The Holocaust comes to Israel

How is the premeditated torture, murder and desecration of women, children and the elderly an act of resistance?

May Hashem speedily guard, rescue, heal and comfort all our Jewish brothers and sisters across Eretz Yisrael at this tragic time.

It is hard beyond belief to write the words in this title, just as it is hard beyond belief to comprehend the events of the last few days. Some may well take issue — I respect any views to the contrary, and I understand the memory of the Holocaust is particularly sacred and sensitive.

But as more is becoming known about what happened in those Israeli communities taken over by the terrorists, what other analogy can come to mind? Whole communities — without exception for civilians including women, children, the elderly — systematically executed in their villages in cold blood, often after suffering extreme acts of cruelty, by terrorists operating under the influence of an extremist ideology.

And if the reports and social media images are to be believed (I have tried not to watch though at some point I think I must), the widespread desecration of the dead in Gaza — civilian women, apparently stripped and raped, their bodies paraded naked and spat upon by large crowds of cheering Palestinians; innocent young children apparently brutalized by beaming Palestinian children and urged on by the adults; and more and more and more…

And the Holocaust analogy comes to mind again when one wonders — what would the limits to the brutality be for these terrorist groups, the scale of the mass murder they would have been willing to commit in their operation, as a matter of intent if not capacity? According to the co-founder of Hamas, there is no limit. Not only do they seek the destruction of Israel and Zionism, but the eradication across the whole world of ‘treacherous Christianity‘.

Some hard questions emerge:

What does ‘resistance’ mean in the minds of those Palestinians and others celebrating this weekend’s atrocity? I can understand, intellectually at least, military action with military objectives as acts of resistance. I can also understand, again intellectually, at a push, even such military actions when civilians are unintended or, at a bigger push, unavoidable victims. But in what way is the deliberately planned targeted cold-blooded torture, murder and desecration of women, children and the elderly an act of resistance? Is this what your ‘Palestine free from the river to the sea’ looks like in practice? Do you really want a state of your own in which this is considered a normalized approach? Have you not understood from recent regional history — Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and yes, Gaza itself (as an aside, do you not see what these places have in common?) — that it is not us but you who will suffer most as the victims of rulers who act like this? Where is the movement of Palestinians saying peace yes, or even resistance yes, but atrocities like these no, not in my name?

And what about those countries that have failed to condemn these atrocities? I can understand, intellectually again (emotionally I am too numb), supporting Palestinian aspirations in the context of national dignity and self-determination, but in what way does the deliberate targeted mass murder of women, children and the elderly contribute to either? Even if you can somehow leave aside the moral stench of pure evil at play, as some appear to have done, in purely instrumentalist terms is this atrocity not counter-productive to the much-vaunted two-state solution which depends on building confidence that two peoples can live side by side in a tiny piece of land in peaceful coexistence? The memories of Yugoslavia are still fresh, and your lack of condemnation is destroying the very solution that your policies aim to promote…

And what about the US, European Union and UK who are rightfully condemning this atrocity? What about your funding of those school textbooks that incite exactly this kind of violence, those same textbooks that many of this weekend’s terrorists will have learned from, despite the many warnings? What about your funding of those NGOs with links to the terrorist groups, those same NGOs that provide the social services that consolidate political support for the terrorist leadership, despite the many warnings? What about your engagement with political, religious and civil society leaders who openly use the most extreme antisemitic language in Arab-language media, those same leaders today that fail to condemn, celebrate and even incite these atrocities, despite the many warnings?

And what about your funding of agencies and institutions whose facilities are used as civilian shields for the weapon stores and attack infrastructure of the terrorist groups? And your shrill cries when Israel retaliates against the same source of these attacks, even when you know that the terrorist groups fire at civilians from behind civilian cover, perhaps sometimes (or more than sometimes) with the support of the civilian shields themselves?

And your silence, or calls for restraint, which allows the pretense that such retaliatory attacks are war crimes, and establishes the conditions for those that create false equivalence (or worse) between those that deliberately target civilians and those who you know very well have to make hard moral decisions in deciding how to act to defend their own civilians?

And your participation in the resulting hypocrisies and travesties when Israel faces pre-judged international inquiry after prejudged international inquiry, usually at the behest of countries who themselves you know very well deliberately brutalize civilians at scale with impunity?

And what about the media? I can understand ,intellectually again, that it can be complicated to call an organisation ‘terrorist’ when terrorism may not be the only thing it does, and when not everyone agrees to a standard definition of terrorism, but what about when there is no dispute about the facts, when the perpetrators themselves publicise, celebrate and boast about the vile torture, mass murder, kidnapping and desecration of civilians, including women, children and the elderly? Is that not a terrorist act that can be called out for what it is?

There are others too that I will not mention.

If we talk about complicity as concerns the Holocaust, should we not be talking about complicity here too?

About the Author
Adam Gross, an Oxford-educated strategist, has over 20 years' experience solving complex problems in the international arena for United Nations agencies, international financial institutions, private sector, NGOs and social enterprises across Europe, Africa and Asia. Adam made aliyah with his family in 2019 to live in northern Israel.
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