Martin Neimoller, a Lutheran pastor In Germany during the time of Hilter wrote the poem:

First they came for the Communists

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a Communist

Then they came for the Socialists

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a Socialist

Then they came for the trade unionists

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a trade unionist

Then they came for the Jews

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a Jew

Then they came for me

And there was no one left

To speak out for me

This poem has been used widely in reference to the Holocaust and has been spoken and published in many versions.  It had a profound effect on me when I first heard it, and I often reflect on it throughout all of my studies. 

First thing this morning over my cup of tea, I read a news story about Israeli forces threatening to gas the entire population of Aida, a Palestinian refugee camp in Bethlehem, to death.  The news coming out of the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel has been nothing short of tragic during October, but this story in particular I found hard to stomach.  The threat was made by a single soldier in a tank in Arabic.  So I can sit here in the comfort of my home and hope that he was having a bad day, that something set him off to elicit this type of statement, that this was in no way sanctioned by his superiors in the IDF.  While I hope these things may be true, an important fact remains: this type of rhetoric is normal.  A precedent for the IDF to speak to and of the Palestinians as though their lives do not matter has already been set.  The Palestinians are people; they are not monsters, they are not the boogeyman in human form.  They are living their lives under the circumstances with which they have been presented.

I hope the irony of an Israeli IDF soldier threatening to gas an entire city to death is not lost.  I have often pondered the roll the US played in the Holocaust.  Our leaders knew what was happening in Germany and did nothing for a long time.  We turned away Jewish refugees from Germany, forced them to return to likely slaughter in Europe on the boat from which they came.  And yet, the US said nothing, because Germany was not yet coming for America.  Will we allow our country to, yet again, stand idly by as another people is wiped out?  Will we allow such threats to continue?  And at what point will we stand up for what is actually right and just?  Israelis and Palestinians both deserve better from us, especially if we are the example of all that is right in the world, as we claim.

I do not know the answer, I will not pretend to have the magic wand that can resolve this conflict.  I am looking forward to seeing these people with my own eyes in a few short weeks and hearing what real people from both sides have to say about the escalating rhetoric and violence.  Until then, writing about it will serve as a therapy of sorts for me.  Whether or not anyone actually reads this, at least I can express my unease with things as they now stand.  And I can begin to decide how I will do something, as I will not be waiting for the day when someone comes for me and my family.

One article describing the incident I referenced can be found via the link below and the original videos can be found on Twitter.