Letter to Editor: Don Krausz
Today, Don Krausz, Chairman of Association of Holocaust Survivors in Johannesburg, responds to Nina Butler's article Hebron: The capital of ugly and keffiyehs. While we don't necessarily agree with everything, in the interest of freedom of expression and for the sake of healthy discussion, we're publishing it here, unedited.
What a strange article Nina Butler has written for the DAILY MAVERICK.
Their caption is: For people with brains. And a browser.
A large portion deals with Hebron. Browse can mean to look through in a casual manner and that is certainly what she has done in Hebron, believed to be one of the oldest cities in the world and so also most interesting. Not that one would learn much about that from Nina Butler.
Hebron is venerated by both Jews and Moslems. According to the Torah, the Hebrew Bible, their ancestors were buried there at the time of Abraham in the Cave of Machpelah. That caused Hebron to be regarded as the second holiest city in Israel, so important in fact that King Herod built a special wall around it two thousand years ago and which still exists today. There is something very moving about an edifice that was erected by human hands so long ago and has stood the test of time. One tends to pick up the vibes of the builders, to imagine their lives and that of their families. Where did they get their building material, did they use mortar and what did it consist of to have held brick upon brick for millennia? If they used large stones, ashlars, then where was the quarry, how were these transported and erected to heights without the use of power tools?
Not that this would inspire Nina Butler. She is more interested in keffiyehs, a head dress for Arab men and which she claims has become an emblem of Palestinian solidarity. Whether true or not, Nina’s description of the scarf does have its uses. These things come in colours; black for members of Fatah and red for Hamas. Now one may identify those terrorists from a safe distance.
Also noteworthy is Nina’s near adulation of some of the people that have been identified with the wearing of the keffiyeh. Yasser Arafat for instance, who is regarded as one of the main terrorists of this century. A man who participated in efforts to make peace between Palestinian and Israeli and who was pointed out by President Clinton as the main cause for the talks failing.
A sensitive soul, who once demonstrated to a Western journalist how his minions should be trained. In order to toughen up his recruits they were given live chickens and told to kill the birds. It seems that wringing necks was not good enough for this father of the Palestinian uprising. He showed how the live fowls had to be torn to pieces with one’s bare hands.
Now one can understand how Palestinians were able to cut the throat of a three-month-old baby in the Itamar settlement recently and then inflict the same horror on its parents and siblings. Even worse was the fact that the locals in Gaza danced in the streets upon hearing the news.
Another candidate for emulation seems to be Leila Khaled who, according to Nina is “famed” for being involved in an airline high jacking. It is not an accurate comparison, but have you ever stopped to think what the passengers in the doomed planes that were deliberately flown into the World Trade towers on 9/11 must have endured? The word should be “despised,” not famed.
What are Nina’s morals, values, her standards of Right and Wrong? The valiant warriors of Hamas, etc. fire missiles from within Gaza civilian areas at Israeli civilian settlements. Don’t try and point out that their casualty rate is minimal! Every single one of those mortars and rockets is fired with the intention to maim and kill civilians, men, women and children. I have been told that it only takes about 17 seconds these days to establish whence a rocket has been fired and then to fire back at the source. And if that missile was launched from a built up area, near a school or a hospital, a mosque? Then the whole world becomes witness to the cruelty and evil of the Israeli Defence Force, or, as Nina prefers, the Israeli Occupying Forces.
Nina draws our attention to the Israeli inhabitants of Hebron, whom she generalises as being vulgar, committing acts of dehumanisation and violent. Perhaps. What she does not mention from behind her keffiyeh is the fact that in 1929 Arab rioters slaughtered 64 to 67 Jewish men, women and children, and wounded 60. Jewish homes and synagogues were ransacked. 435 Jews survived by virtue of the shelter and assistance offered them by their Arab neighbours, who hid them.
The well known author and journalist Pierre van Paasen was in the area and arrived in Hebron before the mutilated bodies of men, women and children had been removed. With his credentials as a journalist the British troops allowed him onto the scene of the massacre. There a British officer informed him that if a single shot had been fired, the Arab murderers would have run like rabbits. Van Paassen then tapped the man’s revolver holster and asked: “Then why did you not fire that shot?” With that the ranking British officer present had Van Paasen removed under armed escort.
Nina Butler ends her article by describing the breathing problems of some young Palestinians who have been tear gassed. She writes of the “poison of occupation.” Israel launched her attack on Gaza after an estimated 750 missiles had been launched there from, some landing in the vicinity of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Beer Sheba and in Ashkelon, the remainder much closer to civilian settlements in Israel proper.
And she wants us to believe that Israel is the aggressor? DM
- Don Krausz