Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

"Never Again for Anyone," Survivors and Activists Vow

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

"Never Again for Anyone," Survivors and Activists Vow

Article excerpt

The headline on Jan. 29 of "Atlas Shrugs," the blog of Islamophobe Pamela Geller, a leading scourge of the "Ground Zero Mosque" in New York, screamed: "RUTGERS STUDENTS NEED YOU TONIGHT-PROTEST HOLOCAUST DENIERS AND ISLAMIC SUPREMACISTS." Aaron Marcus, a student from Rutgers Hillel, had contacted Geller and some local synagogues urging them to protest the event, "Never Again for Anyone." Perhaps Marcus was energized by the pledge four days earlier from New Jersey Jewish federations of $10,000 to Rutgers Hillel to combat "delegitimization" of Israel on campus.

Some 200 mostly older Zionists heeded the call. Already on edge, they became indignant when they learned that the sponsors of the national tour of "Never Again for Anyone"-American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN), and the Middle East Children's Alliance (MECA)-had decided to impose a mandatory $5 entry fee. Sara Kershnar of IJAN explained that this became necessary because of unanticipated expenses. The campus organization hosting the event, BAKA: Students United for Middle Eastern Justice, had reserved the venue at reduced student group rates. After pressure from Rutgers Hillel, the university changed the event's status and charged the full $1,200. Then, faced with an angry crowd blocking the lobby, organizers hired two additional security personnel to join campus police already on the scene. The disruption delayed the program for over an hour, but the 160 people who paid the entrance fee, including students from Hillel, men in yarmulkes, and an older man with a large sign condemning Holocaust deniers, waited patiently in the lecture hall.

Who were these "Holocaust deniers" and "Islamic supremicists"? Dr. Hajo Meyer, now 86, fled Nazi Germany when he was 14 to join the Dutch underground. In 1944 he was betrayed by an informer and sent to Auschwitz. After such experiences, Meyer said, the conclusion of his life is that "no injustice, no matter what, will ever justify another injustice." Meyer views Zionism as so contrary to Jewish ethics that it had to find a replacement in "Holocaust religion," which, he said, preaches that "nobody has or ever will suffer like we Jews." Therefore whatever Jews do to Palestinians doesn't signify, because it is not gas chambers.

Hedy Epstein, 83, remembered Nov. 9, 1938, the day of Krystallnacht, when the principal came into her classroom and told her, "Get out, you dirty Jew." She went home to find her house vandalized and her father arrested. On May 18, 1939 she was sent to England on the Kindertransport rescue mission. None of her family survived Auschwitz. When she decided to go to Palestine in 2003, her Jewish friends told her, "Don't go! Palestinians will kill you." Instead, she experienced Palestinian hospitality that she described as "like none other," and the only violence she encountered was from Israeli soldiers. When she saw the 25-foot-high separation wall, she thought, "It's always been never again to us, but now it is by us."

Dawud Assad was 17 when Zionist forces attacked his village of Deir Yassin. The villagers had friendly relations with their Jewish neighbors. Assad's family had even housed a young Jewish woman for two years. But, he said, everything changed after the U.N. passed the partition resolution in November 1947. He woke at 4 a.m. on April 9, 1948 to find his village ablaze. His grandmother and two-year-old brother were shot dead, his mother and a sister taken captive. Assad told of his harrowing escape by crawling through ditches. (See May/June 2008 Washington Report, p. 18.)

Hearing the protesters in the lobby shouting "Let the Jewish people live," the youngest panelist, Osama Abu-Irshaid of AMP, said he agreed with them. "We don't generalize," he explained. "We are against the crimes of Zionism, not of Jews; and against the crimes of al-Qaeda, not the Muslim people." The Qur'an, he continued, requires that we witness for justice no matter the identity of oppressor or oppressed, even against ourselves. …

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