Letter to a friend about Gaza (en)


Dear friend

You are blaming me for having assimilated Nazism and Zionism by using the term “Nazionism”.

There is no assimilation between Nazism and Zionism; this is a parallelism, a provocative one.

I am aware that this is a parallelism that shocks and hurts the memory of all Jewish people, but its intention is precisely to shock democrats in Israel and inside the Jewish communities all over the world, and make them react and put pressure to Israel to change its attitude towards Palestinians.
Israeli people are thus invited to realize that, when one oppresses people -like the state of Israel oppresses Palestinians- deserves this parallelism, even if the oppressor represents a people that had been the main victim of Nazism.

If there is assimilation, it’s the one that Zionists all over the world do between the present anger and condemnation against Israel on the one hand, and the Antisemitism on the other.

It is true that there are many fascist neo-Nazi and ultra-right attempts to justify the anti-Semitism and the Nazi crimes against Jewish people by invoking the present crimes of Israel against Palestinians. No doubt that there is some anti-Semite ultra-right all over the world trying to appear themselves as “defenders of the Palestinians”. No doubt that many Palestinians struggling against Israeli occupants simply don’t care about the political origins of their “auto-proclaimed allies”… No doubt that some of them adopt –by hate for Israel- the ultra-right revisionist rubbish about Holocaust…

But this has nothing to do with the parallelism between Nazism and Zionism held by me and by many left democrats all over the world. This is a just a provocative criticism, which shows that Israel’s common tactics against Palestinians (first ghettoization, then proclaiming every violent resistance as “terrorism”, and finally applying a collective punishment), is objectively Nazi-inspired tactics.

Don’t forget that the so called “most democratic state of the Middle East” is also a state based on a doctrine of “vital space”, is the one that in many cases targeted Palestinians or other enemies outside its borders, in shameless contempt of every so called “international law”. It is a state that -more than any other- has adopted Blitzkrieg as its military doctrine. It is based on a strongly militarized society (3 years of military service and a life-long reserve for men and 21 months for women), it is a state that “illegally” possesses nuclear weapons and kept in prison without a public trial the person who told the world the truth about it, it is a state where peace activists are very often arrested under charges of “treason”, it is a state that disdains the international treaties about torture and prisoners’ rights. And you know what? The press in the West very often reminds to the public opinion that the Hamas is an organization that refuses to recognize the existence of the state of Israel, but it reminds to us less often that there are too many people in Israel who demand the deportation or the massive exodus of Palestinians, the restraining of the Israeli Arabs’ civilian rights, a “Jewish” and not a republican state. This kind of discourse (that is a form of a genocidal “final solution” if applied, isn’t it?) is not held by marginal people and parties, but by people inside the governing parties and by extremist parties that have even participated in Israeli governments.

Of course, if one wants to be fair, one should recognize that all the above is not exactly “Nazism”; it is just the official -or semi-official -doctrine of one of the most aggressive states that the modern world has known. It is just a sui generis militaristic-nationalist ideology and practice that has been formed under the influence of Zionism, as this latter came into action during the post war Arab-Israeli conflict. This “just” is the problem, my friend, and this “just” is precisely what I wanted to say when I used the term “nazionism”. You see, here in Greece too, when I face a supporter of the idea of a powerful state that would protect the “national interest” by “any means”, I often threat him as a fascist and Nazi. Of course he is not actually one; I know that the historical context is different and that his ideology is just a Greek version of aggressive nationalism. Though, I DO HAVE THE RIGHT to threat him as a fascist and Nazi, because these two ideologies have become –rightfully- the worldwide symbols of aggressive and hateful nationalism and chauvinism. This is a kind of insult for political use, showing the dangers of nationalism (especially in its militaristic aggressive version), and at the same time it is a kind of political-ethical judgment: it means that every nationalist who pretends protecting by force some “national interest” or some kind of “national idea” -that he has learned to adore above all-, can become dangerous for peace and humanity; he is, by extension, a potential fascist and Nazi. And I would reserve these qualifications also for every state that has proclaimed this kind of aggressive nationalism its official ideology. I don’t see why we should exempt the Israeli state from this kind of treatment, the very moment that this state has become the “envy” of every nationalist in this world, because it effectively does all the things that other nationalists always wanted to do, but didn’t always dare (at least they rarely dare to do all of them…). That’s perhaps the reason why some of them hate Israel so much…

Actually, if we examine the historical phenomenon of anti-Semitism we’ll see that the modern anti-Semitism is mostly a “nationalist” and not a religious one (though it is a form of continuation of the religious hate against “the Jew”). Nationalists during 19th and 20th century were seeking desperately some elements of “historical continuity” in order to define the “national identity” and “the historical mission” of their respective nations. Compared to these ideologies the nationalist variations of Zionism had the advantage to refer to a long tradition of a people that kept his identity through all the persecutions he has suffered: Jewish people’s persistence and solidarity was somehow the ideal-type of the national unity, the very idea of a messianic leader national leader was itself Jewish. No wonder why Jewish people became so easily the object of the hate of nationalists –and especially of their messianic leaders- coming from so many countries, even from countries where there had been no Jews at all. Later on, anti-Semitism also became “anti-capitalist” (cf. the responsible for the economic and social problems of the society are the rich Jews and not capitalism, idea that a German socialist qualified “socialism of the idiots”) and “anti-communist” (communism is a Jewish conspiracy which undermines western society and help Jews dominate the world). These three forms of modern anti-Semitism were based on a theory of conspiracy (which was essentially a kind of projection of various nationalist desires and reactionary obsessions on the Jewish people), and constituted a useful tool used by many political propagandas and finally led to the Holocaust.

After the creation of the state of Israel (and especially after its post-1967 evolution into a local power that aggressively dominates the Middle East with the support of the West), arose indeed a new form of anti-Semitism which uses criticism of the state of Israel as a cover. This time we have to do with a kind of “anti-imperialism” of the idiots… It is a silly -but a very dangerous- ideology that explains the support Israel receives from the West in terms of a presumed “omnipresent and omnipotent Jewish lobby”, overlooking of course the real issues, conflicts and geopolitics that led historically the US and the European imperialism to support the state of Israel for their own purposes, as they do with the Arab monarchies and dictatorships in the same region. Of course lobbies do exist (this is not a secret) and it would be ingenuous to believe that Israel itself is nothing but a puppet state; it is an autonomous and aggressive player in the imperialist game in the Middle East region, a player who has modified many times the rules of the game using his military power. But the modern anti-Semites want us to forget what really Israel is, and want to represent the modern imperialism in general as a result of another “Jewish conspiracy”.

It is true, then, that these new anti-Semites when they condemn “Israel” and denounce “Zionism”, they really mean “Jewish people” and they actually propagate the same old hate against “the Jew”. It is true that sometimes they insidiously try to represent the Israeli crimes against the Palestinians as a kind of a posterior justification of the Nazi crimes against the Jewish people. But in a very paradoxical way, while this new form of hate is supposed to target Israel and not the Jewish people, in fact what it’s really going on there, it’s exactly the opposite: when a real anti-Semite speaks, he hardly hides his profound hate for “the Jews” in general, and he also hardly hides, behind the denouncements against Israel policy in the Middle East, his profound admiration for the Israeli state. That’s why, anti-Semite attitudes towards Jewish people almost never change, while attitudes towards Israel do change, and the best example for this, is given by the strange alliance that has been formed these last years between the fundamentalist –and traditionally anti-Semite- religious right in the US and the hard core of Israeli aggressive politicians. So, I am not happy when I see synagogues in Europe being attacked or children wearing the kipah being aggressed, and I worry a lot about it. But you must also admit -if you permit wordplay- that the main anti-Semitic discourse today in the West is the one that targets the Arab “Semites” –and Muslims in general- and not the Jews…

You may object –as many do in Europe- that the term “Zionism” does not design Israel’s policy and official ideology, but a respectable and a noble historical ideal, integral part of the identity of the Jewish people, who preserved through History the dream to regain his homeland. So you may consider that the very use of the term “Zionism” in a discarding sense denotes a latent anti-Semitism, and a denial of the very existence of Israel. First of all, I know that Zionism is not the identity of the Jewish people, it’s only one of the definitions of this identity; as in every nation, there is more than one definition of the Jewish, and not all of them agree that one day there must be a Hebraic state in Palestine, or that Jerusalem must be its capital… But, even if all Jewish people were of that opinion, what difference it would make? Why should we owe to the Zionist ideology more respect than to any other nationalist ideology expressing some kind of “national rights”, but in a very dangerous romantic and pseudo-sentimentalist language?

Allow me to give you another aspect from my experience as a Greek left activist. You see, Jewish people is not the only one who consider himself “chosen” or “specially wronged”… and I assure you that one doesn’t have to refer to an ancient people like the Jewish or the Greek in order to feel like that… Just look around you, and see how many “proud” nations exist, and how easily “national missions” are invented. Since my childhood I am used to fight everyday against the persisting Greek version of national ideology that in the 19th century was called Megali Idea (The Great Idea) and was claiming territories for the Greek state, based either on more or less important Greek populations, either on “historical rights” from the past. This ideology knew some great successes and some greater failures, wars, conflicts, refugees and so on… In my lifetime it was an ideology rather defeated, auto-victimized: some “others” had to be responsible for this failure (among them “Jews” why not, they fit in every situation…), but always a dangerous and persisting one. Left activists and other pacifists were always trying to convince people that there is no place for reasonable claims on Istanbul for example, because this latter is a …Turkish city since 500 years (and the fact that someone conquered it doesn’t give as the right to reclaim it back for ever), that Greek Cypriots should find a way to live in peace as equals with the Turkish minority in the island, that Macedonia isn’t only Greek, that other people have also rights to this name and that we must discuss the question with them… I assure you that it was –and still is- so hard to convince people to leave behind them this resentful nationalist sentimentalism which develop on the ground of the frustration by their social condition, to convince them to recognize the real context of the actual world’s conflicts (which is a context of fierce imperialist antagonism), or even only to invoke their fundamental rationality, by simply pointing out that the various “enemy neighbours” are –especially by our times of globalization- poisoned by the same kind of national ideology, and they believe with the same passion in the “rights” of their own nation… It is so hard to escape from this kind of consensus on “national truths”, especially when people from the neighbour countries don’t help you and become themselves banners of the same kind of nationalism… The opposition to all this may cost you the accusation of being “anti-Greek”, which is a moral crime in Greece; you know, it’s something like the moral crime of being “anti-Semite” when you oppose to Israeli policy, though it has not the international dimension of this latter…

So, now you ask me to recognize and respect Zionism, and don’t wordplay with it. I don’t know the degree of your sentimental contamination by this ideology, but sorry, for me it is just another ideology –similar to the ones I know- invoking « historical rights » against realities. But also it is something more than that: it is an ideology whose strict application leads by definition another people (the Palestinians) in an absurd situation of losing -to an important degree, if not completely- his rights on his homeland. Zionism -as ideology and practice which guided the Israeli state in its bloody and sadly successful (?) course till now- has annihilated moral basis for the foundation of the state of Israel itself and has transformed all the supposed ideals of this foundation into lethal weapons. So, if you want my opinion, I do strongly doubt retrospectively about the righteousness and the rationality of the decision for the foundation of the state of Israel, at least in the form that has been chosen in 1945 (and here I refer to the doubts existed inside the Jewish Diaspora at this time). The History has proven in any case that this decision was the beginning of a terrible conflict which transgressed the generations, and still goes on. The rights and the ideals of the Jewish people cannot be expressed by the state of Israel as the world knew it. The Zionism interpreted the fact that the entire humanity recognized the atrocious singularity of the crime committed in Auschwitz, as a permanent licence to kill those who blocked the imagined path to Zion. The recognition of the crime of Auschwitz was meant to be a struggle of the civilization with its own hideous aspects; it is a moral property of the entire humanity, it’s neither a capital in the disposal of a “singular nationalism” nor an instrument of the Israeli state propaganda, which continues to victimize the Jewish people, in order to hide that the part that Israel plays since some decades is the one of the hangman…

Though, I don’t want the dissolution or the eclipse of the state of Israel (precisely because I refuse to subordinate the present to considerations about the injustices of the past, even the relatively recent ones, like many nationalisms -Zionism included- do all the time). The war creates indeed new situations. But even the most trigger-happy must know in which war they have to stop. It is time also for Israel to learn some lessons from its most recent history. The first years after 1967, perhaps the Zionists in Israel were still able to believe that the “annoying shepherds” that called themselves “Palestinians” would sooner or later leave the country to go to the “existing Palestinian state called Jordan” -as the propaganda in Israel used to say- or elsewhere. 40 years later the “shepherds” are still there, and each time they found the way to transform even their most smashing defeats into moral victories. No wall, no killings, no blockades, no apartheid will make them leave. Israel has only one option today: to recognize its total defeat after 1967, as the Palestinians recognized in Oslo their defeat before that date. The only solution for Israel is the immediate foundation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank territories and in Gaza, with Eastern Jerusalem as capital. Israeli democrats must realize that they have to stop this infernal escalation which leads them necessarily to a more authoritarian society inside and to an endless extermination war outside. Fascism is in long term condemned to be defeated, and if its progression doesn’t stop now, Israel will finally risk again its very existence. And no shameless alliances with anti-Semite Christian fundamentalists (who believe that the reconstruction of the Temple in Jerusalem will bring the return of Jesus) will save them…

Oh yes, you remind me now how bad is Hamas: -Hamas are bloody terrorists… Well, before his death, Arafat was a terrorist too, the “nice guys” of today (Fatah) as well. -Hamas targets civilians… Well, as I remember, when the target was Israeli soldiers, or an ultra-right minister, Israeli riposted in the same way as today: massive bombings and children killings. But I can understand that this is a normal reaction for a militaristic state: we Greeks knew this doctrine as the doctrine of Wermacht, which during the occupation used to burn villages to the ground and execute hundreds of civilians as a response to « terrorist attacks »… –But Hamas is the one who kills all those babies, not Israel, by using them as “human shields”… Oh, really? Apparently it is more ethical when Israel uses fully armed colons and their families as “human pikes”… -They use tunnels to bring weapons into Gaza! A real scandal indeed… Israel should call the Americans to intervene; perhaps that’s where Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapons are hidden! Actually, don’t they afraid that coming from a state that illegally possessed nuclear weapons, this accusation could be seen by Hamas as a precious enemy compliment, like stealing a thief?

So please, don’t try to scare me with Hamas. The French were doing the same thing in Algeria; the Americans did the same thing in so many places in the world. On the one side he have some “barbaric bloody killers” who don’t care about life –not even their own- and target only civilians and on the other side we have, a « thinking » war-machine which –when properly function- kills only the strictly necessary number, with reasonable rates of corollary victims… It’s always the civilization versus the “barbarians” created by the imperialist exploitation and oppression: what a glorious a combat indeed… And when facing a conflict like this, all “civilized people”, are called to mobilize just their moral values and compare them to the immorality of the other side, and of course to not mobilize their minds, because that would constitute an immoral justification of the hideous crimes of the “barbarians”. In conflicts like that (where the weakest uses unorthodox weapons against the smashing military power of the opponent -and sometimes indeed barbaric ones, since we talk about “barbarians”…) the official propagandas, always try to make us all look with horror the atrocities committed by the “barbarians” of every kind and, at the same time to look at the troops representing “civilization” with understanding, hoping only that the atrocities they will commit this time are not going to shock our conviction about our moral superiority.

Enough with all these ridiculous justifications of the civilized, methodical and “clever” extermination of all resistance used by the modern imperialism! This simply doesn’t work anymore, because this kind of justification addresses, in fact, not to persons with moral consciousness, but to persons who are ready to put aside some of their moral considerations and adopt some more “pragmatic ones, if this will permit them to continue to enjoy the goods of the civilization so envied by the barbarians… “It’s about petrol, not democracy stupid”, that’s what the imperialist argumentation was whispering, during the invasion to Iraq, to the ear of the public opinion in the developed countries, and this was the best working argument. But not for all, thank God… It seems that the barbarians are continuously multiplying, even inside the so called civilized world… So my friend, if you really want to discuss and understand “why this war” and “why so much hate”, stop to invoke moral issues and the “defensive” argumentation that every aggressor deploys, and start facing the reality which generated all this. Don’t go far, start from the demolitions of houses, the colons, the Wall, the retaliation bombings, the prisoners, the torture, the blockades … I don’t care about modern forms of propaganda, I don’t even look at the selected images on the TV anymore, and I don’t want to see any more “proofs” that Israeli bombs are essentially accurate, and Hamas is a gang of fanatic paranoiacs… Do you really think that the paranoia of Hamas and the ridiculous demonstrations of clever bombings will finally be enough to hide the mass murder that Israel commits today? If it will, if this propaganda works, then all Jewish people should thank their God because in world War II, Goebbels hadn’t disposed the clever weapons with cameras, or the battalion of the journalists that Israel and other modern countries dispose today: if he had, perhaps we all would think today that the Holocaust was some kind of “humanitarian disaster” -as the TV taught us to call it- or some kind of gigantic bath accident…

They keep asking us to condemn Hamas in the same way that we condemn Israel. In fact they ask from us to condemn those who are already condemned by Israel in life prison and in periodical death, they want us to condemn the reaction of the already condemned to this fate… And all that by distance, and based on our infallible « moral standards », which happen to be so convenient for the powerful one…

First the Israelis built a massive prison for an entire people and now they shout that there are “religious junkies”, thieves and murderers in it… Bad people! “They have tunnels”! Wow, a tunnel in a prison? How outrageous! But the Israelis should have built their prison in a more distant place, and not just aside their “beautiful quarter”… Now some of them manage to launch their “explosive stones” from the inside, breaking the ceasefire imposed by those who built their prison… How disgraceful! And when the Israeli fully armed “police squad” is undertaking the “cleaning” of this “filthy place”, what they do these sanguinary barbarians? Instead of giving their children for adoption to some international “humanitarian” NGO and then to kind families in the West who will feed them and buy them toys, they keep them there in the prison, to starve with them and to teach them how to hate and fight their Israeli guards. And worst, instead of showing themselves up (at last) in order to be fairly killed, they keep hiding and launching their rockets, forcing the benevolent Israeli army to kill them all together, adults and children… What kind of parents are they after all? Do they deserve the compassion of the affectionate parents of the civilized societies? Actually we should get these immoral prisoners and lead them to a court for multiple war crimes against their own children! This kind of argumentation reminds me the Wermacht justification for the massive murders committed in Crete in World War II: it was retaliation for the war crimes committed by Cretans during the German invasion. What was the crime? The armed civilian Cretans –armed civilian=terrorist) ignored the moral rules of the war and were shooting the German paratroopers BEFORE they arrive on the ground… Very uncivilized indeed those terrorists…

Larger amounts of insolent propaganda will be needed to hide the analogies between the continuous and shameless siege of the Gaza ghetto-prison (what we see now it is only its final and clearly military phase) and the Nazi siege of the Warsaw Ghetto. The champions of Israel want to make us believe that this time the Nazis are the ones inside the ghetto… Don’t they know that the Nazis are, and will always be the ones around it? Their elders haven’t taught them that the characteristic quality of all Nazis is “being the ones around the ghettos”? What do Israelis expect? That the world will say that their attitude is different of the Nazi attitude just because the massive methodical murder they commit today is supposed to be “selective”? Or that the world will give them another licence to kill just because they have finally managed to push many Palestinians to Islamic fundamentalism? There’s a ghetto in Gaza and in the West Bank, a ghetto that an occupant first built it and then found a pretext to attack it. And that’s Warsaw my friend…

Oups, I did it again: I still connected Nazi and Israel. I must admit it: I do it because I do want to hurt Jewish people, or the friends that support Israel, hoping that at least this « pain » could remind them the true nature of the « threat » that Israeli soldiers seek to « exterminate » today. This threat is an entire people that you cannot eliminate. Never! And in any case we won’t let you!


Dear friend

I repeat: If you really want this to stop, just don’t talk about ceasefires and terrorists. Just recognize the origin of this bloodbath, and say: A COUNTRY FOR THE PALESTINIANS NOW.


Nikos Zartamopoulos

January 2009-01-12



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Une Réponse to “Letter to a friend about Gaza (en)”

  1. lelapinfeu Says:

    Un poème pour Gaza – Ένα ποίημα για τη Γάζα

    Chers amis,

    Nous sommes nombreux, je suppose, à être révoltés par ce qui est en train de se passer à Gaza. Le massacre de la population, des hommes, des femmes et des enfants, les tirs contre des écoles, contre les équipements culturels, contre des établissements construits ou gérés par des associations humanitaires ou des organismes internationaux, l’impossibilité pour les journalistes et pour les services de secours de faire leur travail… l’inégalité flagrante des forces en présence qui ne devrait pas permettre de parler de guerre, la faiblesse des réactions diplomatiques, le fait qu’aucune sanction ne soit envisagée… Et je suppose que nous sommes nombreux à nous sentir nous seulement révoltés mais aussi impuissants. Poètes nous ne pouvons pas faire grand-chose d’autre que de prendre la parole et témoigner. Qu’au moins nous ne restions pas silencieux. Je m’associe à la poétesse syrienne Maram al Masri pour vous inviter à participer à une campagne poétique « Un poème pour Gaza ». Réunissons le maximum de poèmes (dans nos différentes langues). Si nous pouvons, nous les traduirons. Nous pourrons peut-être même les publier. Au moins, nous pourrons commencer par les diffuser par internet.
    A très bientôt,
    Francis Combes

    Αγαπητοί φίλοι,
    Είμαστε, υποθέτω, πολυάριθμοι όσοι νιώθουμε εξεγερμένοι από τα γεγονότα που αυτή τη στιγμή λαμβάνουν χώρα στη Γάζα. Η εξολόθρευση του πληθυσμού, ανδρών, γυναικών και παιδιών, τα τυφλά χτυπήματα εναντίον σχολείων, εναντίον πολιτισμικών μονάδων, εναντίον κτιρίων ανθρωπιστικών οργανώσεων και διεθνών οργανισμών, η απαγόρευση σε δημοσιογράφους και σε υπηρεσίες παροχής πρώτων βοηθειών να κάνουν τη δουλειά τους… η καταφανής ανισότητα ανάμεσα στις αντίπαλες δυνάμεις που δεν μας επιτρέπουν επ’ ουδενί λόγο να μιλάμε για πόλεμο, η αδυναμία των διπλωματικών αντιδράσεων, το γεγονός ότι καμιά κύρωση δεν προβλέπεται για το ισραηλινό κράτος… Και υποθέτω πως είμαστε πολυάριθμοι όσοι νιώθουμε εξεγερμένοι ακριβώς επειδή νιώθουμε τόσο αδύναμοι να αντιδράσουμε. Ως ποιητές δεν μπορούμε να κάνουμε πολλά πράγματα. Μπορούμε ωστόσο να πάρουμε το λόγο, να χρησιμοποιήσουμε τη γλώσσα μας και να καταθέσουμε τη μαρτυρία μας. Τουλάχιστον ας μιλήσουμε, ας μην μείνουμε σιωπηλοί. Ενώνω τη φωνή μου μ’ εκείνην της Σύριας ποιήτριας Maram al Masri, για να σας προσκαλέσουμε να συμμετάσχετε στην ποιητική καμπάνια « Ένα ποίημα για την Γάζα ». Ας συγκεντρώσουμε όσο περισσότερα ποιήματα γίνεται (ο καθένας στη δική του γλώσσα). Αν μπορούμε ας τα μεταφράσουμε. Θα μπορούσαμε ενδεχομένως και να τα δημοσιεύσουμε. Έστω όμως ας αρχίσουμε να τα διανείμουμε μέσω του Internet.
    Francis Combes


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