Hold It All

Month: December, 2006

Good Human Material

Review of In the Shadow of the Holocaust: The Struggle Between Jews and Zionists in the Aftermath of World War II  by Yosef Grodzinsky. Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press,  2004. First published in the Journal of Palestine Studies, winter 2006.


Perhaps the most preeminent advocate of Holocaust remembrance in the United States, Elie Wiesel has long held that the sacred memory of the murdered Jewish millions ought not to be sullied by base, partisan political concerns. He held to this putatively apolitical view even when he was the leader of the process that led to the establishment of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

In this English version of an earlier work published in Hebrew, Yosef Grodzinsky shows how early on, Zionist politics collided with the needs of Holocaust survivors, those Jews who were gathered in Displaced Persons (DP) camps after World War II in Germany, Austria, and Italy.  For the author, a professor at Tel Aviv University, this is not simply a detached work of scholarship; rather, it is a personal response to and revision of the way he was raised as a youth in Israel:  “We were told that virtually all the survivor DPs immigrated to Palestine/Israel, after a courageous struggle against the British. Those who joined the army, we were told, registered for the draft upon their arrival in Palestine; we were also told that refugees and survivors arrived in Palestine eagerly, ready to join the forming Israeli society and assist in the war effort. But the real story was kept from us” (p. 231). Read the rest of this entry »

Allen Ginsberg: What’s More Important than Hope

Via email I received an essay by Bay Area activist and founder of Middle East Children’s Alliance, Barbara Lubin. In her conclusion on her 20+years of activism on Israel/Palestine, she writes the following…

And what about hope? I leave you with a final word about hope.

One night poet and MECA advisory board member Allen Ginsberg came to San Francisco for a book signing and later he dined with a small group of friends in North Beach. On this night, the last time Howard and I would see him before he died, we were going around the table talking about all sorts of issues including what was happening in Rwanda, Iraq and Palestine. None of the news was very good.

We were getting more and more depressed. I turned to Allen and asked, “So, Allen, where’s the hope?”

Allen jumped up, taking the table and the food with him. He was furious. “Hope…” he yelled. “It’s not about hope. You don’t do what you do because you hope things will get better. It’s about getting up every morning and asking yourself what’s the right thing to do and doing it.”

Allen Ginsberg taught me a great lesson that night. He was right. It is wonderful if one is hopeful in life, but I will not wait around trying to feel hopeful about what is happening to the children in Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq, or in poor communities here in America. I will continue to be angry and I will get up every morning and ask myself “What is the right thing to do?” and do it.

And I will never be silent again.