The Shoah

IN FOCUS, 13 May 2024

Stephanie Hiller – TRANSCEND Media Service

 11 May 2024 – On 5 May I attended, for the first time, the Yom Hashoah commemoration held in Santa Rosa, California, sponsored by the Jewish Community Center and the Alliance for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide.

Yom Hashoah commemorates those killed in the Holocaust. I attended in commemoration of my grandmother, Fanya, who died at Babi Yar, a ravine outside Kyiv, then part of Russia, at the hands of the Nazis.

Some 33,000 Jews, almost the entire Jewish population of the city, were commanded by the Nazis to leave their homes at dawn, September 29-30, 1941, to remove their clothes, money and any other valuables, were shoved into the ravine and shot in the back.

Yom Hashoah events are held all over the world. In Tel Aviv, a siren sounds at 10 am and everything stops for two minutes of silence, even traffic. People get out of their cars and stand motionless for two minutes.

“Never again” is the slogan of the Holocaust, a slogan which Zionism has chosen as a statement of defiance, an avowal of military might so strong that Israel can never be defeated on the battlefield. Yom Hashoah is about remembering, because, said Rabbi Gittleman, “when you lose your memory, you lose everything.”

So it may not be surprising that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu chose Holocaust Remembrance day to begin the long- threatened invasion of Rafah, a maneuver that is bound to cause more sufferings and deaths to a starved and homeless people than anything which preceded it.

From now on, when we remember the suffering of the Holocaust, we will also be compelled t remember this Yom Hashoah as the occasion of Israel’s greatest victory: the day Israel drove all the Palestinians out of the holy land of Israel that God gave to his “chosen people,” the Jews.

The May 5 event was beautifully orchestrated, with wonderful music and talks by local rabbis, culminating in the lighting of six candles representing the six million Jews who died.

This year, Sonoma Rabbi Finley reminded us that we also reminder others murdered in the Holocaust, the Roma (gypsies), homosexuals and others deemed subhuman by the Nazis, who had not been included until five years ago.

Though dedicated to the most horrific events of Jewish history, the most disgustingly sadistic behavior in the history of Western Europe,  the Shoah was an uplifting occasion, adorned with the symbolism Jewish people love, fortifying us to endure the frightful contradictions of our own age.

And that’s when I was struck by its confounding hypocrisy.

How can we commemorate a historical event of our own causing, a “plausible” genocide according to the International Court of Justice,  utilizing the monstrous weaponry provided by American weapons, from the safety and affluence of an American Jewish hall.

And what was I doing there, I who fervently oppose the tenets and cruelty of modern Zionism? We have seen it in action, not only in Israel-Palestine, but now in the rough handling of our students at some of the most elect colleges on campuses here and throughout the world.

The behavior of Israel has not been pleasing.

I could not help but think of the Palestinians, some of them also stripped down to their underwear, whose deaths now number some 34,000 people, the majority women and children, and few if any perpetrators of the obscene events of October 7. The well -dressed people in the room at the Shoah celebration in Washington D>gave a standing ovation to Biden when he said, “Not 75 years, but just seven and half months later, people are already forgetting that Hamas unleashed this terror…I have not forgotten, nor have you – and we will not forget.” (Nation, May 8.)

And that may well be true, but Biden does not seem to remember the treatment the Palestinian civilians have endured since the Hamas attack; nor does he seem to have any grasp of the misery inflicted on them since the Nakba of 1948, and especially since 1967 when Palestinians have been kept in what scholar Ilan Pappe famously described as an “open air prison” – not permitted to travel outside its boundaries, to work, to receive sufficient food supplies, detained at checkpoints and tortured when imprisoned.

Israelis do not seem to know about this cruel treatment because they never go to Palestine and do not know any Palestinians, as a Jerusalem rabbi explained in a talk for Beit Tikkun’s Rosh Hashonah celebration last year.

Reports of abuse in Israeli prisons, on the streets of Gaza, in their homes, and most recently in the destruction of hospitals and schools, curtailment of water supplies and electricity, are rife all over the Internet by respected – and brave! – journalists and human rights agencies. A few samples below:

On October 12,  “One of the Israeli officers who came, approached me and kicked me on my left side, then jumped on my head with his two legs pushing my face further into the dirt and then continued kicking me as I was head down, into the dirt, with my hands tied behind my back. He then got a knife and tore all of my clothes off except for my underwear and used part of my torn clothes to blindfold me. The beating to the rest of my body did not stop, at one point he started jumping on my back – three or four times – while yelling ‘die, die you trash’ … in the end before this finally stopped, another officer urinated on my face and body while also yelling at us ‘to die’.”  Amnesty International report.

Witnesses and medics said Israeli forces opened fire Thursday on thousands of Palestinians who had gathered in an open area of Gaza City hoping to receive food and other desperately needed humanitarian aid. Reuters Feb 29, 2024  

An Israeli doctor described horrific conditions Palestinian prisoners from Gaza were held under at a temporary detention facility, including being restrained at all times, blindfolded, fed through a straw and forced to urinate and defecate into diapers.  Al Jazeera

Suddenly, on May 5, and without explanation, as if riding the tidal wave of Shoah reminiscence, the US stopped a ship loaded with bombs and artillery headed for Gaza. Two days later, the Pentagon confirmed that the delivery had been stopped. Biden spoke, declaring that he would send no more bombs or artillery so long as Israel perseveres with its planned ground invasion of Raffa. “It’s just wrong,” he said, with the usual slur.

But Israel is already in Raffa. It has cut off Rafah and Kerem Shalom crossings, blocking all deliveries of necessary supplies. It has surrounded the city itself with tanks. It dropped leaflets urging people to evacuate the area and began bombing four hours later. On Friday, May 10, Israel’s War Cabinet approved the expansion of the invasion.

Nothing has yet been heard from the Biden administration in response.

Also on Friday, as reported in Common Dreams, South Africa filed an urgent request to the International Court of Justice to stop the invasion on the grounds of genocide. “Videos posted on social media by Israeli soldiers record them firing directly on areas where tents are pitched by displaced Palestinians…There is recently published testimony that Israeli soldiers treat evacuation zones as ‘zones of extermination’ in which all Palestinians” – not just Hamas – “are considered to be legitimate targets.” Israel has also been accused of relying heavily on AI to chose targets and “kill lists.”

On the same day, the United Nations General Assembly voted to give Palestine member status. Before the vote was taken the Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan literally shredded the UN Charter, Common Dreams reports, calling Palestinians “modern day Nazis.”

Modern day Nazis! Zones of extermination!

And what will Biden do, now that the Israelis have openly stated their plan to continue the invasion of Rafah?

When will our Days of Remembrance commemorate the triumph of justice and the victory of truth?


Stephanie Hiller is a free lance writer who blogs at Particle Beams, Sonoma Sun and Medium. She is an adjunct instructor at Santa Rosa Junior College, where she teaches autobiographical writing to older adults. She lives in Sonoma, USA.

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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 13 May 2024.

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One Response to “The Shoah”

  1. anaisanesse says:

    Always claim to be victims, but ignore all other humans as human at all.

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