Has Moral Imagination Left Israel?

Henry Siegman, a Holocaust survivor, contacted friends in Israel to inquire as to their reaction to recent events such as attacks on the Flotilla and the responses he received were shocking to a man who witnessed the horror of World War II. “He told me– in a voice trembling with emotion– that the world’s condemnation of Israel is reminiscent of the dark period of the Hitler era.” He went on to insist all Israelis share his views except for some peace activists who want good relations with Palestinians, and to him “they are all Arabs.” Seigman was stunned at the comparison by Israelis who are furious at the world because the world is furious towards actions which debase humans. He has previously heard Israelis refer to the Gaza blockade as simply “putting Palestinians on a diet.” Apparently, many Israelis are confused about Nazism. It was the Nazis who joked about placing Jews in Death Camps on a “diet.” There is something twisted in the minds of Israelis when their behavior to demonize humans winds up being the tormentor as the victim.

Any attempt to compare Gaza to Death Camps is ludicrous. Any attempt to compare Israeli behavior in seizing Palestinian property and blockading the entry of food and supplies to the Holocaust is an exaggeration. But, as Siegman notes: “If a people who so recently experienced on its own flesh unspeakable inhumanities can not muster the moral imagination to understand the injustice and suffering in its own territorial ambitions, what hope is there for the rest of us?”

There is no second Holocaust in Gaza or Palestine. However, there is injustice, horror, arrogance, inhumanity, and lack of empathy from people who should know better. The insensitivity of Israelis is most disturbing.

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