Brooklyn-Jenin: On concentration camps and Yonatan Pollack

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I am worried that the 2010 Rabbis’ letter is just the beginning for a much more severe racism wave. An article published at a weekly religious Zionist publication, which mentioned death camps for “Amalek,” makes me fear even more. 

Amalek, a biblical tribe hostile to the Israelites that had to be destroyed by Israel according to God (some religious Jews use this term in slang to describe Arabs/Muslims/Palestinians).  

Further, to add to the “holy mitzvah” (deed) described in the Rabbis’ letter (which resembles the Nuremberg laws’ ban on renting or selling real-estate to Arabs), I received a weekly publication created by the same people behind the letter. From this publication, which was meant to be for all the family, we can learn that their vision does not stop at the ban in renting/selling housing to Arabs. The publication also describes the creation of concentration and extermination camps for the Palestinians. 

The truth is: For years I have refrained from comparing Jewish-Israeli movements to the Nazi party.  I felt that the resemblance was not thoroughly justified, and that it could only be a provocation without good enough reason, which only exploits the memory of the Holocaust by those who side with the crimes of the Judeo-Democratic state. 

My conception of Israel was that of an agent acting within a colonialist paradigm, not a Nazi one, and I have directed my critical arrows at the secular liberal elites. This privileged social class, who may even gain from the outbursts of racism in Israel, is directly responsible for the settlements enterprise, for the apartheid policy, and for the abuse of the lower class. In my humble opinion, the religious Zionists were always used as a monstrous pet, executing the greedy plans of the “Judeo-Democratic” secular leadership. 

The shock I’ve had recently from reading the Nazi-like religious Zionists’ text made me change my mind. The article made me understand that time’s probably up for the colonialist greedy Tel-Avivians. Time’s up for shooting and crying. It is very possible that right now, without noticing, they are passing the reins of the Israeli leadership to the beast they themselves had created, the one that shoots and laughs, freely and shamelessly. 

This weekly publication, which is handed out for free at synagogues, published an editorial column signed by Rabbis from the top-tier of the religious Zionist establishment that reveals the real intentions of the authors of the “Rabbis’ letter.”  Located next to an article by the notorious Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu against abortions, this editorial describes the religious Zionist vision as a vision of fulfilling God’s will by genocide at death camps, which will be built by pure Jews. The editorial expresses contempt for the Rabbis who did not sign the Rabbis’ letter, saying that when the day comes, those Rabbis will not lend a hand in the fulfillment of the holy genocide commandment.  

The editorial writers ask, in regards to those dithering Rabbis: “When the due day comes, will they lend a hand or will they leave this task to others – the task of concentrating Amalek at extermination camps– or maybe will they decide that Amalek life is simply no longer relevant, only time will tell.” 

The meaning

According to the editorial, unlike the clerk/civil-servant/politically correct Rabbis –who know that the commandment of Amalek’s genocide is relevant nowadays too but will not take part in doing anything about it– the true Rabbis will be the Jewish troops who will execute the Amalek’s genocide commandment.  

The genocide commandment is loudly spoken at the religious Zionist synagogues as if it is a real possibility. No one has spat in the faces of Rabbi Eliyahu or Rabbi Aviner who are signatories to this publication. No one has chased them out of the Israeli community. It seems that no one in their congregations has said a thing, knowing that they are Rabbis who already said that Palestinians are Amalek. 

Those who are familiar with the rhetoric of this bunch can imagine religious-Zionist youth, smiling in a synagogue or in the hilltop outposts, closing his eyes, imagining the Palestinians in extermination camps. He imagines himself as the truth trooper with a fist Kahane symbol on his uniform, gathering Palestinians into these death camps. 

In my opinion, all those who do not outcast the people standing behind the editorial from within, and all those who merely dismiss this editorial as negligible, are actually cooperating with evil.

If nothing is done, no one would be able to protect the Palestinians who are living between Jordan river and the Mediterranean Sea. 

Unfortunately, the court will not stop them. These Rabbis’ actions do not entirely contradict those of the court of Israel, as some might think. Their actions are the outcome of the decisions made by courts, which have cooperated and helped creating a fertile ground for the racist eruptions in Israel. 

Who goes to Jail?

No wonder that instead of arresting this bunch of Jews who want to act like the Nazis, the state of Israel chose to lock-up one of the only people I know who truly isn’t infected with the Israeli racism.  The most aware Jewish Israeli I know is Yonatan Pollack, who aims for pure justice. Yonatan Pollack knows what every Israeli Jew should know today: those who do not detach themselves from the Israeli power-knowledge systems can find themselves as partners in crimes against humanity to an extent that is hard to grasp. Yonatan Pollack knows that to do nothing is simply to cooperate with evil. He knows that there is a moment in history when understanding the other side’s narrative just isn’t enough; you need to cross the lines and actively support it, to act and protect the Palestinian people. 

It is possible that Yonatan Pollack and his partners in this struggle will not be able to save us from the tsunami of racism that is flooding our country. Yet, it is of the utmost necessary that every man and women will, in the future, acknowledge this: During that dark era of the rise of Jewish fascism, there were others here, those who rebelled against this power, who crossed the nationalist borders and stood shoulder to shoulder with their Palestinian brothers and sisters to try and stop this horrific fate.

This article is from Udi Aloni’s Brooklyn-Jenin column he is writing for the Israeli website Ynet about his experience living between New York City and the Jenin refugee camp, where he is teaching a film production class. You can read the entire Brooklyn-Jenin series here.

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In religious circles where I usually travel “Amulek/Amolek” is a purely apocalyptical and spiritual term, unrelated to politics or real history. It is, however, often used as a slur against Zionism and its culture. Modern Hebrew is sometimes called by traditional Torah Jews “the language of Amalek”; Herzl, Ben Gurion, Weizmann, Kahane and other celebrities of this sort are considered “Amalekites”; Israel is occasionally called “Medines Amulek” – “the State of Amalek”, although “the Kingdom… Read more »