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Gaza 2009; Warsaw, 1943

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Reminded of the Warsaw Ghetto?

As I observe current news accounts of incessant IDF attacks within sovereign Palestinian territory (i.e., Gaza) the horrible, suppressed images from the Warsaw Ghetto (e.g., The Wall, John Hersey, 1950) crash rudely across my vision.

Warsaw, 1940. 

August.  September.  October.  Nazis and Warsaw police surround and barricade a section of the city primarily inhabited by Jews and other minorities.  The new barricade, which quickly becomes known as "The Wall," eventually imprisons well over half a million innocent people, some of them shipped in from the countryside even as others are packed on trains bound for Nazi extermination facilities.

Jewish children, small enough at 5-6 years old to slip through cracks in The Wall, elude armed guards to smuggle food and medicine from sympathetic Warsaw sources. These are virtually the only supplies which can reach the overmatched Jews.

Despite the vicious Nazi suppression and the calculated strategy of starvation, Warsaw Ghetto cultural life remains rich and vital.  Schools, libraries, social support organizations, chamber music groups and symphonies are formed. The captive Jews, most doomed to eventual transportation by train to Treblinka, nonetheless bravely continue their cherished traditions and educational efforts.

With staggering unemployment and total isolation from normal sources of food and other necessities, the Warsaw Ghetto population builds disguised workshops and schools to fool the occupying Nazi forces.  Disease vectors magnified by the confined spaces cause an epidemic incidence of cholera that claims 100,000 or more lives. Malnutrition amplifies the fatalities further. Heroic resistance by a small number of the captive Jews causes insignificant German casualties.

Gaza, 2008-2009. 

December. January. February (??)  Israelis and IDF soldiers armed by the U.S. Congress and encouraged by the pathetic accessory before the fact, President Bush, surround and barricade the Gaza Strip, primarily inhabited by Palestinian refugees from Israel. The barricades that Israel builds are known as "Apartheid Walls" by impartial observers.  Gazans numbering over 1,000,000 are prevented at gunpoint from leaving the "world's largest outdoor prison." 

Shocking unemployment and rampant malnutrition, daily interruptions of power, embargoes on fuel and medicines, brutal incursions by IDF tanks and personnel carriers whose paths are lit by illegal white phosphorus bombs; these are daily realities for Palestinians in Gaza.

Tunnels to Egypt, the only source of respite for Palestinians, provide bare survival supplies for the unfortunate inhabitants of the Gaza Ghetto. A brave indigenous Palestinian resistance, led by HAMAS, mimics the symbolic acts of the Warsaw prisoners 68 years ago by lobbing crude but ineffective rockets at its Israel captors.

Warsaw, 1943

Germans under the command of SS General Jürgen Stroop enter the Warsaw Ghetto with tanks and ground forces.  The Nazis' overwhelming matériel advantage ultimately allows the systematic destruction of the Ghetto and the virtual elimination of its remaining population in a block-by-block military offensive culminating in the explosive (and highly symbolic) demolition of the Great Synagogue of Warsaw on April 23, 1943.

Dachau, 1947

The American Military Tribunal at Dachau sentenced SS General Jürgen (Josef) Stroop to death for his role as the SS commander responsible for the summary executions of many Allied pilots shot down and captured over Germany.  Then, in 1951, Stroop was extradited to Poland, where he was tried again and found guilty by Poland of the war crimes of Warsaw.

The Hague, 2010 (?)

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I am a progressive activist. After 28 years in health care management I left in disgust at the mess that commercial health insurance companies have created. I must work to live (self-employed) and enjoy performing with several classical & jazz (more...)
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Gaza 2009; Warsaw, 1943

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