A Problem From Hell ~ Samantha Power


Roland Stahl
February, 2020


     A Problem From Hell by Samantha Power is a stunning and very impressive achievement, detailing the rise of genocide in the Twentieth Century, from the slaughter of the Armenians by the Turks in 1915, to the Holocaust of the Jews (and others) in Germany, the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, the gassing of the Kurds in Iraq, the Serbian genocides in Bosnia and Kosovo, and the Hutu slaughter of the Tutsi in Rwanda.  However, as I read the book, I kept wondering, Is she Jewish?  How is it that she has nothing to say about the “Final Solution” of the “Palestinian Problem” by the State of Israel?  To be sure, the horrific slaughter of 800,000 Tutsis in 100 days is immediately arresting, but the patient and relentless grinding down of the Palestinian people over the last 75 years has utterly demoralized and ruined the viability of the Palestinians as a people ~ it is absolutely a clear case of genocide, albeit done so slowly and relentlessly that “no one notices.”  They are hemmed in on all sides; blockaded by sea; starved and crushed economically; their houses and infrastructure are routinely destroyed; they are divided and conquered; and their land is steadily and relentlessly diminished by ever increasing settlements encroaching upon their occupied land.  Whenever they try to fight back, 300 Palestinians are killed for every Israeli killed, and all of this is justified as a defense against “Palestinian terrorists.”  The only solution offered to the Palestinians is to lay down and die, so who can blame them when they try to bring down as many Israelis with them as they die, as they are remorselessly crushed under the heel of the occupying Israelis?

     The Israelis claim Biblical history as their justification for seizing the land which they have not occupied for 2700 years.  They claim that, according to the Bible, the land was given to them by God over 3000 years ago as a permanent homeland for the descendants of Abraham.  But History repeats itself.  The problem with God’s gift to the Hebrews was the small matter that the land was already occupied by other tribes.  Remember when the walls of Jericho came tumbling down?  The Hebrew people assaulted the land and drove out the prior residents, confident in their righteousness since the Promised Land was given to them by God.  

     I am reminded of the hilarious scenes described by Benvenuto Cellini in his Autobiography when the King of France gave him a magnificent palace in consideration of his great works of art.  However, the “gift” was in the form of a fancy scroll signed by the King in which Title to the estate was conferred upon Cellini; it was up to Cellini to take possession, as there were other residents living there, who were not about to vacate without more compelling arguments.  Cellini had to scheme for weeks, secretly installing confederates in the house as servants so that, one fine day, when most of the residents of the place were absent, they were able to rise up and seize control.

     As Samantha Power details so exhaustively, there has never been much enthusiasm for opposing genocide, neither in the United States nor anywhere else, as all of the above mentioned cases of genocide were accomplished while the rest of the world blithely went about their more pressing affairs.  

     Well, I have never had much faith in Democracy.  In one of my earliest books, Jokes (The Evanescent Press, 1975) I wrote, “The Majority is always wrong.”  Perhaps that’s not always true; that’s what makes it a joke.  But in the case of the genocide of the State of Israel against the Palestinian people, a clear problem is the very influential Jewish lobby in the United States.  Every politician falls over backward to defend Israel from any criticism because of the very large number of Jewish voters.  Any criticism of Israel is political suicide in this country.  However, I am not running for office, so I just speak my mind.  

     Finally, I want to disassociate my views on the State of Israel from the charge of anti-Semitism.  As a child, I remember my mother saying, “I am prejudiced about the Jews ~ I like them.”  The Jews have historically been outstanding in many fields of activity, from art and science to music and literature.   I am encouraged that Bernie Sanders, himself a Jew, is able to stand up and criticize the State of Israel.  It must be the Jewish people themselves who must come around to a rejection of the unconscionable policies of the State of Israel with regard to the people of the land they have unlawfully occupied since 1947.



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