For Zionists, it has always been about lebensraum
It is true there is not enough beauty in the world.
It is also true that I am not competent to restore it.
Neither is there candor, and here I may be of some use.
— Louise Glück, “October”
— — —
“There is no other way than to transfer the Arabs from here to neighboring countries, all of them.” Also, “Not one village, not one [Arab] tribe should be left.” — Diary entries of Yosef Weitz, director of the Transfer Committee Israel created in 1948, the year of its founding.
“With compulsory transfer we will have a vast area. . . . I support compulsory transfer. I don’t see anything immoral in it.” — David Ben-Gurion, first prime minister of Israel, quoted in Benny Morris, “Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-1999.”
“There is no Zionism, colonization, or Jewish state without the eviction of the Arabs and the expropriation of their lands.” — Ariel Sharon, prime minister of Israel 2001-06, quoted in the New York Times, 1998.
“The state views Jewish settlement as a national value and will labor to encourage and promote its establishment and development.” — Article 7 of the Basic Law: Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People, passed by the Knesset (Israeli’s parliament) on July 19, 2018.
By Herbert Rothschild
We are witnessing Israel’s final solution of its Palestinian problem. In years to come, those of us who abetted it, those of us who justified it, those of us who remained silent as it was executed will find ourselves in the company of those we condemned when European Jews were the victims.
Oh, I know. The analogy isn’t exact. No analogy is. For the most part, Jews did not resist when Germans decided that they must be “disappeared” from the Fatherland and then from the lands that they conquered. Palestinians have resisted. Often theirs was nonviolent resistance; our media rarely covered that. Sometimes it was violent; that, of course, we always heard about, since Israel used it to justify its harsh measures.
Palestinians have reacted to settler colonialism as Native Americans did. They didn’t surrender their lands without resistance, and like the final solution to the Indian problem, the final solution to the Palestinian problem will not be as thorough-going and as systematically coldblooded as the Nazi solution to its Jewish problem. But it’s time for us Jews to stop using the unique horror of the Holocaust as an excuse to minimize monstrous crimes against other people.
The few Germans who resisted the Holocaust have been extolled retroactively. In real time I wish to extol Jeff Merkley, one of our two U.S. senators. Unlike the vast majority of our elected officials, he has displayed moral clarity and courage in this time of testing. With his permission, I am reprinting the letter he sends to constituents who contact him about what is happening in Israel/Palestine:
“Thank you for writing to share your views about human rights in Gaza and the West Bank. I appreciate hearing from you about these important issues.
“On October 7, 2023, Hamas — a U.S.-designated terrorist organization that controls the Gaza Strip — launched a series of horrific rocket barrages against Israeli cities and sent waves of fighters into Israel. These attacks killed hundreds of innocent civilians and injured countless more. Tragically, Hamas also took at least 240 people as hostages, including American citizens.
“I forcefully condemn Hamas’s terrorist attacks, which killed unarmed and innocent civilians ranging from children to Holocaust survivors. I support Israel’s right to respond to those attacks in a targeted manner and in accordance with the strictest possible standard for civilian protection under international law.
“However, the way Israel has conducted its military campaign matters, and its conduct has been deeply disturbing for many Oregonians, including me. Israel defends this campaign as necessary to strike Hamas wherever necessary, but the impression the world has been left with is one of indiscriminate bombing and bloodshed. Air strikes have leveled much of Gaza City and hit crowded refugee camps, schools, and shelters operated by the United Nations. Palestinian civilians in Gaza are confronting the threat of severe shortages of food and water, insufficient access to medical supplies and fuel. Israel has permitted some aid to enter Gaza, but needs to do much more to address the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe, including opening the Kerem Shalom gate, the main access point for goods prior to October 7th.
“After grimly witnessing accelerating body counts, many Americans, including thousands of Oregonians, have raised their voices to say more must be done to stop the carnage. I agree — which is why I am calling for a ceasefire.
“Any ceasefire requires an immediate cessation of military hostilities by both sides. The ceasefire and the negotiations that follow must accomplish a number of objectives or it will not endure. Hamas must release all the hostages without conditions and lay down their arms. Hamas must no longer have operational control of Gaza. Israel in turn must flood Gaza with humanitarian aid, declare the right of displaced Palestinians to return to their homes in Gaza, put an immediate end to new settlements and stop Israeli settlers’ violence against Palestinian villagers in the West Bank. Most importantly, both peoples must find leaders determined to partner with each other and the world to replace the cycle of hate and violence with both a long-term vision for security, peace and prosperity featuring two states for two peoples, and immediate, concrete steps toward that goal.
“The vast majority of Palestinians and Israelis share the same aspirations we all do: to see our children grow up in safety and build a better life for our families and communities. We cannot lose sight of the humanity of everyone affected, including Palestinians in Gaza — half of whom are children. Please know that as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I will continue to advocate for solutions that can bring long-term peace for Palestinians and Israelis alike. To read my full statement calling for a ceasefire, please go to merkley.senate.gov/merkley-statement-on-ceasefire/.
“Thank you, again, for sharing your thoughts with me. I hope you continue to write to me about the issues that matter most to you.
“All my best,
Jeffrey A. Merkley
United States Senator”
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 email@example.com.