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Seducing the boss means problems, or unexpected pleasures.
Seventy years later I can see those eyes without shutting my own.
Then through the gates. The ghostly figures parted, the cameraman entered the buildings. Beds were nothing more than shelves. Shadowy light slanted through tiny windows. More staring eyes in the faces of people too weak to leave their bed.
Finally, deep into the camp, the trenches. Men standing there also, staring vacantly, standing at the edge of these vast trenches filled with bodies. Hundreds of bodies, thousands of bodies, naked bodies that were little more than bones with skin stretched over them, bodies stacked helter-skelter like jackstraws. The men standing at the trenches were as thin as the bodies in them; my 7-year-old mind couldn't understand how anyone could be so thin and still be alive, couldn't understand how there could be so many bodies.
Over and over I watched that Signal Corps film that long Christmas holiday, sitting in a cold, dark living room lit by flickering images on a sheet tacked to the wall, the only sound the whirring and clicking of the projector. My mother finally made me stop.
Fast forward 25 years. My wife and I are on the train from Munich to Salzburg, the Orient Express. Not far out of Munich, a woman asked if she could join us because her compartment was noisy and smoky. She wore a tweed suit and sensible shoes, spoke English with a plummy RP accent. We assumed she was British, but she told us she was German and learned English when she spent several years in England between the wars.
She and her husband and daughter lived in East Prussia. Her husband was killed at Stalingrad, and when the Russian army marched into Poland she and her six-year-old daughter fled. They walked hundreds of miles, to Munich. It was a harrowing tale of a frightful trip, filled with cold and hunger and fear and exhaustion and a near-rape.
They survived. She found a job with the U.S. Army as a translator, worked at the Nuremberg trials as a simultaneous interpreter. The trials, she informed us, were a sham, nothing but distortions and lies concocted by the Jews who controlled the American government and news media. We sat stunned, unable to trust ourselves to respond. We completed the trip to Salzburg in strained silence, too late regretting our failure to object.
Fast forward another 45 years. In Israel, Holocaust survivors are dying and taking their stories with them. Israel still struggles for a secure life. Palestinians, bitter and angry about their dispossession, carry violence into Israel's stores and cafes and homes, killing indiscriminately. Once again Israel faces hatred and violence from forces that have, for 70 years, vowed their determination to drive Israel into the sea.
But now I am told by my fellow Democrats to believe that Israel is at fault. The Israel Lobby-especially AIPAC-controls U.S. Mideast policy. Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip inevitably inspired violent reprisal. Israel is equally, if not even more responsible for what U.S. mainstream media erroneously labels terrorism. Palestinians have been so humiliated and persecuted that they have no choice but to strike back in whatever manner they can.
Never mind that Israel turned the Gaza Strip over to Hamas, I am told. The responsibility for the deaths of so many Palestinian women and children in assaults by the Israeli Defence Force lies not upon the Palestinians who used them as shields, but with the far right-wing zealots of Likud and its minions in the Israeli government and the settlers who have stolen the homes and livelihoods of Palestinians in the West Bank.
Divest all investments in the oppressive state of Israel, they cry, equating Israel's treatment of Palestinians with apartheid in South Africa.