first they came for the palestinians…

listen closely to the opening words of this video when barack obama says:

we must mean the words we say when we speak the words never again.

of course, my question is: never again for whom? only jews?

today (well, technically yesterday as it’s now 12:43 am) is international holocaust remembrance day (united nations). if you read my earlier post you know how israeli terrorists spent their day: killing palestinians. but that is a normal, daily activity for them. how many of these people are the grandchildren of holocaust survivors, i wonder?

qui qui posted a link on kabobfest to an article with hillary clinton expressing her support for the israeli terrorist attack on gaza today entitled “This one goes out to all of you pro-Palestine Obamatards” and here is what the original article says:

“It is regrettable that the Hamas leadership apparently believes that it is in their interest to provoke the right of self-defense instead of building a better future for the people of Gaza,” she added.

a somewhat new american organization, the international jewish anti-zionist network posted quite a different sort of statement today about the situation in gaza and parallels that can be drawn between the warsaw ghetto and gaza:

picture-13

Last week, after murdering 1400 people – of whom 400 were children – after bombing hospitals and mosques, schools, universities and humanitarian supplies, and tens of thousand of homes, Israel declared a cease-fire. A shameful parade of European leaders immediately went to Jerusalem to embrace the mass murderers and to pledge their support for the continuing siege of Gaza.

The primary purpose of this massacre was to break the spirit of the Palestinian people until they surrender and accept their fate as lesser human beings. As former Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon said in 2002, “The Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people.” European leaders support this goal, as did previous U.S. administrations, as do the ruling elites of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi-Arabia, despite the fury of their peoples. We wait to see if the freshly inaugurated Obama Administration will break with sixty long years of attack on the Palestinian people armed and financed by the U.S. and Europe.

We grieve with the people of Gaza. We see the faces of the children, of the women and the men; we hear their voices. We also hear the silence of the leaders of Western countries, intermittently broken by evasive platitudes. And we are reminded of the time when the world turned a blind eye while our forebears, our families, were slaughtered.

100,000 Palestinians were made homeless in Gaza this month. Most of them became refugees in 1948 when they were expelled at gunpoint from their towns and villages. Now they are homeless again, even in their land of exile, and at risk of being driven out from Palestine altogether.

Yet on January 27, Holocaust Remembrance Day, the leaders of the U.S. and Europe will be joined in honoring the memory of our dead. Even as we seek to remember and to honor the immensity of that loss, we struggle to find words to convey the hypocrisy of these ceremonies, in which those who are silent today pay homage to the victims of yesterday’s silence.

The radical Jewish writer Walter Benjamin, who died while fleeing the Nazis, wrote, “not even the dead will be safe from the enemy, if he is victorious. And this enemy has not ceased to be victorious.” The Third Reich was defeated, and yet, “the enemy has not ceased to be victorious.” Racism, mass murder, and genocide continue to be accepted tools of statecraft. Even our dead are not safe. They have been called up, disturbed, dredged from their mass graves and forced to testify against their fellow human beings in pain, to confess a hatred that was alien to them and to offer themselves up as justification for a new cycle of suffering in Palestine. Their ghosts have been enlisted to help displace fellow Jews from Arab homelands, and to bequeath to them that same alien hatred, conscripting those of us descending from Arab lands to become enemies of our own memory and past.

The Jewish British MP Gerald Kaufman spoke in anguish while the massacres in Gaza were taking place: “My grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza.” We share and echo that refusal. Let not the memory of Jews murdered by the Nazi regime serve as cover for the attempted destruction of the Palestinian people!

Although the guns are relatively silent, this genocidal assault on the Palestinian people isn’t over. The siege, the lack of food and fresh water, the disease-threatening broken sewage system, and economic collapse and humanitarian crisis persist in Gaza with the full support of the U.S., Europe and the Egyptian government. As the siege of Gaza continues, so does the slow ethnic cleansing of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the home demolitions, the building of the apartheid wall, the settlement build-up, the economic devastation of the towns and villages strangled by checkpoints, the assault on Palestinian neighborhoods in Jaffa, Akka, Lydda, the Galilee and the Negev, the mass imprisonment of Palestinians (over 11,000), and all the large and small ways by which Israel is seeking to crush the spirit and erase the presence of the Palestinian people in their homeland.

Faced with the threat of annihilation in Europe, Jews resisted. From ghettos to concentration camps and within countries under occupation, Jews led resistance to the Nazi regime. Today, from the ghetto of Gaza to the Bantustans of the West Bank and from the neighborhoods of Jaffa and Akka to cities across the globe, Palestinians resist Israel’s attempt to destroy them as a people. On January 27th, honoring the memory of our dead is for us inseparable from honoring more than sixty years of Palestinian survival and resistance. Only when the Palestinian people regain their freedom will the dead rest safely. Then we will all celebrate another victory for life.

and, of course, it isn’t just gaza. israeli terrorists also promised to render homeless families in khalil today:

Israeli authorities are planning to demolish Palestinian homes near Hebron, according to an advance notice sent to residents on Tuesday.

The demolitions will affect residents at Um Lasfah, a village east of Hebron’s Yatta area.

Demolition notices were sent to Ismail Al-Adra, warning of the impending action, which will leave 20 Palestinians homeless. Israeli authorities demolished several houses in the same area in 2008.

Israel is also planning to demolish an eight-meter room inside the house of Ismail A’lian, who lost his last appeal against the action, according to a similar notice.

of course the sixty-one year (really over 120 years if you think about it) ethnic cleansing project of zionist theft and murder of palestinian lands and people is not the same as the holocaust, but as i have written before it is especially disturbing and ironic that those who shove this history down your throat and wield it as a weapon forcing you to submit into silence continue these crimes unabated. the irony seems to be lost on them.

there is a group in the united kingdom that has a website for this holocaust remembrance day and on it they have a famous poem that i read many times growing up:

First They Came – Pastor Martin Niemoller

First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
First they came for the Socialist
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
First they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
First they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me

of course we know what the world does, what the world did, with respect to palestinians. they continue their 61 year silence. the lessons of never again are never learned. take this shmuck david cesarani, for example, who has an op ed in the guardian today:

Auschwitz was the terminus. But we have to keep our eye on where it originated: in the attitudes of ordinary people. That is why the theme of this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day is ‘”Stand Up to Hatred”. Yes, we have to preserve Auschwitz, but we also have to remember that without hate it would never have been built.

if you click on the above link and read the entire tedious article you’ll notice that there is not one mention of gaza. not one mention of palestine. and yet he claims that holocaust remembrance day is about standing up for hatred more generally. you begin to see that he, like obama, like clinton, like everyone else, applies this concept of hatred or silence or never again in a very limited and narrow sense.

never again shouldn’t only apply to palestinians, of course. it is difficult to keep up with all of the other human tragedies around the globe most of the time because i am inundated with it on so many levels where i live. the following post from blogger virgil hawkins is a useful reminder that palestinians are not alone in the way that their suffering remains silenced by the western media, which is interesting given his argument (note the post is a bit dated as in the past week the situation in somalia and the congo has deteriorated):

Forget the series of Christmas massacres by the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels in eastern DRC that left more than 400 dead (including more than 45 killed in a church) and the coalition of countries in the region trying to hunt them down. Forget the deadly clashes with Congolese rebels poised to take over the city of Goma. Forget Somalia, where the Ethiopian forces that invaded (with US assistance) two years ago are being forced by local resistance forces to pack and leave. Forget all of these conflicts, because violence has broken out again in Israel-Palestine.

The latest conflagration of violence in Israel-Palestine continues to dominate international news around the world. The details of who is attacking who with what, how many people have died (down to single digit figures), and how many of them were women and children, together with in-depth political analysis and a touch of humanitarian concern are all fed through the newspapers, television, radio and internet news outlets on a daily basis. And all with the utmost care to avoid displeasing lobby groups that will rain down thousands of e-mails, telephone calls and letters (flak) upon the unfortunate media corporation suspected of even the slightest bias (and possibly revoke their advertising contracts).

The Israel-Palestine conflict is a ‘chosen’ conflict. It always is. It has the rare privilege of being the focus of saturated attention every time there is a conflagration (despite the fact that the conflict is not occurring in a ‘white’ Western country, and despite the fact that the USA is not a direct belligerent in the conflict – always sure factors for a conflict to attract soaring levels of attention). Explaining why this is so would take a book or two, but let’s just scratch the surface here. Politicians in much of the Western world obsess about the issue, largely because a significant amount of their election campaign contributions seem to depend on their favourable attention in many cases. Politicians in much of the Muslim world do likewise, because standing up against the oppression of Muslims at the hands of Israel is much more popular than standing up against the oppression of Muslims at the hands of anyone else. The fact that the conflict region is considered the ‘Holy Land’ by Muslims, Jews and Christians helps cement this process.

For media corporations, providing saturation coverage of the conflict is nothing short of automatic. What is considered important by media corporations is based largely on what the policymakers at home consider to be important, almost by default. Keeping reporters close to those making foreign policy at home is much cheaper than sending them all over the world to independently gather news. In the competitive media business, budgets are better spent on packaging and presenting news than actually gathering it. Furthermore, for media corporations that have little newsgathering capacity (and oddly, even for those that do), the news value of a story is often determined by what leading media corporations (like the New York Times) think it should be. In this environment of follow-the-leader (policymakers and leading media corporations) and pack journalism, having a reporter in Africa is optional, having one in Israel-Palestine is not. Once the reporter is stationed there, ‘fresh’ coverage of the issue on demand is cheap and easy (far more so than actually sending someone to far-away and logistically challenging Africa to cover something after it happens).

Because of the combination of follow-the-leader, pack journalism, and lack of newsgathering capacity, this state of affairs can be seen spreading to the rest of the world as well. Japan has no cultural or religious affinity with Israel-Palestine, and its politicians are not reliant on campaign contributions from pro-Israeli lobby groups, yet its media corporations follow the Western leaders in devoting heavy coverage to the issue. Even locally-focused news programs that rarely have any time for foreign affairs issues make sure to include news of the latest conflagration in their bulletins. With little budget for foreign newsgathering, Zambia’s leading newspaper (the Post) buys its world news from foreign news agencies. The result is that it gives more coverage to the situation in Israel-Palestine than it does to the eight countries on Zambia’s border combined. In the year 2004, for example, it devoted 9 percent of its foreign coverage to Israel-Palestine, but only 4 percent to all of Zambia’s eight neighbours.

On top of this, things have always been this way, so they tend to stay that way. Israel-Palestine has always been considered important, and ‘important’ people think it is, so it must be important. Groups (interest/lobby) and individuals with a special interest in the conflict in Israel-Palestine are also well-positioned to continue the process of drawing copious amounts of attention to the conflict, in political spheres and in the ownership of prominent media corporations. Africa, on the other hand, has not been considered important (for a variety of separate reasons that will be dealt with in another post), and therefore no one knows about it, and therefore it is not important. It becomes a vicious cycle.

The public, who remain largely at the mercy of the media corporations in obtaining morsels of information about the outside world, seem to end up with the same distorted view of the world. In a simple classroom survey conducted of 37 Australian university students (studying in a course on war and peace no less) in 2003, the conflict in Israel-Palestine was the most common answer (9 respondents) to the question of which conflict in the world they thought had been the deadliest since the end of the Cold War. Only one of the 37 could even name the conflict in the DRC as one of the world’s deadliest conflicts, and that was at third place behind Israel-Palestine and Afghanistan. In a similar survey conducted of 151 university students in Japan in 2008, not a single one could name the DRC as the world’s deadliest conflict. Fourteen students, on the other hand, thought that the conflict in Israel-Palestine was world’s deadliest, coming in at third place behind Iraq and Kosovo.

This is despite the fact that the virtually unknown conflict in the DRC is 1,000 times deadlier than that in Israel-Palestine. And I don’t mean that figuratively, it is literally 1,000 times deadlier – the death toll from conflict in the DRC since 1998 is roughly 6 million, while the death toll from conflict in Israel-Palestine since 2000 is roughly 6 thousand. At least 38 conflicts since the end of the Cold War have been deadlier than that in Israel-Palestine. Put simply, while these surveys are limited in their scope, they suggest that collectively, the general public has no idea about the state of conflict in the world. Their perspective on which conflicts are the largest and deadliest is so skewed that the reality is unrecognizable. But who can blame them, considering the horribly unbalanced diet of media they feed on. I invite you to try out simple surveys like this (“Which conflict in the world do you think has been the deadliest since the end of the Cold War?”) with those around you.

In some ways, I almost regret writing this post, because I am becoming part of the very bandwagon that I am discussing – by writing about why the issue is important, I am inadvertently boosting the attention it receives… But some discussion of the issue of ‘chosen’ conflicts is also necessary in order for the discussion of ‘stealth’ conflicts to make sense.

i posted the above blog entry in full because i think it raises important questions about the media and the role that racism plays in what gets covered. but there is also the added issue of how it gets covered. as hawkins says, it is not that palestine doesn’t get media coverage, it does. but what kind? i can’t bear to read american newspapers or watch their television coverage any longer so i rely on bloggers and friends who send me the rare item of note. or i rely on angry arab’s coverage of reporting in newspapers like the new york times. you can check through his postings over the last month and get a clear idea of the many ways in which the american media works very hard to cover stories like gaza through israeli terrorist propaganda. but equally as important for us to question and challenge is why never again isn’t applied to war crimes in places like the congo? why are we silent about all of these conflicts in which brown people are the victims and american and european corporations (and oftentimes israeli corporations) are the culprits? i think that the issue of silence is connected here, but it just functions in different ways.

take dina jadallah-taschler’s article which demonstrates how american media, as the mouthpiece for israeli terrorist state propaganda renders palestinians as subhuman:

In the mainstream, Zionist-inspired narrative, Israel’s “right to exist” precedes and supersedes all else and, in fact, does so uniquely in the world of nations, since under international law, no other nation has or demands such a right. For Israel to have this right entails the obliteration (and not even acknowledgment) of a similar parallel right of the displaced population, the Palestinians, to also exist. Therefore, any war that Israel starts – or in most Western media narratives, does not start — it is ipso facto defensive and justified. Any questioning of this frame of reference is liable to be branded “anti-semitic”, thus conflating (and importantly from a propagandistic point of view, confusing) the actions of a state, which is first and foremost a political actor, with the belief system and religion of an entire group of people.

One of the many consequences of this superimposed narrative is to render the Palestinians almost un-human — untermenschen if you will. I use the term “human” here in its full sense as embodied in the spirit and law of the United Nations Charter and Resolutions as well as the Declaration of the Rights of Man. Very briefly, the former guarantees the rights of a national people to independence and guarantees them the right to resist occupation. The second additionally guarantees political, cultural, and economic rights to all human beings. And yet, today we find the Palestinians as the last still colonized people who are deprived of any right to resist the colonizing and occupying power.

just look at the lengths tony benn has to go through to let people know about the disasters emergency committee’s appeal for funds for gaza on the bbc:


benn sites an article from 2005 in the independent that details the bias of bbc head mark thompson.
here is the ad the bbc and sky news have refused to air:

but all of this silence and repression is ironic because of the rhetoric we are subjected to from the mouths of israeli terrorists murdering palestinians every single day for 61 years. consider this from gabriela shalev:

Shalev said during her speech that the Holocaust may have terminated with crematoriums, but it began with words.

“To remain silent and indifferent to the horrors of the Holocaust is probably the greatest sin of all, let alone denying it,” she said. “We have a responsibility to act against the forces of anti-Semitism, bigotry and racism in any form.”

Shalev added that the Jewish people maintained a hope that no nation would call for the destruction of another people, though the aspiration has not yet been achieved. She also recounted the story of her grandparents, who perished in Auschwitz.

ironic, too, given that while her thinly veiled comment alludes to hamas, her government, which she is a mouthpiece for is actually destroying another people, the palestinian people. you can spend today thinking about this notion of never again and how vapid it is while surveying the palestinians murdered at the hands of israeli terrorists at this website, the gaza holocaust museum.

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