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 Epstein, Suzanne 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.”