FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

WWJS

by WILLIAM A. COOK

I saw the pictures children drew at Terezin last March when I delivered a paper at a Prague conference. Yesterday I saw a picture of a Palestinian woman, old and bent, weeping as she watched Sharon’s bulldozer demolish her home. The children’s pictures jumped to mind; the thousands of drawings, hidden in Terezin, are the only evidence of their existence. Mothers, the old women lured to Terezin by the Nazis on the pretext that it was a care facility for the elderly, and the Nazi Commandery allowed the children to draw, a way to express how they felt about being herded like cattle, crowded into dark attics and cellars, separated from their parents before they were transported to Izbice, Maly Trostinec, Sobibor, Majadanek, Treblinka or Auschwitz. For Terezin was a transport town.

It occurred to me that Sharon’s savagery against the Palestinians mirrors the plight of the Jews in Terezin. Consider the woman weeping for her home. What would the women of Terezin say as they watched Sharon destroy this woman’s home? How they would share the anguish of being driven from their home as they had been and confined, as the Palestinian woman was confined, in squalid conditions, in a refugee camp under the booted foot of their oppressor. What would the Jews of Terezin say as they watched their sons, daughters, nieces, and nephews corral the indigenous people of Palestine into ghettos, packed into cement bunkers not unlike the cells at Terezin, or crammed into ancient towns where the walls are falling down or bulldozed into oblivion?

What would the Jews of Terezin say as they watched Sharon build walls around the ghettos? How like the walls of Terezin that rose before those locked in waiting the day they would be transported to their death. How like the Gestapo the IDF looms before the Palestinians as they crouch locked in their homes under curfew, unable to get to the market, unable to play in the streets, unable to work; dependent on the oppressor’s will to get to UN food supplies, the only defense against their impending death.

What would the Jews of Terezin say as they watched Sharon circle their temporary homes with search lights from towers and trucks, hemming them in behind barbed wire, suffering the indignity of caged animals? What would they say as they watched the Palestinian family wait hours in line before they could pass through the gate, derided and mocked by the soldiers who laughed at their plight? What would the Jews at Terezin say as they witnessed their own kin steal land and homes from those who owned them on the pretext that they were animals and did not deserve the land given to Sharon by G-d? Had they not lost all to their oppressors?

What would the Jews at Terezin say to those imprisoned behind the walls unable to till the fields taken from them, unable to move from one city to another to visit relatives, friends, neighbors, unable to survive without the largese from nations beyond the walls? Would they not understand those who tried to resist? Had they not tried to resist? Would they not understand that what desperation breeds is desperation? Had they not seen themselves as David against Goliath? Would they not see this David, the imprisoned Palestinian, as their brothers and sisters throwing stones at tanks weighing tons, scattering shells from Kalashnikov rifles at F-16 Fighter Jets and Apache Helicopters, and standing defiantly in front of bulldozers while Goliath dispatches some of his134,000 troops into the ghettos, sends a few of his32,000 airforce to shell homes and factories, and drives his 3,900 tanks into the ghetto cities and refugee camps? Would they not grasp the metaphor of the Biblical story that graphically illustrates the consequences of the strong, willingly and mercilessly, attempting to destroy the weak? And would they not know that David will triumph because David has nothing to lose, his cause is just, and his God has promised him victory? But the strong have everything to lose, and the fear that they will lose it. As Israeli Professor Martin Van Crevold stated: “He who is wise should never engage the weak for any length of time.”

When at Terezin, I saw the drawing of a hearse, the only means of transportaion in the ghetto, by Ferdinand Bloch, Alfred Kantor’s picture of a police patrol controlling women returning from work, and Bedrich Fritta’s black drawing of cramped life in the attic, and others, others by children and I thought of the old woman kneeling in the street watching her home demolished. That, too, is a drawing that captures forever the fear of those who live without hope, without dignity, without respect. What would the Jews of Terezin say? Perhaps they would speak through me: THE GHOSTS OF TEREZIN

I saw the pictures children drew at Terezin As they clustered in the attic’s closing darkness, — Pictures of the sun beyond the rain, Of Mothers muffled in scarves and solemn dress, Of Fathers proud beneath their yarmulkas, — All waiting patiently the promised day When they would board the silver train And flee to the Holy City.

And I wept at their plight, The silent, unknown, gnawing fright That burned within their Ghetto of sin, This Terezin.

And then before my eyes there came Another scene, so strange, as if incarnate in the first That burst untimely before my weeping heart; A scene more ravaged than Terezin, Of streets and alleys swamped in sewage and despair Where children breathed the fetid air of hate That smoldered like steaming ashes there.

Suddenly appeared above the graves, the ghosts of Terezin, Arising like mist around the crematorium; Fathers and Mothers, in their promised land at last, Grasping children to their breasts. Silent as sentinels they stood, And there they wept as they watched in vain The wardens wander through the camps Like Gestapo agents of old, Stark, cold, indifferent to the pain Of those who huddled beneath the tin roofs, Encased like the dead in cement boxes As the acrid stench of lingering sewage Flowed through the alleys and the homes.

They saw the tanks rattle through the streets With ranks of soldiers scurrying behind, Seeking the vermin that infested this place,– Homeless, nameless, without a face, — Sneaking through this ghetto in the dark of night To drive the children from this transport town, This resurrected refugee camp, this new Terezin, Where the new Jew wanders the world Like the Jews of Terezin, Joined in their loneliness and despair As they watch their children there Become the walls of Terezin!

William Cook is a professor of English at the University of La Verne in southern California. He can be reached at: cookb@ULV.EDU

 

William A. Cook’s latest book is Decade of Deceit.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

December 06, 2016
Anthony DiMaggio
Post-Fact Politics: Reviewing the History of Fake News and Propaganda
Richard Moser
Standing Rock: Challenge to the Establishment, School for the Social Movements
Norman Solomon
Media Complicity is Key to Blacklisting Websites
Michael J. Sainato
Elizabeth Warren’s Shameful Exploitation of Standing Rock Victory
David Rosen
State Power and Terror: From Wounded Knee to Standing Rock
Kim Ives
Deconstructing Another Right-Wing Victory in Haiti
Nile Bowie
South Korea’s Presidency On A Knife-Edge
Mateo Pimentel
Some Notes and a Song for Standing Rock
Bill Fletcher Jr – Bob Wing
Fighting Back Against the White Revolt of 2016
Peter Lee
Is America Ready for a War on White Privilege?
Pepe Escobar
The Rules of the (Trump) Game
W. T. Whitney
No Peace Yet in Colombia Despite War’s End
Mark Weisbrot
Castro Was Right About US Policy in Latin America
David Swanson
New Rogue Anti-Russia Committee Created in “Intelligence” Act
George Ochenski
Forests of the Future: Local or National Control?
December 05, 2016
Bill Martin
Stalingrad at Standing Rock?
Mark A. Lause
Recounting a Presidential Election: the Backstory
Mel Goodman
Mad Dog Mattis and Trump’s “Seven Days in May”
Matthew Hannah
Standing Rock and the Ideology of Oppressors: Conversations with a Morton County Commissioner
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
#NoDAPL Scores Major Victory: No Final Permit For Pipeline
Fran Shor
The End of the Indispensable Nation
Michael Yates
Vietnam: the War That Won’t Go Away
Michael Uhl
Notes on a Trip to Cuba
Robert Hunziker
Huge Antarctica Glacier in Serious Trouble
John Steppling
Screen Life
David Macaray
Trump vs. America’s Labor Unions
Yoav Litvin
Break Free and Lead, or Resign: a Letter to Bernie Sanders
Norman Pollack
Taiwan: A Pustule on International Politics
Kevin Martin
Nuclear Weapons Modernization: a New Nuclear Arms Race? Who Voted for it? Who Will Benefit from It?
David Mattson
3% is not Enough: Towards Restoring Grizzly Bears
Howard Lisnoff
The Person Who Deciphered the Order to Shoot at Kent State
Dave Archambault II
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Statement on Dakota Access Pipeline Decision
Nick Pemberton
Make America Late Again
Weekend Edition
December 02, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
The Coming War on China
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The CIA’s Plots to Kill Castro
Paul Street
The Iron Heel at Home: Force Matters
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Timberg’s Tale: Washington Post Reporter Spreads Blacklist of Independent Journalist Sites
Andrew Levine
Must We Now Rethink the Hillary Question? Absolutely, Not
Joshua Frank
CounterPunch as Russian Propagandists: the Washington Post’s Shallow Smear
David Rosen
The Return of HUAC?
Rob Urie
Race and Class in Trump’s America
Patrick Cockburn
Why Everything You’ve Read About Syria and Iraq Could be Wrong
Caroline Hurley
Anatomy of a Nationalist
Ayesha Khan
A Muslim Woman’s Reflections on Trump’s Misogyny
Michael Hudson – Steve Keen
Rebel Economists on the Historical Path to a Global Recovery
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail