The Jewish culture has this very powerful saying, which many Jews especially repeat on a day called the holocaust memorial day: Never to forgive, never to forget. On face value, this statement might seem a bit extreme, especially the “never to forgive” part. It is a bit extreme obviously. As a criticism of this saying, it can be argued that the intense, bitter emotion behind it is one of the rationalizing motivators that allows Israel to single-mindedly (with the help of their American big brother) stick a finger to the international consensus on the two state solution; to get one UN resolution after another vetoed (by their big brother); to exploit and terrify the intellectual culture so much that any criticism of Israel is equated with antisemitism; and finally to confound the issue so much that a relatively straightforward issue (Israel-Palestine) comes to be seen by many as an insurmountable problem, that possibly can’t be solved, and/or that where the two parties are to be equally blamed. In fact the plethora of manufactured misinformation on Israel-Palestine is reminiscent of the Tobacco industry purposefully spreading misinformation to successfully confuse the issue for nearly 40 years.
So this saying (and the many emotions behind it) is probably one of the reasons that allows Israel to be so “successful”: to act as the lion in the jungle, to kill and maim people with impunity, for Netanyahu to appear in that farcical Charlie Hebdo rally (when in fact he has killed countless more Palestinian journalists) without anyone in the west blinking an eye, etc etc. So the saying is powerful. It allows you to assert yourself. Admittedly, it can lead you to monstrous actions as in the case of Israel. But I would argue that it can be a force for good as well. So perhaps it would not be amiss to say that a similar feeling also drives the well known Jewish critics of Israel, and perhaps all other dissidents the world over. They use it to not forgive the horrors that were wreaked by powerful people, and to stand up against anyone who does similar things.
NEVER TO FORGIVE, NEVER TO FORGET!
January 2016 marks the 55th year of the assassination of Patrice Lumumba. Lumumba wanted development for the people of Congo. He believed that the resources of his country should be used for the betterment of his country, and he also espoused pan-Africanism. Lumumba could have led Congo, a resource rich country, and the whole of Africa to a better future. But what happened? The imperialist masters killed him. The CIA and the Belgians planned on killing him and eventually did. So many hopes quashed. Not only did they kill him, his body was hacked to pieces and dissolved in sulfuric acid. Just imagine for a second if this would be done to Tony Blair, or Barack Obama, or George Bush. The whole of the western world, French, British and American intellectuals, media and politicians leading the way, would be up in arms against “those barbaric monsters”. The “monsters” who as retribution would be attacked with nuclear,chemical, you-name-it, weapons. The west would be aghast at how could someone be so so inhumane: “O my God. Can people really be that barbaric? What is it about their culture and/or religion that makes them do these horrible horrible things?” Indeed, if Blair or Obama were assassinated and hacked to pieces and dissolved in sulfuric acid by some enemy military/secret service, the western world would be inundated with furious pronouncements, dripping with extreme moral outrage and the entire enemy country would be obliterated, bombed to smithereens!
The Belgians weren’t content on the ten million people that they had killed in Congo. No, they wanted Congo to stay down forever, and to serve the Belgian interests. The story pretty much was repeated in other postcolonial countries. The past colonial masters wanted us to stay down. And of course, that’s where we are today–down on our knees. Africa is in shambles. The same North Africans who are living in terrible, ghetto conditions in Paris and Brussels, had their chance at a better life taken away from them when the west committed numerous acts such as the assassination of Patrice Lumumba. In other countries such as Pakistan, over the course of decades, religious extremism was actively promoted by the US and its allies. The result is that these countries have been pretty much destroyed. And then the question in the western intellectual culture is: “Why o why do they hate us?” Right!
When the western political and intellectual culture talks about the ISIS and other terrorists of the sort (who wreak far more havoc in non-western countries than in the west), when they talk about the problem of terrorism, about how refugees are destabilizing Europe, when they assemble in farcical rallies and pathetically pronounce “I am Charlie” (the same free-speech champion magazine that had earlier fired a cartoonist because a comment of his was deemed antisemitic), then what the people of postcolonial countries, the others, must do is: Never to Forgive, Never to Forget. The people of postcolonial countries should have the Jewish saying ingrained into their minds. Not only were they raped by the Europeans for centuries, that rape goes on even now. Never to forgive, never to forget. Keep the pain alive. Long live Lumumba and his spirit!