Sunday, July 27, 2014

Quick Bit on Gaza

One of the most powerful moments I've ever witnessed regarding the Israeli/Palestinian hostilities was from a young Palestinian man at a panel discussion of some sort I had organized as an undergrad. While the conflict wasn't the central topic of the panel, eventually someone asked him about it. Unfortunately I can't do justice to his eloquent discussion of the situation, but the part that always stuck with me was when he was describing the founding of Israel as a necessity, given what had happened in the Holocaust, he argued the Jewish people needed a homeland where they could be assured some measure of safety. But the problem is (again, he phrased this much more eloquently), that the leaders of Israel are essentially undermining the entire justification for the existence of the state by turning around and enacting such massive, racist violence on a different oppressed peoples.

Obviously he wasn't drawing a one-to-one comparison between the actions of the Nazis and the actions of Israeli hawks (to do so would be absurd), but he was getting at how the latter uncomfortably apes some of the detestable practices of the former. I was reminded of that this morning while reading this short piece from Glenn Greenwald, in which he notes the recent incredibly offensive statement of Benjamin Netanyahu on how Palestinians only trot out the "telegenically dead" bears a striking resemblance to something said years earlier:

Benjamin Netanyahu, yesterday, on CNN, addressing worldwide sympathy for the civilian victims of Israeli violence in Gaza:
They want to pile up as many civilian dead as they can. They use telegenically dead Palestinians for their cause. They want the more dead, the better.

Joseph Goebbels, November 16, 1941, essay in Das Reich, addressing Germany sympathy for German Jews forced to wear yellow stars:
The Jews gradually are having to depend more and more on themselves, and have recently found a new trick. They knew the good-natured German Michael in us, always ready to shed sentimental tears for the injustice done to them. One suddenly has the impression that the Berlin Jewish population consists only of little babies whose childish helplessness might move us, or else fragile old ladies. The Jews send out the pitiable. They may confuse some harmless souls for a while, but not us. We know exactly what the situation is.
Again, as Greenwald points out, to say the two are the same is absurd, but to deny the uncomfortable way in which Netanyahu is pretty much saying the exact same thing as Goebbels means you're being willfully blind. And any time you're words match up with those of Goebbels, it does not reflect particularly well on whatever point you're trying to make...

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