Friday, January 28, 2005

Remembering Auschwitz

Comparing Palestinians' Unique Suffering with Holocaust Leads Nowhere!

The horrible genocide committed against the Jews by Nazi Germany, with the collaboration of other Europeans, during WWII was one of the worst events of the 20th century. To be sure, the last century had many other horrible episodes of genocide: the Gypsies, the Armenians, the Hmong, the Tutsis, and others. Horrors perpetrated by the likes of Stalin, Pol Pot, and the Chinese Cultural Revolution make the 20th century a very bloody one indeed.

Meanwhile, some Muslims and other sympathizers of the Palestinian cause have taken to comparing the ongoing suffering of Palestinians to the Holocaust.

The mass killing of millions of people from the very old to newborns with industrial efficiency for the sole purpose of exterminating a whole race is beyond words in its cruelty, criminality, abhorrence and indeed in its uniqueness. The road towards peace and reconciliation does not go through denial of the suffering of Jews; understanding the narratives of the "other" is a prerequisite for any real reconciliation. Those Muslims and other supporters of the Palestinians who deny or minimize the Holocaust do major disservice to the Palestinian cause and cause more Jews and Israelis to turn a blind eye to the suffering of the Palestinians.

Indeed, Palestinian suffering is unique as well and should not be compared to anything else. The courage of ordinary Palestinians living under a brutal occupation, the non-violent Palestinians who suffer in the refugee camps generation after generation, the Palestinian families living in New Jersey or Michigan, leading their new lives but remembering ..still remembering, writing, demonstrating is unique. The ability of Palestine to remain a viable dream in the hearts of millions despite its very powerful foes is unique! For over a hundred years now, Zionism has enjoyed the backing of the world’s most powerful powers; it has captured the imagination of the world’s so-called liberals and progressives then moved on to capture the imagination and support of its conservatives and evangelicals. Throughout this time, the ordinary people of Palestine have continued to struggle, and the word Palestine is now again an accepted part of the vocabulary.

In Tibet, the suffering, destruction and colonization were brutal, yet the world's liberals, intellectuals and celebrities spoke out against China and raced for a piece of the Dali Lama. The suffering of the Tibetans is recognized by the world. In certain respects, the eradication of their culture has been more complete than that of the Palestinians. In much of the world, Tibetans are seen as peaceful and spiritual, while Palestinians are portrayed as militant double-talking terrorists.. Whose suffering is greater? Which wound is more painful? When is a killing by one brutal occupier less painful than the killing by another brutal occupier? Comparisons and more senseless comparisons lead nowhere.

For Palestinians, where else are there such overwhelming odds against a people, people who have sadly not been blessed with wise leaders but who have an abundance of courage and perseverance? The suffering of Palestinians should not be compared to the suffering of others, and in the process be belittled by those who support them.

Let's not compare, all suffering is unique, and the suffering of the Palestinian people is no different. Let us today join the Germans, the Russians, the French and pray for the souls of the countless Jews who perished in the horrible ovens of Auschwitz—let's honor and respect their memory, and please, let us not compare!

January 28, 2005