Friday, June 4, 2010

Gaza, Mankell, Meyer, Palestine

Swedish mystery writer Henning Mankell was on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla ship that Israeli forces attacked May 31, killing between nine and 19 people--no one is yet sure of the number dead and no one who has any sense trusts the official Israeli version--and injuring dozens more. In an interview in yesterday's Guardian, he tells about what he experienced. His conclusion: "I think the Israeli military went out to commit murder." He also says he will take part in the next effort to break the Gaza blockade. "And then there could be hundreds of boats. And what will the Israelis do then? Release a nuclear bomb to stop us?" According to the Guardian, Mankell also "said he had been struck by the lack of other writers and intellectuals on the voyage and called on others to become involved."

I'm not a fan of detective or mystery novels. I find them much the same, uninteresting. Also I can't abide stories in which police are protagonists. Despite all this, I just may take one of Mankell's books out of the library and give it a read, simply out of sentiment, gratitude for his stance in solidarity.

Another book I may take a look at is The End of Judaism by Dr. Hajo Meyer. Meyer is a survivor of the Nazi Holocaust. He was underground in the Netherlands, in the Resistance, when the Gestapo captured him in 1944 and sent him to Auschwitz. Now 86 years old, he's currently devoting himself to building support for the Palestinian struggle, writing and speaking out. At the moment he's on a speaking tour in England, Scotland and Ireland. Zionist forces are of course furious at him, unleashing all the usual epithets including the desperately silly accusation that he's an anti-Semite for daring to oppose Israel. I'm not sure what "Judaism" in the book's title means, if it refers to the religion, which I have no interest in, or something else, but the blurb does draw me in. "In his observations, deeply colored by his personal experiences during the Holocaust, Meyer compares Israel's current policies with the early stages of the Nazis' persecution of the German Jews ... and [emphasizes] the necessity of foreseeing the possible consequences of a policy that oppresses and marginalizes the Palestinians in their own homeland."

As a baby boomer Jew raised in a stridently Zionist household, I didn't find it easy to break away from all I'd been taught and told. But I did so, long ago. Still, because of how it was inculcated in me throughout my youth, I know the pro-Israel side backwards and forwards. I know the emotions, the confusion, the lies. I also know how good-hearted people are torn, how their instincts are to root for the oppressed, the Palestinians, but that they don't want to be called anti-Semites or be insensitive to Jews. One of my many intentions for this blog is to post about my own political development on the question of Palestine, as a way to address some of this and also in the context of the larger continuing discussion about books and the struggle.