A recent item that ran in the Upfront section of our May 14 edition about the deportation of suspected Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk made a regrettable comparison between the Israel-Palestine conflict and concentration camps. The Source Weekly is a strong supporter of all minorities and regrets likening the modern conflict, while grave, with the horror of the Holocaust. We sincerely apologize for any offense that the ill-conceived comparison created and have offered the following space to a member of the local jewish community for a more detailed perspective on the subject. - Eric Flowers, editor.
It is important for readers to understand why Jews are sensitive to negative public characterizations. Countless Jews have paid with their lives for incitement from the medieval "blood libel," which falsely accused Jews of killing children to use their blood to make Passover matzah. During the late 1800's the Russian forgery Protocols of the Elders of Zion was published (falsely claiming that Jews would take over the world through banking and the newspapers). It would later influence Hitler in his mad quest to murder all Jews.
To accuse the Jews of adopting the behavior of the Nazis is to turn reality on its head, and is very painful for any Jew who is even remotely familiar with life (and death) in the concentration camps. The Jews were the victims of the greatest genocide ever perpetrated on humankind and the country of Israel was the only safe haven many survivors of these horrors were able to find. Such a defamation deserves a moral response.
The article's charges are false and insensitive. Comparing Israel's treatment of Palestinians to Nazi treatment of Jews dishonors the deaths of 6 million innocent Jews and 3 million innocent Christians. Incredibly, the article has portrayed "pissed off Jews" as having no moral standing in the process of delivering justice to a Nazi war criminal!
The Jews of the concentration camps were given no choice other than to die. The Palestinians in the "disputed territories" have many choices - to accept a two state solution, to renounce violence, to repudiate Hamas' intention to destroy Israel, and to protect peaceful Palestinians from being intimidated and assassinated at the hands of their extremist brothers.
The article has ignored the key issue of intent - which side fails to recognize the right of the other to exist and intends to wipe that group off the face of the map and which side requires daily security measures to defeat acts of terrorism, kidnapping, and missile launches against Israeli civilian populations? No other nation on the earth has endured such existential threats and so many wars of destruction in its short history. The article has ignored the values of each side - Israel who cherishes freedom, tolerance, humanity and who fosters a culture of "life" and terrorists who adhere to religious bigotry, hatred, violence, and embrace a culture of "death." Until recently Hamas used a Mickey Mouse like character to teach young children to distrust, hate, and kill Jews.
In addition to Muslims (hundreds of thousands did not flee in 1948), Christians and Druze, Israel is made up of Jewish refugees from every part of the globe (100 languages) with about half coming from the Arab world. Jews lived in the Arab world before there was an Arab world! Many Jews lived in what is now Iraq (then Babylonia) for 2,600 years but there are none there now! In fact, Baghdad was 30% Jewish in the 1930's. Egypt, too, had Jews for many centuries before the first Muslims arrived, but there are none there now. Why did they leave and where did they go? They left because they were threatened and expelled, and most went to Israel, the only country that would take them. Jews who had lived for centuries and owned much property were forced to give away all they owned to escape with their lives before the rising wave of violence could overtake them. We hear much about Palestinian refugees but we hear almost nothing about Jewish refugees from Arab violence. In fact there were more Jews displaced by Arab violence than Arabs displaced by the creation of Israel. The reason you aren't aware of this is because they are now called "citizens". Their brothers and sisters took them in, fed them and clothed them and integrated them into modern Israel. The Palestinians on the other hand have been rejected as citizens in almost every Arab country except Jordan. In many cases they may not hold jobs or own land and are kept as third class "non-citizens" festering with hatred to be directed against Israel.
Going forward it is my hope that The Source will exhibit fair-mindedness and reflect appropriate cultural/religious sensitivity. This community deserves an honest dialogue, a fair and comprehensive portrayal of these complex issues. While the Israeli-Palestinian conflict demands resolution, a much greater threat to both sides would be a nuclear armed Iran.