“Genocide begins with the silence of the world.”

On August 1, The New York Times and other mainstream papers in the US and the UK published a full-page ad written by famous Holocaust survivor and campaigner Elie Wiesel. Part of a vast international propaganda offensive to justify Israel’s latest brutal war on Gaza and its decades-long occupation of Palestine, the ad was sponsored by This World: The Values Network.

Founded by American Orthodox Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, This World describes itself as “dedicated to disseminating the light of the Jewish people and promoting and defending the state of Israel as the supreme embodiment of a nation founded on these principles.”

Gaza ruins, 4Gaza, July 26, 2014. Photo: REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

Among other things, Wiesel accuses Hamas of “child sacrifice,” and reframes the Israeli massacre in Gaza as “a battle of civilization versus barbarism.” In this he echoes Theodor Herzl, a key 19th century European proponent of a Jewish state in the Middle East: “For Europe we would constitute over there part of a bulwark against Asia as well as the advance post of civilization against barbarism.” (Der Judenstaat, The State of the Jews, published in 1896.)

Wiesel assumes that by now, surely his readers will know which label applies to which party in the Middle East.

Apparently some Jewish Holocaust survivors are not so sure.

On August 23rd, as Israel continues to bombard Gaza, 327 Jewish Holocaust survivors from a number of countries countered Wiesel’s attack ad with their own message in The New York Times:

As Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of the Nazi genocide we unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and the ongoing occupation and colonization of historic Palestine.

We further condemn the United States for providing Israel with the funding to carry out the attack, and Western states more generally for using their diplomatic muscle to protect Israel from condemnation. Genocide begins with the silence of the world.

We are alarmed by the extreme, racist dehumanization of Palestinians in Israeli society, which has reached a fever-pitch.  In Israel, politicians and pundits in The Times of Israel and The Jerusalem Post have called openly for genocide of Palestinians and right-wing Israelis are adopting Neo-Nazi insignia.

Furthermore, we are disgusted and outraged by Elie Wiesel’s abuse of our history in these pages to justify the unjustifiable: Israel’s wholesale effort to destroy Gaza and the murder of more than 2,000 Palestinians, including many hundreds of children. Nothing can justify bombing UN shelters, homes, hospitals and universities.  Nothing can justify depriving people of electricity and water.

We must raise our collective voices and use our collective power to bring about an end to all forms of racism, including the ongoing genocide of Palestinian people.

We call for an immediate end to the siege against and blockade of Gaza.

We call for the full economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel.

“Never again” must mean NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE!

Signed,

Holocaust survivors
children of survivors
grandchildren of survivors
great-grandchildren of survivors
other relatives of survivors.

The signers’ names (358 to date; more continue to sign on) and locations are posted here, on the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network.

About Michael Riordon

Canadian writer and documentary-maker Michael Riordon writes/ directs/produces books and articles, audio, video and film documentaries, plays for radio and stage. A primary goal of his work is to recover voices and stories of people who have been silenced or marginalized, written out of the official version: First Nations (aboriginal) youth, Mozambican farmers, inmates in Canadian prisons, traditional healers in Fiji, queer folk across Canada, Guatemalan labour activists. Michael also leads courses, workshops and seminars for community organizations, trade unions, schools, colleges and universities.
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