Mordechay’s Hand

By Lasse Wilhelmson

Published in Palestine Think tank, November 2008.

In the ghettos of Warsaw during the Second World War, the Jews rose up. Faced with an imperious executioner, they defended their human dignity. In an Israeli kibbutz there is a statue of the leading rebel with a grenade in his right hand (yad). The kibbutz is named after him ­ Yad Mordechay. It is situated close to the northern border with Gaza.

Since the end of the 19th century, the Palestinians have been gradually forced out of Palestine. Today they amount to only 20 % of the citizens of Israel and do not have the same rights as the Jews. Others live in walled-in enclaves on the West Bank and in the Gaza ghetto. Many have lived for 60 years in refugee camps, or in exile. The situation of the Palestinians is now similar to that of the Jews in Europe during the Second World War.

The Palestinians have nothing to do with Hitler and Palestine is their country. In spite of this, many seem to look upon the conflict as though both sides are tarred with the same brush. Or choose to look the other way and keep silent. The Second World War has been portrayed as a Holocaust mainly concerning Jews. But what about the Japanese in Hiroshima, the Germans in Dresden, or the Russians on the Eastern Front? The Jews have been allotted an exceptional position as victims. It is used to justify Israel’s politics. The ”Jewish State” becomes taboo. Anyone who touches it is stigmatised with ”anti Semitism”. Even though it is a state for only some of its citizens. Or because of this?

And yet, in the end, everything is so simple: When the exiled Palestinians are allowed to return to their homeland. When all people between the Mediterranean and the river Jordan are awarded the same rights.

And the statue of Mordechay represents also ”the other”, with an olive branch in his hand instead of a grenade.

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