Giulio Meotti’s book about Palestinian terrorism tells a truth many Westerners don’t want to hear.
“A New Shoa: The Untold Story of Israel’s Victims of Terrorism,” is a hard read. Not because it is badly written; it is clear, precise, and eloquent. It is a hard read because it is deeply moving—many times, I had to stop reading and catch my breath, wipe away the tears. Giulio Meotti, an Italian author and journalist, has written a monumental study of pain and grief, of mourning and remembrance, of hatred and love.
The book’s title is well-chosen. From the very first pages, Mr. Meotti makes clear that he considers Palestinian terrorism and Arab hatred of Israel and the Jews the continuation of Nazi anti-Semitism. He shows that Palestinian and Arab rhetoric is focused on Jews—not just Israelis. The dream of the Islamists is to destroy the Jewish people, not just the sliver of land called Israel.
This is not a matter of opinion but of facts, which Mr. Meotti’s well-researched book provides in abundance. Take just this recent example from a public speech by Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Zahhar, aired on Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV on November 5, 2010:
“Allah willing, their [the Jews’] expulsion from Palestine in its entirety is certain to come. We are no weaker or less honorable than the peoples that expelled and annihilated the Jews. The day we expel them is drawing near. . . .
“There is no place for you [Jews] among us, and you have no future among the nations of the world. You are headed to annihilation.”
These words move far beyond a conflict about territory—the underlying emotion is genocidal rage. Mr. Meotti’s list of murderous anti-Semitism by Palestinian leaders and media is exhausting. But it is a list the Western media ignore as it would destroy the prevailing narrative that the Mideast conflict is about land and Palestinian suffering. It isn’t. It is about that old sickness, Jew-hatred.
Mr. Meotti’s other great achievement is to record the stories of the Jews who died as a result of this hatred and preserve their memories. He recalls victims who were trying to lead an ordinary life in a unique country. They were on their way to work, to the market, to see friends when the murderers crossed their paths, themselves dying in the fires they unleashed.
The roll of victims is long. “This is the Ground Zero of Israel, the first country ever to experience suicide terrorism on a mass scale,” Mr. Meotti writes, “more than 150 suicide attacks carried out, plus more than 500 prevented. It’s a black hole that in 15 years swallowed up 1,557 people and left 17,000 injured.”
It must have been almost unbearable to write this book. Mr. Meotti gave the Jewish victims names and faces and, amid all that horror, packed his book also with descriptions of hundreds of acts of human kindness and dignity.
“There is a long, heartbreaking list of teenage Jewish girls whose lives were cut off in a moment by a suicide bomber,” Mr. Meotti writes. “Rachel Teller’s mother decided to donate her daughter’s heart and kidneys: ‘That is my answer to the hyena who took my daughter’s life. With her death, she will give life to two other people.’ Rachel wore her hair very short and had a wistful smile. Her friends remembered the last time they saw her. ‘We said bye-bye, a little bit bored, like it was nothing. Instead, it was the last time we said goodbye to Rachel.'”
The book is filled with these moments of intense pain, but this 400-page study of Jewish love of life is indispensable for anybody who wants to understand Israel’s position in the world and the tragic position of the Jews in history.
There is the story of Massoud Mahlouf Allon, who was an observant Jewish immigrant from Morocco. “He was mutilated, bludgeoned and beaten to death while giving poor Palestinians the blankets he had collected from Israelis,” Mr. Meotti recounts.
Or the disabled Arnad, who was blown up in the seat of his motorized wheelchair in Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda market.
Or Nissan Cohen, who was a teenager when he fled from Afghanistan. “During the day he helped handicapped children, and at night he studied the Gemarra, the commentary on the Law. A bomb killed him at the entrance to the Mahane Yehuda market.”
This book doesn’t dumb down evil. It doesn’t try to understand terrorists as victims of their socio-economic circumstances, doesn’t miscategorize them as poor or uneducated (they are often middle class) or driven allegedly to despair by the very same people they murdered. No, in “A New Shoah,” the terrorists remain what they are, the executors of a hate-filled religious ideology. This is a truth too many Westerners still don’t want to hear.
My own Dutch publishing house, the distinguished De Bezige Bij, born out of the Dutch resistance against the Nazis, refused to publish this amazing book. It had no qualms, however, about publishing a book of anti-Zionist rants by Dries van Agt, the former Dutch prime minister and Hamas apologist.
In a Continent stuck in denial about both Palestinian anti-Semitism and Europe’s own resurgent Jew-hatred, hidden behind the label of anti-Zionism, Mr. Meotti’s hard read is a breath of fresh air.
Mr. de Winter is a Dutch novelist. His latest book is “The Right of Return” (De Bezige Bij ,2008).
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