I have recently been confronted with the spurious screed that the situation in Gaza is comparable to the Warsaw and Lodz ghettos. Yes, in both situations there was a separation barrier, tunnels were dug and fighters carried out an armed struggle. That is where the comparison ends. This comparison is a sadistic attempt to appropriate Jewish suffering and attribute it to enemies of the Jews. It lacks basic context and is the epitome of chutzpah.
I have listed the top reasons why this analogy is flawed:
- This is not the same as the Holocaust: The Warsaw Ghetto, and the uprising, took place in the context of the Holocaust. The Nazi’s predominate focus was the systematic murder of six million Jews (among others they found inferior…) Jews were sought to be decimated for no reason other than their being Jewish. In the Holocaust in general, and more specifically in the Warsaw Ghetto, the Jews were rounded up by Nazis. This was not because of anything the Jews had done, but because they were Jewish. The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is part of a land-struggle between two warring parties. Jews do not seek to destroy the Arabs based on their faith, race, or character at all. Alternatively, Arab attacks on Jews predate any Israeli occupation, and this has always been a violent conflict.
- This is war: Over the course of 60+ years of armed struggle, around 25,000 Palestinians have died. Most of the deaths occurred during the course of war, armed attacks or violent protest. To compare this to the Holocaust where 6 million innocent Jews were murdered in less than 6 years is cruel and dishonest. Additionally, it ignores the fact that these two instances have nothing in common other than the end result of death. The Jews were murdered in cold blood for no logical reason other than Hitler’s desire to deplete the world of their existence, while Palestinians have died as a tragic consequence of an Arab-provoked conflict.
- There is no genocide in Gaza: Gaza’s population in 1967 was estimated at around 370,000. Today there are around 1.8 million Palestinians, a 500% increase. If Israel were conducting a genocide, Palestinians would not have multiplied five-fold. Additionally, the word genocide is defined as a deliberate killing of a large group of people based on ethnicity or nation. Israel does not seek to decimate the entire Muslim or Arab population. Once again, if it did, the population would not have grown.
- Population density, deportations and murder: The Warsaw Ghetto’s population density was 24-times Gaza’s population density. By June 1943, the Warsaw Ghetto was liquidated of all its Jews. 254,000 were murdered at Treblinka, 100,000 died of starvation, disease or random executions, and the remaining 50,000 were either killed or deported to Nazi death and concentration camps. Gaza is not a concentration camp in the slightest. Israelis do not gas Palestinians to death, put them into ovens to burn their bodies, or force them into hard labor to “set them free.” In fact, Israel seeks to take care of Palestinians with food, medical supplies and health care. The fact that Hamas prevents Palestinians from accepting various assistance methods is not the fault of Israel but of Hamas.
Stay away from the Holocaust
Anti-Semites and anti-Israel activists alike have a peculiar selective memory. Many will both deny the Holocaust and compare modern day Israel to the Nazis. This absurd notion has no basis in reality, but it has never stopped anti-Semitic bigots before. They should either accept that 6 million Jews were brutally massacred as part of a genocidal scheme or stop using the Nazis as a comparison to deride Israel and the Jews. Even if these anti-Israel advocates accept the Holocaust, they willfully ignore facts and trivialize academic honesty for the sake of politics and Jew-hatred. It is the ultimate cruel, twisted irony that those who erroneously accuse Israel of committing genocide employ the actual genocide of the Jews in the Holocaust to defend the actions of Hamas, a group that actively attempts the genocide of the world’s remaining Jews.
The Warsaw Ghetto in the Context of the Holocaust
The Holocaust was the Nazis’ systematic murder of 6 million Jews between 1939 and 1945. The Nazis used gas chambers and bullets, but also starvation, disease and forced labor as a means of killing the Jews. Unless you believe the vilest of the anti-Semitic trope, the Jews were innocent victims of an evil genocidal campaign. The Jews fought no war against Germany, except according to the sick, twisted minds of Nazi leaders. Enemies of Israel could have chosen many other analogies, yet they chose the Warsaw Ghetto because of its emotional significance.
The Nazis established the Warsaw Ghetto on April 1, 1940. This narrow corridor of the Polish capital, 1.3 square miles, housed over 400,000 Jews until its final liquidation in 1943. Residents of the Warsaw Ghetto lived 6-7 per room and were given well below the necessary calorie-intake for sustaining life. Over 100,000 Jews died in the ghetto due to starvation, disease or random killings. The Nazis deported more than 254,000 Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto to the Treblinka death camp. Almost all of these innocent Jews were killed in Treblinka’s gas chambers. During the Warsaw Ghetto’s final liquidation starting on January 18, 1943, the Nazis killed or deported the remaining 56,000 Jews to concentration and death camps.
It is sad that I must draw distinctions and elucidate the differences between the Warsaw Ghetto and Gaza. Gaza is a coastal strip of land 139 square miles in area (100 times the size of the Warsaw Ghetto). It is home to 1.8 million Palestinians, giving it a population density of around 13,000 people per square mile. The Warsaw Ghetto was nearly 24 times more densely populated.
In the course of more than 60 years of Israeli-Palestinian struggles, or even longer depending on how you define the conflict, approximately 25,000 Palestinians have died. This was during the course of a territorial struggle and many of those deaths were combatants. Palestinians participated in a bloody struggle to oust Jews from the land of Israel and lost. Instead of accepting a U.N.-sponsored plan to partition the land, the Arabs of Mandatory Palestine and six surrounding countries waged a brutal and bloody war to eradicate the Jews of Israel. From 1948-1967, Egypt occupied Gaza. After Egyptian belligerency in 1967, Israel preemptively attacked Egypt resulting in Israel’s capture of Gaza.
At the beginning of the 1948 War, approximately 60,000-80,000 Arabs lived in Gaza and an additional 200,000 Arabs fled to Gaza during the course of the war. In 1967, when Israel assumed control of the Gaza Strip, approximately 370,000 Palestinians lived there. If Israel’s intention were to eliminate the Palestinians, then it failed. Today, 1.8 million Arabs live in the Gaza Strip, a nearly 500% increase over less than 50 years. Bringing this back to the Warsaw Ghetto, the Warsaw Ghetto was liquidated of its 400,000 Jews over the course of less than three years through murder, starvation and disease. Over a nearly 50-year period, the Palestinian population of Gaza has increased five-fold.
Palestinian belligerence against Israel
Israeli civilians have suffered from terrorism emanating from the Gaza Strip since 1948. In the early days of the nascent Jewish State, Fedayeen attacks against Israeli civilians originated from the Gaza Strip. Attacks from Gaza on Israel’s civilian population have never ceased; they have only changed their form. Palestinians from Gaza have conducted shooting attacks, suicide bombings and rocket attacks on Israeli civilians. The mistake often made on the anti-Israel side is to confuse cause and effect. Palestinian terrorism against Israel created the security restrictions, not the other way around.
Israeli aid to Gaza
Though it should be abundantly clear by now that Gaza and the Warsaw Ghetto have nothing in common, Israeli aid to the region should dispel that false notion. Israel facilitates the entry of an extraordinary amount of goods. Just look at the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories’ website for details on what Israel is sending to Gaza daily. Israel provides water, electricity and has offered to help build desalination plants to aid the Palestinians. Those who claim that Israel occupies Gaza, which it does not, state that Israel is obliged under international law to provide for the Palestinians of Gaza. Israel provides all the aid while being under constant threat of attack by Hamas, Gaza’s rulers.
In addition to Israeli aid, the international community sends more aid to the Palestinians per capita than to any other group. Israel is reluctant to let certain items into Gaza because Hamas uses them for nefarious purposes. Instead of using cement to build homes, hospitals and schools, Hamas uses it to build underground bunkers and terror tunnels. Israel carefully evaluates what it does and does not allow into Gaza. Israel limits goods from entering Gaza because Hamas and other Palestinian groups use these materials for their terrorist infrastructure.
The Warsaw Ghetto and Gaza have nothing in common. The Warsaw Ghetto was a piece in the diabolical puzzle of the Jewish Holocaust by the Nazis. Gaza’s security situation is caused by Israeli reaction to Palestinian terrorism, or belligerence, if you prefer that term. The Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto committed no crime and did not provoke any Nazi aggression through violence. Palestinians in Gaza have been attacking the Jews of Israel since Israel’s founding. Through Fedayeen and terrorist attacks, Palestinians in Gaza have forced Israel to defend its citizens through measures that have had an adverse effect on other Palestinians in Gaza. The Nazis completely liquidated the Warsaw Ghetto in the course of three years, killing around 400,000 Jews. After over 60 years of struggle, including nearly 50 years of Jewish dominion over Gaza, around 25,000 Palestinians have been killed in the entire struggle (not just Gaza), many of whom were combatants. Under 50 years of Israeli control, Gaza has actually increased its population by 500%. Finally, Israel has performed an admirable job, under fire, of providing aid to the Palestinians, though much of that aid is seized by Hamas, a terrorist organization.
As the horrific events unfold on Mount Sinjar and the Yazidis there face a massacre at the hands of the Islamic State, the world must be outraged by a real genocide occurring in our time. By falsely hijacking the example of the Warsaw Ghetto in an attempt to exploit the memory of the Holocaust, anti-Israel advocates demean the memory of the Holocaust, falsely malign Israel, and desensitize the world to actual genocides occurring in our midst.
If you still think that the Warsaw Ghetto and Gaza are comparable situations you are either willfully ignorant or delusional.