In my talks on the impact of al Durah, and how his image mainstreamed the comparison of the Israelis to the Nazis, I point to this banner in Paris:
Place de la République, October 6, 2000.
And this comment by Catherine Nay (against a graphic background provided by International ANSWER.
I point out that Nay is a major news anchor, the equivalent, say, of Tom Brokaw (only she’s written books on the political process). And then, assuming I’m talking about the Europeans with their special problems with the Holocaust, I ask,
What kind of moral idiocy can compare the symbolic power of this image — let’s say the boy was even killed by the Israelis in a gun battle — with an image that symbolizes the deliberate murder of over a million children and six million civilians?
Indeed, I’d argue that the comparison is actually an act of moral sadism — designed to deeply wound Israeli and Jewish moral self-respect.
Now Brokaw comes along to show that the French/Europeans, with their deep psychological problems, do not have a monopoly on the moral idiocy/sadism market. In an interview with President Obama at Buchenwald he asks the following question: (HT Honest Reporting)
Brokaw: What can the Israelis learn from your visit to Buchenwald? And what should they be thinking about their treatment of Palestinians?
The president’s answer shows he has a much firmer grasp on the moral universe than Brokaw. But what Brokaw’s question illustrates is how far the trope Israel=Nazis has “progressed” in the last nine years.
What’s particularly tragic about that is that the ludicrous notion that the Israelis are like the Nazis — if they are, they’re incredibly incompetent — compare 6 million dead Jews in twelve years of Nazi rule vs. 2 million more Palestinians in 40 years of Israeli rule — disguises the much more disturbing parallels and historical connections between Nazism and both Palestinian Nationalism and Islamic Jihad. Talk about not keeping your eye on the ball.
Barry Rubin answers Brokaw’s question for Obama in a slightly more assertive way:
From Buchenwald, Israelis learned that others will usually not stand up for them. Jews–many of them today’s Israelis–watched as Britain, France, and other countries wouldn’t stop Hitler and indeed were ready to “engage” with him. Just as European countries and many in America are willing to do today with Iran, Syria, Hamas, and Hizballah despite their openly genocidal programs.
Israelis learned that your neighbors may well turn on you out of greed or antisemitism or for their self-preservation or to avoid conflict. At worst, they will turn you in to the Nazis; at best they ll feel bad.
When Jews in the 1930s called for a boycott of Nazi Germany there was no support from other groups. Many said this behavior was alarmist, unnecessary, and that Jews were trying to drag America or other countries into war for their own reasons. Others didn’t want to lose the money they made in these transactions. Just like today.
In the British archives I read documents in which British officials expressed their hopes that boats on which Jews were trying to escape from Nazi-occupied countries were turned back to their places of origin. In 1945 and after, British policy proposed forcing Jewish survivors back to Germany and Poland.
Lesson: Don’t put your trust in foreign princes but in your own strength and strategy.
Israelis also learned that while others discount the threat to you–Hitler doesn’t really mean what he’s saying–you better ignore all the experts and politicians and academics and journalists who argue that there is no real danger, that the Germans were just people who wanted a good life and nice things for their children. Just like today.
They learned to understand the irrational and ideological in politics, the kind of thing that most European and American leaders don’t comprehend nowadays. Committing the Holocaust helped German lose the war, but the regime there was more interested in wiping out Jews than in the welfare of its own people and even its own pragmatic interests. Just like most Middle East regimes today.
Lesson: If Iran’s president says he’s going to wipe you off the map, and so do Syria, Hamas, Hizballah and many others, take them at their word.
In addition, Israelis learned that whatever Jews do will be criticized, mistakes exaggerated, concessions unappreciated. And so the Jews who saw what happened or experienced it themselves knew they had to have their own country, which defended itself, and could define its people’s own interests.
There’s something nowadays we call double standards. If America accidentally kills Afghan civilians, it is forgiven. If Sri Lanka kills thousands of civilians it is two paragraphs in a back page. If Hamas and Fatah deliberately kill Israeli civilians as their main strategy this proves to some they must be engaged and their grievances resolved. If Iran’s regime calls for mass murder, it is not a big enough deal to make that state a pariah.
But it Israel accidentally kills civilians being used as human shields by Hamas or Hizballah, in wars set off by attacks on itself, many seem to believe it has lost any right to exist. Incidentally, as of now, not a single incident has been documented for the Gaza war earlier this year showing that anything Israel did was anything other than within the bounds of law and proper behavior.
Read the rest.