ashland.news
July 23, 2024

Relocations: What sort of death should they choose?

Relocations Palestine Israel
Palestinian flag image from publicdomainimages.net
October 12, 2023

An attempt to understand what is happening in Israel/Palestine without condoning the violence

‘You see my calamity and are afraid’

—Job 6:21

By Herbert Rothschild

In 2019, when I was still writing Relocations for the Daily Tidings, I wrote a piece in which I compared Gaza with the Warsaw ghetto. Here is the history I recalled for my readers:

Herb Rothschild Relocations
Herbert Rothschild

After conquering Poland in 1939, the Nazis packed Poland’s three million Jews into city ghettos. Warsaw was the largest — between 300,000 and 400,000 in 3.3 square kilometers. Thousands died of disease and starvation before the first deportations to the death camps in 1942. Only at the end of that year did those who remained learn what “resettlement to the East” really meant. They began to build bunkers and smuggle weapons into the ghetto. Two combat organizations formed and trained.

When a second round of deportations began, they took up what arms they had. The uprising was doomed. 13,000 Jews were killed; of the surviving 50,000 Jews, most were captured and shipped to the camps. Yitzhak Zuckerman, one of the surviving ghetto warriors, moved to Israel. In an interview on the 25th anniversary of the uprising, he said, “If there’s a school to study the human spirit, there [the uprising] should be a major subject. The important things were inherent in the force shown by Jewish youth after years of degradation, to rise up against their destroyers, and determine what death they would choose: Treblinka or Uprising.”

Today, about 2 million Palestinians, perhaps half of them minors, are packed into a 141-square-mile ghetto called Gaza. Many are descendants of those driven off their ancestral lands in 1948. Gaza has been slowly dying. For years the United Nations Relief Works Agency has been monitoring the deteriorating situation. In 2012 it predicted that life there would become “unlivable” by 2020. By 2014, U.N. relief was feeding 800,000 people each day. In 2017 it reported that the conditions were deteriorating “further and faster” than was predicted in 2012. A major focus was the aquifer on which the population relies. Other concerns were restricted access to electricity and a dearth of building materials to repair damages from past conflicts.

In the 2017 report the U.N. called upon Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and the international community to take action toward more sustainable development investments, reinvigoration of Gaza’s productive sectors, improvement of freedom of movement for both people and goods, as well as respect for human rights and international humanitarian law. “The alternative will be a Gaza that is more isolated and more desperate.”

Israeli violence against Palestinians became normalized long ago. To the extent U.S. media ever was interested in reporting it, the everydayness of it removed its news value. Hamas’s rocket attacks against Israel also became normalized and unnewsworthy except on those occasions when Israel decided to strike back with a terrible vengeance. What wasn’t normal was fighters from Gaza breaking through the walls of their open-air prison and killing people, including Americans, face-to-face. That’s big news here.

President Joe Biden’s National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson stated: “The United States unequivocally condemns the unprovoked attacks by Hamas terrorists against Israeli civilians. There is never any justification for terrorism.” That is true about terrorism. But “unprovoked”? In what world has she been living? And who gets to say which side in a conflict are the terrorists? Perhaps if your side has the full weight of a national military at its disposal, you can’t be called terrorists. Only those with smuggled weapons qualify.

The attacks from Gaza were orchestrated by Hamas. Hamas has been an implacable enemy to a Jewish state. Similarly, despite earlier protestations to the contrary, Israel has been an implacable enemy to a Palestinian state. In a Relocations column published in January 2020, I provided my readers with statements from Zionist leaders dating back to Zionist co-founder Theodore Herzl and including David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, and subsequent prime ministers Golda Meir and Ariel Sharon, expressing their intent to cleanse the land of Palestinians. That position essentially was codified in a Basic Law passed in 2018 declaring that only Jews have a right to self-determination in the Land of Israel, and that the “State views the development of Jewish settlement as a national value, and shall act to encourage and promote its establishment and consolidation.”

It’s likely that this latest armed uprising from Gaza will seal its doom. On Monday, Yoav Gallant, Israel’s defense minister, announced, “We are imposing a complete siege on Gaza. There will be no electricity, no food, no water, no fuel. Everything will be closed.” In his view this policy is justified because “We are fighting human animals and we act accordingly.”

It’s impossible to know whether the majority of Gazans preferred, “after years of degradation, to rise up against their destroyers, and determine what death they would choose.” And there is a difference between the Warsaw uprising and the Gazan uprising in that the Hamas fighters inflicted harm on civilians, not just on their uniformed oppressors. What they did was ghastly. To understand it, as I have been trying to do in this column, is not to justify it, so please don’t send irate letters saying that I condoned the attacks. The world is full of violence, and I condone none of it. 

There would be far less of it, however, if we didn’t regard some of our fellow human beings as animals. The dehumanization of the other is always a prelude to horror, whether it be in Nazi Germany or in Israel/Palestine. I keep saying in this column that every life is precious. The needless expenditure of it weighs on my heart like a stone.

Herbert Rothschild is an unpaid Ashland.news board member. Opinions expressed in columns represent the author’s views and may or may not reflect those of Ashland.news. Email Rothschild at herbertrothschild6839@gmail.com.

Picture of Jim

Jim

Related Posts...

Relocations: ‘A Balkanized Federation’ from the beginning

Herbert Rothschild: What may best explain our national divides are the differing institutions, cultural norms and ideas about freedom, social responsibility and the provision of public goods that the original settlers of various parts of our continent laid down and which later arrivals would encounter and, by and large, take as their own.

Read More »

Latest posts

Obituary: Steven Maryanoff

Obituary: Steven Roy Maryanoff, beloved brother to Bruce Eliot Maryanoff and friend to many people around Ashland, passed away peacefully on June 18 at the age of 75 in his private home in Ashland. He was active in the Buddhist community in and around Ashland.

Read More >

Explore More...

Shakespeare’s "Coriolanus" hits the stage Tuesday at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Directed by Rosa Joshi, the play tells the story of a powerful yet starving population and a war hero turned politician.
Childcare providers have until Friday, July 26, to submit applications for Early Childhood Affordability Grant Program grants, according to an announcement by the city on Monday, July 22. The application period opened July 12, the release said.
A master plan tailor-made to guide the city of Ashland’s approach to homelessness was unanimously approved Thursday evening by the final committee standing between the plan and a review from Ashland City Council. A review of the master plan is scheduled for the Aug. 5 council study session. 
John Marciano: Violence at home and abroad is not antithetical to America, it has been its very nature since the founding.
Volunteers gathered Sunday morning in Railroad Park to make repairs to the Say Their Names memorial T-shirts along the fence by the park. it was the third or fourth Sunday in a row volunteers came to the park to slowly recreate the memorial for its fifth iteration.
ashland.news logo

Subscribe to the newsletter and get local news sent directly to your inbox.

(It’s free)

Don't Miss Our Top Stories

Get our newsletter delivered to your inbox three times a week.
It’s FREE and you can cancel anytime.