Support Global Voices

To stay independent, free, and sustainable, our community needs the help of friends and readers like you.

Donate now »

Over 300 Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants Condemn Israel's ‘Massacre of Palestinians in Gaza’

Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip continued on Aug. 20, 2014, targeting a home in the city of Deir al-Balah. Photo by Hussain Abdel Jawwad. Copyright Demotix

Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip continued on Aug. 20, 2014, targeting a home in the city of Deir al-Balah. Photo by Hussain Abdel Jawwad. Copyright Demotix

The International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN) has released an open letter signed by 327 Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of the Nazi genocide “unequivocally” condemning the “massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and the ongoing occupation and colonization of historic Palestine.”

The letter was written in response to Holocaust survivor, author and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel’s “manipulation of the Nazi Genocide to attempt to justify the attacks on Gaza.” The accusation that Elie Wiesel manipulates the memory of the Holocaust is an old one. In this case, it refers to his New York Times advertisement in which he claimed that “Jews rejected child sacrifice 3,500 years ago. Now it’s Hamas’ turn,” using biblical imagery by comparing Gazan parents to the Molochites (ancient Canaanites who sacrificed children to their God, Moloch).

Besides his controversial positions supporting Israel's illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, Wiesel was chairman of the IR David Foundation, which aims to “strengthen the Jewish connection to Jerusalem” (Hebrew) and create a Jewish majority in Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem. He was notably accused by Jewish scholar Norman Finkelstein in his book “The Holocaust Industry” of promoting the “uniqueness doctrines” whereas all genocides besides the Jewish Holocaust are downplayed.

The letter reads:

As Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of the Nazi genocide we unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and the ongoing occupation and colonization of historic Palestine. We further condemn the United States for providing Israel with the funding to carry out the attack, and Western states more generally for using their diplomatic muscle to protect Israel from condemnation. Genocide begins with the silence of the world.

We are alarmed by the extreme, racist dehumanization of Palestinians in Israeli society, which has reached a fever-pitch. In Israel, politicians and pundits in The Times of Israel and The Jerusalem Post have called openly for genocide of Palestinians and right-wing Israelis are adopting Neo-Nazi insignia.

Furthermore, we are disgusted and outraged by Elie Wiesel’s abuse of our history in these pages to justify the unjustifiable: Israel’s wholesale effort to destroy Gaza and the murder of more than 2,000 Palestinians, including many hundreds of children. Nothing can justify bombing UN shelters, homes, hospitals and universities. Nothing can justify depriving people of electricity and water.

We must raise our collective voices and use our collective power to bring about an end to all forms of racism, including the ongoing genocide of Palestinian people. We call for an immediate end to the siege against and blockade of Gaza. We call for the full economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel. “Never again” must mean NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE!

Take a look at the letter on the IJAN's website to see the complete list of signatories.

Andrew Stroehlein, the European media director for Human Rights Watch, tweeted the news to his nearly 17,000 followers:

IJAN also recently announced that their letter will be posted in The New York Times as a half-page ad. Lee Gargagliano of IJAN wrote on Facebook:

We did it! We are placing the letter from survivors of the Nazi genocide and descendants of survivors and victims as a half-page ad in tomorrow's (Saturday 8/23) New York Times! Please spread it far and wide to help maximize the impact and please pass it on to journalists who you think might pick up the story. Thank you to those who signed; thank you to those who contributed; thank you to everyone who will help circulate!

At the time of writing, the death toll in Gaza stood at 2,039, including 540 children and 75 families. Seventy-two percent of Palestinians killed in this offensive are civilians, according to the UN. The death toll for Israel stood at 68, including one child. The percentage of civilians killed is 5 percent, with the majority of deaths being IDF soldiers.

Follow our in-depth coverage: #Gaza: Civilian Death Toll Mounts in Israeli Offensive


  • Carlos

    Here is a very controversial but vitally important article which should be read by both sides of the Israeli – Palestinian conflict, it offers a solution, but will enrage both sides as the solution goes to the dark heart of the matter, which is where it must go

  • Name

    It would surprise me if any of these survivors or their descendants is alive today because they fled to Israel. See, if this had been a letter condemning that actions of the Israeli government in this current phase of the war, or even in general, it’s settlement policy, it’s cowardice towards pursuing compromise, its stooping to the levels of dehumanizing propaganda – and its rush to arms – than that would be one thing. Do you know how frequently such critiques are leveled from within the Jewish community, both within Israel and in the diaspora? Look up David Grossman’s speech and NYT op ed. A lot of Jews are against the way Israel has and is handling things.

    But this letter goes further, and claims Israel’s existence itself is the problem, that this conflict is colonial (it isn’t – the Jews are a semetic people indigenous to the area returning to a land they can trace their ancestry back to genetically, biographically through personal family histories, historically, and liturgically – their return came from increased freedom of movement given them during the “enlightenment” from European powers who previously exercised very strict control over the motion of its Jewish population and started before any European powers got involved – though it as certainly percitipated by rising antisemitism), or racist (it is ethnic, not racial – Jews and Arabs are not different races, racist is a buzz word and it doesn’t apply.)

    The occupation in the sense that Israel is unethically and, depending on how you argue international law, illigally regulating trade and movement from/through Gaza and the West Bank is real. And deserves criticism. But the idea that all of Israel is an “occupation and colonization of historic Palestine” is false and dangerous.

    And it shows that none of these survivors were saved by fleeing there. It denies Jews, amoung all the peoples of the world, the right to national self definition in their historic homeland.

    I am not saying that the history of Israel, starting with their actions in 1947 aren’t at least controversial and absolutely in need of being addressed, acknowledge, and at least apologized or, maybe paid for with reparations of some kind.

    But there is simply no where else for Jews to go. And the fact that the world, including these jews, seem to not understand that Israel is in fact the origin point of the jewish ethnoreligious group, and not “just something some old book says,” but something that can be clearly seen in every single generation is something that is an obvious narritive someone is imposing. Colonialism is bad, so lets call the jews colonialists. There is no where to go, because all the arab and north african states joined the Nazi’s in expelling their Jewish populations in the 1940’s and continued to do so with pogroms and raids into the 1950s. There is no where else to go because Jews did and continue to get harassed, threatened

    But that does not deny it validity as a state – a state

  • […] A senior Columnist at Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Peter Beinart, lamented Netanyahu's reference to Elie Wiesel, the Holocaust survivor whose controversial New York Times advertisement during “Protective Edge” prompted outrage from other Holocaust survivors. […]

  • same1

    Q: Why do Israelis smell the way they do?
    A: So blind people can hate them too.

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices!

Submitted addresses will be confirmed by email, and used only to keep you up to date about Global Voices and our mission. See our Privacy Policy for details.

Newsletter powered by Mailchimp (Privacy Policy and Terms).

* = required field
Email Frequency

No thanks, show me the site