Genocide is Genocide

What more can one say about the genocide in Gaza that hasn’t already been said? Special thanks to Ali Abunimah, Max Blumenthal, even Pierce Morgan, and others who break through the legacy media bubble and report what’s happening on the ground and the real history, not a sanitized, Hollywood version of it, like the movie Exodus.

Disclosure: I grew up in the late 50s, early 60s with Zionism as much a part of my childhood as going to shul and being Bar Mitzvah’d. As a teenager I joined a social-political group called Masada, mainly to break out of my own personal bubble, meet other people, and maybe even a girl! (Failure on all aspects). I remember one workshop where we went around talking about what it was to be Jewish, or Zionist (can’t remember exactly) but you heard the same refrain from everyone. (This was only a few years after the 1967 war.) What surprised me then, and even to this day, was that afterwards the moderator actually warned us about accepting ‘facts’ without actually knowing the truth behind it. Even looking back, that was pretty ballsy of him to do that. Who knows, maybe today he’s a self-hating Jewish Hamas fanatic. Aren’t we all? (At least our Zionist cousins would likely think so.)

Back up a few years to the 6-Day war. I asked my father who we would support if the US went to war against Israel. Was I that politically conscious even back then? His answered somewhat surprised me. Without blinking he said, “The US.” I didn’t have to ask him why but today it’s obvious. Although a secret draft dodger during WW2, (he did enlist at the time of occupation. He worked in the shipyards and was able to avoid such service, and  later talked my older brother out of joining the Marines.) He always saw himself as a loyal 1st generation American. I wonder today if this question were to be asked of many Jews, what would their immediate gut answer be?

What’s happening in Gaza is as wrenching to me as what’s happening in Ukraine, but not for the reasons many would expect. Russia was wrong to invade but was forced to do so by the West, primarily the US and Great Britain. There’s debate over this except by those who actually know some history, but the war did not start in February 2022. This was personal to me for another reason.
The shtetl that my mother’s family was from was in what’s today Ukraine. Some left in the 20s but those who stayed were all killed. My mother didn’t talk much about it but we knew how painful it was. She was the first in her family born here. Although I can only go by geography and history, I’m all but sure that her family and the village of Trochenbrod was erased by Stephen Bandera’s army, which today makes up parts of the modern Ukrainian army and attacking Russians in the east is as enjoyably now for them as it was for them 80 years ago.  So when people put yellow and blue flags out on their front lawn, or ‘stand with Ukraine’, I wince.

Genocide is genocide. Ethnic cleansing is ethnic cleansing. Pogroms are pogroms. Regardless of who the victims are, the results and the reasons behind them are the same. It cannot be justified in any way. Ever.

Myles Hoenig is a veteran of the Prince George's County Public School system in Maryland, USA. He's a long time activist for social justice. He lives in Baltimore. Read other articles by Myles.