Monday, January 25, 2010

International Holocaust Day- January 27

Tomorow, January 27th, 2010 marks the 65th year since the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet forces. Each year, leaders from around the world make their way to Germany in order to commemorate this day. People use this time to think back at the horrors of the Holocaust, and to look forward- with eyes of prevention to prevent further genocides and state sponsored discrimination.

However, tomorrow, when people around the world look back at the worlds biggest and most systematic genocide in known history they might not know that antisemitism in 2009 was at it's highest since the Holocaust. I think that people today have succeeded in separating the Jews of today, from the Jews of the Holocaust. I believe much of this antisemitism has arisen because of popular disagreement with Israeli policy. However, instead of gearing their disagreements towards the Israeli government alone, their frustration has spilled over to the Jewish people. It is as though Jews and Israeli policy, have morphed into one. Therefore, despite one's personal connection to their Judaism or to Israel, Jews are being targeted, only because they are Jews. After the controversial operation in the Gaza strip (Operation Cast lead) -which was just as controversial and disagreed upon within the Jewish community as it was in the world- antisemitic acts around the world equaled the TOTAL number of acts that were recorded in 2008. Now we also have to remember that these are the statistics that are collected, out of those which are reported, therefore we can probably assume that the number of acts actually committed was also much higher. Apparently, the world is justified to stop and criticize their ancestors for the terrible antisemitism Jews faced in the 30's and 40's but are mum on today's situation. Lets remember yesterday's antisemitism, but forget today's. How is it possible that a world leader is even able to stand up in front of the UN and accuse Israel of deceitfully controlling the world's economy and political situation?? Does this banter not sound identical to Germany's propaganda? Ahmadinejad said at the UN meeting:

"The dignity, integrity and rights of the American and European people are being played with by a small but deceitful number of people called Zionists. Although they are a minuscule minority, they have been dominating an important portion of the financial and monetary centers as well as the political decision-making centers of some European countries and the US in a deceitful, complex and furtive manner." For the full speech, click here.

While many UN representatives got up and left his speech (also note, many didn't even show up in the first place), let us not forget that he still had a hefty audience. And even if there had been no one there to listen to him, his speech was still recorded, and published worldwide, his words did not fall upon deaf-ears. After the speech, Elie Wiesel, acclaimed academic, Holocaust survivor and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize was accosted for being a "zio-nazi" at a UN EVENT- simply because he supports the Jewish state. (To see the video click, here) Ahmadinejad's threats against the Jewish people- his foresighted premonitions, that he is going to "wipe Israel off the map" also eerily remind me of Hitler's speech to the Reichstag on January 30, 1939. (NB: that this is BEFORE the final solution- annihilation of the Jews of Europe, was decided)

"In the course of my life I have very often been a prophet, and have usually been ridiculed for it. During the time of my struggle for power it was in the first instance only the Jewish race that received my prophecies with laughter when I said that I would one day take over the leadership of the State, and with it that of the whole nation, and that I would then among other things settle the Jewish problem. Their laughter was uproarious, but I think that for some time now they have been laughing on the other side of their face. Today I will once more be a prophet: if the international Jewish financiers in and outside Europe should succeed in plunging the nations once more into a world war, then the result will not be the Bolshevizing of the earth, and thus the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe!"

So while world leaders look back at the Holocaust, do they neglect to look at the years that led up to the extermination camps? Is the Holocaust only valuable for the clear genocidal part?- the gas chambers, the mass shootings, and the slave labor?? Or should it also include the elements that led to these horrible atrocities: world leaders denouncing Jews by inciting hatred and prejudice based on lies for propagandist reasons and a spike in antisemitic acts and general attitude towards Jews. Without these elements, the efforts of the practical genocide would have failed. These integral stepping stones led the path to the death of 6 million Jews. If this is so, then how can the world turn their back on today, which is mirroring this time period as well. Where is the world's outcry? Weak sanctions that cripple a country, rather than it's leaders? None other than a country which is trying to fight for what's left of it's democratic character, but it being beaten down by these same leaders. Now, I don't think that a second Holocaust against the Jews is creeping around the corner, what I'm trying to argue is the hypocrisy of the situation. Of leaders all over the world commemorating one group of Jews, without any plan to stand up to situations that are popping up in their very countries today. Has their been such a time that "Never Again" seems so much like a lie- an easy placebo to soothe the conscience of the world.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Legitimacy for discriminatory security

On Christmas day, a man by the name of Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, attempted to detonate plastic explosives he smuggled onto his flight headed towards Detroit from Amsterdam. Although, the heroic acts of the passengers prevented the terrorist attack, the situation immediately brought us back to the days of 9/11; specifically, questions about airport security and terrorism. This flight was lucky, but the next flight could have disastrous consequences if the passengers hadn't been both brave and lucky to have caught the situation. Which brings us to the aftermath of the situation: new airport security. The United States has announced that people from the following countries; Cuba, Iran, Sudan, Afghanistan, Algeria, Lebanon, Libya, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen — will face special scrutiny and extra security checks at the airport when flying to the US, or through a US airline. Following this announcement, the world has cried out against these new measures: where is the fairness?, the democracy? and human rights? The other day, the New York Times reported one man's sad story, of how he lived his entire life in Britain, but because of his original nationality, Nigerian, he was (in his opinion) unfairly searched at the airport. His search reflects the discrimination he was subjected to, only because of his of national origin. Airport security tell people that the public will be served and treated in a fair, lawful, and nondiscriminatory manner, without regard to … national origin. So bascially, you’re not going to be subject to discriminatory screening based on national origin, unless you happen to be from one of 14 specific countries and then you will. Glad that they’ve cleared up that confusion. So in return to this discriminatory policy, the world objects ;how far is the US willing to go in order to "secure" their population? Discrimination and unlawfulness??

So now, I ask, what is the familiar story line I'm reading?????oh yeah.... Israel. Examples are constantly popping into my mind, on how the media blasts Israel for how far it's willing to go in order to secure it's population. Just last week, the Supreme Court of Israel announced that it will begin allowing Palestinians to drive on route 433 again. WAIT- yes, this is true, there are roads that Palestinians are not allowed to drive on, and of course this is one prime examples for Israel's enemies to cry out: apartheid! But... really... if we truly logically think of these actions, and not in a a way that looks to explicitly discriminate Israel but to look at the situation with fresh eyes, we begin to actually see, that perhaps: yes this is an "apartheid-like" action. I really hate to use this word, I prefer to use discriminatory, but I can understand where the term is from. Although the reason that Palestinians are not allowed to drive on this road, is explained through legitimate security concerns, the situation begs, is there really any legitimate security concerns that allow for a people to be discriminated against? This terribly delicate balance is difficult to deal with. The examples are rich in Israel: the security wall: which inconveniences the lives of many Arabs, in the name of Jewish security, roadblocks in the territories (the classic example of a pregnant women crossing the border- do you check her- she might have a bomb in her belly- or do you let her go and risk her being a suicide bomber.) We come to immediate conclusions that discrimination is in fact needed in order to save lives. If we value life so much, than discrimination is a necessary evil or order to save lives.

I think that this is a a situation that makes most people uncomfortable. There are no rights or wrongs, because it seems that no matter which side you take you feel wrong. You either devalue life, or you discriminate. Therefore, I respect the media's scrutiny of such situations because without it we would become complacent, and begin to believe that "inconveniencing lives" is not important at all- that it may not even picture into the discussion. However, I believe that the situation is much deeper than this. Those who shrug off these types of concerns as a mere annoyance, because of the noble minded goal of saving lives, also devalue our respect for the basic pillars of humanity. I'd like to argue that without the feeling of awkwardness we lose faith in the unity of human kind- what kind of life do we want to live, as what kind of people? I once ran into an incredibly heated debate with a Jewish girl, who just couldn't wrap her mind around the idea of the Israeli security fence- (of course she called it the apartheid wall) While I tried to statistically show her the fact that suicide bombings and attacks on citizens have dramatically decreased- thus saving lives- she wouldn't even hear it. Key to her was the fact that there is a wall that segregates one people from another: one people is so important as to completely inconvenience the lives of another. (economic suffering, loss of land, restricted water access and most importantly reduced freedoms) Now trust me- I feel for the Palestinians whose lives have been turned upside down by the construction of the wall. I am also very sensitive to the wall because of it's political implications: it could mean the possible annexation of land on the Israeli side, without Palestinian input or negotiation. However- I also understand the impact it has made in saving lives- and because of this- and only this, I support it.. grudgingly.