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One Evening in '88 on a Flight to Phoenix

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Message Philip Farruggio


Reading about the current controversy over the U.S. abstaining on the Security Council's Israeli settlement resolution, it brought a memory back to this writer. First off, a little about this writer if I may. I have been a student of the Nazi era in Germany and of the holocaust since my early 20s. Being a schoolboy in Brooklyn , NYC in the 50s and 60s, I was always close with many Jewish friends. I used to joke that I attended more Bar Mitzvahs than a rabbi. Many times I had seen the tattoos on the arms of my friend's parents or on Jewish merchants in my Brooklyn neighborhood. Perhaps the most harrowing experience was later on in the 80s, sitting in my attic apartment watching the TV film ' Murderers Amongst Us' . This was the story of Simon Wiesenthal in Germany during the Nazi pogroms against the Jews. In one scene, a tragic one to view, Wiesenthal cannot find his aged mother. He runs to the railroad station in search of her, as he knows they are ' deporting' people in cattle cars. He is yelling out her name as the train is leaving the station. Suddenly, he hears her cry from one of the cars: " Simon". As he hears this he sees a German soldier a short distance from him on the platform. Wiesenthal can do nothing, not even cry aloud, as the train leaves. He falls to his knees, soaked in tears... his utter frustration covered in silence! As the scene was unfolding, I took the pad nearby ( I always had a notepad near to where I sat on the living room carpet) and began to write a poem. Actually, my own tears were raining onto the sheet. I finished the poem a minute or two after the scene had ended. I entitled the poem To be a Jew. A year later, upon showing it to a rabbi in Borough Park Brooklyn, he advised me to make a plaque out of it and send it to the Wiesenthal Holocaust Memorial in Los Angeles, California. I had it done by hiring a wood shop to laser engrave the poem onto a wooden plaque, and sent it along. The holocaust memorial accepted it and it is still there, to this day, in their archives.

In Spring of 1988 I was working as the marketing manager for an office supply manufacturer. Each week I would travel to visit one of our sales reps. This June I was traveling to Phoenix on a TWA wide body jet. During the flight many passengers would stand around in an allowable area to stretch our legs. I was standing with this man who looked to be in his late 30s. He was dressed well and said he was an Israeli engineer. We chatted for awhile about this and that and then I asked him about the Palestinian situation. " Well, let me be candid with you Philip. We in Israel look upon the Palestinians as you do your southern blacks. We see them as lowly evolved and really 2nd class, to be honest with you. They breed like rabbits with large families and lots of children. If we don't do something about this soon they will simply overwhelm us. So, we really have no choice, with the lack of land we possess, that we have to drive them into the sea, if only for our own survival... horrible as that may sound to you." He said all this in as matter of fact a way that one could, showing no emotion at all. As with the mobsters in the Godfather films, who said " It's not personal... it's just business."

 

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Philip A Farruggio is an activist leader, free lance columnist and small businessman. He is blue collar from birth, as both his dad and grandad were Brooklyn , NYC longshoremen. Philip has a BA from Brooklyn College ( class of ' 74 ) in Speech (more...)
 

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