In the brutal and unforgiving world of the New Anti-semitism, there are rare moments of respite when a voice is heard to expose the ludicrous statements made against Israel and the Jewish people. Such moments are to be cherished, even more so when they are provided by a voice from the middle east.
In his article posted April 21, 2009 on the liberal Arab website www.elaph.com, reformist writer Basem Muhammad Habib condemns the Holocaust denial in the Arab world. The following excerpts constitute a commendable testimony to the human spirit.
There Is No Connection at All Between the Reality of the Holocaust and What Has Happened in Palestine
“These days, the world is commemorating the Holocaust, because it was one of the biggest massacres in history, which surpassed other massacres in its barbarity, even those committed by primitive civilizations. Abundant [evidence] indicates that more than six million Jews were killed during the 1930s and 1940s, having been accused by the Nazi authorities of conspiring with the Allies, of causing the Germany’s defeat in World War I, and of cooperating with the efforts of its enemies in World War II. This racist thinking fed the feelings of hatred towards the Jews, and led to this horrible massacre, whose wounds are still tormenting the world even decades later.
“Though this horrible event has become part of history, and cannot possibly be denied, there are nevertheless some who insist on denying it and on questioning [the validity of] the numbers, out of motivations that are mostly political. [This is true] especially in our region, which is steeped in [psychological] complexes and feelings of resentment. Many [in our region] attempt to link the Holocaust and the issue of Palestine, believing that to recognize and commemorate the Holocaust is to betray the Palestinian cause. This approach raises questions about the soundness of the ideologies that dominate our attitudes and feelings – ideologies that are clearly not anchored in sound logic, and are not at all consistent with our human values. Thus, we unwittingly turn our backs on the proper human attitude, just because our feelings of hatred get the better of us.
“There is no connection at all between the reality of the Holocaust and what has happened in Palestine. These are two different matters that [occurred in different] times and places, and we can assess each of them independently of the other. [Only] then… will our judgment be free and grounded in correct values and sincere sentiments.
“Instead of doubting [the historicity of the Holocaust], we should admire the Jewish political leaders for the interest they show in the Jewish [Holocaust] victims and for their constant remembrance of those atrocities. They dedicate much effort to honoring their memory, documenting their trials, and fighting for [the survivors’] rights, wherever they are. This is something we hardly ever see in our region, where people are killed for the most trivial reasons, and their suffering and pain are quickly forgotten. In Iraq, for example, hundreds of thousands were killed [under Saddam Hussein’s] reign of terror and tyranny, yet we have never heard of any attempt to commemorate these victims, nor have we seen any concern for their lost rights…
“Today, the world has become free of [fascist] ideologies, and the reign of reason is expanding. Even Germany, which witnessed this criminal massacre, has acknowledged this catastrophe, and has begun to atone for it in various ways, [for example] by providing annual economic support to Israel. The U.N., for its part, has issued a resolution designating January 27 as [International] Holocaust Remembrance Day… This date was chosen in honor of the few survivors who were discovered in Auschwitz by the Allies [when they liberated the camp on January 27,] 1945 – [survivors] who were among the few who experienced the horror [of the Holocaust] and lived to tell the tale.”
Holocaust Denial Usually Stems Not from Scholarly Motivations, But from Political Ones
“Because of the doubts raised by many [people about the Holocaust], some countries have been forced to issue laws that criminalize any attempt to doubt or deny this event – for the casting of doubt does not usually stem from scholarly motivations but [comes to serve] political and ideological goals… Some regard such laws as undemocratic, and as indicating a pro-Israel bias. However, the truth is that [these laws] came in response to a wave of irrational doubt, promoted by certain parties under the guise of scientific inquiry.
“The Holocaust deserves to be [recognized as] a momentous world event, because it targeted [the very essence of] our humanity. At the time, there was no Jewish state and most of those who suffered this injustice lived in Europe in small diaspora communities.
“We [Arabs] should feel empathy for the victims of the Holocaust and commemorate them, as do others [throughout the world]. Certainly, our participation in commemorating this event will help our international position and change the way people regard us. Perhaps we will be able to improve our image in the eyes of the world and reverse some of the damage that the terrorists have done.”
I applaud Mr. Habib who provided our global community with this well balanced analysis of history. While we might not agree on every details as they pertain to Israel and Palestine, I appreciate his clear attempt at dividing the horrors of the Holocaust and the middle east crisis.
“In a free society, some are guilty but all are responsible”
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel