In Israel, the overbearing rhythm of the days of remembrance started last week with the day dedicated to the Holocaust, the horrible act of extermination by the Nazis of more than a third of all Jews. It was a day spent with the memories and the analysis of the enormous tragedy experienced by this people.
But the testimonies of survivors, the marches at Auschwitz and elsewhere in Europe are being used to inflame people’s emotions, and from year to year leave less and less room for thought. The Israeli military and political leadership also came to Auschwitz, and many contributed to building up a mythical vision in which there is little room for reflection.
It all took place a few days before Israeli Independence Day on Thursday, which is always preceded by a day dedicated to remembrance and mourning for the fallen ever since the war of 1948. Gradually, a tribute to those who died in terrorist attacks was also added.
But the regimentation is now total, trying to convince everyone that there is a clear link between events long ago and today—in this way, the politics of fear becomes the driving element for the whole of Israeli politics. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, faithful to his firm intention to liquidate even the last remnants of the supposed Israeli “democracy”—with each passing day revealing itself more and more as an ethnocracy—said that the fallen will not be forgotten, and that the Israelis were ready to fight without guilt, without weakness, full of determination, against all Islamist and extremist forces that threaten their existence. Above all, Iran and its allies that want to exterminate them, etc.
So many comments, articles and news were “spoiling the holiday”: about the danger of an attack from Iran, the response to the attack of the T4 base in Syria, missiles from Hezbollah, the Palestinians in Gaza who are pledging to continue demonstrating even on that day right next to the Israeli forces.
Who will attack? Where will the attack come? How? Yes, we can, we will, but… more than anything, we are scared!
The fear is growing ever more powerful, fueled by a fanatical government that is deliberately stoking it. Fear of the Africans from Eritrea and Sudan seeking asylum. Fear of the Supreme Court, not protecting the Israeli people and a servant to the enemy. So many dangers to face down, such as courts making decisions against the “will of the people.”
The Parents’ Circle Families Forum, an organization of the families of fallen Israelis and Palestinians, wanted to organize a remembrance ceremony, as they had also done thirteen years in previous, with the participation, among others, of two hundred Palestinians from the Occupied Territories.
In response, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced that he would not allow this “outrage to the memory of the fallen,” and would bar the Palestinians from participating.
At the last moment, the Supreme Court gave permission to 90 Palestinians to take part (as even the Israeli secret services were not opposed to the initiative). Lieberman tweeted that this meant that according to the Court, there was no distinction at all to be made among the dead, and that this would fuel division among the people. Seven thousand Israelis chose to take part in the event, protected by a police cordon and attacked by fascist demonstrators.
Here are the words of the writer David Grossman, who lost his son in the 2006 war: “If the Palestinians do not have a home, neither will the Israelis … grief makes us see things more clearly, for instance regarding the inherent limits of the use of force”. After just a few hours, mourning gave way to the independence celebrations that began on the night between Wednesday and Thursday. But nothing can erase the awareness that the vaunted independence does not really exist, because a people that is oppressing another can never call itself truly free.
The fireworks and the marches fueled by hatred and racism, catered to and justified by the fear that our leaders are constantly feeding, are not enough to conceal that these are days of occupation, oppression, and the violent and unjustified death of many people.
This is not the way to build a better future. On the 70th anniversary of its independence, Israel has been preparing to throw a parade of fear, which will only make us sink deeper and deeper into a quagmire soaked in the blood of two peoples.