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Saturday, June 06, 2009


Wiesel words at Buchenwald

Speaking with President Obama at Buchenwald yesterday was Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel, survivor of the Holocaust. Here was some of the hypocrisy he treated the audience to (and the media subsequently treated us to):
"Mr. President, we have such high hopes for you because you, with your moral vision of history, will be able and compelled to change this world into a better place, where people will stop waging war — every war is absurd and meaningless."
That's funny. Because I remember Elie Wiesel as a supporter of the completely unjustified, illegal, immoral invasion of Iraq.

Then we heard:

"When I was liberated in 1945, April 11, by the American army, somehow many of us were convinced that at least one lesson will have been learned — that never again will there be war; that hatred is not an option, that racism is stupid; and the will to conquer other people’s minds or territories or aspirations.
Could that be the same Elie Wiesel speaking about not conquering other people's territories who was a member of the terrorist Irgun which helped drive hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their land and conquer it for Israel?

President Obama spoke in Cairo about how "for more than 60 years they [the Palestinians] have endured the pain of dislocation." I was almost expecting him (silly me) to follow that sentence with one about the "right of return," but, needless to say, no such follow-up followed. What's worth remembering, since it's the kind of thing that Elie Wiesel has played a big part in over the years (though perhaps not this particular incident), is that to this very day, property looted by the Nazis from Jews is being returned to their owners (or their descendants). Yet the idea of returning the property looted from Palestinians by Jews is, for people like Wiesel and Obama, not only off the table, but completely out of sight.

I learned from Wiesel's speech that his father was not killed in a gas chamber, like so many Jews, but died of starvation and disease at Buchenwald (as did many others, of course). It caused me to wonder if Wiesel has given a second's thought to the fact that hundreds of people in Gaza, many of them very young children, have died in the last few years of starvation and disease, and are dying to this very day, inflicted by the descendants of the people who died at Buchenwald.

By the way, that figure of 337 I quoted the other day does not include old people like Wiesel's father, it only includes people who clearly died from lack of medical care for specific, treatable conditions. The number of "excess deaths" which have occurred in Gaza or the West Bank simply due to the deplorable conditions, combined with the insufficient diet, is unknown. Just recently the U.N. reported that an unbelievable 30 per cent of children below 36 months of age and 50 per cent of pregnant women in Gaza are anemic due to the "diet" imposed on them by Israel.

Today is not just the 65th anniversary of D-Day. It's the 42nd anniversary of the Israeli takeover of Gaza, which led to those 337 deaths, the deaths of 1400 Gazans in the recent Israeli assault on Gaza, and so many, many more. While we're busy remembering the Holocaust and D-Day and the victims of 65 years ago, let's spare a thought for today's victims, shall we?

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