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Palestinians are as worthy as children of Holocaust survivors for dignity

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Palestinians’ legitimate claims continue to be silenced at the expense of sustaining Israel’s longstanding myths of being the safe haven for world Jewry and a democracy with the world’s most moral army. As if we are not as worthy as the children of Holocaust survivors of freedom, security, justice and dignity.

As I write this, I recall the many times I had to sit in a room where Europeans discuss their deep-felt guilt over the atrocities committed against their Jewish communities. I recall the many deeply painful times I felt completely unseen during discussions over racism, colonialism, social justice and refugee and migrant rights. My racing heartbeat that overcome me as countless memories of terror and pain surface, silenced a cry that desperately wanted an answer: Why is there no guilt felt towards us as European countries fuel and enable more Israeli terrorism against Palestinians? Or do we not count as people? How about Palestinians’ most longstanding refugee problem in our modern history?

I wish I could shake people’s consciousness and face them with a century of complicity which if they acknowledged, they would have a feeling of backbreaking guilt towards Palestinians. The situation was, is and will continue to be grim until concrete action is pursued to halt (not ease) these grave injustices happening in daylight before the eyes of the whole world for 70 years of Israeli colonial occupation and apartheid.

Until then, the unfulfilled desires of our grandparents who died while clinging to their right of return to the last breath, will haunt you. The lives of the many patients who died of minor illness due to shut barriers and checkpoints, will haunt you. The dreams of our children. The cries of Palestinian mothers. The stolen years of our political prisoners. The pictures of all our victims, young and old. The drops of blood that shed from every and each wounded person. The amputated limbs. The uprooted olive trees. The demolished houses. The memories made at each of its corners. The deserted lands. The sleepless eyes that long waited for a dawn of freedom. The executed bodies that were left bleeding until they were drained of blood. The lifeless body of Malak Rabah Abu Jazar, a Palestinian girl from Gaza whom the sea waves pushed to Turkish shores after a failed escape from Gaza’s open-air prison to a more secure life. All that will haunt you, and ignoring it is at our peril.

Along Gaza’s separating fence, massive crowds still confront Israeli snipers hiding behind sand mounds and in their military jeeps, going forward and backward depending on Israel’s level of lethal force used against them. The Great Return March continues for its 7th month, with the field repeatedly turned into a traumatic scene of bloodshed and repression, all documented by local news and people on the ground who want to remind the world of the gruesome injustices Palestinians endure and push for an action that could bring it to an end.

As these atrocities continue with impunity, dominant western media discourse is turning these horrific events into a spectacle that diverts attention from the unjust reality that Palestinians live under Israel and their legitimate claims, and still start every news report with an Israeli military statement justifying its crimes. If the media succeeded in desensitizing you, just remember that if you accumulate the tears of all the families who are grieving at least a member killed, maimed, or drawn in the sea, or jailed, those floods of tears would bury earth underneath the sea.

Despite this longstanding and ongoing process of dehumanization, demonization, and pacification, and the consequently intensified Israeli repression, protesters are not deterred from returning to the fence. For them, the choices remain between a living hell or a dignified death. They are desperate for the world to bare witness to Israel’s criminality. They express the urgency of a political solution that is not limited to the boundaries of Gaza and lifting the siege, hence the demand for the Right of Return.

Palestinians also call out for a competent Palestinian leadership to invest in this inspirational popular resistance and sacrifice. They call upon them to correct the path that 1993 Oslo peace accords marked with internal divisions and marginalization of the backbone issues of our anti-colonial struggle for delusional autonomy over bantustan-structured territories (where they are actually servants of the Israeli occupation).

Palestinians sacrifice to remind internal and external actors that our anti-colonial struggle is about liberation, not independence. This was, is and will continue to be the nature of our struggle despite the damning hands that attempt to redefine it and distort it.

Shahd Abusalama

Shahd Abusalama is a PhD student on Palestinian cinema at Sheffield Hallam University, born and raised in Jabalia Refugee Camp, northern Gaza, Palestine. She is an artist, activist, the author of Palestine from My Eyes blog, and a co-founder of London-based Hawiyya Dance Company. Follow her on Twitter at @ShahdAbusalama.

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41 Responses

  1. on October 24, 2018, 5:01 pm

    The photo of the man with his head turned back looking at the camera is haunting.

    How much longer does Israel plan on practicing Holodomor?

    • RoHa on October 25, 2018, 1:53 am

      As long as it can get away with it.

    • annie on October 25, 2018, 2:44 pm

      it’s a brilliant photo. also, note the expression of the boy standing on the left looking at them. it speaks volumes.

  2. Marnie on October 25, 2018, 12:15 am

    There is no comparison here. Palestinians have been in a state of perpetual grief, anger, pain and suffering for over 70 years FFS. How in the hell does the child of a holocaust survivor (or as they are very old and dying off, I guess they will be going on to the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of holocaust survivors and their unspeakable trauma – give me a damn break – jews don’t own suffering!!!!!!!!) compare to the people representative in the picture above – they are alive and their trauma, pain and suffering is ongoing!!

  3. Maghlawatan on October 25, 2018, 6:12 am

    The Holocaust is over. Palestinians had nothing to do with it.Israel is the new Confederacy, built on human rights abuses and the repression of dignity . I still can’t figure out how this is linked to Judaism.

  4. Citizen on October 25, 2018, 6:27 am

    The Great Return March gets no air time on US corporate news media.

    • jon s on October 25, 2018, 2:20 pm

      When and where is the Great Return March supposed to take place?

      • annie on October 25, 2018, 2:48 pm

        your point jon? or are you merely in the mood to taunt and antagonize?

      • Bumblebye on October 25, 2018, 8:17 pm

        Sneering at the victim’s of Israel’s crimes is Jon’s true face.

  5. Misterioso on October 25, 2018, 10:56 am

    For the record:

    Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, Press Release
    October 23/18

    “Israeli Naval Forces Open Fire at Fishermen, Detain Four and Seize Boats”

    “At approximately 6:30 am on Tuesday, 23 October 2018, Israeli naval forces opened fire at Palestinian fishermen sailing off the coast of northwest Beit Lahia town in North Gaza district. The warships seized one boat that carried two fishermen, detaining the two and confiscating the fishing boat and equipment. Al Mezan’s documentation shows that the boat was at a distance of around two nautical miles from the coast, well within the Israeli-enforced restricted fishing zone, when it was seized. The two detained fishermen are: Awad Al-Sultan, 21, who is a resident of Beit Lahia, and Ahmed Syam, 20, who is a resident of Al-Shati’ refugee camp in Gaza City.

    “At approximately 1pm on the same day, Israeli warships opened fire at fishermen sailing within four nautical miles from the coast of Al-Sheikh Ijleen area in southwest Gaza City. The Israeli naval forces seized one boat carrying two fishermen, detaining both and confiscating their fishing boat and equipment—despite, again, being within the Israeli-enforced restricted fishing zone. Al Mezan’s documentation shows that the two fishermen are: Mahmoud Meqdad, 35, and Hasan Meqdad, 26. Both are residents of Al-Shati’ refugee camp. The four fishermen have been taken to an unknown detention center.

    “Al Mezan’s documentation shows that from the start of 2018, Israeli forces have carried out 270 attacks on fishermen—267 of them with live fire—killing one fisherman, injuring 16, detaining 59, and confiscating 18 fishing boats. In the meantime, Israeli authorities continue to impose restrictions on the entry of fishing equipment into Gaza within the context of closure.

    “Al Mezan condemns the violence against fishermen, and stresses that the constant harassment, detention, and shooting, which results in death and injury, as well as confiscation and destruction of equipment, is part of an unlawful closure and blockade policy that amounts to a prohibited collective punishment. Fishermen must be protected so that they can work and earn living with dignity and safety, yet the Israeli authorities restrict them to a zone between three and nine nautical miles in which to fish— and still target them when in the permitted zone.

    “These attacks are in violation of international human rights law and compound the dire conditions of the fishing community in the Gaza Strip, 80 percent of whom live below the poverty line. The Israeli authorities’ policy to unduly hinder Palestinian fishermen’s access to Palestinian territorial waters restricts their enjoyment of Palestine’s natural resources, stifles what would otherwise be a viable sector within the Palestinian economy, which violate international law.

    “Al Mezan calls for the immediate release of the four fishermen in detention at the time of drafting. Al Mezan urges members of the international community to take immediate steps to protect Palestinian civilians and to seek an end to Israel’s closure and blockade.”

    Ah, yes, “Israel, a ‘light unto nations’ NOT”

  6. JoeSmack on October 25, 2018, 12:40 pm

    Germans didn’t come to terms with their brute genocide in Namibia either, nor did they really do anything to undo the racism against Roma who were also killed in the Holocaust.

    The author should not see the guilt as a result of genuine remorse but rather as a function of the post-WW2 order in which Germany lost, Jews re-integrated, and Israel was created. Had those things not happened, Germans would be as clueless about the Holocaust as they are about Namibia, Roma, and of course, Palestine.

  7. Shahd Abusalama on October 25, 2018, 4:46 pm

    I understand it’s incomparable since we’re talking about something past and another ongoing. But it’s the dominant discourse that we’re trapped in that pushed me to do this. I’m not sure if any of you saw Alice Rothchild’s recent article here, ‘Shunned’. But this same person sent pretty much the same email to my university management and heads of departments trying to silence me saying, “This student wants to teach us as children of Holocaust survivors what is anti-Semitism and what is apartheid. Both conceptions this student of your department does not understand and uses these terms for anti-Jewish agitation.” He wrote this with reference to my latest AJ article:

    This is one example of many incidents online and offline, which I constantly have to deal with. Even when I was in Gaza, collectively under heavy rain of Israeli missiles, I had ignorant people attacking me online for daring to expose Israel’s crimes against us, slamming my firsthand experiences as lies and painting us as the new Nazis who want to destroy the only safe haven for world Jewry. The link between Israel and holocaust is deeply rooted in people’s psyche. Of course this is a result of decades of propaganda that Israel constructed to justify its legitimacy. Amidst this, our struggle and suffering is being marginalised and often silenced.

    I understand that the guilt is not resulted from genuine remorse. Otherwise, as Joe Smack pointed out, they would have acknowledged other atrocities they’re complicit in, and learnt to not inflect similar crimes against others or support any regime that does so. The guilt itself speaks of so much ignorance. How does supporting a settler-colonial and apartheid criminal state help Europeans make up for their guilt? Challenging racism wherever and whenever it happens should be the way. This entails de-normalising Israel and supporting Palestinians’ struggle for justice and the collective liberation of all its inhabitants, including Israeli Jews.

    • annie on October 25, 2018, 6:09 pm

      Shahd, i read your thread on twitter about this person the other day which included a copy of this man’s letter.

      it’s very hypocritical of people who weaponize and wield the holocaust like a threat to then rail against those who make comparisons themselves in relation to israel’s crimes. they treat the holocaust as their personal possession to be used only to serve in their defense of israel’s brutality.

      aside from your reference to the IHRA, you didn’t even mention the holocaust in your AJ article and yet this man’s letter goes right to it in his self definition. this article was excellent, and the perfect response. thank you.

      btw, phil wrote an article last month “The Holocaust, vengeance and the Palestinians” i recommend.

  8. Mayhem on October 25, 2018, 5:21 pm

    Painting this as a popular struggle is a fabrication to lure support for the Palestinian cause from those affected by emotion rather than the truth.
    “There is no popular protest,” Lieberman said. “There is the exacting of institutional violence by Hamas. They come in organized shuttles, with Hamas paying thousands of shekels for every bus. They pay 3,000 shekels ($820) for every man killed, 500 shekels for every severe injury and 250 shekels for every medium injury and below. This is institutionalized action.” from Haaretz.

    • annie on October 25, 2018, 5:31 pm

      really? citing the moldovan bouncer? Painting this as “Hamas” is a fabrication to lure support for Israel’s mass brutality from those affected by fear mongering and nationalism rather than the truth.

      “The State of Israel doesn’t have the luxury to manage ‘we have a choice’ wars and operations, but we have reached a situation of no choice. We have reached a point where decisions must be made,” he added.

      ah, so israel has no choice. the pressure is just too great. war mongering, that’s all that is.

      500 shekels for every severe injury? what’s that come to for losing a limb? $120 bucks. wow, like what an incentive.

      • Citizen on October 26, 2018, 7:41 am

        $135 dollars for that severe injury

      • Mayhem on October 27, 2018, 9:17 am

        Back to censoring remarks that bite too deep?
        Try again.
        @Annie, clearly Hamas doesn’t have the wherewithal to afford the payouts that the PA make to reward terrorists who succeed in killing Jews.
        PA to pay Family of Fuld’s Murderer NIS 1,400 a month for 3 years

      • annie on October 30, 2018, 2:30 pm

        mayhem, NIS 1440 is $377 dollars. when i person commits a crime in the US and is imprisoned, if he/she is the family’s breadwinner and the family suffers financially they turn to the federal government for funds. even if the person committing the crime killed someone. this is normal for states. what are these families supposed to live on?

      • Jon66 on October 30, 2018, 3:09 pm

        These payments are not to provide for impoverished families. They are not given to a family who is starving because the breadwinner was struck by lightning.
        Rather they are conditional upon a family member whose “families of Palestinians killed, injured or imprisoned for involvement in attacking, assisting in attacking, or planning to attack Israelis, or for other types of politically-inspired violence”

        If the govt supported all impoverished families than it would be similar. A Palestinian family does not need the money to receive it.

      • oldgeezer on October 30, 2018, 4:40 pm

        Considering abductions, torture, unfair trials, secret evidence, denial of basic human rights, illegal home demolitions even when the accused isn’t the homeowner… Only a partial list! The payment practice seems to be both reasonable and rational.

        If Israel wasn’t commiting so many crimes then it could be different.

      • annie on November 1, 2018, 1:39 am

        A Palestinian family does not need the money to receive it.

        huh? palestinian families live under occupation. they do not have free trade w/the global community because israel doesn’t allow it and the unemployment rate is huge. what palestinian family has members imprisoned and not lacking in funds? you are talkin about a pittance here. we give israel 3.8 billion a year and you’re stuck on this non issue. phff.

  9. Mayhem on October 27, 2018, 9:32 am

    To see those who wish to destroy Israel, a haven for those who survived the Holocaust, appropriating the Holocaust for their own private purposes is pretty sickening.
    There have been many posts over time on MW complaining about cultural appropriation by Israelis, whether it be with hummous or the debka.
    Thus it is totally hypocritical to give voice to an article like this that appropriates the Holocaust by shoving the suffering of Palestinians that has been primarily caused by their decrepit leadership on to those who are the real victims of the Holocaust.
    We can’t forget that the Arabs were complicit in the Holocaust as evident in the Farhud in June 1941, a Nazi-style pogrom in Baghdad that set the stage for for the devastation and expulsion of the Iraqi Jews and ultimately almost a million Jews across the Arab world.

    • eljay on October 27, 2018, 6:44 pm

      || Mayhem: … appropriating the Holocaust for their own private purposes is pretty sickening. … ||

      It is sickening that Zionists appropriated and continue to appropriate the Holocaust for their own unjust and immoral purposes.

      • oldgeezer on October 30, 2018, 4:34 pm

        In fact he just appropriated it by his post. He is right, he is sickening.

  10. bcg on October 27, 2018, 10:19 am

    @Mayhem: “The Holocaust is Over; We Must Rise From Its Ashes”

    Modern-day Israel, and the Jewish community, are strongly influenced by the memory and horrors of Hitler and the Holocaust. Burg argues that the Jewish nation has been traumatized and has lost the ability to trust itself, its neighbors or the world around it. He shows that this is one of the causes for the growing nationalism and violence that are plaguing Israeli society and reverberating through Jewish communities worldwide. Burg uses his own family history–his parents were Holocaust survivors–to inform his innovative views on what the Jewish people need to do to move on and eventually live in peace with their Arab neighbors and feel comfortable in the world at large. Thought-provoking, compelling, and original, this book is bound to spark a heated debate around the world.

    • Keith on October 27, 2018, 11:14 am

      BCG- (Quote)-“Modern-day Israel, and the Jewish community, are strongly influenced by the memory and horrors of Hitler and the Holocaust.”

      Yes, and this is a consequence of the skillful exploitation of the Holocaust by Jewish Zionists in their successful effort to create a secular version of Classical Judaism which united the Jews as a people in pre-modern times. To move beyond the Holocaust is essentially to abandon Zionism.

      • catalan on October 27, 2018, 11:37 am

        “To move beyond the Holocaust is essentially to abandon Zionism.” Keith
        One usually hears the stereotype that Diaspora Jews are gloomy beings, obsessed with tales of past suffering and seeking refuge in sarcasm and self deprecation. And Israeli Jews are tough and future oriented. But Keith sees this as the opposite – that somehow Israelis (the majority of true Zionists after all) are dependent on the Holocaust. Keith also doesn’t leave any room for frankly individualistic, selfish Jews like me who care little about either Judaism or Zionism and very much like capitalism.

      • Keith on October 28, 2018, 4:41 pm

        CATALAN- “But Keith sees….”

        Here we go again. Catalan creating a dishonest strawman to attack. The opinions expressed are Catalan’s dishonest misrepresentation of what Keith sees.

        The big difference between Israeli Zionism and American Zionism is a consequence of the difference between a majority Jewish population whose internal solidarity is reinforced by direct physical discrimination versus a relatively small American Jewish minority in a multicultural society where internal solidarity is primarily achieved by psychological means emphasizing the Holocaust and anti-Semitism. “Thus the “Holocaust” part of the myth tends to play a larger part in this country (USA) than it does in the State of Israel” (p90, Stranger at Home: The “Holocaust,” Zionism, and American Judaism,” Jacob Neusner)

        CATALAN- “One usually hears the stereotype that Diaspora Jews are gloomy beings, obsessed with tales of past suffering and seeking refuge in sarcasm and self deprecation.”

        Haim Saban, Paul Singer, Sheldon Adelson, Malcom Hoenlein and Alan Dershowitz are gloomy and self-deprecating? Jeez, I thought that they were aggressive power-seekers. As for Zionist mythology, I fail to see how that relates to my comment. But it does provide an excuse for me to link to a hilarious parody of this myth called “Israel Man and Diaspora Boy.”

        CATALAN- “Keith also doesn’t leave any room for frankly individualistic, selfish Jews like me who care little about either Judaism or Zionism….”

        Since my comment refers to “Jewish Zionists”, anyone not a Jewish Zionist has lots of room. As for caring little about either Judaism or Zionism, who are you trying to kid? If that was true of you, I seriously doubt that you would be spending so much time commenting on Mondoweiss attacking anti-Zionists and misrepresenting the opinions of others.

    • Mayhem on October 27, 2018, 7:38 pm

      Yeh the Holocaust is over. What bullshit!
      60% increase in anti-semitic incidents in the United States last year.
      The worst killing of Jews today in Pittsburgh.
      A constant downplaying of anti-semitism by MW with incessant bleating about islamophobia instead.
      Sites like MW bear some reponsibility for their demeaning of the Holocaust giving Jew-haters the opportunity to forget or dismiss it thus perpetuating Jew-hatred.

      • eljay on October 27, 2018, 8:18 pm

        || Mayhem: Yeh the Holocaust is over. … ||

        It is over. It has been over for decades.

        || … 60% increase in anti-semitic incidents in the United States last year.
        The worst killing of Jews today in Pittsburgh. … ||

        Horrific stuff. Perpetrators must be brought to justice.

        None of this gives to people who have chosen to be Jewish the right to be supremacists and to deliberately commit acts of injustice and immorality against others.

        || … Sites like MW bear some reponsibility for their demeaning of the Holocaust … ||

        Zionists bear far more responsibility for their demeaning of the Holocaust.

      • Mayhem on October 27, 2018, 10:00 pm

        @eljay, the Holocaust is not over. History never goes away. We commemorate our history lest we forget.
        “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana.

      • Mayhem on October 27, 2018, 10:03 pm

        @eljay, (paraphrasing) none of this gives people who have chosen to be anti-Jewish the right to downgrade what Jews and Zionists know and believe and to deliberately commit wilful acts of ignorance, dishonesty and negligence against them.

      • oldgeezer on October 27, 2018, 11:52 pm

        “@eljay, the Holocaust is not over. History never goes away. ”

        Yeah it’ s over dip wad. It’s not ongoing. History never goes away but that’s got nothing to do with the holocaust ending 70+ years ago.

        Leave the philosophy to yonah who is more eloquent even if no more cerebral.

      • eljay on October 28, 2018, 7:43 am

        || Mayhem: @eljay, (paraphrasing) none of this gives people who have chosen to be anti-Jewish the right to downgrade what Jews and Zionists know and believe and to deliberately commit wilful acts of ignorance, dishonesty and negligence against them. ||

        Not only is your paraphrasing weak and inaccurate but in typical Zionist fashion it anti-Semitically conflates Zionism with all Jews and all Jews with Zionism. Why do you insist on hating Jews so much?

      • eljay on October 28, 2018, 7:46 am

        || Mayhem: @eljay, the Holocaust is not over. History never goes away. … ||

        So what you’re saying is that the evil committed by Zionists in geographic Palestine is still not over. Nor, apparently, is the slaughter of all Amalekites. Got it.

      • Mooser on October 28, 2018, 1:58 pm

        “The worst killing of Jews today in Pittsburgh.” “Mayhem”

        First of all please check with the Chief Rabbi before assigning the victims a religion

        And second, do you really think you should let a lone nut like the shooter disturb the beautiful relations Israel has with Trump? All this over some Reformers the Nation-State law would keep out of Israel?

  11. bcg on October 27, 2018, 2:38 pm

    @Catalan: “..that somehow Israelis (the majority of true Zionists after all) are dependent on the Holocaust. ”

    ‘Dependent’ may be the wrong word. From the Amazon blurb of Norman Finkelstein’s “The Holocaust Industry”:

    It was not until the Arab-Israeli War of 1967, when Israel’s evident strength brought it into line with US foreign policy, that memory of the Holocaust began to acquire the exceptional prominence it enjoys today. Leaders of America’s Jewish community were delighted that Israel was now deemed a major strategic asset and, Finkelstein contends, exploited the Holocaust to enhance this newfound status. Their subsequent interpretations of the tragedy are often at variance with actual historical events and are employed to deflect any criticism of Israel and its supporters.

  12. Mooser on October 27, 2018, 3:18 pm

    “selfish Jews like me who care little about either Judaism or Zionism and very much like capitalism.”

    “catalan” if you have come here to seek justification for ripping off the State of New Mexico, absconding to Israel, and satisfying the “Nation-State Law” with your Mondo Comment archive, it does seem a rather long way around.

    Why not buy some property in Israel, and it’ll be there when you need it?

    • Mayhem on October 27, 2018, 9:19 pm

      “selfish Jews like me who care little about either Judaism or Zionism and very much like capitalism” – sounds like he is addressing you Mooser.

      • Mooser on October 28, 2018, 1:49 pm

        “sounds like he is addressing you Mooser.”

        Are you asking if I am ‘comfortable’? Feh, I make a living.

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