why Israel, the settler state, has encountered resistance and has resorted to increasingly horrific forms of violence and oppression.

    I do not say that the crime against the Palestinians resembles that of Hitler against the Jews. Please recall, it was a Zionist stateman who predicted that Israel’s assault on Gaza would be a “holocaust.” In fact, the actions of Hitlerism and Zionism are two different forms of genocide; each is unique.

    But it is indisputable that the Israeli government has increasingly has chosen methods of oppression that resemble those utilized by Hitler.

    You say that Israel has a right to exist within its “internationally recognized borders.” What borders? The pre-1967 borders? As I wrote, Hamas has declared its readiness to coexist with an Israel that accepts those borders. Israel has not considered that offer worthy of reply.

    In fact, by settling almost half a million citizens on occupied Palestinian territory, Israel has declared to the world that it cannot exist within its internationally recognized borders. It refuses to declare where its new borders are to lie – making the notion of “recognizing” Israel impossible. Meanwhile, it has made the occupied Palestinian territories into Bantustans – a series of enclosed and brutalized enclaves.

    Given that Israel rejects its “internationally rejected borders,” and has acted systematically to make a two-state solution impossible, what is the road to peace and democracy in Palestine? The answer is obvious: an end to Israeli apartheid – full and equal rights for all Palestinians, including the right to vote for whom they choose, and the right of return of Palestinian refugees.

    It is sad that so many supporters of Israel interpret this solution as “wiping out Israel,” “denying its right to exist,” etc. On the contrary, if Israel were to be truly democratic, it would be a secular state embracing all the people living in historic Palestine. This would free Israeli citizens of the burden imposing oppression and endless war and enable them – at last – to make a positive contribution to land on which they have settled.

    Suzanne

  5. Gil

    I’m amazed that anyone could compare what’s going on in Gaza and Israel to the Nazis and Hitler, particularly someone who’s a holocaust survivor. Are you really serious?

    Jews in Nazi Germany did their best to assimilate in the society, they contributed to it, even tried to hide the fact they were Jewish(!). Hamas does not recognise the right of Israel to exist, and fires daily rockets towards Israeli civilians. Jews in Nazi Germany saw themselves as Germans, Hamas does vows to destroy Israel. I wonder what you would expect your government to do if you neigbourhood was the target of daily rocket attacks. For months (sorry, for the past 8 years!). Seriously, did you stop to ask yourselves what you would do? I cant think of ANY other country who would not do whatever is in its power to protect it’s citizens right to live in peace within their internationally recognised borders! Israel left Gaza a few years ago. Left it, gave the Palestinians what they wanted, self rule. The response was rocket attacks and electing Hamas. What does Hamas want? They want Israel out of there – just to be clear, ‘there’ being all of what is known as Israel. Wiped out. Well, Israel isn’t quite prepared to let that happen. For which I’m glad.

    Show me one other country in the Middle East where women (that is Arab women included) are allowed to vote. Show me one other country in the Middle East where gays (Arab included) are legaly allowed to, well, exist, and are not persecuted. Hamas and their fans glee with joy at Israeli civilian casualties, it’s part of their strategy to target civilians. Not only Israelis, they actually try to make Israel hit Palestinian civilians in Gaza by deliberatly hiding in their midst and firing rockets from densly populated areas. The more civilians die the more they can be the underdog they so love being and gain the sympathy of the world. When there are Palestinian civilian casualties Israel investigates to see what went wrong and how it could minimise it. When there are Israeli civilian casualties Hamas supporters dance in the streets. Israel recently treated in its hospitals Palestinians from Gaza who were badly ingured from explosion caused by a Hamas rocket that missed its (Israeli) destination and landed in Gaza teritory. Would the Nazis have done the same? Hmmm…

    If Hamas wanted peace, we would have had peace long time ago and the poor Gazans, for whom my heart cries, could have started having the life they deserve.

    A word about Zionism. Do you think that Israel has a right to exist? (If not then you shouldn’t be surprised that Israel fights for its survival) – if you do (as the UN did when it offered two states to the respective populations in ’47 – on offer embraced by the Jews but rejected by the Arabs), if you support that notion then well, you’re a Zionist. Zionism simply means the suport for a home for the Jews in that part of the world (in which they had a physical presence for the past few thousands of years and to which they have an undeniable connection). Zionism and Palestinian rights are not incompatible. Anti-Zionism and the right of Israel to exist are.

    By all means criticize Israel and fight for Palestinians right for a decent life, but the cheap comparison to the Nazis make you lose all credibility I’m afraid.

    I hope that in-spite of this reaction not being in support of your point of view, you will allow it to be part of the debate.

    Above all I hope that the day will soon come when the Palestinians’ awful suffering will end and all the communities in the region will live in peace and prosperity side by side.

    G.

  6. ALE

    TODOS LOS GOBIERNOS DISFRAZAN SU “PODER” EN RECLAMOS MÁS QUE INJUSTOS PORQUE MATAN INEXORABLEMENTE VÍCTIMAS INOCENTES.
    LO QUE HIZO HITLER ES ABOMINABLE Y REPUDIABLE, LO QUE HACEN LOS JUDÍOS CON LOS PALESTINOS TAMBIEN..HAY OTRAS FORMAS DE MATAR SIN BALAS, COMO HACEN LAS GRANDES POTENCIAS EXPLOTANDO, PISOTEANDO Y ANIQUILANDO LOS DERECHOS DE LOS PUEBLOS, EMPOBRECIENDOLOS DESDE LA CULTURA HASTA EL MISMISIMO HAMBRE.
    lLEGARA ESE DIA QUE TODOS LOS HOMBRES DEL MUNDO ENTENDAMOS QUE SOMOS HERMANOS Y NO TÍTERES DE LOS QUE ES´TAN DE TURNO EN EL PODER????NO NOS DEJEMOS ENGAÑAR Y SEAMOS SOLIDARIOS.
    tODOS TENEMOS DERECHO A LA DIGNIDAD…LA GUERRA ES UNA DERROTA CONTRA EL PRINCIPIO DE LA VIDA, ES EL MÁXIMO ESPONENTE DE LA FALTA DE RESPETO HACIA LA MISMA, SI NO VALORAMOS LA VIDA, NADA SIRVE!!!!

  7. Suzanne

    Dear Friends,

    Doug has raised a good question regarding the appropriateness of comparing Zionism’s methods with those of Nazism, as I did in my article “The Siege of Gaza: Israel Uses Hitler’s Methods Against the Palestinians.”

    There is no single correct answer regarding how best to explain the crime against the Palestinians. Different approaches should be tried, and Doug’s thoughts are helpful.

    In my opinion, our starting point must be that there is a conspiracy of silence in the capitalist media regarding the real conditions of the Palestinians. It is reflected in the energetic attempts to block free discussion of this issue on the campuses. It is also reflected in the silence in the media and lack of reportage of the daily crimes of Israel. This is a case of “speaking truth to power,” and we must be unrestrained in presenting that truth.

    The crime against the Palestinians is being excused as necessary to prevent anti-Semitism and another Holocaust. That also must be taken on directly. It is the Palestinians, not the Zionist tyrants, who stand in continuity with the resistance against Hitlerism.

    I realize there is a danger in comparing historical crimes against the oppressed. Each of these crimes is unique. I tried to point that out in my article. But the parallels between Zionist techniques and those of the Nazis are too close to be merely a coincidence.

    I don’t say that the approach I have taken is the only valid one. But I think it is worth including in the range of voices defending the Palestinians.

    Doug refers to the “delicate project of winning over Jews to a thorough anti-Zionist, pro-Palestinian position.” Once again, I think it is useful to try out different approaches. But the fact is that there is a growing number of progressive Jewish people taking a militant stand against Zionism and for full Palestinian liberation. There are also militant young Jews integrating in the anti-Zionist struggle.

    In my experience, the most effective way to win Jews to this struggle is by using the same arguments and the same demands that we do for the population as a whole.
    Suzanne

  8. Doug

    While parallels can be drawn between what the Israeli state is doing to the Palestinians and what the Nazis did to the Jews, is it tactically useful to draw such parallels? I am not convinced that comparing the two ethnic cleansings wins anybody to the position of supporting the Palestinians in their struggle against the Zionist state, although I’m sure it reinforces the convictions of those already committed to anti-Zionism and Palestinian self-determination.

    Also, while winning over Jews to anti-Zionism is not the primary goal of the Palestine solidarity movement, aren’t such comparisons between the Nazi holocaust and the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, harmful to the delicate project of winning over Jews to a thorough anti-Zionist, pro-Palestinian position?

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