To the Editor:
I write this on the 110th day of Israel’s barbaric siege and genocide in Gaza. As the days and nights of unspeakable horror and suffering in Gaza crawl by, I and millions around the world say: “’Never Again’ is happening again. How could ‘Never Again’ happen again? Apparently it was nothing but a hollow cliche.”
In the 1930s and ‘40s, Germany regarded Jews as subhuman — Untermensch. Today and for decades, we hear Israeli politicians refer to Palestinians as “human animals.”
We see them employ methods used by the Nazis to ethnically cleanse and eradicate Jews, LGBTQ people, Romanies, and disabled people — men, women, children, indiscriminately and deliberately. We see them use the Hamas military raid of Oct. 7, a raid they knew about in advance, to justify grossly disproportionate slaughter that deliberately targets civilians.
Despite Israeli government claims, Hamas fighters are clearly collateral damage. Civilians are the actual target. Israel, deliberately, (not as a mere side-effect of warfare in densely packed urban areas from which no escape is possible), employs carpet bombing, illegal weapons, starvation, dehydration, disease, blockade from air, land, and sea, forced marches, sniping, roundups of civilians, and targeting of hospitals, desalination plants, schools, houses of worship, libraries, ambulances, refugee camps, all while preventing anything but an occasional trickle of aid to the hunted population.
When I am not taking action to demand an immediate and permanent ceasefire and an end to occupation, I spend the dark nights pondering. I am filled with admiration for Jewish people around the world who are marching for Palestine under the banner, “Not In My Name.”
I march with them. I am filled with despair at Jewish and non-Jewish friends and neighbors who shrug and look the other way, or rant that any criticism of Israeli (and U.S.) policy is antisemitism, or say, “The people of Gaza brought this on themselves by supporting Hamas,” (international law does not permit genocide under any circumstances), or exclaim that they don’t support Netanyahu. In refusing to demand ceasefire, they are, in fact, supporting Netanyahu. Their claims to the contrary are empty.
There is a story making the rounds, in the form of the documentary “Israelism,” that provides hope. It tells of young American Jews who grew up in schools, summer camps, and synagogues that indoctrinated them into the belief that Israel was a noble project, fighting for its survival against the dark hordes. It tells of those young people traveling to Israel in their late teens and seeing the apartheid conditions of the West Bank with their own eyes, meeting Palestinian people who reached out to them in friendship and longing for lives restored by dignity.
Recognizing with deep pain that they had been lied to at home, at school, at camp, in synagogue, these young people came home to the U.S. to form the organization “If Not Now,” a burgeoning national group of young American Jews fighting for the rights of the Palestinian people and safety and human rights for all.
We need an end to occupation in Gaza and Palestine. Where do you stand, readers of The Riverdale Press?
Coordinator, North Bronx Racial Justice