I’m just about to go on a trip to Europe and will be away for four weeks. I thought I should write something before leaving so that people would know that the website is still active. Dr. Dhafir will be sentenced on June 20th and many of the other people charged in the case will be sentenced in May.

I have spent many hours since the verdict from Dr. Dhafir’s trial came down thinking about what to write on this website. After ten weeks of thinking, I still don’t know what to write. I can’t find words to describe how I think and feel about what has happened in the case of Dr. Dhafir and others involved in the charity Help the Needy. I sometimes feel the court experience has left me in a parallel universe that I share only with others who witnessed the trial proceedings.

I’ve thought many times about the newspaper coverage of the trial and wondered, “Were the German people any less guilty because their newspapers reported a particular view of the things that were happening?” The trial experience and people’s reaction has also taught me a great deal about “human nature” in a way that the hundreds of books that I have read on Europe in the 1930s and 1940s never could have. I want to share some thoughts I have had.

I originally believed that if I were able to encourage people to learn about this case and what is happening to many other Muslim people in this country, people would act. But over the last seven months I have found this to be far from the case. Knowledge is a terrible thing: it throws you out of the Garden of Eden, many people that I spoke to did not want to know about what was happening at the court. Their ignorance is willful and it’s taken me a while to realize this and come to terms with this fact.

My refuge has been in reading more books about what happened in Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. I am trying to understand people’s lack of reaction and I believe I have much to learn from what happened in the Nazi era in Germany. I have found two authors who speak directly to my concern about how ordinary people can be part of something like the Holocaust.

I would like to recommend these books:

Prisoners of Fear by Ella Lingens-Reiner (1948) tells the story of an Austrian woman doctor who was sent to Auschwitz for re-education after she was caught trying to help some Jewish friends leave the country. She left a three-year-old son behind and spent two years and two months in Auschwitz. Her observations of the camp and of the motivations of the other people in the camp, including the other prisoners and the SS guards, are very insightful. I highly recommend this book.

Two books by Laurance Rees, The Nazis: A Warning From History and Auschwitz also look at the individual people who lived through the 1930s and 1940s in Europe. Rees talked to individuals, now in their70s, 80s and 90s, about what they had done during the war. These individuals included Jewish survivors, SS Guards and members of the public who had informed on their neighbors. Rees does a brilliant job of presenting these people through their own words. Both books are companion to a TV series on the subject. I highly recommend both these books.

I would like to recommend this article, which parallels and speaks directly to my own experience in this country at this time:

Why Do Israelis Collaborate?
Victoria Buch. (Victoria Buch is an Israeli, a professor at the Hebrew University Jerusalem.)
April 2, 2005

“The following paradox never ceases to amaze me:

“Why do mainstream Israelis collaborate with the Occupation? Most of them are unenthusiastic about the settlement enterprise. You may often hear from them “I do not support the settlers”. “I would gladly give up the Territories for peace”. And while nationalist hype exists in Israel, it is limited. During the first two years of this Intifada I accompanied Palestinians in need of treatment to Israeli hospitals. Once they managed to get there, a considerable number of Israelis tried hard to help them. In everyday situation you can find much decency, generosity, tolerance and human warmth in Israel.

“And yet the sons of these same people serve in the army, endanger their lives in the Occupied Territories, and shoot at Palestinians when ordered to.”

Click here for complete article.

I would also like to share these quotes:

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)

“Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all — the apathy of human beings.” (Helen Keller)

“The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in time of great moral crises maintain their neutrality.” ( Dante Aleghieri)