To the Editors: On the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
by Joel Finkel

Sent to the Chicago Tribune on April 20, 2001.

Fifty-eight years ago, the Resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto rose up against their Nazi occupiers in what they knew was a battle that would almost certainly end in their destruction.  The real struggle of this small band of courageous Jews would have been lost to history were it not for the stories of a few survivors and the remarkable diaries uncovered later.

These stories and diaries reveal a deep humanity that touches the heart of anyone who is privileged to encounter them.  It is a humanity not reserved for Jews.  It is a humanity not based on a feeling of being an outsider, an alien, an "other."  It is a universal humanity.

Humanity was the enemy of the Nazi holocaust, which began as a grand exercise in ethnic cleansing, not only of the Jews, but of Gypsies and others.  It was only through the twists and turns of the emerging logic of the war that the concentration camps turned into labor camps, which then turned into death camps.

Let us remember that ethnic cleansing is the beast that begins it all, whether in Bosnia, Kosova, Turkey, Rwanda, or Palestine.  Ethnic cleansing is the ultimate negation of the spirit of humanity.

Therefore, it is with awe and inspiration that today, as I read the stories in the "Tribune," I remember the struggle of the Resistance of the Warsaw Ghetto.  These Just Souls did what they had to do: they fought for everyone's right—for my right, for your right—to be a human being.

It is with this same awe and inspiration that I salute the brave Israeli women and men who desert their army, who refuse to partake in the ethnic cleansing of Israel and the Occupied Territories, who stand in front of Israeli army and settlers' machine guns and bulldozers as they prepare to demolish even more Palestinian homes and olive groves, and who stand with their Palestinian neighbors to work for a peaceful co-existence.

These are the people who are living the legacy left to us by our forefathers and mothers in the Warsaw Ghetto.  May they always be remembered.