Culture

The new center

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Elie Wiesel
Elie Wiesel

This is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.

The Holocaust civil war in major newspapers around the world continues. Last week it was Elie Wiesel’s paid statement that accused Hamas of using children as human shields. Yesterday it was other Holocaust survivors “disgusted and outraged by Elie Wiesel’s abuse of history.”

These Jewish survivors aren’t mincing worlds:

Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of Nazi genocide unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza.

As Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of the Nazi genocide we unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and the ongoing occupation and colonization of historic Palestine. We further condemn the United States for providing Israel with the funding to carry out the attack, and Western states more generally for using their diplomatic muscle to protect Israel from condemnation. Genocide begins with the silence of the world.

We are alarmed by the extreme, racist dehumanization of Palestinians in Israeli society, which has reached a fever-pitch. In Israel, politicians and pundits in The Times of Israel and The Jerusalem Post have called openly for genocide of Palestinians and right-wing Israelis are adopting Neo-Nazi insignia.

Furthermore, we are disgusted and outraged by Elie Wiesel’s abuse of our history in these pages to justify the unjustifiable: Israel’s wholesale effort to destroy Gaza and the murder of more than 2,000 Palestinians, including many hundreds of children. Nothing can justify bombing UN shelters, homes, hospitals and universities. Nothing can justify depriving people of electricity and water.

We must raise our collective voices and use our collective power to bring about an end to all forms of racism, including the ongoing genocide of Palestinian people. We call for an immediate end to the siege against and blockade of Gaza. We call for the full economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel. “Never again” must mean NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE!

Aside from the use of the Holocaust by both sides in the Jewish civil war, is the Holocaust relevant anymore or has the Holocaust become ancient symbolism trotted out for its last curtain call?

While Israel still hasn’t announced its endgame vision, the Gaza war is full of last-ditch efforts. The Holocaust is only one of them. Palestinian statehood might be another.

The liberal Zionist center? The middle-ground of the internationally agreed upon two-state solution? Fewer and fewer people buy that either center is, in fact, a center. Perhaps both have been rearguard for decades. Now with Israel’s continuing escalation of destruction the center looks dubious.

Should we say, with Yeats, the great Irish poet, that the center cannot hold? If not, what takes the place of the failed center?

On one side, the breakdown might seem a plus. Now we can finally get down to the basics, the root of the problem. Yet political gamesmanship is tacking in another direction. Even the possible intervention of the UN Security Council promises more of the same. Sure there’s a tweak here and there, end of the blockade, seaports and alike, but the years of heavy lifting ahead – and further gamesmanship – promise only a truncated autonomy for Palestinians.

A real Palestinian state is an afterthought on the UN table. The new center is an internationally guaranteed, ill-defined, Palestinian autonomy, guaranteed, guarded, and infiltrated by non-Palestinian actors – some of whom (may) have the Palestinian cause at heart.

It seems ironic that the international condemnation of Israel may serve Israel’s ultimate cause of subjugating Palestinians. Nonetheless, Israel’s pushing of the international law envelop has cemented its role in the international nation-state system. After all, no major international actor has suggested any punishment for Israel other than helping it out of the mess it is fully enmeshed in.

After Gaza, the new center for Israel? Israel holds onto what they have taken. The new center for Palestinians? Palestinians are allowed to survive.

That’s a far cry from the Holocaust survivor’s plea – “Genocide begins with the silence of the world.”

It’s even a far cry from the center that did not hold.

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Holocaust survivors are not a monolithic public: some are religious, some are secular; in politics some are on the Left, some are on the Right, some in-between.
The survivors overwhelmingly support Israel , because the Jewish people in general overwhelmingly support Israel.

Interesting article. It is obvious that more and more people are horrified at what Israel is doing, and these wonderful Holocaust survivors, must have felt very strongly to condemn Israel’s brutality, and the ugly calls for genocide from extreme right wingers in Israel, those who have absolutely no regard for… Read more »

At one time I was naive enough to think that the phrase “Never Again!” always referenced a universal principle learned from all the industrialized murder of innocents in WW2.

Hajo Meyer, the first name in the list, died last Saturday at the age of 90 years. That is, when the New York Times was preparing this text for print. Given current NYT standards, I prefer his statement to an obituary.

Hajo Meyer, number 1 on this list, died yesterday.
http://electronicintifada.net/content/auschwitz-survivor-i-can-identify-palestinian-youth/8268
I will miss him