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We are encouraged, and encourage our children, to remember the horrors of the Holocaust.
We have pictures of mass graves of skeletal bodies, in schoolbooks, to force us to see the human cost is more than abstract numbers in a history book. My mother says she remembers, as early as her schooling in the 1960s, that they were shown footage of the camp liberations; it was important to look at the horror head-on. We are bombarded with the imagery of that genocide; quite rightly, to instil disgust in us, for a fear that it could happen again, and to resolve that it never should.
It’s happening again, in Palestine. Let no-one tell you that accusations of genocide are hyperbolic or anti-Semitic. Article II of the Genocide Convention defines the international crime of genocide as “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group such as:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction, in whole or in part.
Instead of being forced to look at this horror, we are told it is in an acceptable side-effect of a two-way conflict. Debate on the topic is stifled by the ‘both sides should find peace’ smokescreen. In America, singer Rihanna couldn’t tweet ‘?#?freepalestine?’ without having to delete it and pretend it was an accident. Journalists are threatened, if they ‘say a word wrong’, by Israelis who drink beer, and cheer, as their military sends rockets to rend innocent children apart. It sounds hyperbolic, but all of the media is pretty much complicit in these crimes, as they are all forced to portray the events as an equal conflict: the fiction is that a beleaguered Israel is reluctantly forced to defend its citizens.
When I posted this letter to Facebook, I wanted to include a link to pictures from Gaza. But searching through them I could not bring myself to use them to make a statement. I felt sick to my stomach. But I believe that it is important to look and to see. It’s not emotional manipulation. It’s not guilt-tripping, no more than it is to understand the Holocaust. It is important to look at these bodies, of men, women and children, and to know what is happening. So, I’d ask you, hard as it might be, not to not scroll past them on Twitter or on newsfeeds. Look at them. Whether you can say you still think it is a fair conflict after that is up to you. And if you feel it is wrong, then it’s time all that education of horror was put to use; say never again.
21, Highfield Court
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