The Conspiracy

Palestinians Rejecting Holocaust History: Part II – The Holocaust as the Basis of Israel?

The famed Exodus is stopped trying to bring European refugees to the British Mandate for Palestine: the Holocaust did not justify the establishment of the State of Israel, but it made the founding much more dramatic.

The Holocaust is not itself the justification of the State of Israel, rather the vindication of the argument that European anti-Semitism would never go away. But making it the sole reason for Israel’s existence is wrong, and has no basis whatsoever as a precondition for Israel’s independence. Any country which should exist does so based on the merit of its residence residing there. Sixty years of immigration and then, on top of that, actually building up the country’s productivity and economy demonstrate a massive degree of autonomy. But nevermind their productivity, their mere being there is what gave people living there the right to have political direction. A people’s suffering is not the justification for independence, but a motivation for it.

As for the nakba, it is not comparable. I cannot make the calculus in my mind, nor the analogy settle, comparing systematic death to displacement. But then again, I do not know how one compares suffering. I do not have the formula for it. But considering what the Jews of the area were up against, and why their militias formed (in response to the pogroms of 1929 and further beefed up in response to the uprising 1936-39 and the civil war that erupted immediately after the UN Partition Plan was passed in 1947), I cannot separate mind from the reality that Arab gangs sought to annihilate the Jewish presence in the British Mandate (a brief wiki on the history of the Haganah).

World sympathy made the vote easier, but it did not initiate the Zionist movement nor did it lay the foundations of the state. The state (that is, the institutions and programs governing the community) rose well before it: the militias were one aspect; the Jewish National Fund contacting landowners in Beirut and making purchases in the North, along the coast and around Jerusalem; the Kibbutz movement. (To see a detailed look at Jewish land purchases before the Partition of the British Mandate of Palestine, click The existence of institutions did not justify, per se, the independence of Israel either, but it certainly made its stability more certain (I’d go so far as to suggest the Egyptian and Jordanian conquests in the former British Mandate of Palestine were tolerated by the international community not only because the Arab bloc in international politics secured it, but because it filled a power vacuum in the absence of solid Arab institutions from the native residents).

Nothing I said in my first post about my frustration toward 1) Palestinian indifference to the Holocaust, and 2) widespread denial of the Holocaust’s magnitude or even its actual occurrence, ever brings up Palestinian losses from 1947-49. I cannot find a way to compare them in my mind, nor bear the thought that we need to “trade” our experiences of suffering in order to justifiably recognize them. Human suffering is universal in the culture I come from; then again, maybe my Jewish consciousness is so wrapped up in the Holocaust I cannot help but only allow specific events to compare to it: the Armenian Genocide, the Rwandan Genocide, the genocide in Darfur, and several other events in recent history that I have not mentioned.

The raids at 3:00 AM in the West Bank, and even the sonic booms by Israeli jets, are hardly comparable to what happened between 1939-45. I would not be able to compare the Jewish suffering between 1933-39 to what happened between 1939-45. it gets lumped together, but like I said, no one wants to set a precedent for comparing suffering. Maybe we can compare, but it rubs many thinking people the wrong way (I would never walk up to an Armenian and say “You know, only 1.5 million Armenians and Christians died at the hands of the Turks, so why should I care about your history when I lost 6 million?” Anyone who makes such a comment is either a moron or a jerk [to use light terminology]).

If someone were willing to compare the way Holocaust Memorial Day and Israeli Memorial Day are observed, I would feel somewhat awkward admitting I could understand a Palestinian’s hesitation to get involved in observing the latter day, but I am not talking about that. Dragging the Holocaust’s memory through the mud, as so many prominent Palestinians have done, makes my blood boil. And that is reality. Just as people are warning Israel’s establishment in the wake of these ongoing Arab protests that they now have to make peace with Arab peoples and not their governments, so too Arabs will have to make peace with the Israeli people and the Jewish people.

I am not dragging the nakba into this. The policies of the State of Israel do not disqualify its right to exist, nor have anything to do with recognizing the gravity or mourning of the Holocaust.

My emotional investment in the conflict with the Palestinians is justifiably as strong as a Palestinian’s in the conflict with Israel. I have to deal with his emotional focuses, but so does he with mine. For a much less sympathetic view than mine, read Benny Morris’ personal views of 1947-49. But we are not dealing with Morris, we are talking about what I am expressing. Palestinian sensitivity is not going to keep me from setting off the required, necessary rage that Jews have about Palestinians’ either apathy or denial regarding the Holocaust and its scope. Discussing it is not to recognize the State of Israel. Once Palestinians realize that, or at least enough Palestinians realize that, we can clear a hurdle. But this is just one issue among many.

Not to negate many Jews’ dismissal of Palestinians’ connection to his land, but Palestinian leaders at all levels of the societal echelon, deny many facets of Jewish history as if it would delegitimize Jewish connections to the land: the denial that Jews’ ancestors come from this area and the denial of the existence of the Jewish Temples stand out in my mind.

Jews got back here and re-rooted themselves. Their land was purchased laying the foundations of the yishuv, and the motivations for doing so were several: communitarian, socialist, religious and as refuge – all before the rise of the Nazi Party. The Palestinians did not experience a genocide but they have their rights to the land which I did not strip from them in any statement I made before, so too Jews’ need not predicate their state on the travails of the Holocaust to justify their state’s existence.


One Older Response to “Palestinians Rejecting Holocaust History: Part II – The Holocaust as the Basis of Israel?”

  1. anon
    May 10, 2011 at 10:37 pm #

    It will always be unacceptable for Jews to actually shoot back during a Pogrom. It’s bad form.

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