Saturday, November 7, 2009

The misuse of anti-Semitism and the abuse of history

Stumbled on an article in the 'Guardian' by Antony Lerman, entitled, "A strike against silence". It discusses a meeing of Israelis and Palestinians in London last month to discuss some of the conflict's psychological issues. One of the issues discussed is the role of the Holocaust in the "collective" Israeli consciousness. In my opinion, it would be more relevant to concentrate exculusively on how that "Holocaust memory" has come to serve Israel as a tool against any critics of its agressive policies towards the Palestinians in particular. Yes, Primo Levi was not wrong when, after the massacre at Sabra and Shatila in 1982, he said, "Everybody is somebody's Jew. And today the Palestinians are the Jews of the Israelis".

Yet, we are continually told that the perpetrators are the victims and we are even told that the real victims should be taught about the Holocaust in their schools. This is almost like a sadist asking his victim to understand him because he too has been tortured. Of course, it is absurd to expect such an understanding and, while a psychologist or psychiatrist might at least develop a professional understanding for the perpetrator, it cannot be expected that the victims are in the least interested in the sub-conscience of those who are victimizing them. Of course, what we in fact have is, as Norman G Finkelstein says, "the misuse of anti-Semitism and the abuse of history" and those who are using, or rather misusing, the memory of the Holocaust, are quite simply doing so to justify discrimination, persecution, ethnic cleansing and wholesale slaughter of civilian populations in order to implement a machiaveillian "Realpolitik". Furthermore, in abusing history and misusing anti-Semitism not only are they insulting the memory of those whose suffering in the death camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Treblinka and elsewhere was beyond comprehension, but they are also creating a climate where the demons of the past can reappear. It is time to stop them!

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