jew on this

critical, progressive ideas from pondering jews

Category: israeli/palestinian conflict

World War Z & Unified Palestine

by roadsideservice



Firstly: the flick is not a work that is based, in any real or meaningful sense on Max Brooks’ work World War Z: An oral history of the zombie war (2006). It has the title (well, partly), but this is about it. One of the few things they took from the novel was a plot line that teetered on the edge of Brooks’ narrative on Israel/Palestine and stretched it through a large chunk of the film.

Brad Pitt’s character Gerry arrives in Jerusalem to complete a mission given to a virologist (KIA) to find patient zero in what seems like hours of the undead outbreak. It doesn’t really make sense, but there you go.

In Jerusalem, in the radical othering, zombies seamlessly replaced Palestinians as the threat par excellence. This transition is entirely unremarkable. Behind the Wall – now used to protect from the swarm of undead – is a fantasy of human purity, protected, safe, and a sanctuary from a world whose intent is to wipe the inhabitants from the face of the earth. The desert is in bloom and life needs protection. Beyond the borders, beyond civilization, are uncontrollable hordes, baying for blood. They are mindless. They hate life. Israel has a right to protect their borders, after all.

In both narratives Israel has managed to implement procedures early to stem the threat of the “African Rabies” (was this in the film? warning: it is in the book). In the novel, describing a situation where Israel had been driven out of the occupied Palestinian territories by the resistance and thus wielding considerably less power, the Israeli ambassador announced to the UN General Assembly that they were enacting a policy of “voluntary quarantine”. The Palestinian interviewee Saladin Kader tells the (unnamed) narrator twelve years after the outbreak:

I didn’t even hear the second part of the fat bastard’s speech, the part about offering asylum, no questions asked, to any foreign-born Jew, an foreigner of Israeli-born parents, any Palestinian living in the formerly occupied territories, and any Palestinian whose family had once lived within the borders of Israel. The last part applied to my family, refugees from the ’67 War of Zionist aggression…I had never been to Israel, or what was about to be absorbed into the new state of Unified Palestine…(2010, 39)

The film entirely skirts these narratives of the novel. Instead, Israel-proper is innovative, benign and site of salvation for the world’s refugees. Within the scenes of a benevolent, peaceful, harmonious Israel, power has not shifted, and Palestinians – we assume from the racialised discourses – are just happy to have their lives saved in a world gone to shit.

Given this is meant to be an adaptation, the filmmakers are directly antagonistic to this post-apocalypse speculation. The novel goes to Tel Aviv and Bethlehem, but not to Jerusalem – in fact in the novel Unified Palestine had withdrawn altogether from Jerusalem because it did not make sense strategically in the planned defense from zombie attack.

It does, however, (and I speculate) make strategic sense for Israel that an international film to be set in a contested space such as Jerusalem with benign nationalists at the helm. Herein the Israeli state and nationalism is not problematized in the way the book suggested were possible in a situation of extreme emergency. It would be interesting to know what incentives  the filmmakers were given to depart so significantly from this narrative.

What made Brooks’ work so distinct was a number of factors: it was speculative fiction; it was set 12 years after the Zombie War; it was a reflection on experience, rather than action-thriller. I suspect what would have worked well as a format for this story (perhaps ironically) is the Israeli film Waltz With Bashir, albeit without what Ghassan Hage calls the “postexterminatory existentially anxious warrior”. Set 25 years after the “Lebanon War”, it flits around in time and space, has a central character that is collecting stories, and does not require action scenes to propel it forward.

The filmmakers had a chance to be innovative with a radically new zombie apocalypse film format and story telling style, but instead made clichés collected from every zombie apocalypse flick since Night of the Living Dead, without the fun of Shaun of the Dead.


(But also:

I was really disappointed by World War Z. Many reviewers have cited (lazily) Romero’s work, but I think where this departs from Romero so spectacularly to the endless miraculous escapes by our protagonist Gerry. Zombie films need to suspend your disbelief and as someone who is pretty into the genre, it really doesn’t require much to get me there. We never, for instance, get any sense why Gerry is so important. Or why the mission is on is so urgent, why he was chosen, or why he is so materially supported in doing this is not entirely clearOr why, after the immediate outbreak a massive fuck off plane can be afforded so a virologist can go and find patient zero (or why this would be a pressing issue). Or why Gerry continued the work of the virologist (who thankfully toppled himself)– what the fuck does Gerry know? Come to that, what does he know that he is considered so important by the UN that he is shunted around the world? Or why is it that Gerry’s plane was allowed to land?  Or why he could move around with little more than a limp after being impaled after a plane crash (I wont go into that).

Also: Do not watch it in 3D, whatever you do.)


these brave women

by tobybee

spare cash?

by tobybee

if you have any, there are some good places that you could kick it to… and if you don’t (like me. curse the vagaries of employment in the tertiary education sector!), then maybe you could pass on this info to others you know who do.

in no particular order:

firstly, RISE in Melbourne has written that

Last Wednesday we had 54 families and 84 adults came to RISE to access our foodbank total of 138 asylum seekers and we ran out two weeks worth of food in one day. Now we are complete out of stock and need your urgent support for our foodbank.

The RISE FoodBank aims to address the initial critical needs of the
most vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers within our community by providing access to free dry food and fruits and vegetables. In order to reach our goal to provide our community with access to food, we are calling for donations of food items to be donated to the RISE food bank.

Food items that we urgently need include:

• Rice
• Oil
• Sugar
• Pasta
• Pasta Sauce/Tomato Sauce
• Milk
• Tea and Coffee
• Bread
• Fruits and Vegetables
• Tuna
• Lentils
• Plain Flour
• Instant Noodles/Vermicelli Noodles
• Canned Tomatoes

In order to donate, please drop off items at our office: Level 1, 247
Flinders Lane, Melbourne or you can do you order before Wednesday via online shopping.

PS:- Many of the RISE members have been released to the community through the based detention scheme and do not have the right to work or access to government support services. RISE also supports a large number of families in community detention, many who are ill-equipped to meet their daily food requirements, therefore they are at risk of falling through the cracks of the system to the point that they cannot afford basic food and are left in a perilous state.

so if you can drop off some food, that would be rad.

secondly, AJDS is currently running a fundraising campaign for Grassroots Jerusalem, and a generous anonymous donor has offered to match donations dollar for dollar, up to $5000. pretty great!

The AJDS – Grassroots Jerusalem fundraising project:

The AJDS is supporting Grassroots Jerusalem (GJ) to raise awareness about the human rights violations committed in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) and to further the local development of community-based advocacy.

Our project is designed to apply your financial contribution directly to each stage of the community development process and to include you in developing the Grassroots Jerusalem global network.

Our project is specifically aimed at supporting two communities in Jerusalem: Al-Walajeh and Al- Jahalin.

and thirdly, you can support The Helix Project:

What is Helix?

The Helix Project tells the story of the life, not the death, of the Jews of Eastern Europe. For too long, mainstream Jewish institutions have distilled the fascinating history of Jewish life to a handful of talking points: religion, Israel, Holocaust, and a vague emphasis on “maintaining Jewish identity.” Helix wants to transform the way Jewish history is taught and perceived.

We bring a group of 12 university students to the historical heartland of Jewish life in Central and Eastern Europe for an expenses-paid three-week long immersion in cultural history to see how European Jewish life, contrary to the dominant story, was not a successive chain of miseries — but a millennium filled with creativity, joy, and vitality.

We start in LA with an intensive crash course in the languages, history, and culture of Eastern European Jewish life. The trip then moves to Europe, where students follow in the footsteps of Yiddish poets in Belarus, visit centers of Jewish political activism in Poland, and make a literary pilgrimage to Vilnius, the “Jerusalem of Lithuania.”

Helix students take the lead in sharing their skills and knowledge—academic, artistic, and social—with the group, learn to facilitate discussion and to navigate exploration of new sites. Helix takes students out of the classroom and into the streets of the places that were recently home to the majority of the world’s Jewish population.

Helix is organized by Yiddishkayt, the trend-setting non-profit which has promoted Yiddish language and culture, and especially the values of cultural openness and compassion embodied in that culture, for the past two decades.

nakba poem

by jewonthisguest

a guestpost (or, more precisely, the sharing of a poem) by friend of the blog, and Melbourne-based writer, Micaela Sahhar

On the day of our Nakba, a reflection on an article published in The New York Times during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. Describing a scene of chaotic abjection at Shifa Hospital, a journalist wrote ‘all hope flickered out’. In response I wrote a poem, angered by the ease of a suggestion that the Palestinians might just fold if things got bad enough. They have, and we haven’t. So in acknowledgment, love and solidarity with all Palestinian people today, but particularly to the ones in my life: you, the life blood, our hope has not flickered out.

(for shoe throwers everywhere)

Hope flickered out, the journalist purpled describing
the body of a young man who two hours frozen
returned: the shudder of a wrist, fresh blood at his
mouth (no one on hand to explain how air waits
in the lungs for hours) – instead, his brother yelled
‘How could you keep him in the refrigerator?’ The journalist

(again) described the family member – Male, Angry.
Later that day, in an event seemingly unrelated, Two
males (angry) scaled the barrier at Qalqilya. Ignoring
the warning shots, apparently (so logically what followed
were shots to kill). In the event, One survived, however,
while others kept throwing rocks. Analysis some years

hence evinces a picture of how the journalist’s
prose has perished, exposing the planar nucleus of
transmission again. Hope has not flickered out.

the four…

by jewonthisguest

as said at a second night seder in melbourne by z.
hebrew via the interwebs.

בָּרוּךְ הַמָּקוֹם, בָּרוּךְ הוּא. בָּרוּךְ שֶׁנָּתַן תּוֹרָה לְעַמּוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל, בָּרוּךְ הוּא. כְּנֶגֶד אַרְבָּעָה בָנִים דִּבְּרָה תּוֹרָה . אֶחָד חָכָם, וְאֶחָד רָשָׁע, וְאֶחָד תָּם, וְאֶחָד שֶׁאֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ לִשְׁאוֹל

חָכָם מָה הוּא אוֹמֵר? מַה הָעֵדוֹת וְהַחֻקִּים וְהַמִשְׁפָּטִים אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ אֶתְכֶם? וְאַף אַתָּה אֱמָר לוֹ כְּהִלְכוֹת הַפֶּסַח: אֵין מַפְטִירִין אַחַר הַפֶּסַח אֲפִיקוֹמָן

רָשָׁע מָה הוּא אוֹמֵר? מָה הָעֲבֹדָה הַזֹּאת לָכֶם? לָכֶם – וְלֹא לוֹ. וּלְפִי שֶׁהוֹצִיא אֶת עַצְמוֹ מִן הַכְּלָל כָּפַר בְּעִקָּר. וְאַף אַתָּה הַקְהֵה אֶת שִנָּיו וֶאֱמֹר לוֹ: בַּעֲבוּר זֶה עָשָׂה יי לִי בְּצֵאתִי מִמִּצְרָיִם. לִי – וְלֹא לוֹ. אִילּוּ הָיָה שָׁם, לֹא הָיָה נִגְאָל

תָּם מָה הוּא אוֹמֵר? מַה זֹּאת? וְאָמַרְתָּ אֵלָיו: בְּחֹזֶק יָד הוֹצִיאָנוּ יי מִמִּצְרָיִם, מִבֵּית עֲבָדִים

וְשֶׁאֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ לִשְׁאוֹל – אַתְּ פְּתַח לוֹ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וְהִגַּדְתָּ לְבִנְךָ בַּיוֹם הַהוּא לֵאמֹר, בַּעֲבוּר זֶה עָשָׂה יי לִי בְּצֵאתִי מִמִּצְרָיִם

Blessed is the blessing. Blessed that we can sit as friends, as family and as fucked-up individuals lashed together by empty ritual, tradition and blood and fill this with meaning. That we can build and destroy together.

The Torah speaks of Four Sons – not really, it doesn’t exist in that form – but the Rabbis, as men, thought that there were four sons worthy of inclusion and many invisible daughters who weren’t worth mentioning at all. They also didn’t mention animals, non-Jews and people who didn’t resemble themselves. Fuck that!

The Symbol of Wisdom – this symbol is the all-knowing, all powerful patriachal dictator that we internalise as we are socialised in our houses, our families and communities. he confuses the narrative with historical factoids and presents a slick retelling of the story as a totally reasonable history. and we internalise and adopt these stories as our own. to this, we must say, fuck us!

The Symbol of Wicked – this symbol is the land developer who talks about property prices and never about Indigenous people and their land, and the minor functionaries of capitalism who grease the wheels while complaining ironically about being functionaries of capitalism, and the csg volunteers who perpetuate and construct the siege mentality that zionism so loves in melbourne. to this, we must say, fuck us!

The Symbol of the Simple – this symbol is of the status quo, of those parts of us that think that rape culture isn’t a problem because it’s everywhere and that episode 9 of Girls was fine because it didn’t confront, call-out and reject the rape scene at the end between Adam and that random character. to this, we must say, fuck us!

The Symbol of the Blank – this symbol is of the uninformed, of those parts of us who think the Jewish News is a source of information, that Australian history begins in 1788, that Prisoner X and Zionism is totally fine, and that refugees who risk their lives on boats are queue jumping scum. to this, we must say, fuck us!

the possibilities of ethical consumption

by tobybee

This is an area of activism that’s highly discussed and debated by those of us on the anti-capitalist left. When combined with the politics of the bds movement, it’s even more fraught.

I’ve engaged with BDS in bits and pieces. I understand it to be a useful tactic, called for by palestinians, and one which everyone seems to be still learning how to best deploy. I know for sure that I don’t know for sure how it can always be best used. But I also know that I want to keep learning, and trying it out, and that I’d rather try and fail than not use it at all. the elements of BDS seem to be a good way of demonstrating solidarity with palestinians, with respecting and supporting resistance.

As part of my work with AJDS I’ve been involved in establishing a new campaign in which we’re encouraging people to stop buying products from israeli settlements. We’re framing it as a “don’t buy from the settlements campaign”, as we recognise that the language of ‘boycott’ can sometimes be alienating and distracting: that people can get bogged down in refusing to ‘boycott’, rather than recognising that part of what is being asked for is that you don’t spend your money on those products. Simply, that you consume ethically and get educated about the effects of the settlements, and the occupation more broadly.

This is what we have to say:

At this time of Pesach—the festival of freedom—we remember that we were slaves in Egypt.

What does it mean to remember this?

It means that we remember what it means to be imprisoned, to not be able to determine our fate.

It means that we remember what it means to be an oppressed and dominated people.

It means that remember that as we were slaves in Egypt, so too others are enslaved and oppressed in many countries around the world, and that we must fight alongside them for their freedom.

We remember that escape was possible, that slavery came to an end.

On this Pesach we ask you to join a long history of Jews who have fought for freedom, for both Jews and for others. To stand alongside others, Jews and non-Jews, who have made ethical choices about how to live their lives in order to make themselves better people, and to make the world a better place.

And so in this tradition of Pesach, as well as in the relatively new tradition of making decisions about what products we purchase based on a set of ethics (as we have done in the past with Nescafe, Shell, and products which are harmful to the environment), this year we commit to not buying products that are produced in settlements the West Bank.


Because settlements are seen as an obstruction to peace, many Jews around the world have committed themselves to not buying from settlements. They, and we, take this nonviolent action in the hope that international Jewish pressure—both economic and political—will come to bear on the Israeli Government. With this pressure, the Government will realise that settlements are no longer viable, that the settlements are an embarrassment and the settlement project must be rethought.

Not buying products from settlements will not work on its own, but it is one small step that we can take. When we add in the possibility of sharing knowledge about what the settlements mean and what they do, together with the capability to have these difficult conversations about what kind of Israel we want to create, we can work alongside Palestinians, Israelis, and people throughout the diasporas to create an exciting, liberating future.

So head over to the facebook page and the website, where you can find some detailed explanations as to why the settlements are harmful, information about what products to avoid, and maps that lay out where everything is.

queering the doykeit

by tobybee

the internet has indeed (in my experience) been rad for building transnational communities of jewish diasporists. despite physical distance, we can connect over the lines, sharing ideas and building fledgling friendships. one such connection i’ve made has been to jenna brager, whose zine, doykeit, i discovered thanks to vlada. and so i’m loving the jewish ladies across the globe.

jenna’s just put out a new call out for submissions for a second edition of doykeit (doykeit, she writes in the first, “in a contemporary context implies a radical investment in the local communities that sustain us and an understanding that in a globalized society, solidarity politics must cross borders real and imagined), so, friends, get to it and submit something!:

Doykeit #2—“Diaspora”

The concept of ‘doykeit,’ Yiddish for ‘hereness,’ is taken from the pre-World War II Polish-Jewish group The Bund, which believed that Jews have both a right to live and a political commitment to work for change ‘here and now.’

Doykeit seeks to speak to the cross-sections of Jewish and queer/feminist identification and how these might inform an anti-Zionist or Palestinian solidarity politic.

For this issue of Doykeit, we ask for writing and art that considers one or more of the following topics: diaspora, home and “homeland,” galut, displacement, dispersal, remembrance, intergenerational relationships, borders, nationalism, and violence.

“The word ‘diaspora’ means dispersion. It originated in the Septuagint, one of the original Greek translations of the Bible: Deuteronomy 28:25: ‘thou shalt be a diaspora in all kingdoms of the earth.’…”

Some questions to consider:

–site(s) of diaspora and site(s) of “home”

–diaspora in a globalized society

–What does it mean to be a diaspora Jew (politically, spiritually etc.)?

–How is diaspora complicated/ take on different meaning in different Jewish communities (ethnic, geographic, denominational, etc.)?

–How do we build solidarity between/ within diasporic/ exilic communities?

Due May 1st

time to talk

by tobybee

Demo against demolitions in the Negev

as i noted a couple of weeks ago, today is Green Sunday. a group of us produced a flyer and this morning handed it on Carlisle st and outside the JNF offices, located in Beth Weizmann, from where the phone calls were being made. While events in Carlisle st were pretty subdued, when we got to BW, and the security guard saw what we were handing out, a panic broke out. and by panic, i am being quite literal: we presented no security threat and yet we were deemed to be one. CSG reinforcements were called out, people who took one of our flyers were told that they could not enter the building with a flyer and were given a bin in which to chuck it, and the cops were called. One man, as he left the building, told us that we are antisemites, traitors and kapos. he said we should all be shot. Photos were taken of us. And the cops responded to us exactly how one could have predicted: they agreed we were doing absolutely nothing wrong and were amused and bewildered; they warned us not to racially vilify anyone, and when we responded that we’re all Jews, they turned around and pointed that out to the CSG men watching us and taking photos. “Every family has a black sheep”, came their retort.Al Araqib, Negev, Israel, 28.07.2010

so we came to be seen as a threat, which, in the end is part of the intention: we want, we need, people to come to understand what the JNF actually does. The Melbourne Jewish community needs to have a serious conversation about the actions that are carried out by such groups.

But it remains interesting that a group of 7 people, standing on the footpath and having a gentle conversation are seen as cause for a security panic. we can only hope that it leads to a political panic too.

Feel free to use the information on the flyer to produce other leaflets. And if you’re in melbourne and interested in joining in on future activities: we’re meeting on Wednesday 13 Feb at 6.30pm in the city – contact me if you want to know where.

“we are the ones whose homes are being demolished”

by tobybee

coming up on February 3rd is the JNF’s Green Sunday. It’s the day when they do a call around, asking people to donate to the JNF. This year they’re focused on the region around Beer Sheva, a region which, when planted with trees (which are primarily pine trees, not a sustainable or suitable tree for that region), forces indigenous Bedouins off their lands. Indeed, the JNF has been forcing Bedouins and Palestinians off their lands and out of their homes across all parts of Palestine/Israel for as long as it has been in existence, in order to claim land for Jewish settlers. This is, as we well know, often done under the guise of environmentalism.

In an article in the Jewish News advertising Green Sunday, Michael Naphtali (the current national president of the JNF) says that the “JNF has tapped into what is important: Israel’s survival and Jewish continuity, and I think Green Sunday is a great event that combines both.” In doing so, he makes the situation quite clear: the JNF works with a particular idea of survival and continuity. This is an idea of these things wherein Israel is always and only Jewish: survival and continuity is directly linked to the erasure and dispossession of non-Jews.

Yet sadly, as Jews living in Melbourne we hear nothing of the true effects of the JNF. There is no discussion, only silence. Actually, not only silence, for we are encouraged (or indoctrinated) from a young age to believe that there is no flip side to this idea of “survival and continuity”: to actually believe that the JNF helps to make the desert bloom (as though this isn’t one of the great lies that colonial societies always tell themselves).

So we need to start talking. We need to make the facts clear, to get the stories known.

One of the villages that is directly affected by the JNF and their erasures and replantings is Al Araqib, located in the Negev. There is much information out there about their struggles – including that the village – which is unrecognised by the Israeli government – has, as of mid-December 2012, been demolished 45 times.

For an introduction I encourage you to watch this short doco. And then to read, and talk to your family and friends, and reconsider what the JNF is, and the role that it should play in your life.


by tobybee

Why are historical comparisons, at times, useful? As a historian who writes comparative history, it’s a question I am forced to address in my work. I find—as do many other historians—that by placing two different scenarios, or events, or examples, alongside each other, something is illuminated in both. We have the potential to learn something new by considering matters in comparison.

This is a vital difference between comparison and competition. As I learnt when I studied Comparative Genocide Studies at high school, it is useful to think about different genocides in comparison because then we can grasp more fully the complexity of genocide, and the many different ways in which it can be practiced. It is never useful, however, to play competitive genocide studies: to allege that one genocide is worse than another—or that one event is not a genocide—because of the number of people who were murdered, or the ways in which they were murdered. Every murder, we learnt through CGS, is tragic; every genocide looks different, and yet remains tragic. Every genocide, at times, does not look like genocide and at other times appears to be genocide par excellence.

In the past couple of weeks we’ve seen an explosion of writing regarding a Michael Leunig cartoon that was printed in the Age and which received in response allegations of antisemitism from many in the Melbourne Jewish community. The cartoon repeats Pastor Niemoller’s famous statement:
“First they came for the socialists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.”

but turns it instead into:

And a series of men have written their responses in various newspapers: Harold Zwier, Leunig himself, Dvir Abramovich, and finally today Nick Dyrenfurth. (aside pro-tip: if you want to access an article that’s behind a paywall, you just need to google the title of the article. The whole thing then turns up)

The argument, somewhere along the line, has turned into the utility of comparisons between Nazi Germany and Israel: such comparisons have been called intellectually lazy or offensive, amongst other things. But what is missing in such criticisms is, seemingly, an awareness of what constituted the Holocaust. The Holocaust, surely, is not just Auschwitz. It is not just industrial murder. It is also a denial of citizenship, the killing of random people on the street, the gathering of people into particular areas of town, the creation of refugees, the hate speech, the ignorance, the discriminatory legislation, the countless number of other small (and not so small) acts of brutality that together constitute what we now gather together under the name of the Holocaust. And this is, I would suggest, a problem for Holocaust historiography: what do we forget, what do we leave out, when we gather it all together under this one rubric? For if people suggest that the Holocaust stands always and only for the death camps, then whose experiences are they denying, whose stories are they silencing?

Leunig’s cartoon, it seems to me, is not about—or not just about—the Holocaust. It is a call to action, a reminder that the Holocaust is one moment when action was lacking. What are others? When do we silence ourselves because of disinterest, or fear of personal repercussions? How can we rethink our responsibilities to others?

For a comparison between the Holocaust and what Israel is doing to Palestinians is, yes, imperfect. As all comparisons are. But what it reminds us is that comparisons are useful. Is Israel undertaking industrial murder? No, not that I know of. Is Israel using the tools of modern industrial capitalism to persecute Palestinians? Absolutely: in the use of prisons, checkpoints, and drones. Is Israel stripping some Palestinians of their citizenship, making them stateless? Absolutely. That one’s a no-brainer. Are Palestinians forced to live in particular areas? Again, absolutely. Is genocide not happening because not all Palestinians are dead yet? Absolutely not. If one looks at the UN definition of genocide (and there are good reasons to turn to it, and good reasons not to, but regardless,) then we see that the measure of what constitutes genocide is not whether a group completely destroys another, but whether there is intent to destroy a particular form of group, in whole or in part, as such. There are numerous ways in which this can be carried out: cultural genocide is one, physical murder another. The physical destruction of the group need not happen for genocide to be occurring.

For after all, this is what has been missing in this discussion about the Leunig cartoon: an account of the various diverse experiences of Palestinians. Instead of taking the opportunity to look at the various different ways in which genocide can occur, taking a moment to consider genocides in historical perspective and in comparison with one another, to illuminate something about the nature of genocide and what people in the world will tolerate, support, or condemn, this ‘controversy’ has proved to have provided a way to make the discussion about Israelis, Zionism, and Jews, and their various neuroses.

By placing different historical moments in comparison—and I’m not even sure that this is what Leunig’s cartoon actually did, it seems to me to be more of a critique of a sense in the world that there are certain types of speech which are not socially permissible, and a critique of those of us who silence ourselves out of fear of the social repercussions—we have the capacity to learn something about each of them. We can be reminded of complexity and nuance, and remember that the Holocaust didn’t begin with Auschwitz.