A Holocaust Survivor Says End the Occupation

Jay Moore research at neravt.com
Sat May 26 06:42:13 MDT 2001

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The Progressive
Editor Matthew Rothschild comments on the news of the day.

May 23, 2001
A Holocaust Survivor Says End the Occupation

Yesterday, I talked with a Holocaust survivor.

Her name is Irena Klepfisz.

She was born in 1941 in the Warsaw ghetto.

Her father, a socialist, joined the resistance.

He died during the Warsaw Uprising when he hurled himself on a Nazi machine

Today, Klepfisz, an American poet, makes a plea for the Palestinians.

She demands that Israel give back the Occupied Territories and return to
pre-1967 borders.

She says that we forget that Israel is engaging in violence every day on the
West Bank and Gaza, even when it's not shooting Palestinians or demolishing
Palestinian homes.

The occupation itself is violence, she says. When you hold a town at
gunpoint but don't shoot off your gun, you're still engaging in violence,
she explains.

I asked her about Yasser Arafat's rejection of the Clinton deal that would
have given the Palestinians 95% of the Occupied Territories back.

A lot of liberal-minded people thought Arafat should have taken the offer.

Klepfisz acknowledges that this is a sticky point for many Americans.

But, she says, people have to understand that this 95% represents just a
fraction of the original Palestine. And it would still have left a very
visible Israeli military presence inside Palestine to guard the settlements.

The settlements themselves are not some rustic, frontier enclaves, she adds,
but luxurious gated communities set amid Palestinian poverty. The so-called
settlers have paved roads to bypass Palestinian land, while the Palestinians
roads are often made of dirt, she adds.

The settlements should not be dismantled, Klepfisz says. They should be
handed over to the Palestinians.

Despite the current violence, she believes that Palestinians will eventually
get their land back. "Justice happens," she says, but she knows it may take
a while.

As a Jew, she laments that fellow Jews are engaging in repression.

"I wish suffering were ennobling," she says. But it isn't. Not always.
Sometimes it hardens you. And, she says, it has hardened many in Israel.

Klepfisz, by the way, is on the advisory council of a new group called
Jewish Unity for a Just Peace (or Junity, for short), which met for the
first time in Chicago on May 4-6.

Junity is calling for pickets around the country on June 8 to show
solidarity with Women in Black, an Israeli group that is organizing a
demonstration in Israel on that day to protest the 34th anniversary of
Israel's occupation of Palestinian lands.

For more information, go to www.junity.org or www.batshalom.org.

--Matthew Rothschild

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