Moral Low Ground


Israel Is Much Closer to Nazi Germany than Iran Is

(Photo: Leslie Lanir)

Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, Israel. (Photo: Lesley Lanir)

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, supposedly a time for somber reflection on one of the most horrific episodes of ethnic cleansing and genocide in human history. But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has once again used the solemn day to falsely link the Holocaust with Iran and threaten war against a nation that has not initiated one since the 1700s.

“Anti-Semitism has not disappeared and… neither has the desire to destroy a considerable part of the Jewish people and the State of Israel,” Netanyahu, who was narrowly reelected earlier this week, said. “Iran… today… is the leader of Holocaust-denial while preparing for what they deem to be another Holocaust– the destruction of the state of the Jews.”

Netanyahu then spoke of Iran’s “relentless and systematic” efforts to develop nuclear weapons, willfully ignoring the assessments of his own defense minister and military chief of staff, as well as the outgoing American defense secretary, all of whom agree that Iran is not trying to build nukes.

“We do not make light of these threats and we will prevent them,” Netanyahu said, clearly referring to Iran. “The root of the issue today, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, is not what happened, but how we can prevent it from happening again and this depends on the ability and the determination of the state of the Jews to defend itself against those who would destroy it.”

This isn’t the first time Netanyahu has spuriously linked Iran to the Holocaust. “Iran is Germany, and it’s 1938,” he declared back in 2006. If that had been the case, it would now be 1945, and Iran’s Jews would be ashes and bleached bones. Instead, 25,000 of them live peacefully in the Islamic Republic. Iran’s Jewish community is the largest in the Middle East outside of Israel. There is a Jewish member of the Iranian parliament (who condemns Israeli crimes against Gaza), a Jewish newspaper and 11 synagogues in Tehran alone. There are kosher restaurants and Hebrew schools. Jewish burial rites and other laws are recognized by the nation’s Islamic courts. There are Jews in the military.

Israeli officials and some Jewish leaders in the United States have long urged Iran’s Jews to emigrate, but few have done so, despite being free to leave. The ones who have left have done so overwhelmingly for economic, not religious, reasons. Life is far from perfect for Jews– or anyone– living under a totalitarian regime run by Islamic fundamentalists, but it’s far from pre-Holocaust Germany.

But what about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s vow to “wipe Israel off the map,” you ask? What about it? The simple truth is that he never uttered those words, a fact publicly acknowledged by Israel’s deputy prime minister.

Since Netanyahu likes to link Nazi Germany and Iran, I feel obligated in the name of truth to argue that for its entire modern existence, Israel’s behavior has been far closer to that of the Nazis than has Iran’s. I know this is a highly controversial, even inflammatory, assertion, but I am prepared to defend it with irrefutable facts.

The modern Israeli state was founded and secured largely upon terrorism and ethnic cleansing, as was Nazi Germany. The territory that is now Israel was less than 10 percent Jewish from ancient times until well into the 20th century. In order to create their state, Zionist Jews employed a variety of tactics, both legal and otherwise. After the Ottoman empire fell at the end of World War I, the British wrested control of Palestine and ruled it for 30 years.

In order to drive out the British– as well as the indigenous Arabs who stood in the way of the Jewish state they desired, Zionist militants carried out a campaign of terror bombings and assassinations. They even accidentally killed hundreds of Jews while blowing up a ship full of Holocaust refugees. These were not fringe groups that carried out these attacks, they were led by future prime ministers who are today hailed as heroes by Israelis who proudly celebrate some of their deadliest terrorism.

As Jews celebrated the independence of their new state in May 1948, one of the great ethnic cleansing campaigns of the postwar period was already well underway as more than 700,000 Palestinian Arabs fled or were forced from their homeland, never to return. This was well-planned, and it was sometimes accomplished by massacres that for sheer barbarism rivaled those of Hitler’s SS. Yes, Arabs also committed atrocities against Jews, but they did so in the context of defending their homes and families against Zionist usurpation and ethnic cleansing.

Today, Israel continues to act much more like Nazi Germany than Iran does. There is illegal occupation in the face of international condemnation. The majority of Israelis support apartheid policies and actions that prominent international and Israeli observers as well as survivors of South African apartheid say are worse than those which oppressed them.

There is ongoing ethnic cleansing and colonization as Zionist settlers seek their own lebensraum in the occupied West Bank. There are brutal blitzkriegs against vastly overpowered neighbors resulting in large numbers of innocent deaths. There is widespread racism and religious leaders who vilify Arabs as untermenschen. There are prominent journalists and elected officials, including Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who openly advocate genocidal extermination of the Palestinians. There is the crushing physical and economic oppression and daily humiliation that are facts of life for millions of occupied Palestinian men, women and children.

On this, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, it is only fitting that we listen to the voices of some Holocaust survivors who say that Israel is acting very much like those Nazis who tried to exterminate them.

Suzanne Weiss, who was a little girl when her parents were killed as the Nazis occupied France, said:

“The Palestinians are the victims of ethnic cleansing and apartheid. The Israeli government’s actions toward the Palestinians awaken horrific memories of my family’s experiences under Hitlerism: the inhuman walls, the checkpoints, the daily humiliations, killings, diseases, the systematic deprivation. There’s no escaping the fact that Israel has occupied the entire country of Palestine, and taken most of the land, while the Palestinians have been expelled, walled off and deprived of human rights and human dignity.”

Hedy Epstein, whose parents were killed in a Nazi death camp, said:

“When I stood next to that terrible 25-foot-high cement wall that Israel has built, separating Palestinian from Palestinian, I thought, My God, is this what Jews are doing, the Jews that were forced behind walls, they are building a wall, and putting Palestinians behind that wall, and in the process destroying Palestinian buildings, homes, wells, but never hope.”

Epstein decried American Jews “for whom Israel is always the victim, and the Palestinians are always the terrorists. They don’t really understand, they don’t really ask questions, and they don’t really know what is truly going on.”

Dr. Hajo Meyer, who survived 10 months in the Auschwitz concentration camp, said:

“The Israelis tried to dehumanize the Palestinians, just like the Nazis tried to dehumanize me. Nobody should dehumanize any other and those who try to dehumanize another are not human.”

Incredibly, Dr. Meyer has been called a “disgrace,” a “self-hating Jew” and even an “anti-Semite” by Zionist apologists, a trick used by many Israelis and their backers to deflect legitimate criticism of real crimes. For surely the irony of a people who were victims of one of the worst ethnic cleansings in history turning around and subjecting a completely innocent people to the same sort of repression has not been lost on Israel’s leaders. But it is far easier to accuse frail, old Jews like Dr. Meyer of “abusing his position as a Holocaust survivor.”

It is Benjamin Netanyahu who is abusing the memory of the Holocaust and its victims by falsely linking Iran to the slaughter of six million Jews in order to further a dubious agenda of regional hegemony. Just like Hitler played on German fears and prejudices, so does Netanyahu exploit Jewish fears and prejudices for his, and his nation’s, gain.

If we must compare one of the two leaders or nations to Hitler and the Third Reich, it is not Ahmadinejad and Iran, it is Netanyahu and Israel. Instead of relentlessly parroting “never again,” Zionists would do well to recognize that their Jewish state was established and is maintained by some of the very same policies and actions that caused so much death and suffering for their own people.

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  1. Capt_dommMarch 15, 2013 at 1:06 pmReply

    After reading this article I will definitely need a shovel to dig my way out of the total bull crap written here. Comparing the walls to the death camps is insanely stupid unless Israel is running ovens on one side and filling it up with Palestinian children. Jack asses.

    • Brett WilkinsMarch 15, 2013 at 6:09 pmReplyAuthor

      Israel ethnically cleansed more than 700,000 Palestinians. Fact.

  2. R, ManoOctober 28, 2013 at 6:40 pmReply

    Really. Is that a “fact” because you say so? Prove you facts using an unbiased source of information. You are a disgrace as a journalist.

  3. Jarred MarkstromDecember 6, 2013 at 1:45 pmReply

    Brett, only a disgusting piece of trash would write what you wrote. How DARE you compare concentrations camps to the Wall, which was put up to and has successfully stopped suicide bombers from blowing themselves up and taking Israelis with them. Did you forget how many suicide bombers were sent into Israel from the West Bank.?
    As for Israel cleansing 700 000 “Palestinians, you must be referring to the Arab – Israeli war. Yes, Israel did kick out many Arab (they were not known as Palestinians then), but that was during the war, where the Arabs were also trying to kick out the Jews. The only difference is that the Jews had the upper hand. Then during the 1948 war, plenty of Palestinians fled on their own or were told to leave by the invading Arab armies and that is a fact. So no, Israel did not cleanse 700 000 Palestinians.
    If this is what you call journalism, then you are in the wrong business. What a load of Arab propaganda I just read.

    • Brett WilkinsDecember 6, 2013 at 2:27 pmReplyAuthor

      Why did suicide bombers target Israel? Because they had nothing better to do? Of course not. They were resisting Israeli ethnic cleansing, illegal occupation, illegal settler colonization and apartheid. And Israel killed many more Palestinians than suicide bombers killed Israelis. And if you won’t believe me about Israel’s ethnic cleansing campaign of 1948-49 (which continues to this day; witness settlements and Bedouin removal), maybe you’ll believe Israel’s leading English-language daily?

  4. LindsayMarch 3, 2015 at 11:08 amReply

    According to the UNRWA site: “April – August 1948: More than 700,000 Palestine refugees are displaced” but if you consider the definition of ethnic cleansing (which I just looked up) “a purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic or religious group from certain geographic areas.” then the number is probably much higher as these types of policies continue today. No?

    • Brett WilkinsMarch 3, 2015 at 11:16 amReplyAuthor

      I must be careful when making such assertions but yes, I do believe that the continued illegal Jewish settler colonization of Palestinian land in the West Bank constitutes the spear tip of ongoing Zionist ethnic cleansing.

      If you count the refugees from 1948-49, another 200,000 or so from 1967, plus the tens of thousands removed or displaced since then, the number is much higher.

      The UN counts more than 5 million Palestinian refugees. That figure includes the offspring of old-school refugees living in camps and abroad. By now, we’re talking third- and fourth-generation. Maybe more, if, say a 20-year-old woman had a child in a camp in 1948, who had a child of their own around 1970, who had one of their own in 1990, who just had one now.

      But on a more visceral and immediate level, every time you see a Palestinian home demolished for being “illegal” (illegal in their own homeland, the chutzpah!), or as collective punishment for someone who dared resist Israeli crimes, you are witnessing ethnic cleansing in action.

      I will also say I am careful to differentiate between genocide, or the concerted effort to exterminate a people, and ethnic cleansing, or getting a people out of the way so your people can take over their land. Jews were victims of genocide and ethnic cleansing during the Holocaust. Despite proclamations from the more radical anti-Zionists, Israel is by no means committing genocide. But it is certainly guilty of ethnic cleansing, in my—and other prominent international observers’—estimation.

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