From Holocaust to Naqba

This text was written by Kamal just a month before the bombing of Gaza on 27th of December 2008. Today, three years later, it is still relevant, as the oppression of Palestinians goes on. 

During my time in Jerusalem, I visited the Holocaust Museum located at the foot of Mount Herzl. From that impressive building, people can enjoy the green forest and the red roof: a symbol of the Zionist settlement. One needs the entire day or maybe two to get the full experience of the whole museum. Four hours were more than enough for me to realize the Tragedy. I of course knew about that terrible period of our European history but being in Jerusalem, in that museum, seemed to me a kind of pilgrimage, a repentance for something I am not even responsible for. I just felt ashamed being a human being, there is something sick about us, isn’t it?

Jews have been often persecuted, the Holocaust was just the consequence of our silence. Other people and nations were massacred too, (Indians, Africans for example) but it did not create such an impact on people’s mind. Why? Maybe they just don’t know how to express their pain or maybe their suffering is simply ignored. The Jews are surely the first ones to denounce their murderers in a such efficient way and the ones who know how to raise awareness among people, even if it’s sometimes discussable.

So my four hours in that shiny and very modern museum made me realize how a human being can be. I hold many times my tears by reading the goodbye letters of the victims to their families. I had stomach pains by watching and listening to the stories of the survivors. I was paralysed by watching the mass killings and terrorized to see millions of German citizens and other European ones (from France to Lithuania) being directly part of the Genocide. Maybe I would have been part of it as well…Who knows? After all, those who participated in the massacre were simple citizens like you and me. It`s worth to think about it. One can say that this is part of our past now but the truth is we did not learn so much from it. Today, 10th of December 2008 it is the celebration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 60 years!!! In 1948, the World said never again, reffering to the Holocaust and other human right abuses. Since then other genocides have been committed  (Rwanda, Srebrenica, Darfour…), with the deafening silence of the International Community, indirectly or directly responsible of the tragic events. To conclude on that point, no one can get out of Yad Vashem (Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes for Remembrance Authority) without being emotionally and intellectually moved. The museum is not only a remembrance or a memorial of the Jewish tragedy but a warning and a desperate call to return to our Humanity.

The Holocaust museum bears something very ironical though. It is built in Jerusalem, in Israel where an other cleansing took place three years after the end of the second world war and in the year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.The year 1948 is the year of Al-Naqba (catastrophe-disaster). Al-Naqba is for Palestinians what the Holocaust is for Jews. The number of victims is inferior though but the suffering is the same for Palestinians. In that year more than 800 000 Palestinians were uprooted from their land by military force. Thinking that it was just a matter of days, they only took their keys or identity cards. 6o years later they are still waiting for their right to return. Some of them are refugees in their own country, others are spread in the neighbouring countries (Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt) and a minority is spread in Europe, South America and other parts of the world. The most unfortunate ones were just killed. The majority of Palestinian families suffers from at least the loss of a parent or relative.

One can say we cannot compare the Holocaust to the Naqba because of the number of death which is much higher for the Jews. It would be a fair argument but a genocide or an ethnic cleansing is not defined by the number of deaths but by its intentions or goals. The fact is what happened in 1948 before the eyes of the International Community is purely an ethnical cleansing and this crime still goes on until now and always with the silence and support of our governments. Palestinians houses and villages are still destroyed, displacing thousands of families with one and unique purpose: get rid of the Palestinians and establish a pure Jewish state, after all it is their “Promised Land”. Different reasons are given for house demolitions: target terrorists, punitive reason, military operation, lack of building permit etc, this is what they are calling, transfer by will, meaning that Palestinians will of course just leave by themselves after such harrasments. Since demolition is not efficient enough to reach their goals, they multiply the checkpoints, outside the occupied territories but also inside, for security reasons, they say but we know it is to make Palestinian`s life unbearable so that they leave the country. Meanwhile they keep murdering civilians, not in a big number of course, by fear to alarm the world and risk an international intifada (uprising) but they kill them little by little, today 10, tomorrow 36, the day after 50 and so on, always giving a good reason for their inhumane behaviour. The numbers of Palestinian refugees is estimated now at 7 000 000. 2 out of 5 refugees worldwide is Palestinian. It is the largest group of refugees over in the world.

So how can the victims of yesterday can become the murderers of today? Did they forget their own suffering and humiliations? Ok, not all Israelis are involved in those crimes but by their deafening silence, they are also responsible of what is going on in their own country. The few Israeli human rights organisations that I’ve met here feel sorry and lonely in their struggle and they are loosing hope by facing such a passive attitude. And what about the International Community? Total silence again. Human rights organisations from Israel and Palestine and Palestinians themselves don`t count on them anymore. Hypocrisy is what characterizes them the most. All those people involved sincerely in the peace process count on Us, on simple citizens from the Western world. The South Africans got rid of the Apartheid system thanks to their admirable struggle of course but also thanks to the International actlvists who were pressing their own governments. The humiliations, dehumanisation and killings of Palestinians won`t affect their will to become free and their will to get a just peace which respects the rights of all people in the region. As long as the occupation goes on, the Palestinians, people of dignity and patience will remain “Sumud”, steadfast. We are obliged to act and honor our values and our essence as Human beings.

Soldiers in the old city of Hebron. The street, declared by peace activists and palestinians as "the Apartheid street" is separated in two. On the left side only Israelis and soldiers can walk, on the right side is a path for Palestinians.


The wall is not only separating Israelis from Palestinians, but also Palestinians from Palestinians


East Jerusalem, part of Palestine. Israeli settlers setting their marks of power on the buildings they occupy illegally


Israeli checkpoint within the Palestinian territory, occupied both by Israeli soldiers and settlers


Street of Hebron, that became a ghost city due to the arrival of around 500 illegal Israeli settlers and 2000 soldiers, forcing around 13000 Palestinians, owners of the houses here, to flee their homes


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