LEON DE WINTER ON GIULIO MEOTTI’S BOOK “THE NEW SHOA”
Never Again? Giulio Meotti’s book about Palestinian terrorism tells a truth many
Westerners don’t want to hear.
By LEON DE WINTER
“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
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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