The Iraqi Holocaust


“In his last dark meditation, just before taking his own life, Primo Levi wrote of the people who have survived unfathomable acts of cruelty:

Almost all the survivors [of the Holocaust], orally or in their written memoirs, remember a dream which frequently recurred during the nights of imprisonment, vaied in its detail but uniform in its substance: they had returned home an with passion and relief were describing their past sufferings, addressing themselves to a loved one, and were not believed, indeed were not even listened to. In the most typical (and cruellest) form, the interlocutor turned and left in silence.

If cruelty is individual, then silence is collective. It arises from the actions of many individuals working, consciously or unconsciously, as a group. Breaking with silence as a way of dealing with the legacy of cruelty is thus itself necessarily a collective act. While the cruelties described ... were going on, the Arab intellectuals who could have made a difference if they had put their minds to it were silent.”

- Kanan Makiya, Cruelty and Silence