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World Holocaust Day

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Edited by Geoff Cooper, Saturday, 1 Feb 2020, 17:05

Written for World Holocaust Day

Having visited Israel several times, having worked and holidayed in the Middle East, having visited Auswichtz twice and studied the treatment of Jewry under Hitler and National Socialism, I am currently more in sympathy with the Palestinians than with the politics of Israel. However, I believe it is imperative that what happened in Hitler’s concentration camps should never be forgotten.

Shadows of black.

Elusive shades of grey.

No colour.


No birdsong,

No waiting train

On adjacent track.

No scent of rain

On living grass.

No welcome puppy smell.

Only the stench

Of impending death,

Of living death.

A bitter taste.

The rancid, bitter taste

Of human hate,

Of human waste.

I am ZW037782D,

5030468 the living dead.

You are a number,

Some letters.

He was 204610.

The symbolism of the numbers and letters: they all belong to me; or perhaps I belong to them; the first is my British National Insurance number, the second the number given to me when I joined the Royal Air Force and finally the number of my membership of The Poetry Society. I am more than a number. Humankind is more than a number.

And an incident.

With my three children in Israel on holiday. It would be about 1983. We crossed by boat from Tiberius to the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee for a visit to a kibbutz. The journey over the sea had been serene and calm. By late afternoon, the temperature had become oppressive and during the return, a wind had got up. The lake is subject to rapid weather changes. Think of Jesus and the disciples in a boat, Jesus stilling the storm. An elderly lady was finding the rocking of the boat distressing. We had wet wipes and she was glad to accept one. Lifting her hand to wipe her brow, the numbered tattoo on her arm was noticeable. She had survived the death camps. 

I suspect that there will be those who see some of what I have written above as anti-Semitism. That is not my intention. I have seen the desert in Israel bloom. I have appreciated Israeli hospitality, organisation, culture. I regret - and believe it wrong - that more and more territory occupied by Palestinians for generations and indeed for centuries, should be appropriated for more Jewish settlements. I cannot think that this will do anything to further peace and harmony in the Middle East.

Permalink 1 comment (latest comment by Sabr Bahid, Tuesday, 28 Jan 2020, 15:24)
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