When the Cossacks Destroyed Plotsk to Create a Firing Zone

In the early winter of 1916, the Cossacks destroyed much of the Jewish shtetl of Plotsk. Plotsk had been home to around 80 people, pious poor peasants, many children, sweet, sad-eyed kids with dusty faces and hopeful little hands. The Russian State hadn’t provided even the most basic services to the people of Plotsk, and still, there was life there, thick rich life. There were a few well-meaning Russian Gentiles who sought to allay the heavy hand of the Czar, lawyers and civic-minded intellectuals. They brought the State into negotiations, and the Ruling Elite toyed with the lawyers and intellectuals for some time, before ultimately deciding that the village must be torn down so that the Russian Army could conduct practice drills on the site.


None of the above is true, in the narrow sense of truth.

I don’t know if there was a village called Plotsk, I don’t know much about the Cossacks, or whether there were civic-minded individuals in Russia who stood up for the Jews. That’d all be interesting to learn at some point, but that’s not the point, right now. The point, right now, is that the above story is actual the story of Jinba, a Palestinian village in the South Hebron Hills area of the occupied West Bank, in which the Israeli government tore down 23 homes yesterday, leaving 60 children homeless, the village in ruins, all in order to to build a Firing Zone for the IDF.

Maybe the comparison is not one-to-one. Maybe the comparison is an unhelpful way of communicating this story. I don’t know. What I do know, though, is that this action by the State of Israel was corrupt, despicable.

Amira Hass of Haaretz has the full report here.


Photo is of Jews of Khorostkiv, 1917, source: Wikimedia Commons.