Countering Palestinian/Nazi analogy and Never again, for all

A must-read for fighting back- Moshe Yaroni watched Alan Dershowitz’s shameful association of Palestinians with Nazis and deconstructs the arguments:

Let’s be clear about Hajj Amin: he was a venomous anti-Semite, and his hatred eclipsed the bounds of the Palestinian national struggle. There is no disputing that he worked with the Nazis and that he espoused murderous hatred of Jews, not just Zionism. But such diverse scholars as Zvi Elpeleg, Idith Zertal and Peter Novick have all concluded that his actual role in Nazi plans was insiginificant and that, as Zertal put it, “…in more correct proportions, [he should be pictured] as a fanatic nationalist-religious Palestinian leader.”

Meanwhile, Sol Salbe’s Middle East News Service has translated from its original Hebrew this article about Jewish suffering and the Holocaust. Salbe writes as a preface:

Yediot Acharonot columnist Ariana Melamed’s comments are not particularly original. Others have observed the Israeli attitude to other peoples’ suffering summed up in the saying “after what they have done to us…”. But not only does Melamed puts it better than anyone else that I have read, she does bring it up to date. As the UN Conference on Racism is about to wind down, it is important to remember that the “never again” lesson need to be applied universally and that the ethos of victimhood exempts no one from doing the right thing.

Hebrew original: http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-3703925,00.html

As victims, we’re allowed

Ariana Melamed

Mistakenly, we continue to believe that being historical victims completely frees us of the need to develop solidarity with humanity and of the duty to consecrate the living, not only the dead.

From one Holocaust Day to the next, one registers a worrisome rise in Israeli racism. Between one compulsory mourning siren and another, the official Israel flatly denies other holocausts and sells arms to countries that use them against civilians. The official daily command to remember those murdered during  the Second World War will not prevent the soldier at the checkpoint from then abusing those who aren’t our citizens,. All the tours in Yad Vashem, even now that it is revamped and renovated, have evidently failed to have an impact on our society. We have apparently not learned that being children and relatives of victims does not justify our own injustices. Maybe it is too late for learning.

For too many years now we’ve been living within a false ethos of victimhood. In the name of those victims – those whose opinions were never sought – youths enshroud themselves in blue and white flags in Auschwitz and most of them immediately understand that a strong military is the key to our continued existence, but too few understand or question the benefit of such an army when our conscience is faltering.

For too many years we compelled the world to look at the horrors committed against the Jews.  We made a visit to Yad Vashem obligatory for visiting dignitaries. We employed a sophisticated rhetoric that makes a connection between the Nazi and Iranian threats, between the Khmelnytsky-led pogroms and the Intifada, as though all these events – the actuality of which must never be underestimated – granted us a sweeping, almost automatic permit to mimic those nations we accuse of ignoring our victims; as though the Holocaust endowed us with exclusivity over suffering for all time.

As far as official Israel and most of its citizens are concerned, there are no other holocausts, and the arguments are always beautifully constructed: no regime in the history of humanity has made its aim to annihilate a whole people, nor has this ever been done with such monstrous efficiency. Therefore, when the Argentinean military regime wiped out tens of thousands of dissenters, official Israel said nothing; when villains in Cambodia slaughtered millions of their own people, this surely was no holocaust but an internal matter, and what’s happening in Darfur is something between Muslims anyway, while Rwanda – there are no Israelis in Rwanda. So there’s nothing to worry about. If they have an earthquake, we’ll send over crews with blankets.

The Armenian holocaust was not as sophisticated as the Nazi assembly-line of death, hence it is not worthy of attention either, particularly since our relationship with Turkey is more important than our clear conscience. Regarding the Tibetans, we really have nothing to say; this Dalai Lama is nice enough – but our amazing trade with China is much more advantageous than a denunciation, however weak and polite, of what was clearly genocide and the ongoing dispossession of millions of their land.

In the name of the dead

We are victims, so we are allowed: this is the immoral defiant assertion uttered in the Israeli discourse between one Holocaust Day and the next. We are victims of Arabs wherever they may be, so we shall also apply dollops of disgust and fear to Arab citizens of Israel as well. Why not? Such a manoeuvre is worth 15 electoral seats and an honoured place at the Israel government’s table.

We are victims, so when someone speaks of racism within, the horror is never real and is always placed in a totally foolish juxtaposition to the actions of the Nazis. No one remembers that those actions started with words. When no one is punished for calling an Ethiopian a “dirty nigger”; when soldiers can abuse Palestinians uninterrupted, knowing full well that their punishment will be, at worst, a rebuke; when a Jew massacres Arabs and his tombstone is consecrated with no one even contemplating removing the temple blockading his house. When the IDF showers Gazan civilians with molten lead, questions must not be asked in wartime and mistakes must not be admitted to. It is as if we are permitted to do so, because we were killed first.

On 9 May, sixty-four years will have passed since the Allies defeated the Nazis and freed the world. There were those who believed then that it was the last battle against murderous ideologies, but they were wrong. We continue to believe this mistake, and the even worse error, that our historical victimhood completely rids us of the need for human solidarity, of the duty to consecrate the living and not only the dead, and of the lesson that is as important as sovereignty and power: the duty to create a moral society that is sensitive to injustice.

For too many years we told ourselves that we do all this in the name and memory of the dead. This was too easy a lie. Would the dead and the survivors have rejected a more moral stance towards the world and the Other among us? Does the annual siren exempt us of the need to care for the Holocaust survivors, which is surely a more difficult matter than state-sponsored mourning, but no less important? Is the only thing the State can promise its citizens, as a real lesson from the Holocaust, is limitless military power – but not the knowledge that power alone will not be enough on a real day of reckoning?

A few years ago in a CNN broadcast dedicated to one of the periodic holocausts in Africa, a Baptist American priest stood before the camera holding a dead baby’s carrier. He said, “People ask where was God during Auschwitz and I want to know where was man.” And I want to know that this man, the man who possesses sufficient compassion to see the horror of others and know they are just like him, that this man is still among us. Perhaps.

[Translated from Hebrew by Keren Rubinstein.]

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