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Gaza: Holocaust or The Hashoah?


There is no doubt that the recent Israeli escalation in Gaza is unwise. It will not end the Qassam rocket fire on Sderot or the Grad rocket fire on Ashkelon. It will not bring peace. It will not end the rule of the Hamas in Gaza. On the contrary, it might help to legitimize and entrench the Hamas.

Israel has a right to defend itself. It is not always wise to exercise your rights. It is never wise to carry out military operations that cannot achieve any political goal or provide any military advantage. The Israel government must know by now that the rules are different for Israel. According to the BBC the Lebanese army killed about 260 people in Nahar el Bared camp. Over 40 were civilians, while the rest were terrorists militants of the Fatah al-Islam Al-Qaeda group. But nobody batted an eyelash. Nobody said there was any Holocaust. In Gaza, about 40 terrorists militants were killed by Israel, and about 10 civilians in a day. It was immediately condemned as "disproportionate use of force" and "a Holocaust." Fifty dead Palestinians make a Holocaust, but as many dead Pakistanis or Iraqis rate 2 column inches on the third page, and nobody even remembers if six times as many Lebanese are killed. That's the way the world works. (Note added in update - About 61 Palestinians were killed in Gaza on Saturday; Palestinians claim 29 were civilians, of whom 5 were children - reference)

A linguistic note is in order. Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai said the following last week:

"As the Qassam rocket fire [on Israeli civilians] intensifies and increases its range, the Palestinians will bring upon themselves a greater catastrophe because we will use all our might to defend ourselves."

. The phrase he used in Hebrew was

yamitu al atsmam shoah gdolah yoter.

. Reuters news service mistranslated "shoah" as Holocaust, and trumpeted the "news" that Vilnai was threatening a "Holocaust." They published a correct version later on, but the story of the "Holocaust" threat has spread far and wide. The original was either a deliberate error or a very gross mistranslation. Those who are spreading it now are lying deliberately. I have check three authoritative dictionaries (Alcalay, Even Shushan, Shweika). The word "Shoah" in correct Hebrew does not mean genocide, or burnt offering or the massacre of European Jews by the Nazis. That is not one of the meanings listed. "Hashoah" - with a definite article, refers to "The Holocaust" - the massacre of European Jewry. It is not the same thing. I have also searched for "Yamitu Shoah" in Google. This is a sort of cliched phrase that means "will bring on disaster." It is used for ecological disasters, environmental disasters and so on. For those who read Hebrew - here are two examples here and here. The first discusses whether or not child subsidies will cause a "shoah" and the second discussed where or not computers will cause a "shoah." Moreover, in the context in which Vilnai said it, the meaning is unmistakable. Nobody sane, and no Israeli minister, would argue that the Holocaust or a holocaust had already taken place in Gaza. So what could it mean if he "threatened" a "greater holocaust?" The Holocaust, HaShoah, is understood as an absolute term in Israel - the annihilation of European Jewry. How could anyone threaten to make someone "more annihilated?"

It is true that we are a nation of immigrants and many speak incorrect Hebrew. Many speak "English Hebrew." "My grandparents died in the Shoah, but my parents came on Aliyah and they work in Hasbara, and my brother is a Halutz in a kibbutz. My sister married a yored and went to live in America. I learned Hebrew in an ulpan" But it is not a war crime for ministers in the Israeli government to speak correct Hebrew. Until the Hamas come to power, Israelis are still allowed to speak Hebrew.

As to who is threatening a Holocaust, that is certainly an interesting question that you must judge for yourself. Following is a Hamas poster.

Gaza Holocaust

The caption reads 'Death is coming, O Zionists, hide yourselves', and the photo shows the "Zionists" cowering in fear of the rocket fire.

The tragedy in Gaza, must be blamed in part on Israel. It must be blamed also on the Hamas and on the Palestinians who failed to stop the rockets, as Palestinian Ray Hanania points out. Above all it must be blamed on the international community, which is alternately busy issuing worthless condemnations of the Hamas and equally ineffective condemnations of Israel, rather than finding a solution. Palestinians in Gaza cannot overthrow Hamas. Israel has to defend itself, and the Israeli government has to deal with political realities like any government. The daily horror of rocket fire in Sderot has put tremendous pressure on the government. The place has become a ghost town. Ray Hanania is mistaken in thinking that the action in Gaza is due to "right wing" Israelis. The Israeli right is not in power. If they were, they promise approximately that they would pave over Gaza and make a parking lot. They are constantly pushing the Israeli government to invade. The security establishment, including the defense minister and chief of staff, as well as the Prime Minister, are resisting, at great cost to their personal political careers.

Someone up there in Washington or New York or Brussels should heed the warning of Henry Wallace, issued over 60 years, that there would be no peace on earth until there is peace in Palestine.

Ami Isseroff

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Original text copyright by the author and MidEastWeb for Coexistence, RA. Posted at MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log at http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000677.htm where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Distributed by MEW Newslist. Subscribe by e-mail to mew-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by email with this notice and link to and cite this article. Other uses by permission.

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Replies: 10 comments

If God asked Abraham to sacrifice Ishmael on the top of the mountain He wouldn't have stopped Abraham then i bet there would be peace in Palestine or should i say Jerusalem.

Posted by Lucas America @ 03/03/2008 03:59 AM CST

Above all it must be blamed on the international community, which is alternately busy issuing worthless condemnations of the Hamas and equally ineffective condemnations of Israel, rather than finding a solution.

Any response will be called disproportionate by the pro-Pally crowd, and condemned by the Europeans.

An argument can be made that any response which leaves Hamas capable of firing another rocket is "disproportionate" - in the wrong direction.

A response which stops the rockets would be, obviously, "proportionate". So far there has not been any such response. No wonder the Pallies think they're winning.

Posted by The back of the hill @ 03/04/2008 01:30 AM CST

Hamas has offered a 50 year Hudna, which is nothing more than a face saving way of saying Peace. They have even gone further and said that if a Palestinian plebiscite approved a formal peace treaty with Israel they would honor it. We should take yes for an answer.

Posted by jdledell @ 03/04/2008 04:00 AM CST

IRAN is looming and are the Iranians Arabs even though they may be Shia, NO !

America has GIFTED Iraq to Iran, the inevitable Yank Withdrawal means that Russia's ally will gain enormous clout of every sort.

Will Russia gain a warm water port ? With American power in eclipse who CAN stand up to even a conventionally armed Iran ??

Posted by stuart mcintosh @ 03/04/2008 08:35 AM CST

It's really monstruous to not consider Israel's raid in Gaza a holocaust!? When will we cease proprotionate what unproporional? When all of these nazism end up? I think killing palestinian civilian is nothing at all, but.....Wish I would be an isreli or an american! at leat they are only HUMAN all around the world that have right to live!!

Posted by brebo @ 03/04/2008 03:08 PM CST

but God didn't have abraham kill ishmael.

i believe God also told the jews to not take the land of others when they came back to their land. ezekial. especially if the occupants of the land had children.

lucas is full of hate and bigotry.

Posted by soperson @ 03/18/2008 03:23 AM CST


zionist terrorists stole the land of the pals.

Posted by soperson @ 03/18/2008 03:24 AM CST


the coke bottle and a bar tab

Posted by soperson @ 03/18/2008 03:26 AM CST

let me rephrase something: God told the jews not to displace those they found living in israel when they returned. especially if those living their had children. ezekial.

God was a pretty smart person, huh?

Posted by soperson @ 03/18/2008 03:45 AM CST

the situation is both sides arent serious about peace,when Israel is ready to make concessions Hamas and Jihad fire rockets on Sderot and Ashqelon,or send a gunman to kill children in a Yeshiva,when the Hamas do offer a truce or whatever,Israel builds up settlements and goes against the roadmap,continues raids,lets its settlers get out of control by abusing Palestinians,the sad thing is neither side is going to leave the land and a one state solution would end up in a bloodbath.

Posted by alon @ 04/01/2008 12:27 PM CST

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