When my sister and brothers and I have gathered in our hometown for reunions we and our extended families are often drawn to the cemetery where our parents have reposed for several years. Although none of us still lives where our lives were formed, we know it will always be our hometown because Mom and Dad are there.
Invaders who wish to extinguish an original culture’s claim to their homeland know that as long as the graves of the conquered remain, there will always be a visceral connection to the land. Conquest of a people can never be absolute if evidence of the past remains buried in the land. That is why General Patton in the 1970 movie ordered guards to keep American soldiers’ graves from being robbed. As Patton said, “Our graves are not going to disappear as those of the Greeks, Romans and Carthaginians who earlier conquered North Africa”.
In America we have always known that one of the best ways to defeat the claims of Blacks and Native Americans to land we want to occupy is to plow over burial sites, such as was done after the Tulsa, Oklahoma massacre of 1921. As Nora Krikler wrote in her 2023 article, Killing the Dead – the Logic of Cemetery Destruction During Genocidal Campaigns:
“Cultural violence is not a side effect of genocidal campaigns; rather, it is fundamental to the logic and process of genocide itself.”
According to a CNN report published January 20, 2024, “The Israeli military in Gaza has desecrated at least 16 Palestinian cemeteries during its ground offensive in Gaza …”. Video showed Israeli bulldozers leveling large swaths of burial grounds. Bodies were dug up and scattered by earthmoving equipment and tombstones were destroyed.
Plato may have declared, “That only the dead have seen the end of war”, but even being killed could not save the Palestinians from Israel’s relentless program to obliterate many years of Palestinian culture from Palestine. Israel’s war on two million Palestinians in Gaza is reminiscent of Hitler Germany’s 1940 occupation of Poland where over 400,000 Jews were forcefully detained and subjected to executions, starvation and resettlement.
It is reliably reported that Israel’s military had for a year possessed Hamas’ supposed secret plans of exactly how Hamas would attack after years of Israeli occupation and repression. Also, for eight months before October 07, 2023 Israel had been working with the east Indian government to take in Indian temporary workers to replace the thousands of Palestinian guest laborers Israel is now denying entrance to Israel. It appears the government of Israel had been planning a possible Gaza operation for at least eight months prior to October 07, 2023.
Since October 07, 2023 Israel has systematically destroyed hospitals, schools, universities, historical monuments, churches, mosques and 25,000 Palestinians, mainly women and children. Now Israel is even digging up the Palestinian dead to further eliminate them from their homeland. With Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowing to expand the state of Israel, “from the river (the Jordan) to the sea (the Mediterranean)”, elimination of all evidence of Palestinian culture, including graveyards, is simply part of the total pogrom.
However, Israel might be wise to take an historical perspective on how Nazi Germany treated Jews. As Napoleon Bonaparte warned, “You must not fight too often with one enemy or you will teach them all your art of war”. In other words, as Hitler found to his chagrin, ultimate power has always been a myth. Someday your slave may become your master.