Gideon Levy wrote a piece filled with contempt for Netanyahu’s UN Speech, which I posted last week. Now, having heard and read the speech, I’m amazed at what Levy says, since it barely even accords with the speech. In a sense what Levy has done is illustrate the famous Gary Larson cartoon.
I tried to find the one with the wife yelling at her husband: “You are impossible. If you don’t make the bed right now, I’ll go crazy.” And he hears: “You…me…bed…now…crazy.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cheapened the memory of the Holocaust in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday. He did so twice. Once, when he brandished proof of the very existence of the Holocaust, as if it needed any, and again when he compared Hamas to the Nazis.
If Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denies the Holocaust, Netanyahu cheapens it. Is there a need of proof, 60 years later? Or, the world might think, is the denier right?
Apparently Levy lives in a universe where Holocaust denial is a mere pecadillo of the extreme loony right. He seems unaware of the growing encroachment of denial — especially among his people’s enemies — or the increasing mainstream credibilty it now receives in places like Spain. Cheapen? Many of the people in that room (a lone Palestinian delegate was still there) think it’s a serious debate, and all who left think the Jews made most of this up.
This purist claim that trying to refute Holocaust denial should be considered cheapening the Holocaust is doubly revolting coming from someone who surely would have no truck with those who make the Holocaust a sacred issue, and on the contrary, whose work is especially appreciated by people who belittle the Holocaust. Indeed, Norman Finkelstein, who regularly dismsses Holocaust-mongering, and compares Israel to the Nazis — something Levy would never do — loves Levy’s column. (One might argue that Finkelstein is to Levy, what Levy is to Netanyahu in the Gary Larson cartoon.)
And it is doubtful that any historian of stature would buy the comparison the prime minister made between Hamas and the Nazis, or between the London Blitz and the Qassam rockets on Sderot. In the Blitz, 400 German bombers and 600 fighter planes killed 43,000 people and destroyed more than one million homes. Hamas’ Qassams, perhaps the most primitive weapon in the world, have killed 18 people in eight years. Yes, they sowed great terror – but a Blitz?
Here’s where we really have Levy’s auditory hallucinations. First, at no point did Netanyahu compare Hamas to the Nazis. He could have, certainly, and in the final chapter of my book on millennialism (which looks like it’s coming out from a major academic press), I do compare global Jihad to the Nazis (and the Communists) as an “active cataclysmic apocalyptic” group — the most dangerous kind of movement in the history of mankind.
In particular, I think it’s fair to categorically state that the genocidal hate-mongering of Hamas (and more broadly the PA) exceeds the Nazis. To my knowledge, no German pastor or priest, no matter how sympathetic to the Nazis, ever called for the extermination of the Jews from the pulpit, a daily occurence in the Palestinian territories.
Ibrahim Mudayris, September 10, 2004. The hadith he cites is a commonplace among Palestinians.
And if we can compare a poorly equipped terrorist organization to the horrific Nazi killing machine, why should others not compare the Nazis’ behavior to that of Israel Defense Forces soldiers? In both cases, the comparison is baseless and infuriating.
Now there’s an interesting move. First the comparison here was not with the Nazis as genocidal perpetrators of the Holocaust, but as bombers of civilian populations. Netanyahu specifically made the point that this is the only historical parallel he can come up with.
Well, there is only one example in history of thousands of rockets being fired on a country’s civilian population. It happened when the Nazis rocketed British cities during World War II. During that war, the allies leveled German cities, causing hundreds of thousands of casualties.
If Levy has a better one, then let him bring it forward.
Second, the only reason that the Palestinians are a “poorly equipped terrorist organization” and not the Nazi war machine is because Israel has made sure they cannot arm. It’s certainly not for want of desire that they are not killing more Jews. It’s as if Levy were to write in 1935 that the Nazis are not a serious army so leave them alone. To “allow” — he’s careful not to make the move himself — the comparison of the IDF to the Nazis, is a classic example of Levy’s puerile logic. How dare you call the arsonist a criminal, you allow others to call the firefighters criminals.
So what’s infuriating here? That the Israelis dare take Hamas’ threat seriously, dare fight back? Or that in fighting back they might look like Nazis to people with no moral compass (like Finkelstein)?
Netanyahu began the speech as if he were chairman of the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial – Holocaust, Holocaust, Holocaust; his family and his wife’s family. Then he spoke in Shimon Peres’ terms, proposing a “rosy future” to humanity.
No less demagogic was his attack on the Iranian regime. They shoot demonstrators there, he protested vehemently. As if they don’t do that in our Bil’in and Na’alin.
Now anyone capable of comparing what happens at Bil’in and Na’alin to what the Iranian police did to protesters, is treading perilously close to the Nazi analogy. In years of protest (over the building of a wall that frustrates Hamas’ genocidal desires), one person was killed in an incident that the IDF investigated and punished the culprit. In three weeks of protests, somewhere between 25-150 people were killed, no investigations were held, and no media was allowed to report accurate information. No they don’t do that at Bil’in and Na’alin, Gideon… sorry to disappoint your deep desire to demonize your own people.
Then came the kicker: Operation Cast Lead was a pinpoint attack. Israel telephoned thousands of people to tell them to leave their homes. Where to, Mr. Prime Minister? Into the sea? He said the IDF, which killed nearly 1,400 Palestinians, mostly civilians, exhibited unprecedented restraint.
Actually, given the nature of the bombing, all they had to do was just out of the way. It’s not like Gaza was carpet-bombed. And if you want to pour out your contempt for someone, how about Hamas who hid among the civilians and brought down upon them this rain of explosives.
Hamas MP Fathi Hamad, February 29, 2008
For Levy to dismiss the efforts of the IDF to minimize civilan casualties places him in the same category with Goldstone — by belittling the Israeli effort, they encourage Hamas’ revolting use of human sheilds and punish any effort to behave decently.
Read the rest of Levy’s rambling masochism if you want. I have better things to do.
#GenerationCaliphate: Apocalyptic Hopes, Millennial Dreams and Global Jihad May 3-4, 2015, Boston University Sponsored by the Center for Millennial Studies, Boston University History Department and Scholars Read More »
Available in Polish, translated by Malgorzata Koraszewska here. The recent stunning performance of Marcia Freedman at the J-Street conference, calling for a one-state solution (almost surely Read More »