Holocaust Denied

The Lying Silence of Those Who Know

“When the truth is replaced by silence,” the Soviet dissident Yevgeny Yevtushenko said, “the silence is a lie.” It may appear the silence is broken on Gaza. The cocoons of murdered children, wrapped in green, together with boxes containing their dismembered parents and the cries of grief and rage of everyone in that death camp by the sea, can be viewed on al-Jazeera and YouTube, even glimpsed on the BBC. But Russia’s incorrigible poet was not referring to the ephemeral we call news; he was asking why those who knew the why never spoke it and so denied it. Among the Anglo-American intelligentsia, this is especially striking. It is they who hold the keys to the great storehouses of knowledge: the historiographies and archives that lead us to the why.

They know that the horror now raining on Gaza has little to do with Hamas or, absurdly, “Israel’s right to exist”. They know the opposite to be true: that Palestine’s right to exist was canceled 61 years ago and the expulsion and, if necessary, extinction of the indigenous people was planned and executed by the founders of Israel. They know, for example, that the infamous “Plan D” resulted in the murderous de-population of 369 Palestinian towns and villages by the Haganah (Jewish army) and that massacre upon massacre of Palestinian civilians in such places as Deir Yassin, al-Dawayima, Eilaboun, Jish, Ramle and Lydda are referred to in official records as “ethnic cleansing”. Arriving at a scene of this carnage, David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, was asked by a general, Yigal Allon, “What shall we do with the Arabs?” Ben-Gurion, reported the Israeli historian Benny Morris, “made a dismissive, energetic gesture with his hand and said, ‘Expel them’. The order to expel an entire population “without attention to age” was signed by Yitzhak Rabin, a future prime minister promoted by the world’s most efficient propaganda as a peacemaker. The terrible irony of this was addressed only in passing, such as when the Mapan Party co-leader Meir Ya’ari noted “how easily” Israel’s leaders spoke of how it was “possible and permissible to take women, children and old men and to fill the roads with them because such is the imperative of strategy … who remembers who used this means against our people during the [Second World] war… we are appalled.”

Every subsequent “war” Israel has waged has had the same objective: the expulsion of the native people and the theft of more and more land. The lie of David and Goliath, of perennial victim, reached its apogee in 1967 when the propaganda became a righteous fury that claimed the Arab states had struck first. Since then, mostly Jewish truth-tellers such as Avi Schlaim, Noam Chomsky, the late Tanya Reinhart, Neve Gordon, Tom Segev, Yuri Avneri, Ilan Pappe and Norman Finkelstein have dispatched this and other myths and revealed a state shorn of the humane traditions of Judaism, whose unrelenting militarism is the sum of an expansionist, lawless and racist ideology called Zionism. “It seems,” wrote the Israeli historian Ilan Pappe on 2 January, “that even the most horrendous crimes, such as the genocide in Gaza, are treated as desperate events, unconnected to anything that happened in the past and not associated with any ideology or system… Very much as the apartheid ideology explained the oppressive policies of the South African government , this ideology — in its most consensual and simplistic variety — has allowed all the Israeli governments in the past and the present to dehumanize the Palestinians wherever they are and strive to destroy them. The means altered from period to period, from location to location, as did the narrative covering up these atrocities. But there is a clear pattern [of genocide].”

In Gaza, the enforced starvation and denial of humanitarian aid, the piracy of life-giving resources such as fuel and water, the denial of medicines and treatment, the systematic destruction of infrastructure and the killing and maiming of the civilian population, 50 percent of whom are children, meet the international standard of the Genocide Convention. “Is it an irresponsible overstatement,” asked Richard Falk, the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and international law authority at Princeton University, “to associate the treatment of Palestinians with this criminalized Nazi record of collective atrocity? I think not.”

In describing a “holocaust-in-the making”, Falk was alluding to the Nazis’ establishment of Jewish ghettos in Poland. For one month in 1943, the captive Polish Jews led by Mordechaj Anielewiz fought off the German army and the SS, but their resistance was finally crushed and the Nazis exacted their final revenge. Falk is also a Jew. Today’s holocaust-in-the-making, which began with Ben-Gurion’s Plan D, is in its final stages. The difference today is that it is a joint US-Israeli project. The F-16 jet fighters, the 250-pound “smart” GBU-39 bombs supplied on the eve of the attack on Gaza, having been approved by a Congress dominated by the Democratic Party, plus the annual $2.4 billion in war-making “aid”, give Washington de facto control. It beggars belief that President-elect Obama was not informed. Outspoken on Russia’s war in Georgia and the terrorism in Mumbai, Obama’s silence on Palestine marks his approval, which is to be expected, given his obsequiousness to the Tel Aviv regime and its lobbyists during the presidential campaign and his appointment of Zionists as his secretary of state, chief of staff and principal Middle East advisers. When Aretha Franklin sings “Think”, her wonderful 1960s anthem to freedom, at Obama’s inauguration on 21 January, I trust someone with the brave heart of Muntadar al-Zaidi, the shoe-thrower, will shout: “Gaza!”

The asymmetry of conquest and terror is clear. Plan D is now “Operation Cast Lead”, which is the unfinished “Operation Justified Vengeance.” The latter was launched by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2001 when, with Bush’s approval, he used F-16s against Palestinian towns and villages for the first time. In the same year, the authoritative Jane’s Foreign Report disclosed that the Blair government had given Israel the “green light” to attack the West Bank after it was shown Israel’s secret designs for a bloodbath. It was typical of New Labour Party’s enduring, cringing complicity in Palestine’s agony. However, the 2001 Israeli plan, reported Jane’s, needed the “trigger” of a suicide bombing which would cause “numerous deaths and injuries [because] the ‘revenge’ factor is crucial”. This would “motivate Israeli soldiers to demolish the Palestinians.” What alarmed Sharon and the author of the plan, General Shaul Mofaz, the Israeli Chief of Staff, was a secret agreement between Yasser Arafat and Hamas to ban suicide attacks. On 23 November, 2001, Israeli agents assassinated the Hamas leader, Mahmud Abu Hunud, and got their “trigger”; the suicide attacks resumed in response to his killing.

Something uncannily similar happened on 5 November last, when Israeli special forces attacked Gaza, killing six people. Once again, they got their propaganda “trigger”. A ceasefire initiated and sustained by the Hamas government — which had imprisoned its violators — was shattered by the Israeli attack and home-made rockets were fired into what used to be Palestine before its Arab occupants were “cleansed”. The On 23 December, Hamas offered to renew the ceasefire, but Israel’s charade was such that its all-out assault on Gaza had been planned six months earlier, according to the Israeli daily Ha’aretz.

Behind this sordid game is the “Dagan Plan”, named after General Meir Dagan, who served with Sharon in his bloody invasion of Lebanon in 1982. Now head of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence organization, Dagan is the author of a “solution” that has seen the imprisonment of Palestinians behind a ghetto wall snaking across the West Bank and in Gaza, effectively a concentration camp. The establishment of a quisling government in Ramallah under Mohammed Abbas is Dagan’s achievement, together with a hasbara (propaganda) campaign relayed through a mostly supine, if intimidated Western media, notably in America, that says Hamas is a terrorist organization devoted to Israel’s destruction and to “blame” for the massacres and siege of its own people over two generations, long before its creation. “We have never had it so good,” said the Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Gideon Meir in 2006. “The hasbara effort is a well-oiled machine.” In fact, Hamas’s real threat is its example as the Arab world’s only democratically elected government, drawing its popularity from its resistance to the Palestinians’ oppressor and tormentor. This was demonstrated when Hamas foiled a CIA coup in 2007, an event ordained in the western media as “Hamas’s seizure of power”. Likewise, Hamas is never described as a government, let alone democratic. Neither is its proposal of a ten-year truce as a historic recognition of the “reality” of Israel and support for a two-state solution with just one condition: that the Israelis obey international law and end their illegal occupation beyond the 1967 borders. As every annual vote in the UN General Assembly demonstrates, 99 per cent of humanity concurs. On 4 January, the president of the General Assembly, Miguel d’Escoto, described the Israeli attack on Gaza as a “monstrosity”.

When the monstrosity is done and the people of Gaza are even more stricken, the Dagan Plan foresees what Sharon called a “1948-style solution” — the destruction of all Palestinian leadership and authority followed by mass expulsions into smaller and smaller “cantonments” and perhaps finally into Jordan. This demolition of institutional and educational life in Gaza is designed to produce, wrote Karma Nabulsi, a Palestinian exile in Britain, “a Hobbesian vision of an anarchic society: truncated, violent, powerless, destroyed, cowed. … Look to the Iraq of today: that is what [Sharon] had in store for us, and he has nearly achieved it.”

Dr. Dahlia Wasfi is an American writer on Palestine. She has a Jewish mother and an Iraqi Muslim father. “Holocaust denial is anti-Semitic,” she wrote on 31 December. “But I’m not talking about World War Two, Mahmoud Ahmedinijad (the president of Iran) or Ashkenazi Jews. What I’m referring to is the holocaust we are all witnessing and responsible for in Gaza today and in Palestine over the past 60 years… Since Arabs are Semites, US-Israeli policy doesn’t get more anti-Semitic than this.” She quoted Rachel Corrie, the young American who went to Palestine to defend Palestinians and was crushed by an Israeli bulldozer. “I am in the midst of a genocide,” wrote Corrie, “which I am also indirectly supporting and for which my government is largely responsible.”

Reading the words of both, I am struck by the use of “responsibility”. Breaking the lie of silence is not an esoteric abstraction but an urgent responsibility that falls to those with the privilege of a platform. With the BBC cowed, so too is much of journalism, merely allowing vigorous debate within unmovable invisible boundaries, ever fearful of the smear of anti-Semitism. The unreported news, meanwhile, is that the death toll in Gaza is the equivalent of 18,000 dead in Britain. Imagine, if you can.

Then there are the academics, the deans and teachers and researchers. Why are they silent as they watch a university bombed and hear the Association of University Teachers in Gaza plea for help? Are British universities now, as Terry Eagleton believes, no more than “intellectual Tescos, churning out a commodity known as graduates rather than greengroceries”?

Then there are the writers. In the dark year of 1939, the Third Writers’ Congress was held at Carnegie Hall in New York and the likes of Thomas Mann and Albert Einstein sent messages and spoke up to ensure the lie of silence was broken. By one account, 3,500 jammed the auditorium and a thousand were turned away. Today, this mighty voice of realism and morality is said to be obsolete; the literary review pages affect an ironic hauteur of irrelevance; false symbolism is all. As for the readers, their moral and political imagination is to be pacified, not primed. The anti-Muslim Martin Amis expressed this well in Visiting Mrs. Nabokov: “The dominance of the self is not a flaw, it is an evolutionary characteristic; it is just how things are.”

If that is how things are, we are diminished as a civilized society. For what happens in Gaza is the defining moment of our time, which either grants the impunity of war criminals the immunity of our silence, while we contort our own intellect and morality, or gives us the power to speak out. For the moment I prefer my own memory of Gaza: of the people’s courage and resistance and their “luminous humanity”, as Karma Nabulsi put it. On my last trip there, I was rewarded with a spectacle of Palestinian flags fluttering in unlikely places. It was dusk and children had done this. No one told them to do it. They made flagpoles out of sticks tied together, and a few of them climbed on to a wall and held the flag between them, some silently, others crying out. They do this every day when they know foreigners are leaving, believing the world will not forget them.

John Pilger is an internationally renowned investigative journalist and documentary filmmaker. His latest film is The War on Democracy. His most recent book is Freedom Next Time: Resisting the Empire (2006). Read other articles by John, or visit John's website.

20 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Tevye said on January 8th, 2009 at 3:45pm #

    Israel cannot be “reformed” any more than Nazi Germany could be reformed. The only possible hope for the future of our planet is the the world to rise up against it, just as it did Nazi Germany.

  2. Omar said on January 8th, 2009 at 4:47pm #

    There will be no peace or relief for the region or the palestinians as long as Israel exists. That is a fact!

  3. Shabnam said on January 8th, 2009 at 5:19pm #

    That’s why everyone says ISRAEL HAS NO RIGHT TO EXIST.

  4. Luis Cayetano said on January 8th, 2009 at 7:36pm #

    “There will be no peace or relief for the region or the palestinians as long as Israel exists. That is a fact!”

    Great. So now Zionist expansionists need only cite this sort of message and say, “See, we were right! Our enemies want Israel destroyed!” Thanks for the self-fulfilling prophecy, Omar. As long as you keep preaching it, the Sampson Option will be in the wings.

    Instead of mouthing feel-good inanities about Israel’s inherent evilness, why not support the forces within Israel who are resisting their own government’s crimes? Those who would claim there is something forever irredeemable about Israel only contribute to the long term guarantee of more bloodshed and suffering (how else do you think it will “cease to exist” if not through a cataclysmic war?). The Palestinians don’t deserve to be sacrificed on the altar of your grudges. Maybe you disagree.

  5. brian said on January 8th, 2009 at 8:10pm #

    Why is zionist israel worse than nazi germany….the nazis didnt blitz the concentration camps!

  6. brian said on January 8th, 2009 at 8:16pm #


    UN: Israel Admits Claims About Attacked School Baseless
    International Outrage Can Safely Resume as Israel Backs off Allegations
    Posted January 7, 2009
    UN Relief and Works Agency spokesman Chris Gunness reported this evening that the Israeli army is privately briefing diplomats on the fact that its previous claims about their attack on a UN-run girls’ school in the Gaza Strip, which caused over 100 civilian casualties, were baseless.
    The attack occurred yesterday, when Israeli mortars deliberately fired three shells at the school, which was filled with hundreds of displaced civilians at the time, killing at least 46 and wounding 55 others. As international outrage began to well over the enormous civilian toll of the attack, Israel declared the killings “according to procedures” and claimed Hamas had fired rockets from the school’s courtyard, making the attack on hundreds of innocent civilians self-defense.
    Much was made of the claim, including reports that Israel was mulling filing a formal complaint to the United Nations about Hamas’ use of the facility. But as the United Nations poked holes in the official story, Israel is now backing off those claims.
    And while Israel had previously claimed to have had proof to back up its story, Gunness says the military is now conceding that the mortar fire they previously claimed came from the school came from elsewhere in the refugee camp. Though Israel is trying to keep its admission of guilt relatively quiet (far more quiet than its allegations that the killings were justified) it will doubtless pay a further price in the court of international public opinion for having once again deliberately targeted a building full of innocent civilians.

  7. brian said on January 8th, 2009 at 8:19pm #

    Luis if you are paying attenton, you can see Israel seeks to end the existence of the palestinians…You can use this invasion to critique the zionists

    ‘why not support the forces within Israel who are resisting their own government’s crimes? ‘

    what good are they doing? If it were a democracy, that may be a good idea…but Israels rulers can choose to ignore them

  8. dk said on January 8th, 2009 at 11:09pm #

    israel has no right to exist as a “jewish state”.the world has no need for the state of israel.the zionist perversion of judeaism has brought forth an entity thats akin to a cancer cell.

  9. Luis Cayetano said on January 8th, 2009 at 11:35pm #

    “Luis if you are paying attenton, you can see Israel seeks to end the existence of the palestinians…”

    I noticed that they seek to end the existence of the Palestinians, which is why I support the voices within Israel trying to restrain their government and to raise the conscience of their people. But anyone who talks about ending “Israel’s existence” has obviously never heard of nuclear holocaust.

    The primary responsibility for the ongoing atrocity lies with Israel. If you want to use that fact to argue that Israel should be gotten rid of, then be consistent and demand that the United States should be gotten rid of for the bloodbath in Iraq.

    “You can use this invasion to critique the zionists”

    I do so routinely.

    “what good are they doing? If it were a democracy, that may be a good idea…but Israels rulers can choose to ignore them”

    Israel is a democracy (for its Jewish inhabitants) to the same extent that your country is a democracy: the government ignores domestic public opinion when it can afford to, and pays attention to it when it becomes too expensive.

  10. john andrews said on January 9th, 2009 at 3:27am #

    Another superb piece Mr Pilger.

    Thank you.

    It seems to me there are two core flaws in the common perception which, if they could be demolished, would start to generate real progress in Palestine: 1. Zionism and Judaism are one and the same 2. That Israel ‘belongs’ to Zionism because God said so.

    Zionism has become the power it is by prostituting the terrible history of suffering endured by Jewish people. That its survival depends on forcing that same suffering on others is an obscenity. Zionism needs to be seen for what it is: a ruthlessly fascist, racist organisation that should be an international pariah detached and separate in the public mind from Judaism. Once this isolation from Judaism can be effected its aims can be rightly overcome – because the central claim of Zionism cannot be supported.

    Zionism claims that Palestine belongs to Zionism because God said so. But the existence of God cannot be proven; therefore the Zionist claim is fatuous and groundless.

    Palestine belongs to Palestinians; and it should be irrelevant which religion individual Palestinians choose to believe in.

    Free Democracy is a solution

  11. mary said on January 9th, 2009 at 3:44am #

    With the exception of the previous comment, John Pilger’s magisterial words are being subsumed by a tit-for-tat on the rights and wrongs of a superpower’s heavily armed puppet state’s attempt to annilate a displaced people. They are virtually unarmed and are prisoners, besieged for nearly two years in the most overcrowded place on God’s earth. ‘Fish in a barrel’ and ‘birds in a cage’ are two well used expressions to describe their predicament.

    I am grateful to that same God for giving us John Pilger who must be so weary from observing and reporting on wars on all continents over the last 50 years.

  12. AaronG said on January 9th, 2009 at 4:31am #

    Thanks John

    On last night’s news, in response to a reporter’s surprisingly direct question ”Are you using white phosphorous?” an Israeli drone blandly and coldy replied ”We act in accordance with international law”. This response, dodging the yes/no answer, made me realise that the drone was right (first and only truth of the interview!) – Israel DOES obey international law since they aren’t signatories to such treaties involving weapons like white phosphorous or cluster bombs.

    (did I just prove that Israel obeys the law?! Strange, but try to follow my twisted logic……………..I know I can’t)

  13. mebosa ritchie said on January 9th, 2009 at 5:33am #

    700 palestinians dead in gaza==holocaust

    1200 fatah palestinians killed by hamas palestinians june 2007 is ok muslims killing muslims

    30,000 palestinians killed by jordan 1970 is ok muslims killing muslims

    20,000 killed by assad in syria is ok muslims killing muslims

    400,ooo dead in darfur is ok muslims killing muslims

    2,000,000 dead in iran-iraq war is ok muslims killing muslims

    can you a pattern here mr pilger ???????

  14. Hue Longer said on January 9th, 2009 at 6:11am #

    Israelis killing Muslims===OK because they do it to themselves? Mebosa, you are on page one of an ignorant book we’ve all read…This isn’t difficult stuff to keep up with. What is your goal?

  15. Omar said on January 9th, 2009 at 6:27am #

    It doesn’t matter if Israel signed those treaties or not. I mean I never signed anything, I still have to obey the law.

    Luis, I’m not the first to say that and I won’t be the last, and there are enough people who think it and believe and don’t say it and the sooner people stop being afraid to say it and stop pussyfooting around the subject, then the better.

    I don’t like Israel and what it’s doing, I guess speaking out makes me an Anti-Semite then, right?

    I also don’t like Zimbabwe and Mugabe, am I also racist?

    I’m also incredibly disappointed in Obama, I think he’s already failed on foreign policy before he’s started.

  16. mary said on January 9th, 2009 at 6:55am #

    Are there any culprits creeping on to this website?


    Hasbara spam alert
    With Israel’s foreign ministry organising volunteers to flood news websites with pro-Israeli comments, Propaganda 2.0 is here
    Richard Silverstein guardian.co.uk, Friday 9 January 2009 11.05 GMT

    The hasbara brigade strikes again!
    You always hear about Israeli attempts at media manipulation. Everyone knows it’s going on but usually the process happens through cyber insurgents like those involved with Giyus (and its media monitoring software, Megaphone). Now, we know that the Israeli foreign ministry itself is orchestrating propaganda efforts designed to flood news websites with pro-Israel arguments and information.

    /……….. continues

  17. mary said on January 9th, 2009 at 6:58am #

    The link appeared incomplete. It is:


  18. Hue Longer said on January 9th, 2009 at 7:16am #

    it makes sense Mary, but they sure aren’t selective with where they waste their time, eh?…oh well, determination and money makes up for a lack of brains I guess

  19. Luis Cayetano said on January 10th, 2009 at 7:28pm #

    “I don’t like Israel and what it’s doing, I guess speaking out makes me an Anti-Semite then, right?”

    No, speaking out doesn’t make you an anti-Semite. What matters is what you actually say, and based upon that, I have no idea if you are one. I do know that there are plenty of anti-Semites out there, though I suspect you’re not actually among them. But my point was really one about consistency. Are we to dissolve states that harbour governments committing crimes? If Israel doesn’t deserve special treatment (which it doesn’t, of course), then nor should it be singled out for destruction.

    Mebosa said:

    “700 palestinians dead in gaza==holocaust

    1200 fatah palestinians killed by hamas palestinians june 2007 is ok muslims killing muslims

    30,000 palestinians killed by jordan 1970 is ok muslims killing muslims

    20,000 killed by assad in syria is ok muslims killing muslims

    400,ooo dead in darfur is ok muslims killing muslims

    2,000,000 dead in iran-iraq war is ok muslims killing muslims”

    Actually, no one’s saying any of this is “ok” (except, of course, the perpetrators and their backers – often in the West, incidentally, though that’s apparently irrelevant since you choose to see all of this as simply Muslim-on-Muslim violence, conveniently ignoring any of the actual history). It makes sense for a commissar like you – interested only in legitimating his own favoured state’s use of terrorism – to focus on the crimes of others (Pravda would have found good use for someone like you during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. “Why are people picking on us? Why don’t they focus on the crimes of the mujihadeen?”). As Noam Chomsky has said, you’re supposed to deal with crimes that are in your capacity to stop. This would be true if we were killing ONE person.

    Get it?

  20. Max Shields said on January 10th, 2009 at 8:30pm #


    I do think Israel should be dissolved as a nation state. There should be one nation, Palestine or whatever the final name tag is for the atlas.

    It should be an open nation with Palestinian ROR foremost.

    Israel is a Zionist creation, a creation of Western imperialism. As such it cannot live in peace in the Middle East.

    I suspect a number of Jewish protestors would find this reasonable, but many won’t. The two state solution (ill conceived to begin with) was merely an offering by the Palestinians when Israel had the upper hand. That is dissipating with time.

    An interview with Hamas’ leader Khaled Meshal makes something of a case for the weakening of the Israeli military. (http://www.counterpunch.org/)