This week, a few survivors of concentration camps who live in the Katif district of Gaza, which is scheduled for removal, decided to wear orange stars of David – reminiscent of the Holocaust-era yellow stars.
A cheap PR ploy? Well, that is what some people thought.
I know these people. I see it differently.
For the past year, our news agency has helped facilitate interviews with residents in the Katif district and in S’derot for our colleagues in the foreign media, while both areas have been under heavy artillery bombardment. Human interest stories always abound, and that is what always interests the media. In both Katif and Sderot, there are a few concentration camp survivors with a unique perspective. To put it simply, they feel abandoned once again.
That is because the leadership of the Palestinians security services and their Egyptian allies, who are directing the artillery attacks on civilian targets, are not being targeted by the IDF. And the missiles keep falling.
All this occurs even though Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert revealed to the Wall Street Journal in June 2002 that the man who heads the current terror campaign in Gaza is PLO leader Muhammad Dahlan; yet, this same individual is being nurtured by Israel to run Gaza. Meanwhile, Israel is in the process of handing over security responsibility to Egypt, even though all sources in Israeli intelligence are pointing to Egypt as the country bearing direct responsibility for giving supplies to the Palestinian terrorists now attacking civilians.
The Israeli government response has been to announce a full scale retreat from Gaza, and to force the Jews to leave their homes in Katif, which the government has announce will be bulldozed. The property of the Jews there will be handed over to the terrorists who are attacking them, while S’derot will remain under the gun of artillery attacks.
To the people of Katif and S’derot who have been through the trials and tribulations of concentration camps, with some of them also experiencing the horrors of the Russian gulag, the experience of what they are going through in Israel is just too much to bear. Each time I visit Katif and S’derot, I meet these older people, and they reminisce and ask if it is really true that the IDF is not killing the PLO leaders and if it is really true that the IDF will do nothing to forcefully stop Egypt in its actions.
The concentration camp survivors in both communities know who each other are, and they decided to act. That is why they put on the orange stars today. The PR people advised against it. They did it anyway. They want people to know that they are reliving the most traumatic aspect of the horror that they experienced 60 years ago, when the world, even the Jewish world, abandoned them.
These survivors are also media savvy. They read in Haaretz that some people are advising the government to “kill a few” Katif people to get them out of their homes. They are also aware of the startling fact that the Israeli government does not rule out the possibility that the security forces will use weapons to kick them out of their homes, especially since the October 26th decision of the government states that the government will disarm the entire population while they are under fire.
When I did my master’s in social work, one of the lessons that I learned in working with concentration camp survivors is that they do not want anyone to second-guess how they are feeling or reacting. Such is the case today in Katif and S’derot. Two Jewish communities are under mortal attack, feeling abandoned by the world. And the survivors of the trauma of 60 years ago feel it all the more so.