As a Jew, I can never forget the Holocaust and the slaughter of millions. But we must not persecute Palestinians for their faith. That is hypocrisy.

Holocaust
Israeli and Palestinian women dance together during a mass protest near Beit HaArava in the Jordan Valley, Israel, 8 October 2017. (EPA-EFE/Jim Hollander)
The author, a U.S. national who is studying this year in France, recently visited the Anne Frank House, a writer’s house and museum in Amsterdam dedicated to the Jewish wartime diarist who died in the Holocaust.

By Jaeli Rose

As I walk through the Anne Frank House, the silence is overwhelming. It’s unimaginable, the reverence we hold for a young girl’s thoughts.

A young girl, like so many millions of us. We guard our remembrance of the Holocaust carefully.

Anne Frank (Wikimedia Commons)

The museum is sacred, a cemetery of remembrance. An open wound — the genocide of an entire people — pains every one of us.

“Never again.” It’s a promise I’ve heard a million times, a vow to prevent the repeat of the systematic slaughter that once decimated Jews. The sentiment is rooted deeply in the hearts of the Jewish people — my people — and reverberates around a world that struggles to come to terms with such a destructive history.

The identity of the Jewish people is intertwined with persecution, a sense of homelessness, eventual refuge in Israel. We claim a right to a Jewish homeland and justify settlement in the Land of Israel with age-old Zionist conviction.

We unthinkingly denigrate Palestinians.

My generation loves our Jewish state dearly, sometimes more than our own morality. We join the Israel Defense Forces instead of our own armies. We cross party lines and vote against our consciences to keep it safe. Israel is sacred. We will do anything to defend it.

I grew up steeped in this mentality. I remember Israeli flags in every classroom, celebrating Yom Ha’atzmaut with hummus and falafel, synagogue-organized pro-Israel marches.

I remember being introduced to a friend of a friend and immediately being asked, “What do you think of Hamas?” We were 12.

There is no avoiding the conflict. Young Jews feel compelled to hold their pride for Israel close to their hearts — and to denounce Palestinians. It’s an immediate response.

“I hate Hamas,” I said. “I’m pro-Israel.”

We unthinkingly denigrate Palestinians. We demonize them to rationalize the illegal means we used to take their homeland. No longer people, they are terrorists, extremists, violent by nature. For every anti-Semitic slur hurled in our direction, we retaliate with an equally savage sentiment, vitiating our relationships with Palestinians.

Demonization of Palestinians is hypocritical.

We should understand, better than anyone, this discrimination based on religious identity. How has it become acceptable, then, for a people so devoted to preventing the recurrence of genocide to even come close to labeling the “other” as lesser-than?

It is not only wrong to fail to acknowledge that the mistreatment of Palestinians is inhumane. It is hypocritical.

When we support radical, pro-Israel declarations like those by U.S. President Donald Trump — or by any recent presidential candidate — vowing to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, we disregard the rights of Palestinians to claim a home for themselves.

Whether or not you believe in a two-state solution, you cannot deny that the demonization of Palestinians in Israel mirrors the very ideology we have vowed so fervently to prevent.

No, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict does not involve genocide. But that does not prevent us from denouncing anti-Palestinian rhetoric as strongly as we would any other statements founded in bigotry.

Perhaps when we say “Never again,” what we really mean is “Never again to us.”

Is a plea like that acceptable?


Jaeli Rose is a News-Decoder student ambassador who is in her second-to-last year of high school, currently studying in Rennes, France with the School Year Abroad program. At home in the United States, she attends The Hudson School in Hoboken, New Jersey. She enjoys French, History and Political Science, and plans to study International Relations in college before joining the Peace Corps. Outside of school, Jaeli loves traveling, horseback riding and spending time with her friends.

One comment

Reflections on the Holocaust: Never again — for anyone

  1. Hi Jaeli,

    As a fellow student and Jew, I thought to offer a few edits for your article. Your writing is very powerful. But, with this power, you isolate (often Jewish) readers with your word choice.

    “We unthinkingly denigrate Palestinians. We demonize them to rationalize the illegal means we used to take their homeland.” For starters, your usage of “we” and “us” throughout your paper indicate you are directing this piece at Jews, yet such wording prevents such a Jewish audience from ever assembling. If you genuinely would like to change the perspective of fellow Jews, consider understanding the controversy and, at times, the lack of factual claims in your writing. When you refer to “their homeland” are you referring the West Bank and Gaza, or to all of Israel? Do Jews not have a right to that land too?

    You use Hamas and Palestinians interchangeably, yet Hamas is (this is fact, not opinion) a recognized terrorist organization with the stated intent to destroy Israel, and many Palestinians detest their rule in Gaza. Palestinians are officially represented by the Palestinian Authority. This choice, to treat Hamas and Palestinians as one in the same, invalidates your writing.

    To your claim regarding Trump’s decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem, your implication that being pro-Israel assumes anti-Palestinians-having-a-home is misleading. Being pro-Israel does not inherently assume being anti-Palestine; the two are not mutually exclusive. For example, many pro-Israel advocates argue a two-state solution. An American embassy in West Jerusalem does not preclude a future Palestinian state from having East Jerusalem as its capital.

    Further, there is no genocide against Palestinians in Israel (fact, not opinion). By mirroring this “genocide” onto current treatment of Palestinians, you not only publish misguiding lies, you further diminish the pain that plagued the Jews – you squelch our history.

    Can you give broader examples of how Israeli treatment of Palestinians is inhumane, is hypocritical, from any Republican or Israeli source? Being pro-Palestine is now considered “politically correct” amongst west-coast liberal circles, thus any such news sources will likely bash Israel, opting to publicize information that only holds their previous claim. Israel holds among the most free presses in the world – what does Israel have to say on the topic? You may be surprised by their open and fair publication, by the often criticism of Netanyahu and others in government.

    I lived in Israel for two periods over my 17-year-old life. Yes, Palestinians are not always held in the highest regards by Israelis and neither are Israelis esteemed by Palestinians (I apologize, in advance, for this huge simplification and generalization). I completely agree that we should not belittle Palestinians. I full-heartedly advocate for understanding both sides of the controversy. However, when it comes to Israel (yes, my beloved country), I don’t support widespread publication of opinionated writing not based in fact.

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