About six years ago, as part of his Bar Mitzvah, my son Jed did a project on the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, producing his own graphic novel about the undergound fighters who used courage, creativity and the city’s sewer system to, in some small way, offer resistance to the murderous program of the Nazis to exterminate Poland’s Jews.
In the course of his research, Jed interviewed a friend of my father’s, a Polish man who had been a teenager in Warsaw during World War II. He told my son how one day, as he was riding the streetcar to a job, the tram came to a halt near the wall of the ghetto. Everyone was told they had to get out. Standing there in a crowd outside the wall, he heard an enormous amount of gun and cannon fire, and bombs exploding. Asking what was happening, he said he was told by a Polish woman near him, “They’re barbecuing the Jews!”
It was, it turned out, the final catastrophic leveling of the Warsaw Ghetto that he was witnessing, and this man recalled, still in horror at the memory, that people had gathered from all over the city to watch it happen, like going to a fireworks display.
Now we’re seeing the same phenomenon in Israel, as the Israeli Defense Force enters its second week of bombing and invading the walled-in ghetto of Gaza, where some 1.8 million Palestinian men, women and children have been trapped for years with nowhere to go to escape the bombs, rockets, cannon fire and IDF snipers.