Masha Gessen, this is just wicked
Phyllis Chesler referred to Russian-American journalist Masha Gessen as a “popular…prize-winning public intellectual.” Gessen has about 126K followers on “X” and the post linking to the article under examination here was viewed 775.4K times at this writing. If her* reach was not this broad, I might have ignored this piece. But I cannot just give it a pass.
Gessen compares Gaza with ghettos into which Jews were corralled until they were slaughtered; this essay expounds upon how Holocaust memorialization has been politicized and particularized and, therefore, one cannot get away with comparing Israel and Gaza to Nazis and Jews, respectively. Her fans say she is remarkably brave for doing just that.
Gessen states her point succinctly in a PBS Amanpour & Co interview (interviewer Michel Martin):
If we are serious about ‘never again,’ this is the moment when people can still be saved in Gaza. That line was the point of the piece. The other 7500 words were making my arguments.
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Gessen’s essay begins with the mention of Holocaust museums and monuments in Berlin. She writes about the stumbling stones built into the sidewalks around Europe to commemorate individuals killed by the Nazis and that “reveal[s] the pervasiveness of the evils once committed in this place.”
Perhaps, when this war against Hamas is over, Israel can put “stumbling stones” around Gaza to mark where hostages were held by Hamas and Hamas supporters, and to mark missile launching sites, schools that housed more weapons than books, hospitals that doubled as weapons factories, tunnel shaft comouflage, and Hamas headquarters, and even sites where once stood buildings from the roofs of which Hamas tossed their political opponents and homosexuals, etc.
Unless Gessen endeavours to engage in some serious historical education, she would strongly reject what I just wrote because she sees Israel as the perpetrator and Gaza as the victim.
However, I do not tend to take seriously anyone who thinks Arab citizens within Israel do not enjoy the same civil rights as the Jews, who thinks Israel is occupying the so-called West Bank after Oslo created the autonomous Palestinian Authority that has accepted responsibility for governing the Arabs there, who thinks Gaza is a ghetto, who thinks that Israel should let the Arab refugees into Israel but does not suggest Iraq, Egypt, Syria, etc open their doors to welcome the Jews back there, and who thinks that Deir Yassin was the site of a massacre. Regarding this last, let me suggest that she read the book by Eliezer Tauber, entitled: The Massacre That Never Was: The Myth of Deir Yassin and the Creation of the Palestine Refugee Problem.
So much for her 7500 words making her arguments.
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In her PBS interview, introduced by Amanpour as discussing why people are not exercising critical thought at this time. Gessen explains in much simpler language than she writes:
It takes a lot of time and intellectual energy to draw that comparison [between Gaza today and Jews in Nazi Germany] and people don’t have time and intellectual energy when they’re scared” and, you know, uh, Jews are actually scared. [Actually!] I think a lot of it is, you know, the aftermath of Oct 7th that has blinded people to the fate of others which is what happens when people are scared.
To see what happened in Israel [what happened? OMG! Can she not call it what it is?] and to have the Israeli government spin it as an antisemitic attack when, in fact, it was an anti-Israeli attack, really makes people feel like they are under attack.
Spin it as antisemitic? I guess she has not read the Hamas Charter that promises to kill Jews inside Israel and out, not Zionists, not Israelis, Jews!
Makes people FEEL LIKE they are under attack?! Get Gessen a private viewing of that 40-minute Hamas Horror film immediately. Make sure she sees the Hamas proclamations on Al Jazeera promising more Oct 7th‘s in the future.
Martin asks why it is important to make the connection between Nazi Germany and what is happening in Gaza, and Masha responds:
What is happening in Gaza now is that people who have been effectively ghettoized for the last 17 years [Show Gessen videos of Gaza before the war that put that myth to rest forever] are being indiscriminately targeted, killed, and starved. [Let her hear communications between soldiers and command when they cancel an operation because there are civilians in the area.] And this is probably, at this point, the strongest connection. You know, you may not realize that out of the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust, 1.3 million died of starvation and disease, exactly what is being inflicted upon people in Gaza as a weapon of war right now.
Please, someone, show Gessen the videos of Hamas stealing food and fuel from the trucks bringing in humanitarian aid to the civilians. Show her the videos of Hamas terrorists killing their own people who are trying to prevent Hamas from stealing the food Israel and other countries meant for their children.
The biggest difference between Gaza and the Jewish ghetto in Nazi-occupied Europe is that most Gazans are still alive. [She actually said that with a straight face, all serious and emotionless.] There is still an opportunity for the world to step in and stop it.
Maybe she is displacing her angst at the way the world did not step in and stop the Holocaust, did not stop the murder of members of her family and community in Russia. That is the only way I can understand her vicious ignorant attack against Israel.
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*I refer to Gessen with the female pronoun even though she defines herself as a “they” – nonbinary and trans. It is just too confusing to me to use “they” as I am constantly looking for the other people the “they” is referring to in articles that do this. My refusal to go along with the new terminology puts me on a par with Haaretz, a paper whose views I generally do not share. Am I being disrespectful? Well, Gessen apparently thinks I am a Nazi, or, at best, a Nazi supporter so I am not too concerned about what she thinks about me.
Update: have now had more requests for comment than I can handle (but I’m trying). Remaining business: please get my pronouns right. @haaretzcom I’m looking at you. They/them
— masha gessen (@mashagessen) December 14, 2023