Pages: 1 2
Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Giulio Meotti, an Italian journalist and author. His columns have appeared in the Wall Street Journal and Commentary. He graduated with a degree in philosophy at the University of Florence. He is the author of the new book, A New Shoah: The Untold Story of Israel’s Victims of Terrorism.
FP: Giulio Meotti, welcome to Frontpage Interview. Let’s begin with what inspired you to write A New Shoah.
Meotti: Thanks Jamie for your special hospitality.
As a non-Jew, I feel the cause of Israel as inseparable from the fate of the Western civilization. Israel is in the Middle East, but its existence is not just in the Middle East per se. In that tiny land currently live the sons and daughters of the European civilization that was brutally annihilated during the Holocaust. Israel is on the border, we are behind the front lines, but we are in the same fatal conditions. We, Europeans and Americans, should feel the Israelis as our brothers.
The current Jihadi terror flare up in the world after 9/11 is, on several realms, grounded on anti-Semitism – which is the real cause of the Middle East conflict. Anti-Semitism not only explains the war on Israel but also on the invisibility of Jewish victims in the media. I decided to start the book in 2003. I was in Israel for a tv documentary about the Second Intifada. There was a terror attack in Haifa, in a restaurant that Yigal Allon, an Israeli general and politician, called a symbol of Arab-Jewish coexistence. A Palestinian woman blew herself up and twenty people were killed after their last meal. A broken stroller, of a baby who had just been just killed, gave me the physical dimension of Israel’s battle for survival. Hundreds and hundreds of people killed in Haifa, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Netanya, Hadera and Sderot didn’t find a voice in the global media. So I started a research project that had cost me six years, working on families and survivors of terrorism.
The goal of the book is to epitomize the mere statistics of Israeli victims of terror with stories, ideals and faces. I consider this book like an incarnation of the disaster and of Israel’s humanity and heroism.
FP: Can you kindly explain the meaning of “Shoah” for those readers who might not know what it means?
Meotti: Shoah is a Hebrew word that means calamity, catastrophe, massive destruction. It’s a mysterious and marvelous word currently synonymous with the Holocaust of 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis. The suppression of the Jewish victim’s identity, of his name, of his face, the abolition of his humanity, were the motors of the Holocaust sixty years ago.
Likewise, in today’s Europe, the venom of anti-Semitism and the hatred of Israel are accepted and propagated generously, paving the way for a second Shoah. Europe negates the history of Israel, its right of existence recognized by the United Nations, and the dignity of Israeli victims. Exactly ten years ago, Palestinian terrorist groups launched the Second Intifada, resulting in this Israeli “Ground Zero” with 1,500 civilian victims. Israel is a very tiny country, and this number would be proportionally equivalent to about 54,000 terror victims in the United States: 20 times the 11/9. The hundreds of attacks in Israel, day after day, amount to a sort of “new Shoah,” a mini Holocaust.
In the book, I move from the extermination camps that covered Europe to the massacres of innocents in Israel in a continual recount of family stories. I also decided to adopt the word Shoah because today in the Western democracies the Holocaust’s memory is a special weapon in the hands of Israel’s haters. Just a couple of examples: In Holland the president of the parliament and leader of the Socialist Party, Jan Marijnessen, compared Islamic terrorism in the Middle East to the European resistance against the Nazis. Shallow declarations about the evils of the Holocaust have become a tool against what anti-Semites paint as our modern fascists, the Israelis. Trine Lilleng, a Norwegian diplomat spelled it out more directly: “The grandchildren of Holocaust survivors from World War II are doing to the Palestinians exactly what was done to them by Nazi Germany.” In the last fifteen years, hundreds and hundreds of Jews were killed because they were Jews, while the guardians of memory were busy in non-useful phony ceremonies. In Europe, they betrayed the memory of the Shoah.
FP: Expand a bit on why the story you are telling has been untold.
Meotti: This amount of Israeli suffering and pain was systematically neglected by the global public opinion. These stories of Israeli victims of terrorism had to be forgotten in order to promote the image of Israel as a colonialist, fascist, violent and arrogant state. These terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians should have been condemned by the United Nations as “crimes against humanity,” but they were always blamed on Israel’s very existence. Europe denied these victims’ existence because the Old Continent can’t pardon the Jews for the Holocaust. It’s a very deep way of “digesting” the Holocaust: we remember the Holocaust’s Jews so we can delegitimize the Israelis who are fighting for their own lives. Europe has a sense of guilt vis-à-vis the Jews because of the Holocaust. So by finding reasons to blame Israel, it believes it can assuage its guilt.
For ten years, Israel has been seeing rockets hitting its civilian population and nobody in Europe has said a word. The hatred toward Israel has emanated from the walls of the human rights conference halls. The Western universities have become fertile grounds for the cultivation of the genocidal reading proposed by Ahmadinejad. The Western media suppressed or minimized the suffering of the Israeli population under terrorism. The narrative has made Israel an international criminal, has attributed to the Jewish State all the characteristics that make it deserve the death penalty, from racism to apartheid. The journalists made themselves potential accomplices to genocide. They deny Israel’s victims dignity to delegitimize the Jewish historic right to Israel. The Jewish people were born there, lived there for centuries; it is there that they founded monotheism, a moral law that has generated democracy and prosperity. But for the Arabs, and not only for the Palestinians, for the Western appeasers, the Jewish presence in the area is deemed illegal and evil, forever. The world should be ashamed when it left the Israelis alone, during the Second Intifada, to be killed in cafes, buses, supermarkets and restaurants. The suicide bombers were always praised by the press as “victims.” This monstrous morality has been now poured all over Europe, where anti-Semitism has grown in all of its cities.
FP: Bring to life some of the human stories and tragedies told in your book.
Meotti: I wanted to recreate a chain of thousands of human beings, young and old, children, babies, women and men massacred at random in buses, cafeterias, shops and restaurants by those who believe that to kill is an act of faith. Terrorism destroyed an entire class of people just because of their identity, free Jews living in their land and state, Israeli Arabs in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The book is built on the testimonies of all kinds of Israeli victims of terrorism: “settlers” slaughtered in what they call “Judea and Samaria,” kibbutznikim killed in their beds, the doctors and psychiatrists, young students massacred in dancing places, Soviet dissidents killed after emigration to Israel, Americans massacred at the Israeli universities, orthodox women assassinated at pilgrim places, adolescents destroyed along with military reservists and Holocaust survivors.
These victims form the great family of Israel. There is a very important lesson in these stories: despite six decades of war and suffering, the majority of Israelis don’t feed hatred or pessimism. I always met optimism. It’s an amazing phenomenon that deals with the survival of the Jewish nation after 3.000 years of exile, killings, pogroms and Holocaust. It’s a great sign of vitality when Jewish women who lost parents and brothers help Arab women to give birth to their babies. The survivors were always able to rebuild after the attacks, they married again and had more babies.
Israel’s normality is its main victory. Israelis were able to live and progress at the base of the vulcan. In 1991, when Saddam Hussein rockets felt on the city of Tel Aviv, the Israeli Orchestra auditorium was full of people. The director Zubin Mehta, a non-Jew, was playing Bach when the siren started to sound. Mehta and the great Isaac Stern continued the concert wearing a gas mask. Or like the young people that continue to fall in love under the rockets in Sderot or Kiryat Shmona, two Israeli cities bombed by Hamas and Hezbollah. Iran’s president Ahmadinejad just visited the Lebanese border with Israel.
Pages: 1 2