Three years ago, I was sitting at the Starbucks in Westwood, Los Angeles, having a cup of tea and doing my readings. Next to me was sitting a small, elderly lady who was obviously waiting for someone. I guessed she might be Iranian, and then turned my attention to ancient economy.
A few minutes later, an elderly gentleman arrived and sat at the lady’s table. They started talking, and surely enough, they were Iranian. The gentleman was angry, he was talking fast and with an angry tone, so I missed the first part of what he was saying. The lady was just saying “yes, yes…” and leaving him to his anger. After less than a minute, I could not avoid eavesdropping. He was talking about the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. He was angry. He was angry that Israel had decided to leave Gaza and give Palestinian statehood a chance. He said many things that clearly showed his unhappiness with the decision and his lack of compassion for Palestinians. But one particular sentence practically petrified me. He said: “well, we should just round all of them up and kill them. That is something Israel has failed to do. Before this, we had no power and so something like that happened to us, but now that we have the power, I don’t understand why we don’t do this. How many of them are there anyway? Three, four million? It should take the Israeli Army about a week to finish them off. Can you tell me why they don’t do it?” to which the lady just answered “yes, yes…”
I have wondered ever since about the sort of conscience which is both aware of the terrible crime that was the holocaust and at the same time advocates doing the exact thing to another population. I am not sure how he thought or felt, other than the fact that it is obvious that the elderly man was thinking of his kind as certainly being exceptional and special.
Now, these days when I am reading, thanks to the internet, about the Israeli attack on Gaza and killing of over 250 people, and the fact that it is going almost completely unnoticed in the CNN, MSNBC, and FOX, it makes me wonder even more. The same thing happened when Israelis attacked Lebanon. Experts came to the TV and said that the Lebanese people are responsible for their own death since they have “harboured” Hezbollah (the members of the Hezbollah are Lebanese, a fact that seems to escape people). The same total silence of the news was noticed by many when Israel attacked a Syrian military base. At the time, the silence was even appreciated by the experts and was clearly assigned to Israel’s successful control of the media (something that would get you an “anti-Semite” label any day of the week, but was flaunted and taken pride in at the time by the Israelis themselves).
Experts that are brought in to the PBS news (the only place where the issue was actually given some attention) are the Israeli ambassador who looks at the camera and says that Israel is only interested in peace (funny sort of it, evidently) and a Washington Post writer who says that Israel needs to disband Iran backed groups like Hezbollah (who is not even involved in this, it just sounds scary) and Hamas, and the next stage should be Iran who is working on “this bomb, this nuclear bomb they are developing”. Interesting, so, Washington Post has already proven the existence of a nuclear bomb in Iran, something that IAEA has not managed to do yet.
A doctor in NPR is saying that Israelis are not allowing medicine to get into Gaza. The biggest hit area is the Rafah refugee camp. Notice, it is a refugee camp, the “home” of the people who have no homes anymore. Food is scarce in the region and the UN food aid is not allowed to cross over to feed the people who live in one of the most densely populated areas in the world, which means they cannot cultivate and grow their own food.
I am a historian. Throughout history, many people have disappeared from history. No one has met an Elamite or a Babylonian or an Etruscan. It is not that amazing, although it is sad, that we don’t have any of the Britons who were killed off by the English immigrants, or any of the original Gauls who were largely killed off by the ancestors of the French. So, it is not a big surprise. This fate is what Israel has designed for Palestinians, and a supporter of Israel three years ago was honest and candid enough to verbalize it. Would the great state of Israel do us all a favour, turn honest for one second, and just tell us that they are planning to do exactly that?