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Israel’s Holocaust Credit Line Is Running Out

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, Wednesday, April 11, 2018.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, Wednesday, April 11, 2018.Credit: AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov

The day will come when Israel’s Holocaust credit line with the world will run out. The day will come when the leaders of Judeo-Israeli colonialism will be put on trial. The day will come and those who today show shrinking tolerance toward us because of Auschwitz on one hand, our war and intelligence industry on the other, and because of our relative whiteness on another, will become fed up.

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This is not prophecy, but a political-sociological assessment. We just can’t know whether it will happen after horrible bloodshed occurs here, or a moment before. The sooner that day comes, the better it will be for all of us.

Even before Europe was ruled by Hitler and his kind, who did not make do with old-fashioned anti-Semitism, Zionism developed as a movement of multiple personalities:

1. A movement looking for an outlet from the anti-Jewish racism in Europe and the cynical political uses that regimes and populist movements made of xenophobia;

2. A part of the operative and ideological mechanism of colonialism, which engaged Europe socially and economically, sought expansion for the sake of settlement and viewed the natives in other countries as excess, disposable baggage.

3. A bulldozer that prepares the ground for a uni-national state, following the post-World War I model of Turkey and Central and Eastern Europe.

The old anti-Semitism pushed the Jews to change their conditions. Even though they knew the phrase “next year in Jerusalem,” most of them did not choose the Zionist route of immigration to Palestine but the many solutions in the Diaspora: immigration to other states (before limitations were placed upon it), assimilation, firm Orthodoxy, socialism, communism, liberalism, cultural autonomy (the Bund). When Europe threw out the Jews not only from within their borders but from their very existence, and when other countries closed their gates to them, the attraction of Zionism rose among the Jews.

The subjective condition of the Jewish immigrants to Palestine on the eve of the Holocaust and in its aftermath (including Jews from Muslim countries) was that of trauma-stricken refugees. In objective terms, they were mobilized and volunteered for the mission of expelling the Palestinian people, a nation that took shape in this country over hundreds of years, in order to make room for themselves and a political order that contains and takes account only of Jews.

Europe’s shame (whether it was sincere or pragmatic) over the era of the Third Reich, along with the second characteristic of Zionism noted above, brought Israel (within its pre-1967 borders) into the bosom of nations and the consensus of international law. The shadow of the Third Reich’s atrocities temporarily obscured the disaster that the founding of Israel brought on the Palestinians. But the farther we get from Kristallnacht, Wannsee and the revolts in Treblinka and Sobibor, the more the shadow contracts. Yet we choose to go on expelling, dispossessing and trampling – to bring world leaders to Yad Vashem, and to enlist our own murdered for the enterprise of expelling the Palestinians.

Israel had opportunities to express remorse and renounce its settler-colonialist personality, and it missed them. For example, the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993 was such an opportunity, provided by the Palestinians, and Israel consciously rejected it. Israel chose to declare to itself and to the world: Yes, I was, am and will be a settler-colonialist entity. And those who harm my sacred right to continue expelling and trampling are anti-Semites.

Indeed, this bullying deterrence works – but not all the time and not on everyone. Cities and towns in Italy and Spain condemn Israel’s policy in the Gaza Strip. The Irish Senate approved a boycott of products from the settlements. The Socialist International council’s declaration at the end of last month provided another example: It called for the recognition of a Palestinian state along the June 4, 1967 borders. It called for a complete halt to all construction in the settlements, including in Jerusalem. It called for countries to boycott, divest and/or sanction the “Israeli occupation, institutions of the illegal Israeli occupation, and settlements.” In other words, not a boycott against Israel because it is Israel, but because it carries on a colonial enterprise in the territories it conquered in 1967. In this same spirit, the council called for solidarity with progressive forces in Israel and the Palestinian citizens of Israel, and condemns the institutionalized discrimination against them.

True, the International now includes authoritarian parties that drove out several old social-democratic European parties. True, it has become corrupt and ossified. (The Israeli Labor Party’s resignation from the International last week over the BDS resolution, however, added to the International’s credit.) It does not have the power and charisma it had when Willy Brandt was president. But its representatives reflect the political positions of 140 parties and political movements around the world and the state of mind of millions of their members.

The World Council of Churches, which includes churches from many Christian denominations in some 110 countries, condemned Israel’s plan to demolish the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar. The authors of the resolution know very well that this village is not the only one Israel intends to demolish to enable the expansion of the settlements.

The format doesn’t matter. In The Hague, in an international forum that will be set up just for us, or maybe even in our country: The day will come when not only Israeli politicians and military officials will be put on trial, but also jurists, military and civilian judges, architects and planners, everyone who enabled and enables the fashioning of this land into a penthouse for Jews and a basement – divided into separate cells – for Palestinians. May these words advance that day, even if only by a minute.

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