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Anne Frank: Dear Diary

Anne Frank

“Dear Diary: If I had a grave I’d be turning over in it.”

I just came across this Facebook graphic created by Yuval Ben Ami and Amir Schiby, who are masters of political cartooning and collage.  I always enjoy their Facebook creations.  Today, they’ve created an especially provocative one that will get many people talking and in high dudgeon.

But it raises some very serious questions: after the Holocaust, Zionists used that horror to call for creating the State of Israel.  This new nation was supposed to be a haven for those who survived that European madness.  It was supposed to create a place where Jews could both protect themselves and exercise their right to national self-determination.  But it was not supposed to become a place that denied these same rights to another people.  It wasn’t supposed to be a place that provided refuge for Jews expelled from Europe only to turn around and expel the indigenous Palestinians living there.  Yet that’s more or less what happened.

In my Facebook page, a number of people have taken offense to this image saying it offends the memory of the Holocaust.  On the contrary, I disagree.  There are many Holocaust survivors who were luckier than Anne Frank and who espouse very similar views to what is written here.  Hedy EpsteinSuzanne Weiss, and Alfred Grosser come to mind.  Sara Roy’s essay on the Lebanon War and its links to her perceptions as a child of Holocaust survivors is tremendously powerful and eloquent.

Amir Schiby created this graphic a year and a half ago, when the anti-foreigner Netanyahu government announced its first plans to build concentration camps for African refugees.  That is the direct reference of the words placed in Frank’s mouth.  Many Israeli critics of this policy have made the historical link to the Holocaust in this foul policy.  So while there are those who may find this image offensive, I argue that what is truly offensive is the current policies which bring the Holocaust to mind.  No Bibi is not killing African refugees (though there has been horrible pogroms in Tel Aviv and elsewhere against refugees).  But a concentration camp is a concentration camp.  Just because no one is being killed there doesn’t make it much less offensive as a gross violation of human rights.

Further, if you’re truly offended by exploitation of the Holocaust for political purposes I’ll give you the e mail address for the prime minister’s office.  It’s he who abuses this historical tragedy to advance his ultra-nationalist narrative more than almost any Israeli politician.  You might also want to complain to Shimon Peres who, a few years ago, called an Iranian nuclear missile (one doesn’t exist) a “flying Holocaust.”

{ 26 comments… add one }
  • Bob Mann February 11, 2013, 3:50 AM

    If you don’t like exploitation of the Holocaust for political purposes by the Israeli PM and others, then why engage in it yourself?

    • Richard Silverstein February 11, 2013, 2:55 PM

      For the 8th time, I didn’t create the graphic. Second, as I’ve written in my comment rules I’m in favor of carefully crafted historical analogies between current issues & the Holocaust. As long as there are real, legitimate parallels. What I oppose are gratuitous analogies that are patently politically self serving.

      The Africans are being herded into concentration camps. That’s a fact. The Holocaust involved such camps. The only difference, as I wrote in the post, is that there is no genocidal program to exterminate Africans. Only a program of depraved indifference to international law & their welfare.

      • Marc February 11, 2013, 7:23 PM

        Actually, the Africans are NOT herded into the camps. True – the Minister for Interioir, that antediluvian bigot Eli Ishai would like nothing better, but the camps are abandoned and the money spent on them is rusting away somewhere in the desert.

        Why? Well, there are fewer Africans coming in – the border obstacles blocking some of the ingress, the Israeli court system has blocked some (but not even close to all) of the excesses. And – best of all – it seems that there is no clear cut idea who it is that is supposed to herd the Africans into the camps.

        But, there are camps, just waiting. I am sure our glorious leader and his puerile junta will find who to stuff there.

        • Richard Silverstein February 12, 2013, 12:20 AM

          Thanks for correcting me. I was under the impression Israel HAD started sending some refugees to these camps.

  • bar_kochba132 February 11, 2013, 8:25 AM

    I am perpetually mystified as to why you persist in calliing yourself a Zionist. The Palestinian rejected all
    Zionist actiivity in the country. Had Anne Frank survived they would have done everything possible to prevent
    her from arriving in the county. Why the heck do you keep insisting that you are a “Zionist” if you yourself condemn
    all Zionist activity as immoral and illegitimate and done without the consent of the Palestinians? I want a clear an unequivocal answer. You keep identfyihg yourself as a “liberal Zionist” in the Israeli and world lmedia. It is time that
    we ALL finally know what it is you mean by that.

    • Richard Silverstein February 11, 2013, 1:10 PM

      I’ve defined my views on this subject in thousands of words written here. That’s all I have to say. I’m certainly not going to fall into the trap of answering baited questions from the likes of you.

  • bar_kochba132 February 11, 2013, 8:41 AM

    I think it takes a lot of gall on your part to put such words in her mouth.
    Secondly, Hedy Epstein is NOT a “holocaust survivor”, she was a refugee from Nazi Germany.
    Many tens of thousands of REAL holocaust survivors came to Israel, fought for it and ARE PROUD OF IT
    and would be grossly offended at your message here.

    • Richard Silverstein February 11, 2013, 1:11 PM

      I didn’t create the graphic–or did you not read the post? Two Israeli Jews put those words in her mouth. So take it up with them.

    • Mary Hughes-Thompson February 11, 2013, 8:02 PM

      @bar_kochba132. Who are you to decide that Hedy Epstein is not a Holocaust survivor? Hedy, who is a dear and very close friend of mine, is absolutely a holocaust survivor. After being attacked by so many people like you she went to those who decide such things and she was assured that she is indeed a holocaust survivor.

  • bluto February 11, 2013, 11:43 AM

    Great essay

    Evaporating the phony moral superiority complex of the self-declared Chosen (like any isolated American Indian tribe in America a 100 yrs ago would have described themselves as) bursts the 2 foot thick mud of denial that Zionism conducts itself with

    Laughing at Israelis is another way to do this – see the SnL ‘Donkey Skit’ up at Mondoweiss.net. Times are changing alright

  • Dr. Ibrahim Soudy February 11, 2013, 12:29 PM

    Like my objection to Jews having a monoply on the use of the word “Semitic”, I also object to them using the word “Holocaust” WITHOUT specifying which one they refer to. What the “Jewish State” is doing to the Palestinian is another Holocaust but of a different kind. I say that to every Jew I talk to and in most of the time their reaction is not good because of course they are the only ones whose suffering is worth considering and memorializing…… My hat is off to decent Jews like Norman Finklestien.

    • BruceT February 11, 2013, 4:36 PM

      Richard are you not disturbed by comments like bluto’s and soudy’s?

    • Marc February 11, 2013, 7:28 PM

      I agree that the Jewish Holocaust is not “alone,” so to speak. There’s the Armenian one, the Rwandan one, the Chinese, the Amerind one. Quite a few of the latter, in fact.

      However, and no matter the envious howls of some of the Palestinian leaders and sympathizers, what is happening in Israel is not a Holocaust. It is deprivation, it is illegal, it does border on Apartheid (and I am not sure on which side of the border it is by now), but it is not a Holocaust.


      • SimoHurtta February 11, 2013, 11:15 PM

        Well how would you Marc have described the situation in Germany in 1936? Only a completely naive person can believe that the ethnic cleansing of Palestine could and would be concluded without a major slaughter. The reality is the the Israeli Jewish public is “mentally” relatively ready to perform a holocaust. Changing Germany to what it become in 1942 – 45 was not done in a moment. The building of that mental attitude in a nation took years and much propaganda. The same has been done in Israel for decades. The blind hate, racism and violence among the Israeli Jews was not born without coordinated efforts. Maybe the right term for Israeli situation is the “pre-Holocaust era”. When the lunatics destroy the Dome of the Rock there is no time left to avoid the tragic and bloody endgame.

        What is the right definition of minister Lieberman’s suggestion of bombing Aswan dam? Killing millions of Egyptians would not be a “holocaust”? The problem is that when a politician/leader of an underdeveloped country threatens with attacks it is a threat with no substance and means of performing the attack. Israeli politicians/leaders have the means of changing Middle East to glass fields and to slaughter hundreds of millions. And a frightening readiness to perform the threats. Then deprivation will become a holocaust.

        • Richard Silverstein February 12, 2013, 12:18 AM

          I don’t agree that the Israeli public is read for a Palestinian Holocaust. That I think goes a step too far. That being said, the Israeli public is certainly morally anaesthetized to Palestinian suffering & there will be much more of it to come because of that.

          • BruceT February 12, 2013, 5:26 AM

            Palestinians have one of the highest standards of living in the middle east, including Gaza. The idea of Palestinian suffering is anti-semtic, a direct extension of European anti-semitism which held that Jews oppressed Europe.

          • BruceT February 12, 2013, 5:31 AM

            FYI, Richard, Mary Hughes Thompson is definitely an anti-Semite. She commented on a post of Greta Berlin that the Holocaust was justified.

        • Marc February 12, 2013, 7:03 AM

          Simo – There is, to the best of my limited understanding, no such gearing in Israel. Granted, there is some idiotic micro-movemts and individuals would be delighted to go medieval on Palestinian asses, but we’re not on that path. Yet.

          Mind you – the change in Germany was both swifter and much more complete that what you are suggesting. Again, Israel is not there yet.

          As for many of your claims – you seem to equate an ability with intent. This is a fallacy.


    • Richard Silverstein February 12, 2013, 12:22 AM

      I think it’s very important to use such words carefully. THere have been, as another commenter noted, other Holocausts than the Nazi Holocaust. But what is happening now in Israel-Palestine is not a Holocaust. The fact that it is not does not minimize the injustice or suffering Palestinians face. It does not allow us to do any less to stop it. But it simply doesn’t rise to that level of horror. OF course, the story isn’t complete and things could get far worse. But we’re not there yet.

      • Gilbert February 12, 2013, 3:42 AM

        Thank you for raising awareness.

  • yankel February 12, 2013, 6:00 AM
  • mary February 12, 2013, 11:26 AM

    The same tired old hasbara wheeze about how rich the Palestinians are – I haven’t heard that one lately.

    And of course the other sheer crap about Mary Hughes Thompson being an anti-Semite. Of course, among those who revel in all little morsels of bullshit that may be used to discredit legitimate, seasoned activists such as Mary and Greta Berlin, any opportunity to rehash old, baseless lies just cannot be passed up, can they?

    • BruceT February 12, 2013, 11:51 AM

      Well it’s true. Infant mortality, literacy, etc etc all improved dramatically for the Palestinians as a result of Israel and Zionism, and the contrast is stark with surrounding Arab countries. When Hamas blew up the wall with Egypt a few years ago at Rafah, the Gazans couldn’t believe how poor the Egyptian half of Rafah was. Like West and East Berlin. And like in that case, the rhetoric of oppression is used for propagandistic reasons.

      • Richard Silverstein February 12, 2013, 2:22 PM

        Oh puh-leeze…Zionism improved Palestinian infant mortality rates? What a load of steaming manure!

        • BruceT February 12, 2013, 3:41 PM

          I can’t believe you’re calling it manure. It’s absolutely true.

  • Oui February 13, 2013, 2:22 PM

    I agree with your thesis the Holocaust is exploited and used as a cover for abuse of Human Rights and settlement expansion in Palestinian territory. It’s dishonoring the memory of Simon Wiesenthal and his efforts hunting down Nazi crimes. However, I always consider making comparisons of tragedies unwise. I find the reference in the signature line of Anne Frank’s photo offensive. Use a photo of a politician, a monument, whatever but not a child. Let Netanyahu abuse the memory of the Shoah for political purpose, we will criticize him for it. Please leave the memory of Anne Frank alone. I live in The Netherlands, it hits close to home and relates to the personal tragedy of millions.

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