31 thoughts on “Last of Warsaw Ghetto Survivors Calls for Rebellion Against Israeli Occupation – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. German Television has screened a drama portraying the Polish resistance as anti-Semitic. Almost to the extent of making them seem more responsible for the Holocaust than the Nazis. Unsurprisingly, there’s a bit of criticism of this from the Poles.

    After the Warsaw uprising was crushed, the Polish Home Army bided its time until Soviet “Liberators” were actually within range of the City before trying to seize the city from the Nazis. At which point Soviet troops immediately began to cooperate with the Nazis so the latter could level the city. As if the agreement which Hitler and Stalin made for the occupation of Poland in 1939, was still in force.

    There was an agenda between Russia and Germany for the destruction of Poland, and by extension its Jewish population, which transcended disagreement and even warfare, between the two parties. I’ve seen all kinds of explanations for this, and none of them are adequate or convincing.

    It’s very important that this lady says what she says, because she experienced some of the darkest forces in history when two great powers conspired to destroy both her ethnic and her national identities.

    We all know that the Israeli right want the Palestinians gone without trace (except maybe for a library of stolen books), what we don’t know is where the other powers really stand. We know that the Ayatollahs want Palestine to fight Israel, and that they want Israel destroyed, but we don’t know if they really want the Palestinians to survive this experience, or whether they, too, want the Palestinians gone in the long run. The Ayatollahs are concerned with holy sites, not with the people living around them. The battle for control of pilgrims and therefore of religion, has been waged for far longer than the battle for control of oil and gas fields. If it was really about oil and gas, surely everyone would be fighting over Doha and not East Jersusalem?

    Like the Poles, the Palestinians are caught at the convergence of several sinister currents. Without a Sovereign state of their own, they have almost no prospect of survival.

    Up till 1939, a very large part of the global Jewish population could claim Poland as their Sovereign state. It suited both Hitler and Stalin to destroy it.

    1. As an after thought.
      Hitler and Stalin both believed in the cult of the Third Rome, they just disagreed over whether the third Rome was to be a super Berlin (“Germania”) or Moscow. They were rivals: actual ideological differences were superficial.

      The Protestant view, to which I tend to subscribe, is that the first Rome was bad enough. That was an Empire which held a holocaust, not in camps in remote places, but as a public entertainment in the heart of its Capital. Anyone dreaming of the glories of Rome is bound to enact its atrocities, which might usefully be added to the “Welcome to Brussels” signs.

      1. Your attempt to whitewash the anti-Semitism of pre-war Poland and its aftermath is horrific. Poland was the only country in Europe that kept killing the Jews AFTER the Holocaust.

    2. why you drag ‘Ayatollahs’ into the discussion i do not know… Unless you wish to raise the spectre of another holocaust? To unfairly demonise Iranians as less human than others[ keep the buildings/holy sites intact but not the people?] and thereby justify another holocaust via an illegal preemptive military strike by the US/Israel on Iran ? This is mischevious misinformation and an unwarranted slur on iranian muslims. From what i have seen and read Iranians/the iranian government does not want israel ‘destroyed’ [ the people, jews/palestinians all killed] but they would like to see regime change due to what they and many other people [ muslim and non muslim] consider an unjust and diabolical criminal enterprise. You are also confusing the violent US/Israeli culture of imperial/colonial expansionism via wars of choice with its acceptable levels of collateral damage, with the Iran position. Iran has not invaded any country in recent decades. it has been forced into defending itself, yes. Many see the Zionist ideology [ as it has been interpreted on the ground and which lies at the foundation of the state] as the main problem. The ideology is a chauvinist one – like most nationalist ideologies. hence the regime change position. I am sure most iranians think that Israel or Palestine should be a country of all citizens…equal before the law etc. Ordinary Iranians sympathise with the injustices and oppression of Palestinians. They are also aware of the suffering of European jewry during WW2- there was even a TV dramatization of tne Iranian diplomat in France i think who saved a jewish woman… The iranian govt has stated many times that they believe that only the palestinians and the Istaelis can sort out their problems and reach an agreement. I believe they mean a genuine agreement based i assume on justice and fairness. they support the palestinians’ struggle for justice and right to defend themselves from attack/oppression. ideally, Palestinians who have been driven from their homes and have the right of return, should be allowed to return in peace. And just as those WW2 victims were able to be compensated and their stolen property returned, so should the same standard of justice be applied to palestinians. Iran has its own ancient jewish community. iranians are a diverse population and i think are quite comfortable with coexisting in a mulit ethnic and mutli religious society. I think looking forward, when a true just peace is achieved, iranians like everyone else would be quite happy to have normal relations with Israel/Palestine as a truely multi ethnic and multi religious Holy Land.

      1. @Chris Well said! There is mischief at foot in some of the preceding. Certainly political power (even represented by oil) plays a large role in determining what happens, but then so should justice to which all parties appeal all the time, however hypocritically. I dfon’t believe anyone anywhere wants to extinguish Jews or wipe out Israel: What they want is justice and reparations for all those victimized by the cruelty and meanness of Zionism, it’s unseemly insistence on its purity even to the extent of annihilating another people. This is cruelty on a biblical scale and must not continue and must not go unaccounted for.

      1. Americans tend to think that state-sponsored violence isn’t violence, and that any blowback is violence. We respect authority, uniforms, badges, helmets and, most of all, guns. Israel wants Pals to give up “terrorism” but offer nothing in return, no end to the occupation, no Palestinian state, no negotiation, no peace etc. It is farcical.

      2. Exactly! Thank you! As a former human rights observer in Palestine and Israel it frustrates me to no end how the victims are supposed to meekly wait for …what our racist world to defend them? For what the several Israeli and American (now) multi-millionaire families to stop their income as the blood-let decreases?

        Don’t be fooled by American propaganda… we did not go to war with Germany to save Jews…I personally knew (rest his soul) an Auschwitz survivor who at 11 yrs old, recently escaped to NY, who was sent directly to Auschwitz by US gov’t (label on his coat). He told me to make sure to never forget what they (US) did to him. We only help when it financially benefits us. I was the ONLY American any of the Palestinians I talked to had ever met… yet Mexicans, Chinese, loads of Europeans all were there helping…so they should meekly wait like the poor ghettoised European Jewry did? pfft

  2. I agree that she is an honorable and brave woman motivated by right feelings and justice for everybody including Jews and gentiles. No question about this and I have no difficulty identifying also with her plea. However, it is troubling that Richard identifies her position with the best of Jewishness: I run into logical problems here. Some of us here in opposition to Israel’s policies and practices are here not by virtue of being Jewish but in spite of it.

    There is a long tradition we know of dissidents and reformers who were and are Jews. The list is very long and this is a tradition with which I feel an affinity. But this tradition is not a “Jewish” tradition. I would say that it is a tradition of opposition to the confines of Jewishness, escaping the primitive tribal nature of Jewishness. From this position, that such individual dissidents were Jewish is incidental and irrelevant. The claim that this is a Jewish tradition is an attempt to reclaim the work of these individuals for the tribe and that is not logical or consistent in my view. This may be seem like a trivial distinction but something of importance hangs in the balance and I can’t just let it go. The great luminaries who were Jewish — I am thinking of the contributors to the very definition of the modern world, e.g. Einstein, Marx, Freud and certainly many others — did not as a rule identify strongly with their own Jewishness nor did they attribute their creativity to being born Jewish. While Zionists (and even those opposed to the Zionism of today!) are quick to claim such names for the tribe, the individuals themselves were not so quick to claim the tribe by any means. I suggest then claiming a “Jewish” tradition of dissent and opposition can be construed as a reassertion of Jewish ethnic uniqueness, the “chosen ness” at the very heart of the difficulties attending Jewish life now and throughout history. Accordingly, I have tremendous difficulty accepting liberating and opposition activities and groups that see themselves unified by virtue of their Jewishness. However inadvertently such well-meaning individuals may be continuing to assert uniqueness of a kind that is dangerous. I have similar difficulties — though not as fundamental — understanding ideas such as “Christian liberation.”

    Having said all this, I confess that it is helpful that an individual with her background and experience opposes racism and it is helpful that she happens to be Jewish and Israeli as this has more currency in the political world. It seems that much of Israel is riven with Jewish supremacist thinking and that this woman demonstrates at least that one can be Jewish (a circumstance of birth) and Israeli (a state allegiance) without necessarily subscribing to racist principles.

    1. @Davey: With respect, yours is a reductionist version of Judaism. We each have different experiences regarding our ethnic or religious identities. Some are repulsed by it. Some are drawn to it. Some have both impulses. They both argue with their tradition and embrace it when it’s warranted. I consider myself in that category.

      It’s dangerous to label any religion one thing. No great religion is a monolith and making vast generalizations based on one’s personal views about this is problematic. Unless of course you’re quite learned about all the major streams that make up your religious tradition.

      1. ” …Some are repulsed by it. Some are drawn to it. Some have both impulses. They both argue with their tradition and embrace it when it’s warranted. I consider myself in that category.” I consider myself in that category as well. I offered an argument.

        I agree that this blog is not the place for a philosophical discussion of Jewish identity, but I have followed my nose on this (and continue the journey) and every now and then I want to stop and just report on what I have found. As a people, the Jewish search for identity in our time has had catastrophic consequences for Jews, Judaism and Gentiles and I believe it is warranted to think some hard and uncomfortable thoughts, however abbreviated they appear.

        In a practical sense, it is enough for me that Jews in good numbers continue to reconsider their devotion to the national state solution of identity in its current form. This nationalism is not simply the expression (and expansion) of a native people forming civil and social bonds, but an expression of a mean racist idea which has condemned Palestinians to oblivion simply because they are not Jewish. More needs to be said about that, but perhaps not here. Whether that discussion will be within or without Jewish traditions, it needs to be heard.

        1. Nationalism in pragmatic form is a decent, reasonable philosophical, ideological approach. All nations and nationalisms have their extreme manifestations. That doesn’t mean that all nations or nationalisms should be banned. Nor does it mean that any particular one should be singled out for extinction. The answer is to formulate a tolerant, decent, pragmatic nationalism whether this be Israel, Palestine, etc.

          When any particular nationalism breaks the bounds of civilized discourse whether it be Serbia, Rwanda, Israel, Sri Lanka, or Germany, the answer is to compel that nation & nationalism to obey international norms if they refuse to do so otherwise. How to do this is of course extremely difficult to answer. But the answer is not to say either all nationalism is bad or this particular form of it must die for the sake of humanity.

          1. With respect, as far as I know Zionism was largely thought to be a variety of commonplace nationalism at one point, e.g. Jews just wanting to be like other nations. But Zionism in historical practice is I think extremism. It is beyond the “bounds of civilized discourse” but endlessly adaptable and malleable. Zionists, for example, recognize the illegal Occupation in one breath and then rename these territories, and authorize settlements in the next. I find this sort of ambiguity in the service of Zionism all through the history, not just the hypocrisy we expect of states, or the cynical use of language to misdirect and hide, but actual ambiguous policies and practices. Israel accepts donations in its victim role even while perpetrating oppression in the OTs for one example. I think the record suggests that Zionism was always something more than nationalism, as bad as that can be, that it was always extremist and racist. But I am open to other ideas and interpretations.

          2. Our difference here is that you claim that Zionism, unlike other nationalisms is corrupted to its root and irredeemable. That’s a view common to anti-Zionists. My only answer is that just as there are numerous ideological strains in every form of individual nationalism, so too with Zionism. I don’t want to get into a knock down drag out fight with you or anyone else on this. But I define Zionism quite differently than you or even most classical Zionists.

            Zionism can be a pragmatic form of nationalist belief that accepts limitations and “lives within it’s means.” Maybe I should call what I believe something else entirely so it wouldn’t infuriate and befuddle so many. But for me it’s important that I retain this connection with this form of nationalism.

          3. I am open to other views of Zionism and I have long understood that your own understanding is different that the one implied here and elsewhere, by me and others certainly. Personally, I am more interested in the history than the ideological disputes within Zionism.

            I am curious what the blue-shaded commentary is intended to signal in the discussion?? Thanks.

          4. Ah, I missed the thread where Davey elaborated his thoughts about Zionism versus nationalism. I don’t feel that any distinction is necessary. It is no less racist to believe that we Americans are a great people . It is the same theory of specialness, or chosen-ness that drives Zionism. There is no such thing as a race, a nation, a tribe, a “people.” These are, if you wish to put it in religious terms, false gods, and when they are worshipped, bad things happen. Humans have an urge to cooperate, and they have an urge to separate themselves from all other humans in an us/them construct. The one is good, the other is evil. All humans are a mixture of the two urges. When the urge to us/them is magnified, as in Zionism or nationalism, or any ism for that matter, bad things happen. Looked at in that light, the two-state solution is a furthering of the horror. It should be a no-state solution. Israel and Palestine should be the first trail state which is a non-state, bound together by cooperation. The right of return should be the right to come here, shared by all, not just Palestinians. I don’t care that this is not going to happen. It should happen. It is the only thing that will save us. We’re hanging by a thread as it is.

  3. Hello Richard!

    AS a pesonal friend of Chavka, i’d like to contribute a few remarks.

    First, You should learn to spell her name correctly: Chavka Folman Raban.

    since ZOB was built politically, I think You should have mentioned her membership in Socialist-Zionist “Dror” in the title.

    If You count Chavka (and You should) there is nothing wrong in mentioning all the rest (very few are still alive)

    while being the last of “Dror”, there are still other ghetto fighters alive in Israel.

    Simcha Rotem, Hela Schiffer-Rufeisen, and Yehuda mimon (Foldek Vaserman)- from “Akiba”

    Pnina Grinshpan Primer – non affiliated (fought with left PZ)

    Aliza Vitis Shimron and Israel Gutman from “Ha’shomer Ha’tsair”

    (hope I didn’t forget anyone)

    You could have added Aliza’s speech

    that ended with:
    “I have been given the responsibility to talk about the fighters. I will not rest until more youth have joined to take the burden of memory from me and to take it forwards to future generations.
    Remember our people, who were murdered, remember the fighters, and safeguard the dignity of

    though I can understand the “rating rational” behind this headline, there is nothing new in Chavka’s call, and “rebelling against evil” would represent her speech better, that the headline You chose.

    Your translation has a few minor mistakes. Here is mine, based on yours, with a few corrections:

    “There is a uniqueness in this commemoration–70 years since the [Warsaw Ghetto] Rebellion. We’re also nearing the end of the Shoah generation and the last of the [ghetto] fighters. Most of you in front of me, you are the generations of continuity: the second, third and fourth generations. I have mixed emotions and thoughts about the past, present, and future.
    I will tell you about one experience from that time. Spring 1942. I was a courier for an underground operation. I arrived to visit my the members of Dror movement, at Hrubieszow, in eastern Poland very occupied by the Nazis
    I stood in the small railroad station and from the window I could make out, on a field next to the railroad tracks, a great multitude, thousands of men, women, and children. Overseeing them were Germans running wild on horseback. A few meters from me, through the window, I saw four boys digging a hole. The soldiers shot them and they fell into it. The next morning the field was empty. At night, the trains had gone on their way: to the camps, to death.
    These were the moments at which I understood and which I feared: this is the beginning of the end. This is the Shoah. With this terrible truth, I returned to the Warsaw ghetto, to my family who was still there, to my comrades.
    The [Warsaw Ghetto] rebellion became for us [at that moment] necessary and clear. We continued educational activities and seminars, the underground school and newspapers. It was important to strengthen the Youth in the sad, dying ghetto.
    But at this point, it became most important to find weapons sources. The deportation of 300,000 Warsaw Jews to Treblinka in the summer of 1942 strengthened us and determined for us that the last battle–the armed rebellion–neared. That it must break out.
    On April 19 1943, seventy years ago, the first rebellion in occupied Europe broke out–the Rebellion of Jews. I wasn’t part of it. As a courier, I had been arrested during resistance operations in Krakow and had been brought to Auschwitz a number of months earlier.
    All of my nearest, most beloved comrades fought from the rooftops, in the fires, from the bunkers. Most of them perished. I hurts me that I can no longer remember all their names. We memorialize only a few. But in my heart I am not parted from them, from the forgotten.
    Leave in your hearts and memories a place for them, younger generations. For the beautiful and bold, so young, who fell in the last battle. I wish for the thousands of you before me, lives enriched with love, beauty, laughter, and meaning.
    Continue the rebellion. A different rebellion of the here and now against evil, even the evil befalling our own and only beloved country. Rebel against racism and violence and hatred of those who are different. Against inequality, economic gaps, poverty, greed and corruption.
    Strengthen humanistic education and values of ethics and justice. These too are [a form of] rebellion against alcoholism among our youth and the terrible phenomenon of attacks against the elderly.
    Rebel against the Occupation. No–it is forbidden for us to rule over another people, to oppress another [people]. The most important thing is to achieve peace and an end to the cycle of blood[letting]. My generation dreamed of peace. I so want to achieve it. You have the power to help. All my hopes are with you. Let it be!”

  4. Jew’s have had their lot in life experiences with the world looking at them in a different light and are keen observers and participant’s in all the countries they have lived in and are living in. Having had violence directed at them for so many different reasons give’s them a more tuned in understanding of Race, Creed, Color, & Religion maybe more so than other’s. Are we all inlightened in this arena? No not all of us. However we bring into question the action’s of any Government, State, & Populace that have caused discrimination and act & voice it. This lady is an example of that. Education and how we are brought up as well as life experiences play a major role in our live’s and how we think. The question is are we the only one’s? We need this throughout the World in every Country that is subjected to it and it has happened in only certain part’s of the world. Being brought up without Hatred or Fear to any People’s plays a important part to our attitudes in life.

  5. It’s ironic to see the comparison between the treatment of the Jews at the hands of the Nazis, and how Israel treats the Palestinians. The Nazis marched into Poland to secure more land for the German people. Israel bulldozes Palestinain homes to make room for new Israeli settlements. The Nazis imprisoned the Jews in ghettos. These were real ghettos, not the slums that our politicians like to call ghettos. I am speaking of where people were locked up, what food and medicine could get in was controlled by their oppressors. We see the same thing in Palestine today.

    But the big difference is that there is no wholesale murder of the Palestinians, right? Don’t think the Israelis wouldn’t do it if they thought they could get away with it.

    You will notice that I refer to the Israelis, not to Jews. There is a difference between Germans and Nazis, and there is a difference between Jews and Zionists. The similarity between the Nazis and the Zionists is that they both think of themselves as the “Master Race”.

    1. @Gregory: I get an extreme allergic reaction when I read direct comparisons between Zionists & Nazis. I’d much rather say what specific aspects of Israeli policy you wish to compare to Nazi policies than to make blanket statements.

      1. Any nationalism that entails expansion will run into the same problems the Nazis faced: This is why there is such historical overlap. What do you do with the non-nationals in the conquered territory? If they remain, they undermine the nationalist will, the whole point of expansion. What to do? The situation was ever more dire for the Jews because they were defined as enemies early on. What do you do with enemies in the rear of your conquering army? The Nazi answer was ghettos, labor camps, firing squads and death camps.

        Likewise, Zionism faces the same problem in the West Bank at least and this is how they come to some of the same tactics, concentrate and control, and, frankly, kill where possible. The Final Solution was an improvised Nazi “adjustment” not articulated until it was already in process. Likewise, Israel experiments with its power over others in order to solve the demographic problem, experimenting with crowd control, urban warfare, controlling water and food, creating a settler state within the larger West Bank state, etc. Under cover of a larger Mideast war, Israel may be driven to seek more robust solutions because the Palestinians, say the the Zionists, are enemies of the state and cannot simply be left in a messy confinement/control to do damage, organize resistance, and try to kill Israelis while there is full-scale war in the region.

        Nobody can tell me that Zionists are not already,, in fact, extinguishing Palestinian life, biological life and cultural life. It is happening right before our eyes albeit in slo mo. It is the awareness of these policies that makes the active Zionist enterprise so utterly repulsive and so unacceptable, nationalism notwithstanding. The most ominous turn of events in the IP is the continuing settler program and the one state it portends. What will happen to the Pals? I say this is ominous because no clear answer has surfaced and yet the settlement continues apace. Whatever are they thinking? Is it fits and starts or a carefully measured policy?

        1. We are a year down the road and Israel is “mowing the lawn” in Gaza, that ghastly demeaning image for cutting down human beings! In answer to my own question of a year ago, this is “measured policy.” Israel fully intends to possess all of Palestine and to limit Palestinian presence to Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, an acceptable minority. I have trouble envisioning the Jewish people, the Judaism they practice, surviving this shameful destruction of another people, whatever the motive.

      2. I completely agree with Richard. The use of race, faith or holocaust is a disingenuous argument by folks who have gotten mighty rich and/or powerful on keeping this going. I think lumping all zionists together is a simplistic perspective that leads directly down the road to prejudice. This is about power and money… and they care not how many of your children or Palestinians they harm to keep their profits flowing. (and I include Americans)

  6. I really wished all of you guys would participate in this type of conversation in bigger news sites such has cnn or BBC. I was really moved by the article when I read it, then when I read all your comments I was even more moved.

    Everyone had a valid point and explained it precisely their point of view and got it across (agreed or not). I only wished that there were more of you to comment on those larger audience… so people would be educated on current topic.

    Once everyone (both sides) understands what is right and what is wrong, politician and like minded would not be able to achieve their goal and good will prevail…

  7. Nationalism is the root of the evil. What name you wish to call it by doesn’t change the dynamic. For a nation to mean anything, the people within it have to view themselves as special–different from all other nations….and different rarely means inferior, or different but equal…it usually means better. What follows from this is rarely moral, rarely edifying, rarely helpful. As in repression, maintaining this specialness requires a lot of energy. If I understand what Davey is saying, I’m in complete agreement.

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