Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The ghettos of Warsaw and Gaza

NOW | When Germany conquered Europe, the Nazis first rounded up Eastern European Jews into ghettos before sending them to extermination camps, the most notorious of which was in Warsaw, where 440,000 people were piled up in a narrow surface area surrounded by walls. These Jews started dying in large numbers, as they were deprived of food, medication and heating, in addition to a ban on leaving the ghetto and arbitrary assassinations. Approximately 100,000 are estimated to have died of deprivation, brutality and sickness in the ghetto, not to mention deportations toward the death camp of Treblinka. Such was the situation that, in early 1943, the ghetto numbered 71,000 occupants only, with many being forced to leave to concentration camps on a daily basis.

A group of young Jews decided to resist and formed the Jewish Military Union, which was initially composed of boys and girls aged 13 to 22. These volunteers fought deportation and took control of the ghetto. Against all odds and expectation, they resisted to the Nazi offensive from January 18 to May 16, 1943 and were ultimately eliminated, but not without extracting a heavy price from their oppressors.

The situation in Gaza is strangely similar to the Warsaw ghetto uprising, albeit on a different scale and intensity. As was the case with Hitler, who wanted an Aryan Germany and Europe without Jews, the Zionists seek a Jewish Palestine without Palestinians. After implementing a terror policy that drove the majority of Palestinians to flee, they expropriated their properties much like the Nazis did in the 1930s. And as was the case with the Nurnberg Laws, Israel subjected the Palestinians to a policy of ethnic cleansing using threats, terror, economic strangulation, expropriation of properties, humiliation and violence, thus pushing Palestinians to raise the banner of the Intifada.