Wednesday 15 November 2023

The Living Presence of the Past


The living presence of the past by Merilyn Moos

The destruction of Gaza and the genocide of the Palestinians living there is unbearable. I want however to be clear about this. I am not weeping for dead babies, although their deaths tears at my soul. I am not weeping about the genocide of the Palestinians or their forced relocation, though I cannot sleep for thinking of them.

Mass graves, the killing of thousands of civilians, operations without anesthetic, overcrowded camps without water, energy or food: what does this remind you of? What the Israeli armed forces are doing is not the same as the Nazis’ barbarous acts, but the similarities burn me up.

The Netanyahu government is the child of the Nazis. Do not read this and slap your laptops shut. If the Nazis had been defeated before they took power in 1933, there would not have been concentration and death camps or the chance the UN would have agreed to the establishment of Israel – on somebody else’s land. It was not inevitable that the Nazis, who had only been around for just over 10 years, would gained power. They were a bunch of murderous anti-Left thugs who were not generally popular in Germany. My parents, my Communist father in particular, took to the streets to stop those terrifying gangs. This is not the place for a history lesson, but the Left lost and most paid for it with their lives.

Luckily my parents escaped, but had to leave behind many family members that were too old or infirm to start again elsewhere. And anyway, what country would take them? According to the Nazis, my family was Jewish. Some, like those living in Gaza, were moved from place to place before being murdered.

I was born here in England, did well, became a lecturer, had a child, made many left-wing friends and am living a reasonably comfortable old age. I support the Palestinian struggle. The war on Palestine oppresses me to a degree which friends find difficult to comprehend. A close Leftish academic friend, John, born into a Jewish family, tells me that Hamas is a terrorist organization and that he cannot support the Palestinians. We no longer see each other.

Another Jewish literary friend, Eleanor, emails me that there is a growing wave of anti-Semitism in Britain and Jews are facing daily persecution. If we meet, she writes, knowing my position on Palestine, she won’t talk politics, but only about normal life! I cannot imagine meeting with her.

Yvonne, a long-standing and kind friend, is uncomprehending when I tell her that the wound from the murder of my family in Germany has been reopened by the murder of the Palestinian people.

I’m not very well and have only managed to go on two of the Palestinian demonstrations. I cannot stop the government of this country actively colluding with Netanyahu’s murderous crusade. I cannot stop the latest imperialist drive for land and resources. But the demonstrations give me hope. We must mobilise on the streets, in our work-places and trade-unions and in the Labour Party. But where are the Labour Party banners? Instead Starmer whines about pauses, not a ceasefire. And says we must support Israel. Does he not realise, do others not, that the equation between criticizing Israel with anti-Semitism is fueling the very anti-Semitism they – rightly- abhor?

I favour a one-state secular solution. There is no other way, which does not involve millions of Palestinians being displaced, injured or killed. I am not optimistic.