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Commentary: Don't wait to stop another genocide

Esty Dinur, Progressive Perspectives on

Published in Op Eds

I’ve been losing sleep, feeling helpless in the face of present-day atrocities that are much like the ones committed against my ancestors.

I was born and raised in Israel to a father who survived the Holocaust and a mother who survived the Nazi blitz of London, both of them as children. Like many others of my generation, I’m named after a relative who was murdered by the Nazis — in my case, my father’s youngest sister, Esty, who was killed at the age of 5 in Auschwitz. I grew up among people with numbers tattooed on their forearms.

My father was a Holocaust historian. As I grew up, there was one question that permeated everything: How could this happen? How is it possible that the whole world was watching the genocide of the Jews — and other groups— and did nothing until it was too late? By the time the Nazis were defeated, 6 million Jews had been murdered, including my father’s mother and four younger siblings.

I find myself mulling this question again, now that I see my own people engaged in a genocide themselves: that of the Palestinians. How can it be? We’re watching the horrors; we see thousands and thousands of women and children being slaughtered, and it keeps going on. The genocide, carried out by bombs and tanks, starvation, dehydration, the destruction of hospitals and other infrastructure and the withholding of funds from UNRWA—the organization responsible for keeping Gaza alive—is efficient and unceasing. And it is made possible by the monetary and military support of the United States.

How can Democrats like President Joe Biden support Ukrainians in their struggle against the Russian invasion while at the same time enthusiastically supporting Israel’s invasion of Gaza? Why does the United States earmark $14 billion for Israel while so many Americans are hungry and homeless? As a dual Israeli-American citizen, I find myself both enraged and called to action.

Now, as Israel plots a ground operation in Rafah that would likely kill huge numbers of civilians, the United States is urging the country to “come up with a strong safety plan.” But what does that even mean? Expelling even more Gazans further south to a new open air prison in the Sinai desert?

 

The United States and much of the rest of the world have seen mass mobilizations of citizens, including many Jews, who are horrified by this organized decimation of a people and demand that it stop. We’ve been organizing and demanding that our elected officials listen and start representing us. So far, to no avail. Biden and his Cabinet are deaf to us as are most of our congressional supposed representatives. But there has been some success: So far, at least 70 cities across the country have passed cease-fire resolutions, and 100,000 Democrats voted “Uncommitted” in the Michigan primary elections.

As the daughter of a victim of a horrendous crime against humanity, I refuse to look away from another such crime. I demand that both my governments, Israel and the United States, immediately stop this mass murder and start rebuilding Gaza, using the $14 billion for that purpose. It will take a lot to atone for the horrors of the past five months. The sooner it starts the better.

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Esty Dinur is a radio, print and online journalist. Listen to her weekly radio show every Friday at noon Central Time on www.wortfm.org. She is a member of Jewish Voice for Peace-Madison and a founder of Veterans for Peace-Madison. This column was produced for Progressive Perspectives, a project of The Progressive magazine, and distributed by Tribune News Service.

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©2024 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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