Israeli authorities openly acknowledge that the invasion of Lebanon was part of a strategy to break Palestinian resistance in the West Bank and Gaza so that de facto annexation could proceed. Palestinian resistance has not been broken, but Israeli settlement building continues at a rapid pace and occupation policies are harsher than ever. In this issue, we examine the current situation in the occupied territories and the continuing struggle there. Another issue in the near future will complement this one with articles on the economy, water, settlements, land policy and other questions, as well as a bibliography, for which there was not sufficient space here.
On April 11, 12,000 to 15,000 Holocaust survivors and their relatives assembled in Washington, DC for a reunion and memorial conference to mark the fortieth anniversary of the Warsaw ghetto uprising. The theme of the gathering, which we wholeheartedly endorse, was that the memory and lessons of the Holocaust must never be forgotten. Unfortunately, many people, including Menachem Begin, have concluded that the Holocaust grants the state of Israel an unlimited license to exact retribution from Palestinians and other Arabs. Such a conclusion, it seems to us, contradicts the essence of the most important lesson to be drawn from the Holocaust: that any manifestation of oppression, wherever it occurs and against whomever it is directed, must be opposed by all people in the name of our common humanity.
President Reagan’s presence at the conference detracted from its moral stature and the clarity of its message. As someone who actively justifies the American genocide in Indochina and who is aggressively pursuing similar policies in Central America, Reagan is not qualified to speak on the lessons of the Holocaust. His efforts to tie the Holocaust to his own policy of nearly unrestrained support for the government of Menachem Begin, and his failure to voice any criticism of American unwillingness to take active measures to halt the slaughter of Jews during World War II compromise the message of the conference.
During the same week, a series of anti-Semitic incidents occurred at the University of Texas in Austin. Obscene slogans were painted on the walls of a Jewish fraternity and on a house used by the Chabad group of Chasidic Jews. A rock was thrown through the window of the home of a Jewish student. These acts took place at the same time that supporters of Israel were holding an ”Israel Awareness Week.“ Friends of MERIP in Austin have expressed their concern that the growing public criticism of Israel for its aggression against Palestinians and other Arab peoples is being used to legitimize anti-Semitism. It is vital to make clear the distinction between criticism of Israel, including anti-Zionism, on the one hand, and anti-Semitism on the other. Acts of anti-Semitism must be opposed and clearly denounced.