In an Era of Holocaust 'Comedy,' It's Important to Confront the Haters
Columnist Suzanne Fields writes in The Washington Times (www.washingtontimes.com) on Jan 26 that a United Nations commemoration of the Holocaust was long overdue but worth it:
"The United Nations, which has not always been friendly to the Jews, marked the first universal observance of victims of the Holocaust this week, with an International Day of Commemoration with the theme 'Remembrance and Beyond.' The date was Jan. 27, the day of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp 61 years ago.
"The commemoration was long in coming, but it's never too late to confront the haters. David Irving, the notorious British war historian and Holocaust denier who once claimed the gas chambers at Auschwitz were a myth, now sits in a prison in Austria for denying facts about the Holocaust. …
"Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, is a different breed of pig. He not only says that the slaughter of 6 million Jews is a 'myth,' but demands that the State of Israel be 'wiped off the map' (6 million dead Jews were not enough). … He plans a conference on the Holocaust to stoke anti-Israel sentiment and anti-Semitism. …
"Any student of the history of Holocaust memory must welcome the United Nations commemoration because history can shortchange facts. Henry Ford famously said, 'History is bunk.' Bunk or not, history like beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, and the beholder is easily manipulated by the interpreters. The medium shapes the message, and politics propels the interpretation. …
"In the decade after World War II, survivors arriving here from Europe wanted to forget their brutal experiences and focus instead on their new lives. Many of them kept their silence. Silence morphed into sensationalism as the Holocaust was trivialized into soap opera, a miniseries for television. …
"Oprah's next book club selection is 'Night,' Elie Wiesel's memoir of his experience in a death camp. … In a preface to 'Night,' Francois Mauriac, the French writer, says, 'It is not always the events we have been directly involved in that affect us the most.' He's right about that. But we have a responsibility to continue to confront the truth, ever more difficult as the last survivors die. An international day of commemoration helps keep those facts alive."
Was It Corruption That Got Hamas Elected? Don't Bet on It!
Columnist Sidney Zion writes in the New York Daily News (www.nydailynews.com) on Jan. 27 that the Palestinians voted for terror:
"The Palestinians voted for terror, nothing less than the destruction of Israel, in a clear voice and by a landslide. Hamas made no bones about it, this was its campaign, complete with the burning of the Star of David to the tune of machine guns riffing in the desert air.
"This should go without saying, but no sooner were the returns in than the usual suspects here and in Europe were opining that the Palestinians had really voted for free lunches and against corruption. Not for bullets, for butter; not for terror but for clean government.
"Of course, if that were the case, the Palestinian people would have long ago run Yasser Arafat out of town without a camel and maybe – maybe – a pail of water. It was Arafat who looted his people out of billions, who ran the PLO and later the Palestinian Authority with an iron hand that kept them living in refugee camps and otherwise in squalor. Yet they love him today as they did in life. Does anyone believe he'd have lost this election?
"What the Palestinians knew was that Arafat would never sell out his and their dream that Israel would one day be erased from the map. They understood him in Arabic while the world, even Israel, only heard him in English. Arafat could have easily whacked out Hamas. He had 50,000 men under arms, mostly supplied by Israel after the Oslo accords, while Hamas sported a ragtag army which even today counts slightly north of 5,000.
"Mahmoud Abbas, Arafat's consiglieri, had the same arms advantage even into this week's election. Ariel Sharon exhorted him to disarm Hamas, which indeed was his obligation under the American-led road map.
"He wouldn't do it, and if he couldn't do it, it was because the Palestinian people never believed he didn't want to do it. They knew their hero Arafat shared the Hamas desire and obligation to destroy the Jewish state. …
"President Bush promoted democracy in Palestine and he got it. Give people the right to have what they want and you end up with a terrorist regime. Bush says he won't deal with Hamas unless they recognize Israel's right to exist. That decision, Menachem Begin once said, cannot be made by any man or country. The decision was made in the Bible.
"It took 2,000 years and incredible pogroms ending in the Holocaust, and great men and women with vision and yes, arms, to bring back the dream of a Jewish state.
"Do the Palestinians think Hamas can bring it to an end? If so, their dream of their own state will turn out to be their worst nightmare."
Palestinians Must Face Fallout After What Happened at Ballot Box
Columnist Jim Hoagland writes in The Washington Post (washingtonpost.com) on Jan. 27 that the U.S. shouldn't make the same mistake with Hamas as it did with Yasser Arafat:
"In their pain, the Palestinians have lashed out against Fatah and entrusted their fate to a movement that exists in large part to inflict pain on their Israeli and American enemies. The psychic rewards of revenge, which are much esteemed in the Arab world, outweigh, right now, material and other rewards that were supposed to flow to Palestinians from peace accords …
"Even after Hamas' victory became clear, [President] Bush urged Abbas to 'stay in office and work to move the process forward.' The president seemed to be proposing that Abbas seek a political blessing from Hamas and a power-of-attorney to continue talks that the radicals denounce as worthless.
"That is precisely the wrong direction to take. The Bush administration and other governments should do nothing to obscure for the Palestinians the consequences of their actions at the ballot boxes. It would not be effective diplomacy or politics to cushion the Palestinians from those consequences. The world should not move backward 20 years, to the time when diplomats moved heaven and earth to coax grudging and obscure statements from Yasser Arafat acknowledging Israel's right to exist. That effort led to Israel's 1993 decision to install Fatah in command of the Palestinian territories in return for Arafat's unfulfilled installment-plan promise to make peace.
"That history suggests there is little to be gained now from trying to induce Hamas into reasonable-sounding rhetoric or from trying to keep afloat an Abbas administration that has just been repudiated. Clarity counts in this election's aftermath."