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A Palestinian Visits A Holocaust Museum



Rasha Abdullah Salameh, a Jordanian of Palestinian descent, describes her anger after her visit, in 2017, to a Holocaust museum in Skokie, Illinois, and how she came away in a state of fury, because the museum did not include anything about the far greater tragedy that the Palestinians, she claims, have endured at the hands of the unsurpassingly cruel Jews. Her scarcely believable self-pity is here: “Jordanian newspaper: Holocaust museums are immoral for not emphasizing the ‘nakba’ was much worse,” Elder of Ziyon, March 14, 2023:

I was walking in the heavy autumn rain in the US state of Illinois, in the year 2017, heading towards the Skokie area specifically, to visit the “Holocaust” museum; To get acquainted with the way in which the oppressor presents, currently, his old grievance.

The “Holocaust” is put into scare quotes to show she has her doubts about it, that is about the number of its victims. She visited the museum, Rasha Abdullah Salameh says, to see just how the “oppressor” – that is, the Jews – managed to “present” to the world what she bizarrely and offensively minimizes as the Jews’ “old grievance.” In her view, the Jews have only a mere “grievance”— and that one is an “old grievance” deliberately kept fresh — against those who murdered six million Jews.

My fury was growing every minute; It is not only grief over a human tragedy that a normal sane person would not accept, but also anger at the concealment of the second part of the story. The Jews in charge of the museum, which was established in 2009, do not mention that they emerged from their darkness, thirsting for blood, and inflicting more than the Holocaust, suffocation in gas chambers, and execution by firing squad, on the Palestinians, until this moment, and with the most horrible means that can be imagined as well, of harassment, usurpation of rights, falsification of history, and the enjoyment of sniping [sic]the lives of unarmed civilians and fedayeen defending their land.

Jews did not “emerge ”from the Holocaust “thirsting” for Palestinian “blood.” They were intent on starting new lives in the countries that, after the war, were willing to take them in. Many of them — the Zionists among them — were also eager to resurrect a Jewish state on the very land where Jews had lived for some 3500 years. When the Jewish leaders declared the independence of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948, they held out the hand of peace to all the Arabs, but the Arabs refused to take it, just as they had rejected UN Res. 181, passed on November 29, 1947, which proposed a Partition Plan which would have given both Jews and Arabs states in the former territory of the Palestine Mandate. The 1948 war broke out when five Arab armies attacked the nascent state of Israel. Ever since the fall of 1947, Arab leaders had been urging the Palestinian Arabs to leave the area in order to return later, accompanied by the triumphant Arab armies. They would find all the Jews had been expelled or killed, and could then seize the Jewish property.

Our Palestinian visitor to the Holocaust Museum in Skokie, Rasha Abdullah Salameh, believes the Palestinians have endured a suffering without parallel in human history, far worse than that visited upon the Jews of “suffocation in gas chambers, and execution by firing squad.” For the Jews, she claims, had something even more horrifying in store for the “Palestinians,” worse than the gas chambers, the crematoria, the mass shootings of Jews who then toppled into open pits, the cattle cars where many suffocated to death, the medical “experiments” of Dr. Mengele. For what could be worse, Rasha Abdullah Salameh maintains, than what the Jews did to the Palestinians, by their “harassment, usurpation of rights, falsification of history, and the enjoyment of sniping [sic] the lives of unarmed civilians and fedayeen defending their land.”

There was “harassment” in Israel, but it was against the Jews, not by them. After the 1948 war, the Arabs continued to harass the Jews of Israel on three fronts until 1967: Egyptian fedayeen in the Sinai repeatedly attacked Jewish civilians in southern Israel; Syrian army artillery on the Golan Heights rained down death on Jewish farmers in the valley far below; Palestinian Arab terrorists based inJordan would attack Jews in their villages inside the Green Line and then quickly retreat back into Jordan which, at the time, governed the West Bank.

It is unclear what Rasha Abdullah Salameh means by “usurpation of rights.” The Arab citizens of Israel have always had the same social and religious rights as Israeli Jews. In Gaza, which was won by Israel in a war of self-defense in 1967, there has not been a single Israeli since 2005, when they were all pulled out and their settlements demolished. Yet it is two terror groups in Gaza, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, that have continued to send operatives into Israel to murder civilians, and to launch rockets into southern Israel from Gaza. What “usurpation of rights” does Israel practice in Gaza? And in the West Bank, almost 90% of the Palestinians are now under rule by the Palestinian Authority. If the rights of the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank are being usurped, it is because of the corrupt and cruel rule of their Palestinian leaders — Hamas in Gaza, the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank — that crush all dissent, imprisoning or even murdering those who protest against their rule.

She further accuses “the Jews” of “falsification of history.” She offers no examples of this. There has been “falsification of history” by the Palestinians, who lay claim to being the descendants of the Canaanites – for which no evidence exists – and therefore are supposedly the true indigenous people of Palestine/Israel. The Palestinians also “falsify” history by destroying Jewish archeological sites wherever they can, hoping thereby to create a narrative that minimizes the Jewish presence in the land. But they can’t possibly destroy the thousands of such sites in Israel. When the Jews claim that they have lived in the Land of Israel for 3500 years, they have the archeological evidence to prove it. Rasha Abdullah Salameh knows that the Muslim Arabs arrived in the area only in the seventh century, that is, more than two millennia after the Jews had first been living there. It is this history that she, and the rest of the Palestinians, do their level best to ignore or cover up or “falsify.”

She mentions, finally, as part of Israel’s monstrous history, “the enjoyment of sniping [sic] the lives of unarmed civilians and fedayeen defending their land. ”Perhaps she means that Israeli snipers shoot at “unarmed civilians and fedayeen defending their land.” The IDF never fires deliberately at unarmed civilians, though, as with any armed conflict, it recognizes that sometimes innocent bystanders are killed during a firefight. The only “fedayeen” were not Israelis, but the Egyptians in the Sinai who were not defending their land, but instead attacking Israeli farmers living in southern Israel; it was the Jews who were “defending their land.”

I was also furious at the absence of the Palestinian narrative on the world stage. I was walking around the museum at the time, wondering why the Palestinians did not establish international museums that matched in the power of their narration and the ingenuity of narration tools what the Jews erected in several international cities, under the name of “Holocaust” museums.

She was “furious” at the “absence of the Palestinian narrative on the world stage.” What is she talking about? The Palestinian narrative is present everywhere “on the world stage”; it is accepted, and parroted, by the great majority of states at the UN, by the bureaucrats at both the UN and the EU entrusted with studying “the Palestinians under Israeli occupation,” by the 57 members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. The Palestinian “narrative” can be found in the coverage of the Middle East by the BBC, Agence France-Presse, Deutsche Welle, and by the most important newspapers, including the New York Times and the Washington Post. They all accept the notion that Israel is sitting on “occupied Palestinian land,” that Israeli settlements are “illegal’; that Israel’s attempts to defend itself by hitting back at Hamas and the PIJ operatives in Gaza likely constitute “war crimes,” and that the only way to achieve peace is through a “two-state solution” that would require Israel to be squeezed back within the 1949 armistice lines, leaving the Jewish state with a nine-mile-wide waist from Qalqilya to the sea. On university campuses, while pro-Israel spokesmen are boycotted or shouted down, those who promote the Palestinian narrative are welcomed to speak and spread their poison.

The ornate Jewish tales have been greatly exaggerated. They claim a number of victims exceeding 6 million Jews, with an almost complete absence of historical sources on which it was relied upon, and with an absolute absence of the complementary narrative, which is the occupation of Palestine, the displacement of its people, the massacres of its inhabitants, and the infliction of torture on them that exceeds what the Nazis did.

So the Holocaust, or “Holocaust,” in Rasha Abdullah Salameh’s telling, consists merely of “ornate Jewish tales” that have been “greatly exaggerated.” The claim that the numbers of Holocaust victims has been exaggerated is merely a variant form of “Holocaust denial.” It’s not complete denial but, rather, grotesque minimization of the Holocaust. The most famous such denier is Mahmoud Abbas who, in his 1982 doctoral thesis at Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow, claimed that “perhaps as many as 800,000 Jews died,” but nothing like six million. And despite the fact that the number of Holocaust victims has been most exhaustively studied by scholars from dozens of countries over the past 78 years, Salameh tells us that the claim of six million victims has been put forth “with an almost complete absence of historical sources.” She’s simply lying – to herself, and to others.

Elder of Ziyon adds: “I’ve noted before that while Israelis and Jews usually try to look at things from others’ perspectives, and often empathize with their enemies,Palestinians (and most Arabs) simply cannot do that. Anything that humanizes Jews, anything that can cause sympathy for Jews in any way, must be strenuously opposed. Jews must be demonized, dehumanized, and framed as the ultimate evil.”

Rasha Abdullah Salameh went to a Holocaust museum. It made her sick. Not because of anything the Jews may have suffered – and she very much doubts they suffered as much as they constantly claim in order, she says, to get the world’s sympathy – but because no attention was given in the museum to the much more terrible crimes inflicted by the Jews on the innocent Palestinians. Jews nurture their “old grievance”’ — a bizarre way to refer to the Holocaust. For god’s sake, how long are the Jews going to go on about that “old grievance,” especially now, when there is another victim, a real victim of the Jews themselves, who deserves all our attention? The Palestinians are that new victim, whose anguish at their mistreatment the Jews callously ignore. Salameh concedes that some Jews, though far fewer than they claim, were killed, by gas and shootings. But why does the world keep harping on that “Holocaust” instead of looking at what has been happening, that is far far worse, to the Palestinians?

What about, she asks, “the occupation of Palestine, the displacement of its people, the massacres of its inhabitants, and the infliction of torture on them that exceeds what the Nazis did”?

The “occupation” of Palestine? The League of Nations set up the mandates system after World War I to help territories once part of the Ottoman Empire become independent states. Several mandates, in Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria – were intended to lead to the creation of three Arab states. One mandate, that for Palestine, was created in order to bring about a Jewish state. This was to be achieved, according to Article 6 of the Mandate for Palestine, by “facilitating Jewish immigration” and “close settlement by Jews on the land.” Which land? All the land from Al-Hammas, Tiberias, in the north, to the Red Sea in the south, and from the Jordan River in the east to the Mediterranean in the west. In other words, what Salameh calls “the occupation of Palestine” was nothing of the sort; the Jews have been, and still are, settling the “state and waste land” in Judea and Samaria in strict accordance with the Mandate for Palestine.

What about the “displacement of its [Palestinian Arab] people”? The Arabs who left Mandatory Palestine beginning in the fall of 1947, and continuing to do so after the 1948 war broke out, did so at the urging of Arab leaders broadcasting from abroad, who told them to leave the area where fighting would take place, go abroad, and then return once the Arab armies had triumphed and, with the Jews either killed or expelled, the returning Arabs could help themselves to Jewish property. Some Israeli leaders, including the Mayor of Haifa, tried to persuade the Arabs to stay, but almost all of the Arabs heeded the advice of the Arab broadcasts. In a few places, the Haganah removed Palestinians from villages for security reasons; battles were going on nearby, and there was a need to occupy the high ground on which Arab villages were often built. But the handful of such cases does not rise to the level of a “displacement of its [Palestine’s] people.”

“The massacres” by Israelis “of its people,” Palestinian Arabs, is another claim that deserves examination. There were several such massacres alleged to have been committed by Israeli soldiers on Arabs, but there were far more massacres committed by Arabs on Israeli Jewish civilians. The most famous “massacre” attributed to Israeli irregulars was that at Deir Yassin, where between 100 and 120 Arabs were killed. Historians still argue over whether the killings at Deir Yassin constituted a “massacre,” or whether the deaths took place in the context of a long battle.

Finally, Salameh mentions the Israeli “torture” of Palestinian Arab civilians. There are no reliable reports of such torture. It goes against Israel’s “purity of arms.” Had there been any such cases, you can be sure that the Israeli “New Historians,” who have been eager to charge the Israeli side with every possible outrage, would have mentioned such “torture.” But none of them – not Ilan Pappe, not Benny Morris, not Avi Shlaim – has ever done so.

What kind of person visits a Holocaust Museum and becomes outraged that the museum doesn’t give more attention to an atrocity that she claims was worse than anything the Nazis did to the Jews? That atrocity was visited, she claims, on the Palestinian Arabs by the Jews.

What kind of person? Rasha Abdullah Salameh is that kind. Stewing in Jew-hatred, she cannot think or see straight.