On Friday, January 11, 2019, after writing the first draft of this angry opinion and while waiting for it to be posted on the internet, this exclusive interview with Angela Daviswas broadcast on Democracy Now. It is one hour long but it is worth seeing, every second of it.
This altercation is major! You don’t mess with the likes of Professor Angela Davis lightly. I am not asking here only for the reinstatement of her award. I know that she and her local Alabama supporters will do that better than I ever can. What I find unbelievable is that one of the parties that objected to conferring the Fred L. Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award on her is no other than The Holocaust Education Center in the city of Birmingham. How more completely can a group abandon its moral responsibility or misunderstand it?! What I am compelled to do is to shout out my anger and disgust at the groups unbecoming behavior. I Join the likes of Prof. Norman Finkelstein in condemning the commercialization of the Holocaust memory. “Memory traders,” I call them. Such opportunistic groups have already devalued the concept of anti-Semitism to complete uselessness. I want the group in Birmingham to apologize for its ill-considered misstep.
To me, the ethics of educating the world about the Holocaust obligates, prima facie, respecting the rights of all human beings, especially the rights of the downtrodden and the subjugated minorities who are targeted for displacement and genocide. Needless to say, the Holocaust’s logic of “never again” is universal and not the property of any specific ethnicity. It is not any group’s proprietary slogan. I hereby declare to the offending group that we, the Palestinian common folk, share in the rebellious outrage of “never again” as much as any other downtrodden human group. It is yours, ours and the Rohingya’s equally. From where I stand, we own and must defend its purity for us and for you. I hereby call you out for overstepping your bounds as the self-assigned guardian of the memory and of educating the world about the lessons of the Holocaust. You owe us as much as we owe you: If we do not rise and defend ourselves together, we are destined to suffer separately and to inflict accusations, insults and misery at each other. You must apologize to Professor Angela Davis and call for the reinstatement of her award. And let me see you stand up and demand from Israel to stop its crimes against humanity in Gaza. That should be your self-assigned duty as well.
When two million people, regardless of skin color, nationality or religion, are facing slow and systematic extermination as the Palestinians in Gaza are, logic dictates that respecting the memory of the Holocaust requires you to side with their right to life. As to all the rest of humanity, the Rev. Martin Luther King’s words come to mind: “In the end, what will hurt us the most is not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.” That is doubly true when those silent friends finally open their mouth and turn out to support the oppressor. “Hamas!” I can hear you shouting. It is the willful termination of a human life that is at stake again and again here. Civilized humans who take a stand against the capital punishment don’t make their objection conditional on the positive thoughts of the condemned. It is the barbarity of the act of execution that is objectionable, regardless of the outrage of the thoughts and actions of which the condemned are accused. In Gaza less than 3% of water resources are fit for human consumption and food supplies are allowed to trickle in at a rate calculated to approximate but no higher than human survival requirements. Even Gaza’s zoo-keeper has deported his wild animals because conditions are no longer suitable for them. Israeli state-licensed arms dealers advertise their deadly wares with the promotional slogan of “field-tested in Gaza.” Gazan mothers and fathers of terminally ill children at the border are forced to bargain with their honor and to turn informers on relatives and neighbors to access facilities that may save their children’s lives. Israeli snipers shoot to kill clearly identified medical personnel and target body parts of demonstrating civilian youth selectively to cause specific life-long disabilities. When all of that has becomes daily routine, it is your duty as much as it is mine to condemn such systematic atrocities, and not to disparage me and my supporter, Angela Davis, for doing it.
Show the world the courage of your convictions as the self-assigned guardian of the memory of the Holocaust. Let me see you sidestep the Zionists’ minefield of misappropriations. Give Professor Angela Davis the apology you owe her. Pick up the damned phone right now!