(AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
I saw a photo last week of a father holding his 6-month-old baby son. The
father’s face was devoid of expression; the child in his arms was dead. The
boy’s name was Mohammed Al-Borai; he along with several others had been
killed in a blast fired indiscriminately by an Israeli cannon into the
densely populated areas of Gaza.
There were more photos, one of a group of young boys holding flowers
standing around the battered and bloodstained body of the baby boy. That
struck me as the most poignant. I had been having a discussion about the
cause of suicide bombers among Palestinians and it will be this image more
than any other that will concern me more than most. In their minds the young
dead boy will have more impact on their future than anything any one might
It was then that I started to contemplate perhaps more fully the plight of
the Palestinians today and the parallels in the history of the Jews that led
to their mass exodus from their own countries to immigrate to the land that
was at the time known as Palestine.
The Warsaw Ghetto during the Jewish Holocaust holds special significance to
the European Jews. It was a place of oppression and the pathway to the
ultimate death of thousands of their population that has become symbolic
with their struggle for recognition. Yet what they are failing to
acknowledge as their descendants press forward with their own brand of
Jewish and Zionist idealism is the parallel set of conditions that they are
now imposing on the Arab people of Palestine.
The Nazis rounded up the Jews of Poland and quartered them in a small area
of Warsaw, building a barricade around the perimeter to prevent them
leaving. So too have the Israelis through conflict and force pushed many of
the Arab inhabitants out of Israel into an enclave that now has a population
density of 4,200 people per sq. km which is 14 times that of the surrounding
area of Israel which has 360 people per sq. km.
The Nazis deprived the ghetto inhabitants of food and essential supplies. So
too has the Israeli government stopped the flow of goods to the 1.4 million
inhabitants of Gaza by limiting the convoys of supplies to a mere trickle.
The Nazis reduced the average calorie intake of the Jewish inhabitants of
the ghetto to 241 calories per day. So too have the Israelis reduced the
calorie intake of the Palestinians in Gaza. According to a UN report, it is
presently at 61 percent of the average daily requirements.
The Nazis restricted public utilities such as water and electricity. So too
has the Israeli government.
The Nazis restricted the inhabitants from adequate health care. Israelis
restrict the health care in Gaza by limiting the medical supplies in or the
treatment of cases that need to be done outside.
The Jewish inhabitants through the ZZB and the ZOB resisted the oppression
by the Nazis albeit too late and their rebellion was brutally crushed
without concern for who was in the way. So too have the Palestinians of Gaza
through their own resistance organizations, in particular Hamas, rebelled
against their oppressors and so too do the Israelis use all means available
to crush the rebellion without concern for who is in the way or who they
maim or kill in doing so.
The Nazis destroyed the structure of the ghetto leveling it to the ground in
a broad quest to rout the resistance to their oppression. Israelis
indiscriminately level buildings and the infrastructure in Gaza in a quest
to rout out the resistance to their oppression. The Nazis assigned the
Jewish people to a lesser status of all their inhabitants depriving them of
their rights as citizens and even as humans. Israel assigns the refugees
held in Gaza less status than is given to the Jews worldwide and deprives
the Palestinians of their rights to return to their former lands.
The Nazis applied whatever was at their means to break the will of the
Jewish inhabitants of the ghetto. Israelis do the same thing; they use
whatever is at their means to break the will of the Palestinians.
The Nazis killed the Jewish inhabitants of the ghetto indiscriminately.
Don’t the Israelis kill indiscriminately the inhabitants in forcing their
control over Gaza?
The Jews of Israel and elsewhere are quite right to protest at the
inhumanity of the Nazis in their treatment of them and oblige the world not
to allow the same situation to happen again. The Palestinians protest at the
inhumanity of the Israeli treatment, yet in a bizarre twist of events, the
world still allows the oppression to happen and continue.
It was after the Jews in the ghetto had been largely killed or transported
that the world stood up and felt guilty in not acting sooner.
With the picture of Mohammed Al-Borai in my mind I question when the world
will stand up and say: Enough is enough, there is not going to be a repeat
of the Warsaw Ghetto and particularly when its perpetrators are those who
suffered the most by its conduct.
There is a basic conflict of inhumanity occurring to the Palestinian people
of Gaza that the world is deliberately ignoring. An inhumanity that was
inflicted by the Nazis on the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto is now more than
ever closely paralleling that which they are inflicting on the people of
Gaza. They learned a hard lesson but it was not a lesson learned well. They
have been given the power to practice humanity but have decided instead that
they will treat the concerns of the Palestinians in the same inhumane way
the Nazis treated them.
A future monument will no doubt contain photos of Mohammed Al-Borai in the
arms of his father and the world will decry the injustice.
*Steve Hutcheson has worked in crisis recovery in Kosovo, Afghanistan and
Indonesia for the past several years and is now based in Thailand. He can be
contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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