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Gaza is a concentration camp, and it’s an American delusion not to recognize that — Weschler

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Lawrence Weschler
Lawrence Weschler, by David Shankbone

Lawrence Weschler, a writer of considerable mainstream prestige, is sick of prevaricating about Israel. It’s rabid. It has rabies. And Gaza is a concentration camp. Weschler has let loose chiefly because of the “remorseless” and “repetitively compulsive” aspect of Israeli violence. I believe that understanding is now widely shared in the liberal mainstream, and interventions like Weschler’s make it easier for others to speak up. From Truthdig:

I know, I know, and I am bone tired of being told it, when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there is plenty of blame to go around, but by this point after coming on almost 50 years of Israeli stemwinding and procrastinatory obfuscation, I’d put the proportionate distribution of blame at about the same level as the mortality figures—which is, where are we today (what with Wednesday morning’s four children killed while out playing on a Gaza beach)? What, 280 to 2?

For the single overriding fact defining the Israeli-Palestinian impasse at this point is that if the Palestinians are quiescent and not engaged in any overt rebellion, the Israelis (and here I am speaking of the vast majority of the population who somehow go along with the antics of their leaders, year after year) manage to tell themselves that things are fine and there’s no urgent need to address the situation; and if, as a result, the endlessly put-upon Palestinians do finally rise up in any sort of armed resistance (rocks to rockets), the same Israelis exasperate, “How are we supposed to negotiate with monsters like this?” A wonderfully convenient formula, since it allows the Israelis to go blithely on, systematically stealing Palestinian land in the West Bank, and continuing to confine 1.8 million Gazans within what might well be described as a concentration camp.

Note, incidentally, I say “concentration camp” and not “death camp.” I am not comparing Gaza to Auschwitz-Birkenau, but one cannot help but liken the conditions today in Gaza to the sorts of conditions once faced by Japanese-Americans during World War II, or the Boers in South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War, or the black South Africans years later in such besieged townships as Soweto, or for that matter Jews and gays and gypsies at Dachau and Theresienstadt in the years before the Nazis themselves settled on their Final Solution.

And it is quite simply massively self-serving delusion that Israelis (and their enablers and abettors here in America, among whom incidentally I count a steadily declining number of American Jews) refuse to recognize that fact.

Weschler goes on to say that support for Israel is strongest in the U.S. among evangelicals. This is a standard dodge, employed by liberals, to avoid the hard reflective work of considering the power of the reactionary Jewish establishment. Does Obama care a fig about evangelicals when it comes to gay marriage or abortion? No. But here there is a unity of interest, and the power is in the Jewish establishment. Israel calls on Jews to recognize what Avram Burg said a few years back at the NY Public Library, that Jews created two structures in the wake of the Holocaust, a Jewish state and an American Jewish leadership.

For me Zionism was the scaffolding… that was supposed to help the Jewish people to rebuild, to restruct [sic] itself from an exilic reality to sovereignty. And the structure went on and on and on and on, and and now 150 and 100 and some years later, when you look around the Jewish existential reality, you realize that actually the Jewish people built two structures. One is the semi-autonomous American Jewry, which was not here 150 years ago– powerful influence, access to the corridors of power, impact on the culture, and civilization… plus the infrastructure of the community of solidarity and fraternity and support system and education etc and also the sovereignty over there in the Middle East.

Thanks to Ed Moloney.

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Zionism discusses me, I will never, EVER compare Zionist with Jews or Judaism beliefs.. It is impossible.. As I told my brother last night while eating Iftar. Zionist do not fear God, nor do they really care about their fellow Jews, if anyone goes against their beliefs system even a Jew, they too will be prosecuted and violated in anyway they can get targeted.. Zionist put many evil people who are in history who committed… Read more »

Too bad Weschler no longer works at the New Yorker – this piece would carry much more weight if published there than at (with all due respect) truth dig.com. Of course, if he were still at the New Yorker, they wouldn’t publish it anyway… I was a fan of his work on Poland in the 1980s, so I’m glad to see him speaking out about Palestine – for the first time I know of. And… Read more »

“Gaza is a concentration camp and it’s an American delusion not to recognize that”.

–What did they think it is? You think they were really deluded? –Also, is it only Gaza that’s a concentration camp? And what did you suppose West Bank and Jerusalem are? “Lesser concentration camps”? “Lite concentration camps”?

Street level: Out my window I can see my neighbors here relaxing in their backyard.

I have used the term “concentration camp” in the past, but not so often. In the last few weeks, watching Gaza and Israel closely, I have adopted it. ‘Largest open air prison in the world’ just does not cut it. That phrase doesn’t even begin to capture the toll the nearly-decade long siege has taken on the population in Gaza. And it does not account for dismissive and even gleeful reactions among many Israelis when… Read more »

Israeli nationalism has made the world a ghetto for Palestinians.