February 12, 2006, 11 a.m. – Jews Against Genocide (J.A.G.) spray painted “Manifest Destiny” over a sign reading “The Hope of Us All,” placed at the Kalandia checkpoint by Israeli occupation authorities. We also repainted the infamous Nazi slogan “Arbeit Macht Frei” (“Work Makes You Free”) that was painted over by the military.
The phrase “Manifest Destiny” was an ideology used to excuse westward colonization in what is now the United States. It allowed the expulsion and genocide of native populations by aligning the U.S. settler movement with a cultural belief that God intended the Americas for Europeans. Natives who survived were consigned to live on isolated reservations, their way of life forever destroyed.
Israeli expansionism reflects a similar sense of divine entitlement. When one sees the native population of Palestine being confined to live on ever-shrinking sections of their historical homeland in exchange for promises of peace, the destruction of Palestinian olive trees, the creation of ghettos in order to accommodate settlements and Jewish-only roads, and repeated broken agreements, the parallels should not be ignored.
Israeli historian Benny Morris made the connection with the plight of the Native Americans, albeit reaching the opposite moral conclusion, when he stated the following in a Ha’aretz interview:
Ari Shavit: “And morally speaking, you have no problem with that deed,” [the displacement of Palestinians in 1948, refered to by Palestinians as “Al-Nakba” – “The Disaster”].
Benny Morris: “That is correct. Even the great American democracy could not have been created without the annihilation of the Indians. There are cases in which the overall, final good justifies harsh and cruel acts that are committed in the course of history.”
The full article is available at http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=380986.
“Arbeit Meicht Frei” was written at the entrance of Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps. We did not mean to imply that Ramallah is Auschwitz. We did, however, wish to point out that there are many disturbing parallels between the tactics used by the occupation and those used by the Nazis. For example, the attempt to beautify dehumanizing institutions through empty phrases like “The Hope of Us All” and “Arbeit Macht Frei.”
The sign “The Hope of Us All” and the new Ramallah Terminal were inaugurated on the 20th of Dec 2005. The new Terminal is set up so that there is no physical contact between the soldiers and the Palestinians. The soldiers scream commands to the Palestinians over loud speakers as they are made to go through a series of electronic gates and turnstiles. The new Terminal embodies the occupation in its alienated, bureaucratically cruel form. It is situated between one Palestinian area and another and flanked on both sides by the annexation barrier effectively turning Ramallah into a ghetto.
Jews Against Genocide believes ethnic cleansing is unjustifiable, regardless of the perpetrator. We believe it is important to heed disturbing patterns in history as warning signals so that another Genocide never occurs, to any people.
Jews Against Genocide