Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Palestinian Holocaust: Warsaw Redux

For those who bristle at the idea of calling Israel's attacks against the Palestinians a holocaust, I urge you to pay attention to what Israel's deputy defense minister, Matan Vilnai, told Army Radio on Friday, February 29, 2008

"… they [ the Palestinians] will bring upon themselves a bigger 'shoah' [a Hebrew word for catastrophe and a synonym for the Nazi Holocaust] because we will use all our might to defend ourselves."

He certainly doesn't seem to have a problem with using this word when referring to Israel's plan of action against the Palestinians. This is a holocaust. If you have a problem dealing with that, I would suggest that you address this with Mr. Vilnai and the Knesset.

What's going on in Gaza right now is no different from what went on inside of the Warsaw Ghetto. The Nazis first confined the Jews and then proceeded to deprive them of food and medical care. Soon people began to drop dead from diseases due to lack of treatment and lack of proper nutrition. When those in the ghetto realized what was in store for them, they used improvised explosive devices (IEDs), Molotov cocktails and whatever arms they could get their hands on to attack the Nazis. Did they think they could win? There was no way the weapons at their disposal could stop the Nazis from coming in and killing them all. Realistically, all they could do was peacefully die at the hands of the Nazis or die fighting. If they chose the latter, perhaps they'd manage to kill a few of the Nazis in the process, so I can understand why many chose to fight.

It should be mentioned that the fighters weren't all men. The Jewish women and children also armed themselves and fought to kill as many Nazis as possible. I can't imagine that any of the parents exactly liked the idea of allowing their children to become killers but I can also understand why someone in that situation might have felt as if there really weren't any other options and that even their children had a right to defend themselves against the Nazis who they'd already watched kill so many other children.

Ultimately, the Nazis went into the ghetto and set fire to the streets of the ghetto, block by block. When the smoke and flames drove the Jews out of the buildings, the Nazis shot them to death. You could say that the Nazis were just responding to the fact that the Jews were using their women and children to attack Germans, but that doesn't take into consideration who put the Jews in that position in the first place. Maybe we should ask ourselves a few questions.

If they had not been confined, deprived of food and medicine, and systematically killed, would the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto have taken up arms against the Nazis?

Was it immoral or unethical for the Jews of Warsaw to allow their children to take up arms against the occupiers of their homeland?

Should the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising be viewed as an attempt to destroy all Germans since the people the Jews were shooting and fire-bombing were Germans?

Does the fact that the some of the Warsaw fighters did kill a few of those who were keeping them in confinement mean that the Nazis were justified in killing thousands of Jews afterwards?

Were the Jews who chose to fight the Nazis responsible for the deaths of those non-fighting Jews who were later killed by the Nazis?

Did the non-fighting Jews in Warsaw deserve to die since they didn't prevent other Jews in their community from launching fire-bombs and using IEDs against the Nazis?

Was the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising an act of self-defense?

If so, how can we decide which group was acting in self-defense?

If the occupation, confinement, and killings made it justifiable for the Jewish fighters to shoot and fire-bomb the Nazis, is there any reason why wouldn't that justification also apply to others who are experiencing the same thing?


Unknown said...

Yes, Bint, EXACTLY.

The two situations are equivalent - Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto and Gazans currently.

I only wish my fellow Jews would open their eyes to this (some have, but only a minority). Because if they did, this shit would stop, fast.

Anonymous said...

I refer you to Julie's post: http://modernmitzvot.wordpress.com/2008/12/29/once-more-with-feeling/

As well as this thread at Shakesville: http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2008/12/open-thread-on-israel-strike-on-hamas.html

Jews and Israelis are not the same. This post is a substitute for the critique you could be making. This is not helping Palestinians.

bint alshamsa said...


Thank you for the feedback. My hope is for everyone to open their eyes to what's going on in Gaza.

bint alshamsa said...


Is there some reason why you're telling me that Jews and Israelis are not the same? If you think that my arguments are flawed in some way, feel free to point out how that's the case. It's fairly pointless to come here and just repeat something that's already been established.

Furthermore, you really aren't any any position to determine what is and isn't helping Palestinians. I think they are much better arbiters of this than you could ever be.

Anonymous said...

Nice post. The similarities need to be highlighted.
The actions of Israel are wrong and should be condemned.

The actions of the Palestinian militants are also wrong, and really really stupid. But that in no way justifies this.

Dori said...

I have to say re: Chally's assertion of Jews and Israelis not being synonymous...Israel claims to be creating a place that is safe for Jews all over the world, and their government uses this rationale as part of their justification for massacring Palestinians, either actively or passively. The Israeli government also cites the Nazi Holocaust and on-going anti-semitism the world over as a justification for their actions in the Territories. Therefore, drawing the line between the actions of genocide against Jews as perpetrated by the Nazis and the actions of genocide against Palestinians as perpetrated by the Israeli government is a valid line to draw.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your message on my blog, I'm leaving a reply there.

That wasn't a comment on a flaw in the content of your argument. Rather I was suggesting that you're playing into the dynamic of equating Jews with Israelis where you could have made it clear that you were addressing an explicitly Israeli policy. You are pulling Jews in where it's counterproductive to do so. While the Holocaust was a very large factor in the establishment of a modern Israel, it's certainly possible to critique Israeli policy without mixing Jews and Israelis as you've done. I'm sure you have more of a nuanced view of the Arab-Israeli conflict than I'm seeing, but it's obscured for me by this technique. I hope that makes sense.

I wasn't suggesting that I knew what is and isn't helping Palestinians better than Palestinians, not being one myself, as you assumed.

animeg said...

I have nothing useful to say except for when I read this I thought of the idea of people saying a list of names of those who died as a form of protest. Of course, that's probably not possible.

Anonymous said...

On second thought, if my issue with your post is not evident at once, our streams of thought are too divergent and I don't think you and I are going to get anything productive out of this discussion. I'll leave the thread now. I suppose I'll see you around the blogosphere!

bint alshamsa said...


It really saddens and angers me whenever I see people taking up arms against one another, but I agree with you about the fact that they actions of a few Palestinians don't justify the genocide that Israel is perpetrating.

bint alshamsa said...


Israel uses the horrors of the Holocaust as the justification for nearly everything it does to the Palestinians. If the Israeli government is correct and the Holocaust is really relevant to what it does today, then I agree with you that it makes sense for us to discuss exactly what occurred during that time.

bint alshamsa said...


So far, it seems that you are the only one who felt that it wasn't clear what I was addressing. Once again, despite the fact that you are not a Palestinian, you're attempting to dictate to me what is and isn't productive for them.

It's a bit silly to claim that I'm pulling Jews in. In case you haven't noticed, Jews have been involved in this issue since it began. That pre-dates this post by a very, very long time. It's strange that you would make such a claim given the fact that your last comment linked to a post that contradicts your claim.

By the way, I didn't assume that you aren't a Palestinian. I went to your blog and looked at how you self-identify before I responded to what you wrote. It might have been helpful if you had actually took a bit of a look around my blog before you assumed that I was "equating Jews with Israelis".

It's your choice whether you want to get anything productive out of this discussion. I do believe it's a bit cowardly to come here and make accusations and then come back and make more accusations without taking the time to back up your claims. Nevertheless, you're welcome to be a part of the discussion if you decide you have something logical to add to it.

BLESSD1 said...

Excellent and compelling comparison, Bint. As always, I love your insightful and honest commentary. Kudos on this marvelos post.

Kim said...

(Forgive me for straying off topic but) Hi Bint -- long time no see (saw your reply to GC over at Lindsay's -- amen and well said.)
And Happy late birthday!

Anonymous said...

It is Hamas, not Israel, that is murdering Palestinians and Gazans and it is Hamas, not Israel, you should be directing your anger and condemnations towards.

If you read my essay, you will see that I cite 2 prior occasions, out of many, where the IDF sent warnings to people to leave their homes since they might be near locations where Hamas weapons caches or terrorist suspects are located.

Hamas, not Israel, is using civilians as human shields to protect its weapons and even its officials from Israeli precision-fire weapons.

I am not saying that Israel's human rights record is stellar nor that the country is beyond criticism.

But, like I said in my essay, Israel is doing what a free nation's government should do when its citizens' lives are threatened with force: respond with force.

Either Israel has a right to defend itself or it doesn't. The control of aid into Gaza by Israel is the result of continuous terrorist attacks eminanting from Gaza.

The Israelis did shut down Gaza's border but did allow humanitarian aid into the region. However, if you read up on this you would know that Amnesty International reports that aid workers dare not go into Gaza for fear of harrassment or harm of some kind. Potentially even death.

Furthermore, you should also read the Hew York Times article I point to (link below) where you will clearly see that Hamas is seeing to it that armies of people, including children, will be used for self-sacrificial fodder for their war against Israel.

The heads of Hamas with the help of sympathetic mullahs are telling their population that they must sacrifice themselves in order to destroy Israel and I am sure many are taking it to the point where they are remaining to face death or harm in hopes the western press will report the images and then the world will turn against Israel.

This culture of death among Muslims in the region isn't just limited to Gaza it is also being practiced in many parts of the middle east, like Somalia and Europe. Read Ayan Hirsi Ali's book "Infidel" and Bruce Bawer's Book "While Europe Slept".

Both books are based on first hand experiences with radical Islamists. Bawer as a gay man living with his partner in Europe and seeing the atrocities many Muslim militants would committ against non-Muslims.

Ayan Hirsi Ali escaped an arranged marriage, was brought up in a strict Islamic household and is no in hiding for fear of her life for wanting the government of Holland to investigate cases of and going public speaking out against cases of abuse against women on the part of their husband who are in Islamic households.

It is Hamas and other radical Islamists, not Israel, that are using their civilians by indoctrinating them in the morality of self sacrifice in hopes of undermining Israel and slaughtering the Jews and other non-Muslims, like Christians and atheists.

Do the research. You will see that I am right.

However, what you all need to decide is whether Israel has the right to defend herself or not. I am saying she does.

bint alshamsa said...

Mike Renzulli,

"Nuetrality helps the oppressor,
Never the victim"

Elie Wiesel

Hamas is not the group flying those airplanes dropping bombs on the women and children. It's not Hamas that has stated that ALL citizens must serve in the military thus making an entire population into non-civilian combatants. It's not Hamas that has confined the Palestinians into the same sort of ghettos as the Germans used to confine them before killing them off under the guise of "national security interests". It's not Hamas that has a system of apartheid written into every institution it controls.

By the way, anyone who truly studies Ayaan Hirsi Ali's case beyond what she has said, will truly laugh at her claims. Even she has admitted to lying several times in order to gain residency in the Netherlands. Once exposed, she left and moved to the USA. There are plenty of women who have grown up in Muslim families and have spoken out about their experiences. We could ignore those who haven't been found to be liars or we can just pretend as if the liars are telling the truth.

As for me, I prefer the fact-based universe. As an atheist, I'm sure Ayaan Hirsi Ali would find this position quite admirable.

By the way, Renzulli, you're quite wrong about aid workers being afraid of going into Gaza. Aid workers have been making attempts to get into Gaza only to have their ships attacked by the Israelis. Like I said, I prefer the fact-based universe. Perhaps you should consider visiting some time soon.