For the Arabs, and the above all for the 1.2 million Arabs of Palestine, the partitioning of the land in which they had been a majority for seven centuries seemed a monstrous injustice thrust upon them by white Western imperialism in expiation of a crime they had not committed. With few exceptions, the Jewish people had dwelt in relative security among the Arabs over the centuries. The golden age of the Diaspora had come in the Spain of the caliphs, and the Ottoman Turks had welcomed the Jews when the doors of much of Europe were closed to them. The ghastly chain of crimes perpetrated on the Jewish people culminating in the crematoriums of Germany had been inflicted on them by the Christian nations of Europe, not those of the Islamic East, and it was on those nations, not theirs, the Arabs maintained, that the burden of those sins should fall. Beyond that, seven hundred years of continuous occupation seemed to the Arabs a far more valid claim to the land than the Jews' historic ties, however deep.
Accordingly, it must and dare not be considered a trifling matter but a most serious one to seek counsel against this and to save our souls from the Jews, that is, from the devil and from eternal death. My advice, as I said earlier, is:First, that their synagogues be burned down, and that all who are able toss in sulphur and pitch; it would be good if someone could also throw in some hellfire. That would demonstrate to God our serious resolve and be evidence to all the world that it was in ignorance that we tolerated such houses, in which the Jews have reviled God, our dear Creator and Father, and his Son most shamefully up till now but that we have now given them their due reward.
Everyone was always hungry. The poorer you were, the hungrier you were, and with the hunger came weakness and irritability. It became difficult to think clearly and you needed to think clearly to work out how to survive the next day, how to get food. You were sure you could still work if you could find work, and you could look for it if only you could eat. But how were you going to get food, for yourself, for your children, for your wife or husband, for your parents? There were simply too many people within those walls for the calories that were let in. How were you to get food when there just wasn't enough of it? What were you going to have to do? With hunger of this severity came fatigue, a weakness that transcended tiredness and permeated your sinews and bones. As your limbs got ever lighter, they felt progressively heavier with each new day.
On June 23, 1942, there was a group of French Jews in a German prison, on Polish soil. The first person I took was close to the door, his mind racing, then reduced to pacing, then slowing down, slowing down....Please believe me when I tell you that I picked up each would that day as if it were newly born. I even kissed a few weary, poisoned cheeks. I listened to their last, gasping cries. Their vanishing words. I watched their love visions and freed them from their fear.I took them all away, and if there was a time I needed distraction, this was it. In complete desolation, I looked at the world above. I watched the sky as it turned from silver to gray to the color of rain. Even the clouds were trying to get away.Sometimes I imagined how everything looked above those clouds, knowing without question that the sun was blond, and the endless atmosphere was a giant blue eye.They ere French, they were Jews, and they were you.
Odd, don't you think? I have seen war, and invasions and riots. I have heard of massacres and brutalities beyond imagining, and I have kept my faith in the power of civilization to bring men back from the brink. And yet one women writes a letter, and my whole world falls to pieces.You see, she is an ordinary woman. A good one, even. That's the point ... Nothing [a recognizably bad person does] can surprise or shock me, or worry me. But she denounced Julia and sent her to her death because she resented her, and because Julia is a Jew.I thought in this simple contrast between the civilized and the barbaric, but I was wrong. It is the civilized who are the truly barbaric, and the [Nazi] Germans are merely the supreme expression of it.