Tuesday, January 27, 2009

On Holocaust Remembrance Day: remember Palestine

The International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network has posted a beautiful statement to mark January 27th, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, in the only way that truly honors the memory of our millions dead: by pledging solidarity with today's ghettoized, persecuted people, the Palestinians. While European and U.S. leaders mouth platitudes about the Nazis' victims they remain silent about the suffering people in Gaza. Here's the conclusion of the Network's statement.
Faced with the threat of annihilation in Europe, Jews resisted. From ghettos to concentration camps and within countries under occupation, Jews led resistance to the Nazi regime. Today, from the ghetto of Gaza to the Bantustans of the West Bank and from the neighborhoods of Jaffa and Akka to cities across the globe, Palestinians resist Israel's attempt to destroy them as a people. On January 27, honoring the memory of our dead is for us inseparable from honoring more than 60 years of Palestinian survival and resistance. Only when the Palestinian people regain their freedom will the dead rest safely. Then we will all celebrate another victory for life.
Meanwhile, over at the Alternative Information Center, run by Jews and Palestinians inside Israel, a rousing, moving challenge to the Zionist leadership has been posed: stay away from the Warsaw Ghetto remembrances! The whole thing is well worth reading, but here are some snippets.
Ehud Barak, Tzipi Livni, Gabi Ashkenazi and Ehud Olmert--don't you dare show your faces at any memorial ceremony for the heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto, Lublin, Vilna or Kishinev. And you too, leaders of Peace Now, for whom peace means a pacification of the Palestinian resistance by any means, including the destruction of a people. Whenever I shall be there, I shall personally do my best to expel each of you from these events, for your very presence would be an immense sacrilege. ... You have no right to speak in the name of the martyrs of our people.
The reference to Kishinev has particular meaning for me. That's where, in 1903, the worst pogrom prior to the Nazi period took place. Forty-seven Jews were killed, 500 wounded, 700 homes destroyed. The Kishinev pogrom caused a world outcry, the biggest mass meeting to date in New York's Madison Square Garden, and a groundswell in Jewish emigration from Russia. I believe that my paternal grandmother was a survivor of the Kishinev pogrom. My first and so far unpublished novel Vera's Will is based partly on her life and opens with a scene depicting the main character, Vera, as she experiences the pogrom at age 5. A version was published some years back in the online journal Hamilton Stone Review. One pretty good, informative book about the Kishinev pogrom that I read as part of my research is Easter in Kishinev: Anatomy of a Pogrom by Edward Judge.