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Man who saved Jewish boy in Holocaust acts to save Israel from ‘racist… quagmire’

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Photo of Zanoli family from Yad Vashem. Henk Zanoli, now 91, is second from right

Photo of Zanoli family in Holland in 1942, where they saved a Jewish boy from Nazis. From Yad Vashem. Henk Zanoli, now 91, is second from right

Henk Zanoli

Henk Zanoli

What can international pressure do? A lot. The only story people are talking about today is the spectacular story of the Dutch man, 91, who has returned a governmental prize to Israel for his role, and his family’s, in saving a Jewish boy during the Holocaust– after 6 of his relatives were killed in Gaza. “Israel has no idea how thoroughly it has lost international support,” says a liberal Zionist writer, reflecting on the moment. 

Amira Hass broke the story.

The Telegraph

In 2011 the Israeli authorities declared Henk Zanoli ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ – a title bestowed upon non-Jews who helped save Jews from the Holocaust. During the Nazi occupation of Holland Mr Zanoli’s family had helped shelter a young boy until the Allied liberation in 1945.

But Mr Zanoli returned his prize to the Israeli embassy in the Netherlands after hearing that six of his relatives had been killed during an attack on their home in Gaza.

Also reported by Christopher Schuetze and (the wonderful) Ann Barnard in the Times.

Dr. [Ismail] Zeyada said last month that none of his family members were militants. Israel says that it takes precautions to avoid killing civilians, and that Hamas purposely increases civilian casualties by operating in residential neighborhoods. It has offered no information on whether the Zeyada family home was hit purposely, and if so, what the target was and whether it justified a strike that killed six civilians. The military told the left-leaning Israeli newspaper Haaretz, which first reported Mr. Zanoli’s decision, only that it was investigating “all irregular incidents.”

Here are excerpts of the great letter from Zanoli to the Israeli ambassador to the Netherlands (available at the Times). Note that Zanoli describes the “ethnic cleansing” at Israel’s foundation, and says the only way out of the “racist… quagmire the Jewish people of Israel have gotten themselves into” is for Israel to give Palestinians equal rights

I understand that in your professional role, in which I am addressing you here, you may not be able to express understanding for my decision. However, I am convinced that at both a personal and human level you will have a profound understanding of the fact that for me to hold on to the honour granted by the State of Israel, under these circumstances, will be both an insult to the memory of my courageous mother who risked her life and that of her children fighting against suppression and for the preservation of human life as well as an insult to those in my family, four generations on, who lost no less than six of their relatives in Gaza at the hands of the State of Israel…

After the horror of the holocaust my family strongly supported the Jewish people also with regard to their aspirations to build a national home. Over more than six decades I have however slowly come to realize that the Zionist project had from its beginning a racist element in it in aspiring to build a state exclusively for Jews. As a consequence, ethnic cleansing took place at the time of the establishment of your state and your state continues to suppress the Palestinian people on the West Bank and in Gaza who live under Israeli occupation since 1967. The actions of your state in Gaza these days have already resulted in serious accusations of war crimes and crimes against humanity…The only way out of the quagmire the Jewish people of Israel have gotten themselves into is by granting all living under the control of the State of Israel the same political rights and social and economic rights and opportunities.

Ayelet Waldman tweets the story, saying:

I fear Israel has no idea how thoroughly it has lost international support.

Ayelet Waldman

Ayelet Waldman

Waldman has supported Peace Now, which has largely supported the onslaught on Gaza, including this resentful insight from its regular Israeli analyst on the appointment of a Human Rights Council team to investigate the Gaza slaughter:

That the international community has its own double standard when it comes to Israel’s wars against non-state actors embedded amidst civilians is obvious.

Two elements of this story that will resonate. Most important, Zanoli has done what Barack Obama and J Street could have done if they wanted, but haven’t done– applied international pressure. People always question whether the BDS movement is effective. Well, this gesture is part of that movement; and pressure like this will force Israel to wake up.

Second, the Holocaust happened in Europe. But Israel is its self-appointed adjudicator. How long can that last. Hannah Arendt was concerned about this more than 50 years ago.

About Philip Weiss

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49 Responses

  1. RoHa
    RoHa on August 16, 2014, 12:33 pm

    OT, but I find the title “Righteous among the Nations” a bit insulting. Of course, it does not, in strict logic, imply that people who do not get that award are not righteous, but the very title itself does suggest that righteousness is a rare quality in “the Nations”.

  2. Jackdaw
    Jackdaw on August 16, 2014, 12:37 pm

    ” But Mr Zanoli returned his prize to the Israeli embassy in the Netherlands after hearing that six of his relatives had been killed during an attack on their home in Gaza.”

    Actually, it was his grand-niece’s Palestinian husband’s relatives who died in Gaza.

    • just
      just on August 16, 2014, 1:06 pm

      And your point?

      • Jackdaw
        Jackdaw on August 16, 2014, 2:54 pm

        My point is that the original Times article included the familial details that Phil Weiss omitted.

        It’s about context guys, c-o-n-t-e-x-t.

      • just
        just on August 16, 2014, 4:21 pm

        C-o-n-t-e-x-t was not necessary for those that comprehend. Family is family, kin is kin, relatives are relatives. What could be simpler?

        Perhaps you can tell me why you think “context” is lacking?

      • ckg
        ckg on August 16, 2014, 6:40 pm

        “General jackdaw culture, very little more than a collection of charming miscomprehensions, untargeted enthusiasms, and a general habit of skimming.” –William Bolitho

      • Bumblebye
        Bumblebye on August 16, 2014, 5:58 pm

        c-o-n-t-e-x-t, carrion eater, while you peck and caw over a families entrails? Descendents of holocaust survivors murder the relatives of great-great-grandkids of those who may have saved them.

      • Hostage
        Hostage on August 16, 2014, 6:59 pm

        Funny. Here’s an eyewitness Arab narrative that makes no mention of atrocities during the ‘death march’.

        Where is your eyewitness, Arab narrative that details these alleged atrocities during the ‘death march’?

        The author of the account you cited called it a “death march” and said that “massacres” were used to drive the Palestinians from their lands through “ethnic cleaning”. The Palestinian eyewitness said that there was no water and that people began to die of thirst. FYI using “massacres”, “ethnic cleansing” and starvation or deprivation of the necessities of life as a method of warfare are all considered atrocities and crimes against humanity. You are in full Nakba denial mode. The “Palestine Remembered” website cites a number of sources and says that about 350 people died from lack of water and exhaustion.

        “There was no “military necessity” for the Jewish militias to be in Ramle of Lydda during the transition period, since they were allocated to the Arab state”

        Okay…so what’s your explanation for the presence of Transjordanian Arab Legion’s in Lydda? Lydda was allocated to the Arab State, not TransJordan.

        When Transjordan declared its independence and tried to join the UN in 1946, the Jewish Agency said it was an indivisible part of the Mandate. The President of the Security Council cited the fact that it was still part of the Palestine Mandate, that had not been legally terminated in his opinion. He said that as far as he was concerned, no action would be taken on its application for membership until the United Nations addressed the “question of Palestine as a whole”.

        The Arab Higher Committee of Palestine asked the King of Transjordan to deploy the Arab Legion in the area allocated to the Arab state. See UN Document S/775, 24 May 1948:

        John Baggot Glubb, the commander of the Arab Legion, wrote in “A Soldier with the Arabs that British Foreign Secretary Bevin had given the green light for the Arab Legion to occupy the territory allocated to the Arab state after the Prime Minister of Transjordan explained to him that King Abdullah had received hundreds of petitions from Palestinian notables requesting protection upon the withdrawal of the British forces. Eugene Rogan says that those petitions, from nearly every town and village in Palestine, are preserved in the state archives and were published in “The Hashemite Documents: The Papers of Abdullah bin al-Husayn, volume V: Palestine 1948 (Amman 1995)”. see Chapter 5, Jordan and 1948, in “The war for Palestine: rewriting the history of 1948”, By Eugene L. Rogan, and Avi Shlaim, Cambridge University Press, 2001.

        FYI, the UN resolution required the Mandatory to progressively turn over territory to the Jewish and Arab authorities when it withdrew its own armed forces. The Arab Legion had permanent garrisons in Rafah and Gaza City for more than a decade and had been an integral part of the British Mandatory administration’s border and police forces.

        King Abdullah notified the UN Secretary General that he was “compelled to enter Palestine to protect unarmed Arabs against massacres similar to those of Deir Yasin.”

      • Jackdaw
        Jackdaw on August 17, 2014, 4:50 pm


        “Answer: The Arab Higher Committee solicited assistance of the following Arab countries: Egypt, Saudi-Arabia, Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Trans-Jordan, in order to reinstate peace and order in Palestine.”

        Question (F) Have Jewish forces penetrated into the territory in which you claim to have authority?

        Answer: “Arabs claim to have authority over all the area of Palestine as being the political representative of the overwhelming majority of the population. They regard Palestine a one unit. All forces that oppose majority wherever they may be are regarded as unlawful.”

        So the Arab Higher Committee asked 8 Arab States to send their armies into ALL OF PALESTINE, including those portions of Palestine allocated by the UN for a Jewish State.

        Here’s another Arab eyewitness who fails to recollect atrocities on the ‘death march’.

      • Hostage
        Hostage on August 17, 2014, 8:16 pm

        So the Arab Higher Committee asked 8 Arab States to send their armies into ALL OF PALESTINE, including those portions of Palestine allocated by the UN for a Jewish State.

        I think you are having trouble distinguishing between a war and deliberate massacres and ethnic cleansing that we are discussing. The latter are war crimes and crimes against humanity that violate the laws and customs of war. In particular, “forced eviction by military attack or occupation [ethnic cleansing] and inhuman acts resulting from the policy of apartheid or genocide” are crimes for which no statutory limitations apply. — See Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity

        You asked about the presence of the Arab Legion in Ramle and Lydda. Transjordan agreed to the conditions laid down by the Mandatory administration that the British-supplied and led Arab Legion would not step foot on any territory allocated to the Jewish state and that it assured the UN that it would not mistreat Jewish non-combatants.

        FYI, we know that neither the overall Plan, Dalet, nor the fragmentary orders for operations, like Dani, were defensive in nature. They called for unprovoked attacks on bases inside the Arab state and on areas where there was an Arab majority population in the Jewish state. We also know that the Jewish Agency intended to maintain, resupply, and reinforce their watchtower and stockade military outposts inside the Arab state. Those settlements had been established in the first place along so-called “confrontation lines” and were intended to lay down the de facto borders of a future Jewish state, well beyond those contained in any partition proposal. The Zionist Plan Dalet was being developed and executed in March and April of 1948, long before any Arab States entered Palestine. Likewise, the hundreds of thousands of refugees were driven into exile before the State of Israel was announced on 14 May. So, the answers provided by the Jewish Agency and Vaad Leumi to excuse their massacres and ethnic cleansing operations were disingenuous:

        Question (a): Over which areas of Palestine do you actually exercise control?

        Answer to Question A: At present over the entire area of the Jewish State as defined in the Resolution of the General Assembly of the 29th November, 1947. In addition, the Provisional Government exercises control over the city of Jaffa; Northwestern Galilee, including Acre, Zib, Base, and the Jewish settlements up to the Lebanese frontier; a strip of territory alongside the road from Hilda to Jerusalem; almost all of new Jerusalem; and of the Jewish quarter within the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. The above areas, outside the territory of the State of Israel, are under the control of the military authorities of the State of Israel, who are strictly adhering to international regulations in this regard. The Southern Negev is uninhabited desert over which no effective authority has ever existed.

        Question (b): Do you have armed forces operating in areas (towns, cities, districts) of Palestine where the Arabs are the majority, or outside Palestine?

        Answer to Question (b): We consider the territory of Israel as a single unit with a Jewish majority. As indicated above, the Government of the State of Israel operates in parts of Palestine outside the territory of the State of Israel; parts which, with the notable exception of Jerusalem, formerly for the most part, contained Arab majorities. These areas have, however, been mostly abandoned by their Arab population. No area outside of Palestine is under Jewish occupation but sallies beyond the frontiers of the State of Israel have occasionally been carried out by Jewish forces for imperative military reasons, and as a part of an essentially defensive plan.

        Question (c) If so, on what basis do you attempt to justify such operations?

        Answer to Question (c): The above operations in areas outside the State of Israel are justified on the following grounds:

        1. In order to repel aggression, and as part of our essentially defensive plan, to prevent these areas being used as bases for attacks against the State of Israel.

        2. In order to protect Jewish population, traffic and economic life, including the protection of those Jewish settlements outside the area of the State where, owing to the absence of any duly constituted authority and the failure to implement the guarantees and safeguards provided for under the General Assembly Plan, life and property are in imminent danger. Similar considerations apply in the absence of any international statute for the City of Jerusalem to the Jewish area of the City.

        Here’s another Arab eyewitness who fails to recollect atrocities on the ‘death march’.

        I don’t see how there can be “another Arab eyewitness”, since you completely misrepresented what the last author and Palestinian eyewitness had to say on the subject. That author specifically cited the policy of massacres and ethnic cleansing and called it a death march. The Palestinian eyewitness reported that people died of thirst along the way. In this video the narrator also calls it a death march and relates that about 350 people died. She also says that the people in the Mosque had surrendered and were massacred when they were no longer taking an active part in the hostilities. The Palestinian eyewitness relates that Jewish soldiers forcibly evacuated people from their homes and threatened to shoot anyone who didn’t cooperate. He said that his father was killed on his way home and that he himself nearly died of thirst and talks about Jewish soldiers plundering jewelry and property from the Arabs. Once again, systematically forcing the population from their homes and compelling them to march out of the region without the necessities of life is a crime against humanity at the very least. When persons of an identifiable ethnic group, who are hors de combat, are systematically robbed, killed in mass, and 350 additional people die of thirst or exhaustion as a result of a forced eviction, that constitutes the actus reus and mens rea of the crime of genocide according to the Rules of Procedure and Evidence employed by the International Criminal Court. “Elements of Crimes”, “Genocide by deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about physical destruction” (either in whole or in part) explains that:

        The term “conditions of life” may include, but is not necessarily restricted to, deliberate deprivation of resources indispensable for survival, such as food or medical services, or systematic expulsion from homes.

        See page 9 footnote 4

        For the second time, you are engaging in full blown Nakba denial by claiming that these clear references to well-defined crimes and atrocities don’t exist.

      • Qualtrough
        Qualtrough on August 17, 2014, 1:06 am

        Jackdaw-Thanks for the context! Initially I thought he was talking about actual humans, as in Dutch people. Turns out the relatives were Palestinians and therefore not worthy of our concern. So glad you pointed that out to us!

    • justicewillprevail
      justicewillprevail on August 16, 2014, 1:12 pm

      Wow, I think we get your implication. And it stinks. Even Holocaust heroes are fair game for the zionist smear industry.

      • annie
        annie on August 16, 2014, 2:00 pm

        his point was that these were not really his relatives. but Zanoli doesn’t see it that way.

        here’s more from his letter:

        “The great-great grandchildren of my mother have lost their grandmother, three uncles, an aunt and a cousin at the hands of the Israeli military,” Zanoli said in the letter, published by liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz and widely circulated in the Dutch media.

        “It is particularly shocking and tragic that today, four generations on, our family is faced with the murder of our kin in Gaza. Murder carried out by the State of Israel,” Zanoli said.

      • eGuard
        eGuard on August 16, 2014, 2:19 pm

        The great-great grandchildren of my mother(!) he wrote. The medal actually was awarded to his mother and him, by name. Mr. Zanoli had all the rights to say what he said.

    • Mooser
      Mooser on August 16, 2014, 1:23 pm

      “Actually, it was his grand-niece’s Palestinian husband’s relatives who died in Gaza.”

      Gosh, Jackdaw, you know, you have a real talent for just the right thing at the right time! Could Zionism have a better representative? Gosh, I can’t think how.
      I mean the way you sweep away petty ethnic concerns and get to the heart of an issue.

    • ritzl
      ritzl on August 16, 2014, 1:30 pm

      Well then… Quelle Freudian. If anyone needs to understand the sickness that is Israel they need look no farther than this comment.

      Palestinians don’t count as humans, members of families, or some such to people who seek to rationalize the Israeli mindset. It explains everything.

      • Mooser
        Mooser on August 16, 2014, 1:49 pm

        “It explains everything.”

        No, not quite everything. It doesn’t explain why they feel they need to brag about feeling that way, and are entitled to approval for it!! And that by expounding their racist views, will convince others.

        Does somebody want to explain that to me? Cause I’m stumped. Mystified.

      • justicewillprevail
        justicewillprevail on August 16, 2014, 1:55 pm

        It has become so normalised for them, they think no-one can possibly think otherwise. As I discovered when I went to Israel, the institutionalised racism is invisible to them, while blatantly obvious to visitors. They really think we must all agree with them, because it is ‘natural’.

      • ritzl
        ritzl on August 16, 2014, 2:17 pm

        Good point, Mooser. The bragging… [seemingly about “revealed” truths that, as jwp states above, almost everyone else immediately recognizes as revolting].

      • Mooser
        Mooser on August 17, 2014, 11:52 am

        ritzl, I’m becoming more and more convinced that American Zionists think they can get their way if only they can be unpleasant enough, in every possible way. It’s the “spoiled child” approach. If they are just tiresome enough, we will let them have their way, rather than deal with them.

        Not a game I’ve ever won, but I guess they had more indulgent parents.

    • tear-stained uzi
      tear-stained uzi on August 16, 2014, 5:36 pm

      @jackdawf — do your in-laws know you feel this way about them? Must make for some awkward Seders.

      • Mooser
        Mooser on August 17, 2014, 12:37 pm

        “Must make for some awkward Seders.”

        Ah, Passover! The days of wine and charoses

    • Amsterdam
      Amsterdam on August 16, 2014, 7:20 pm

      [“My point is that the original Times article included the familial details that Phil Weiss omitted. It’s about context guys, c-o-n-t-e-x-t.”]

      Well then: in the even more original articles in the Dutch press Mr Zanoli is talking about ‘my family’ and ‘my family members, murdered by the State of Israel’.

      Some more context?

      Mr Zanoli is the great-uncle of a Dutch diplomat, Mrs Angélique Eijpe, stationed at the Dutch Embassy in Oman. She is married to a Palestinian, Mr Ismail Ziada. Six of his relatives were killed in the Israeli airstrike: three brothers, his mother (a refugee in 1948), a sister-in-law and a nephew.

      The Dutch-Palestinian couple didn’t see their relatives for four years: they didn’t get permission from the Israeli authorities to travel to Gaza, and the relatives didn’t get permission to leave Gaza. Why? Nobody knows.

      The airstrike on the family got a lot of attention in the Dutch press.

    • Kris
      Kris on August 16, 2014, 9:35 pm

      @Jackdaw: “Actually, it was his grand-niece’s Palestinian husband’s relatives who died in Gaza.”

      Wow. There is nothing in your mondoweiss profile about you. Do you live in Israel? Maybe you were educated there?

    • talknic
      talknic on August 17, 2014, 5:41 am

      @ Jackdaw says:
      “Actually, it was his grand-niece’s Palestinian husband’s relatives who died in Gaza”

      Thanks for actually pointing out exactly which of his actual relatives …..

  3. justicewillprevail
    justicewillprevail on August 16, 2014, 1:10 pm

    You can feel it, as the trickle becomes a flood, washing away the layers of deceit and deception that the zionist narrative has attempted to impose on the outside world (unlike the narrative they have for themselves). I linked to it already, but it is appropriate here to mention the letter from Holocaust survivors and their descendants to The Guardian, after they published the extraordinarily blatant piece of propaganda from Elie Weisel

    And just to emphasise how zionists are losing any contact with the communities around them, The Jewish Chronicle in the UK was forced to grovel before its readers and apologise for printing an ad for humanitarian aid for Gaza
    (Oh the irony of these two very different papers printing ads which enrage their readers)
    That is bad enough, although entirely indicative of the cult like mentality inside the bubble, but much more indicative of which way the tide is flowing is that the story was broadcast most of the day on BBC bulletins, leading most disinterested people to marvel at this demonstration of cold-blooded inhumanity.
    The Weisel and DEC ads only confirm how far the zionists have become detached from any sense of the territory civil discourse occupies, and the bare minimum of decency the majority of people expect. So entrenched and accustomed have they become to spouting such egregious falsehoods and blatant propaganda that they have no idea of how they are offending people with such naked attempts to bludgeon them into submission. The days are over when they could solemnly intone sanctimonious spin on ethnic cleansing and occupation. Because they don’t realise it, they think they can keep up the old routines, but the expansion of the media, as Paul Mason perceptively wrote
    has drained any authority or credibility they assumed. (His latest piece is also excellent, finding hope in a younger generation).

    • Kay24
      Kay24 on August 16, 2014, 4:59 pm

      The nazios do not like the victims of their brutality helped apparently. They want the world to ignore these human beings who have had their homes destroyed, and who have lost so many civilians. They do not like their war crimes getting attention even in ads asking for humanitarian aid. They prefer the Palestinians to suffer with no help, rather than bring attention to their latest slaughter in Gaza.

      The viciousness of the nazios.

  4. ritzl
    ritzl on August 16, 2014, 1:17 pm

    @just- Palestinians don’t count.

    • just
      just on August 16, 2014, 1:21 pm

      That, and I believe that he/she is implying that they’re not really “family”…

      • ritzl
        ritzl on August 16, 2014, 1:34 pm

        Yep. Pretty sick. Carrion bird indeed.

        What kind of a mentality thinks up such a thing, let alone takes the time to type it out and post it.

      • just
        just on August 16, 2014, 1:49 pm

        Makes the ethnic cleansing so much more palatable– dainty, even.

        (responding to your good comment at 1330 as well, ritzl)

      • Mooser
        Mooser on August 16, 2014, 1:53 pm

        “Carrion bird indeed.”

        I’ve always thought he had such an appropriate nym! Perfect. Naturally, he’s not satisfied, and is hoping for a promotion to “vulture”. (My apologies to cathartes aura and all the other varieties)

  5. eGuard
    eGuard on August 16, 2014, 2:16 pm

    The award was awarded to him and his mother by name, on June 22, 2011. His mother had died in 1981. The YV was for hiding a Jewish child. But the family did much more in resistance against the occupier.

    Questions that come to mind: why did Yad Vashem only discover this in 2011, 66 years after WW2? And: why 30 (thirty) years after the mother had died? Why not earlier?

  6. lysias
    lysias on August 16, 2014, 2:29 pm

    Dr. [Ismail] Zeyada said last month that none of his family members were militants.

    And the family of the four boys Israel killed on the Gaza beach were Fatah supporters (although I understand they have now switched their support to Hamas).

  7. Les
    Les on August 16, 2014, 5:15 pm

    Is there a reason the NY Times didn’t have any comments on its story of the medal’s return?

  8. kadz
    kadz on August 16, 2014, 6:34 pm

    Israel is not interested in giving up a foot of land back to the Palestinian. The peace process is and has always been a fraud. The world must make a stand now! Either we stand by and watch as we are all subjected and enslaved by Zionism, killed in thousands like the Palestinians and then in millions like Hitler did, or we say enough is enough, the Zionism must be defeated and Palestinians duly giving their right and freedom in accordance with international law. Its one of this two choices for us, and we dont start doing something right now, we will all die in millions from a Nuclear war started off by the Zionist. The signs dont look good for us so far.

    • NickJOCW
      NickJOCW on August 17, 2014, 8:29 am

      Indeed they are not interested, that’s where sanctions come in. All the broad public needs to understand is the wall has to come down and all Israelis must leave the occupied territories and start over within their 1947 borders or go somewhere else, and they must to be pressured relentlessly until that comes about. The longer it takes the harder it will be for them. It is unfortunate, untidy and sad that they face this situation, but the rest of us are not responsible and they have been given every opportunity to avoid it. Our burden will be to try to contain the anti-Semitic side effects of their behaviour already alas manifesting on our streets. Blaming Europe for antisemitism is like a destructive drunk blaming the barman.

  9. kadz
    kadz on August 16, 2014, 6:35 pm

    Please have a look at this video on YouTube: 43 Shocking Photos: Left, Germany 1940, Right, Gaza 2014 . Share it on, on Facebook, twitter etc and hopefully it would open more world eyes to the Gaza injustice. Thanks

  10. just
    just on August 16, 2014, 10:34 pm

    I haven’t seen any television US MSM coverage of this today, but then again it’s Saturday and ho hum.

    I did see this on RT earlier; worth watching imho.

  11. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870 on August 17, 2014, 2:04 am

    RE: “Over more than six decades I have however slowly come to realize that the Zionist project had from its beginning a racist element in it in aspiring to build a state exclusively for Jews. As a consequence, ethnic cleansing took place at the time of the establishment of your state . . . ~ Henk Zanoli

    A RELEVANT BOOK REVIEW – “Rereading: Khirbet Khizeh by S Yizhar”, Jacqueline Rose, The Guardian, Friday 11 March 2011
    In his novella of the 1948 war, the Israeli writer S Yizhar sought to preserve the memory of the Palestinian nakba. Jacqueline Rose on a haunting tale that still stirs intense controversy

    [EXCERPTS] Near the beginning of Khirbet Khizeh, the extraordinary 1949 novella by S Yizhar, the narrator describes the dangers, to a soldier, of thinking: “we knew that when the thoughts came, troubles began; better not to start thinking.” Khirbet Khizeh is a tribute to the power of critical thought to register the injustices of history. It is published by Granta this month in its first full English translation, first issued by Adina Hoffman for Ibis editions in Jerusalem in 2008. Khirbet Khizeh tells the story of the expulsion of Palestinian villagers from their home and land during the 1948 war that immediately followed the founding of the Israeli state: the war of independence or liberation, as it is referred to in Israel; for the Palestinians, the nakba or catastrophe. By the end of it, 750,000 Palestinians had become refugees. This story, this moment, is, to say the least, still controversial. In July 2009, Israel’s education ministry announced that the term nakba, introduced two years previously into Palestinian-Israeli textbooks, was to be removed on the grounds that its use was tantamount to spreading propaganda against Israel. In May last year, a law was passed – widely termed the “Nakba Law” – that withdraws government funding from any group judged to be “acting against the principles of the country”, which includes the commemoration of the nakba. The law effectively criminalises the right of the Palestinian people to remember.

    Renowned for many years as the only tale in Israeli literature to tell the story of the 1948 expulsion, Khirbet Khizeh also owes its power and status to the way that it recounts the resistance to memory which this dark episode of Israeli history will provoke in the nation’s consciousness: “True, it all happened a long time ago,” the story opens, “but it has haunted me ever since. I sought to drown it out with the din of passing time, to diminish its value, to blunt its edge with the rush of daily life.” In fact Yizhar wrote Khirbet Khizeh in 1948, long before the question of memory could even have arisen. But it is as if, in the charged moment of writing, he already saw that his task was to rescue this history from oblivion. Unlike the other soldiers in his unit, the narrator knows that this story is not going to go away. As he walks through the desolate Palestinian landscape, his soldier companion exults in the emptiness which he sees as proof of the superiority of the Zionist pioneers: “Wow! Our old-timers used to break their backs for any strip of land, and today we just walk in and take it!” For the narrator, by contrast, the Jews who reap the profits of this war, the future inhabitants in whose cause the war is being fought, will be haunted: “The people who would live in this village, wouldn’t the walls cry out in their ears?” . . .

    . . . Khirbet Khizeh is the story which, with the least ambivalence, offers to official Zionist history its strongest, unanswerable, counterpoint. The translation is long overdue. In lyrical, haunting prose – evocatively rendered into English by Nicholas de Lange and Yaacob Dweck – the narrator describes what was done to the Palestinians in 1948. As the story builds to its climax, the writing at times is paced and slow, such as when the soldiers languish and wait; then it suddenly erupts, like the exploded stone house of a woman who “leapt up, burst into wild howling and started to run in that direction, holding a baby in her arms, while another wretched child, who could already stand, clutched the hem of her dress, and she screamed, pointed, talked, and choked”. All at once she understands “that it wasn’t just about waiting under the sycamore trees to hear what the Jews wanted and then to go home, but that her home and her world had come to a full stop, and everything had turned dark and was collapsing; suddenly she had grasped something inconceivable, terrible, incredible, standing directly before her, real and cruel, body to body, and there was no going back”. By recounting this crisis from inside her mind, Yizhar dismantles at a stroke the poisoned rhetoric of enmity, the image of the Palestinians as unknowable, distant, threatening. You cannot read Khirbet Khizeh without experiencing 1948 – “body to body” – as a tragedy for the Palestinians. . .


  12. NickJOCW
    NickJOCW on August 17, 2014, 4:58 am

    Israel may also have sacrificed the opportunity for compromise directly with the Palestinians. While many thinking people had high hopes these persecuted people in their new home would prove a shining example for the future of the Western world but time has taken most of those from us. In their place are others who grew up with no such idealistic postwar thoughts or for that matter any great interest in Israel, and that has worked in Israel’s favour. These recent events, however, are awakening many who may not even have been aware of what Israel has been doing since 1947 and to them the primary objective of the Palestinian BDS, to have Israel dismantle the wall and evacuate all territory taken since 1967 will seem practical, fair, and in conformity with international law.

  13. jayn0t
    jayn0t on August 17, 2014, 10:25 am

    Henk Zanoli “…acts to save Israel from ‘racist… quagmire’” – really? How could you save Israel from racism? It would have to change its constitution so that citizenship is defined as anyone born in Palestine or whose recent (a few generations) ancestors were born in Palestine, rather than Jews from everywhere. It would immediately cease to be a Jewish majority state, in other words, it would cease to exist.

  14. traintosiberia
    traintosiberia on August 17, 2014, 1:44 pm

    Israeli court allows protesters to picket Palestinian-Jewish wedding
    Guardian ( UK) Aug 17

    The Jewish Chronicle has apologised to readers who complained after it ran an advert for the Disasters Emergency Committee’s Gaza crisis appeal.
    BBC ( UK )

    Racism has become mainstream ideology in Israel. It is becoming culturally , at least Pakistan of 1980 s

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