This past week I attended a showing at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs of a documentary made in 1991 by the award-winning Dutch film maker Willy Lindwer on the Wansee Conference, which was held in 1941. This was a conference of German Nazi government officials who met at a lavish villa in Berlin to lay plans for the “final solution”: the total extermination of the 11 million Jews of Europe, including the UK. (Check http://www.willylindwer.com as this important film and others may be available in DVD format.)
A pall of silence fell over the audience that was watching it — for to see this excellent documentary, which includes rare footage, is to come face to face with consummate evil. And what makes it even more painful is the knowledge that we face similar consummate evil now.
Also this past week, a Holocaust denial conference, organized by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was held in Tehran and attended by Nazis, Nazi-supporters and those of similar ilk. Ahmadinejad delivered the closing speech in which he declared that Israel’s days are numbered.
Caroline Glick’s analysis of why Ahmadinejad is adopting this devious position is well worth attending to:
He, first of all, strengthens the neo-Nazi movement by making them appear as victims of false accusations. Says Glick, the Neo-Nazi movement in Germany — “a burgeoning political and social force” — boasts of its ties to Iran. Seems anti-Semitism is on the rise in Germany.
Perhaps more importantly, the goal is to delegitimize Israel’s existence. The argument Ahmadinejad makes is that the Holocaust is a myth that was used to exploit Muslims. According to this argument, Israel was created as a refuge for Jews after what was supposedly the Holocaust, and as a result Muslims have been pushed off “their” land and denied their rights. But if it can be shown that there was no Holocaust, it will follow that the Jews have no right to be on the land and that it is time to rectify the wrong done to the Muslims. Said Iran’s Foreign Minister Manoucher Mottaki, “If the official version of the Holocaust is thrown into doubt, then the identity and nature of Israel will be thrown into doubt.”
This is an argument that must be dealt with seriously, for there are Leftists in many quarters who are already on the way to painting Israel as not legitimate.
Aside from the obvious fact that the Holocaust did take place, I must note with absolute clarity for the record that the justification for our existence as a State here is not the Holocaust but the fact that this is our land.
The Jewish presence on the Land has been continuous: There were Jews here for the almost 2,000 years between the Second Exile in 73 CE and the founding of the State in 1948. During those years, this area (which came to be known as Palestine) was never established as a nation for any other people — it served only as an appendage to one conquering empire or another. And in the course of 3,000 years, Jerusalem has been only a Jewish capital; since the late 1800s, Jews have again constituted a majority in Jerusalem. The First Zionist Congress was called by Theodor Herzl in Basel in 1897. Jewish pioneers came here to settle the land in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Balfour Declaration, which was an official recognition by the government of Britain of the Jewish right to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine took place in 1917; the League of Nation assignment to Britain of the Mandate for Palestinian, which charged Britain with securing a national homeland for the Jewish people, was made in 1922. None of this had anything to do with the Holocaust.
It is also important to note another historical fact that is not often recognized: There are links between the Arabs and the Nazis going back to the Nazi era in Germany. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Muhammad Amin al-Husseini incited against the Jews here in the 1920s and 1930s, and spurred the horrendous massacre in Hebron in 1929. When the Nazis came to power, the Mufti found his natural allies and worked closely with them. This same Mufti was the mentor of Yassar Arafat, who called him “uncle.”
It is not incidental that the current president of the PA, Mahmoud Abbas, was a close deputy of Arafat for many many years, and in his doctoral thesis also denied the Holocaust.
What goes around comes around…
It made news last week that one Khaled Mahameed, an Israeli Arab attorney in Nazareth who has set up a Holocaust museum of sorts in his office, tried to attend the Holocaust deniers’ conference but was denied entry to Tehran. “Ah,” generally went the response, “here we have a good guy, and he’s been closed out.”
But the story is more complex than this. Turns out that along with information about the Holocaust, Mahameed shows photos of Palestinian refugees. ADL charges that he is abusing the memory of the Holocaust by comparing it with what Israelis do to Palestinians.
Turning to the Palestinians: PA President Mahmoud Abbas has done it. Sort of. He announced in a speech in Ramallah today that he would be pushing up the date for parliamentary and presidential elections. He did not, however, actually set a date, and he left the door open for Hamas to establish a government of technocrats, which would render early elections unnecessary. What he has done already is establish a new Fatah lineup, though the names have not been announced yet.
Not exactly unexpectedly, Hamas has responded with anger. “This is a real coup,” said Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar; thousands of Hamas supporters took to the streets.
Abbas’s announcement simply exacerbates Hamas-Fatah tensions, which had already intensified in recent days. When PA Prime Minister Haniyeh returned from his visit to Tehran last week (during which time, according to my best information, he did not attend the Holocaust denial conference), he came back via Egypt with $35 million in suitcases.
Israel, I am happy to report, blocked his ability to carry that money through the Rafah crossing and it is still in Egypt. Ultimately Haniyeh got through the crossing, but there was a major altercation. Hamas supporters, furious at the blocking of Haniyeh, took over the crossing by force and Fatah security personnel at the scene responded. When there was sufficient quiet so that it was assumed Haniyeh could proceed (without the money), his convoy was attacked by Fatah people in what was presumably an assassination attempt; his bodyguard was killed and his son wounded.
Most maddening is the notion — promoted on the left right here in Israel and broadly internationally — that, in the unlikely event that Abbas should come out on top here, it would mean a defeat for terrorism. Abbas and his Fatah party are knee deep in terrorism, and it is this that I will deal with in coming days. It is not a matter of terrorism vs. no terrorism, truly wanting a two-state solution vs. wanting to eliminate Israel. It is a matter of style and approach, with differing opinions as to how to best represent Palestinian Arab interests.
Hamas and Fatah both want to eradicate Israel. This is the bottom line. Condoleezza Rice can rush to give Abbas assistance because he will made a “peace process” possible. But it is still the bottom line.
see my website www.ArlenefromIsrael.info