From the January 2009 Idaho Observer:

"What did you do to stop the Holocaust, daddy?"

Holocaust. (Middle English). 1. A sacrifice wholly consumed by fire; a whole burnt offering. 2. a. A complete sacrifice or offering. b. A sacrifice on a large scale. 1497. c. Complete destruction by fire, or that which is so consumed ; complete destruction, esp. of a large number of persons; a great slaughter or massacre. 1671. ~Oxford Universal Dictionary (1955)

By Don Harkins

The four-stage illustration shows how the disposition of land in former Palestine and present Israel has evolved since Israel was granted conditional nation-state status by UN Resolution in 1948. Palestinian (Moslem, Christian and Jewish) land is indicated by the darkened areas and Israeli (Jewish) land is indicated in white.

"Palestine" had been a British military possession until 1920 when a civil government was formed under mandate from the League of Nations. As of 1946, the population of Palestine was about 1.6 million and about 15,000 Jews, mostly from Europe, had immigrated to the country. In preparation for the planned creation of Israel, the 1947 UN Partition Plan divided Palestine into untenable pieces. The areas designated for Palestinians in existence today are known as the "West Bank" and the "Gaza Strip."

With the creation of Israel, all restrictions on Jewish immigration were lifted. By January 1, 1961, over 1 million Jews had immigrated to "Israel." Keeping in mind that, per the conditions upon which Israel was granted statehood by the UN, Israel was to adopt a constitution and negotiate a fair and humane resolution to the over 1 million Palestinians that had been evicted from their homes when Israel took power. Israel still has not adopted a constitution and the many armed conflicts and "peace" talks, truces, accords and treaties, regardless of what Israel agrees to, result in more Palestinian land taken. The process has left Palestinians increasingly homeless, impoverished and weakened as individuals and as a political unit. The Israelis have responded by exercising increasing levels of military control on all movements of people and goods into and out of Palestinian land. In total violation of every "peace" agreement it has made, the Israelis have been moving into Palestinian territory and building "settlements." En route to these settlements are roads that have checkpoints guarded by hostile Israeli soldiers.

In 2002 Israel began constructing a wall around the West Bank to "protect" itself from Palestinians. The irregular, 450-mile wall grabs wells for Israel and separates Palestinian farmers from their fields and meanders for purely mean and spiteful rather than lawful or topographical reasons. Note that Gaza has shrunk considerably and, by Stage 4, the Israeli Jews have "settled" on over 50 percent of the ocean front Palestinian property. Note also that, by Stage 4, about half of the walled-off West Bank is now "Israeli" land.

The Palestinian population of the West Bank today is about 2.2 million with 187,000 Jewish "settlers." The Palestinian population of the Gaza Strip is about 1.5 million. The Israelis have concentrated 3.7 million Palestinian people into walled off encampments equal to a fraction of the territory where 1.6 million lived 60 years ago.

Over the last five decades, these displaced people have been systematically denied homes, property, opportunities in commerce and now many are denied the basic essentials of life because the world does nothing to stop the Israelis from carrying on with its plan of exterminating the Palestinian people. And if you think the rockets allegedly being fired into Israel from Hamas are the reason for the present conflict, then you must read the following pages, check the facts presented yourself and think again. This is a holocaust and someday, when history has been aligned with the facts and our children learn that the entire world twiddled for 60 years while an entire nation of people were systematically destroyed, we will all be asked, "What did you do to stop the holocaust, daddy [mommy]?"

And what, pray tell, will our answer be? "The Jews are Godís chosen so it is Godís will that Israeli Jews murder Palestinians." How about, "My country supported Israelís right to defend itself/mass murder innocent men, woman and children non-combatants and I support my country so I proudly did nothing and said nothing." Maybe we could explain that, "Sixty years of Israeli persecution, torture and mass murder of a displaced community of Arabs half a world away did not personally affect me so I just didnít care" or "there was nothing I could do about it so I just didnít worry about it."

The only "weapon" the Palestinian people have been "building" for the last 20 years is babies. The only plan these people have in place is to make enough babies and keep them alive long enough so that a few million of them will one day scale the walls of their concentration camps, overrun the Israelis and finally reclaim their homesóthe UN, the U.S. and the rest of the do-nothing, discompassionate world be damned.

Pages 11-14 of the hardcopy version of the Jan., 2009 edition of The IO are in honor of friendships with three intelligent and compassionate Palestinians who helped me to gain the correct editorial perspective on the underlying problems between Israel and the Palestinian people. Jamal Taha and I traveled to Cairo, Egypt, together in 1998 (The IO, March, 1998). Jamal was the son of a stone mason from Ramallah who spent six months being tortured in an Israeli prison for throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers in the 80s.

The Nazzals, Nafeez and Liala, are university-level sociology professors from Ramallah. They cannot teach anymore because it takes at least six hours each day to get to and from the university in Jerusalem even though it would only be a 10 minute drive from their home if it werenít for the Israeli checkpoints. I met the Nazzals in 2003 when they also traveled to Austria to speak at the Mut zur Ethik conference. From 2003-2006, the Nazzals would update conference attendees on the ever-worsening situation in the West Bank and Gaza. I was able to spend many hours with them in private discussions where the entire history of the "conflict" was "taught" to me by these two "teachers." Though their opinions were justifiably biased, theirs is a real life horror story of a holocaust in progress that has been steadily worsening for 60 years (See the October editions of The IO for 2003-2005).