February 23, 2012

Happy Thurs. +14 here. Kind of gray.

We watched a powerful documentary, The Long Way Home, about the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. It opens with footage shot in 1945 by the US Army of the liberation of the extermination camps in Germany and Poland. The sight of the Jews (and Gypsies) in the camps, weak from hunger and overwork, emaciated, corpses everywhere, literally sickened the soldiers. One survivor said she was amazed and did not understand the American soldiers vomiting when they arrived. Then she realized how subhuman the prisoners must have looked, their bones protruding, squalor and filth and stench surrounding them. Even after they were liberated, the inmates of the camps were kept locked up because there was nowhere for them to go. Some who escaped and returned to their homes were killed by “gentiles” who had taken over their property after they were arrested and deported. Some found their homes in ruins after locals dug up the basement and tore down walls looking for gold. Some were captured and executed based on blood libels that they sacrificed Christian children in religious rites, a convenient excuse for taking their property. Western Christendom has a very long history of virulent anti-Semitism.

Meanwhile, Zionists were agitating for a Jewish homeland in Palestine, which the British had governed for decades as part of their extensive colonial holdings. And Jews in Eastern Europe and Russia were fleeing west to the safety they imagined they would find where the Americans were in control. Two years later many of them were still in prison camps under armed guard. General Eisenhower was one of the people who worked to improve their lot, and President Truman advocated a Jewish state, despite strong opposition from the US State Department and powerful figures like General George Marshall. Most Americans were opposed to allowing the displaced Jews to enter the US, though many did manage to do that if they had a relative there.

Meanwhile, shiploads of Jews headed for Palestine were turned back by the British or sent to Cyprus to live in prison camps. A large portion of the Jews who survived the camps were the only person remaining from their extended family. Each one was alone in the world, with only their heritage to bind them to others. Zionist terrorists, including future Israeli Prime Minister Begin, set bombs to kill British soldiers and officials and drive them from Palestine. In 1948 the British left after the UN voted narrowly to establish the State of Israel. The 30 million Arabs surrounding them, including many who fled from Palestine, thought Europe had solved its problem with the Jews by giving them Arab land. Several wars and uprisings later, that dispute is still going on. Witness the current stand-off between Israel and Iran (though the Persians are technically not Arabs). With the turmoil in Arab countries across the region, things are likely to stay interesting for many years to come. The documentary is well worth watching, but it NOT for children.

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