The worst sin a Palestinian sympathizer can commit, according to Zionists, is a comparison of Israel-Palestine today to 1930’s Germany. The most vitriolic attacks on Max Blumenthal for Goliath were not focused on the substance of the book, but on the titles of several chapters, most frequently one entitled “Night of Broken Glass.”
The condemnation of such comparisons typically is loaded with invective-laced outrage, but generally low on logical counter-argument. The result? Far too many won’t venture even to consider such comparisons out loud, for fear they will be ostracized for doing so.
And that’s frightening. After all, the silencing of critical voices through intimidation was one of the main ingredients in, well, you know.
Okay, so we’ve all agreed that Holocaust comparisons are inappropriate until 6 million Palestinians have perished.
Hopefully, however, it’s okay to mention developments in Israel-Palestine that are troubling. Nonetheless, I’ll break the page here, so those who feel I’m entering a forbidden zone can stop reading.
The first development would be Bibi Netanyahu’s recent attempt to blame a Palestinian for the Holocaust. Here’s Cecile Surasky of Jewish Voice for Piece, writing for Salon (This is Netanyahu’s horror: “An open unleashing of raw racism that has always been a part of Israeli society”):
Netanyahu’s shameless exploitation of the Shoah to stoke fear of Palestinians doesn’t just create the strange consequence of taking Hitler off the hook for murdering six million Jews. It contributes to state-sponsored demonization and dehumanization of the Palestinian people, a form of incitement that essentially says anything goes when it comes to punishing Palestinians.
In some ways, this seemingly all-time low should come as no surprise. Netanyahu knows the best defense is a good offense, so in order to build power and distract from Israel’s unconscionable policies towards the Palestinians, he has built an entire career on the art of strutting victimization. After all, picking the wounds of a traumatized people to maintain power is easy in a country literally built from the ashes of genocide.
But the truth is Israeli governments have always justified all kinds of horrific policies, from stealing land to imprisoning children, by blaming the victim.
The irony, of course, or perhaps it’s no coincidence, is that for so long, it has been a truism that one is simply forbidden to raise any comparison whatsoever between Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and the Nazis’ treatment of the Jews. And it’s true, nothing can compare to the enormous killing machine the Nazis created whose only goal was to efficiently murder as many “inferior people” as possible.
But Nazism was not only the gas chambers of Auschwitz and Treblinka. It was based on a system of biological superiority. And when I first heard older leftist Israeli Jews who had been refugees from Hitler’s policies say they recognized some similarities in modern day Israel, I was too shocked to process it. But over time, for me, those linkages have become inescapable, and I have come to believe that remaining silent about them only increases the likelihood of them worsening.
I agree with Surasky, but I think her analysis is incomplete. Defining a group as subhuman or inhuman, as Surasky points out, has horrible consequences. But Israel always has worked in a racial manner. Yes, the Palestinians are at the bottom of the order. Within Jewish Israel itself, there is racial ordering, with Ashkenazi Jews at the top and Ethiopian Jews at the bottom.
What Surasky alludes to but does not discuss is the element of justification. Palestinians, Netanyahu effectively was claiming, have been seeking to destroy the Jews from the beginning, so Jews need to defend themselves. The Palestinians are not just subhuman, according to Netanyahu, but a mortal threat as well.
Netanyahu’s demagoguery regarding the threat Palestinians present, as opposed to their mere inhuman nature, could prove important. If 6 million Palestinians were to perish, Netanyahu’s tactic here might wind up being likened to the manner in which Jews were described at the outset of the Holocaust. The Holocaust actually began in Lithuania and Latvia and, although instigated by the Nazis, the initial acts of genocide largely were carried out by Lithuanians and Latvians. The motivation? They had been told that the Jews were the masterminds behind the Bolshevik revolution, which had let to the then recent occupation of the Baltic states.
The second development has been far less widely reported. From Mondoweiss reporter Annie Robbins, in Video: Israeli military tells Palestinian refugee camp, ‘We will gas you until you die’,:
A shocking video has emerged recording a loud verbal threat from the Israeli military to residents of Aida refugee camp near Bethlehem. As a military jeep rolls down an empty quiet street a threatening voice comes over the loudspeaker “You throw stones and we will hit you with gas until you die.” The words spoken seems almost unfathomable.
If you’re not yet terrified by this report, perhaps Robbins’ expanded transcription of the words from the Israeli military loudspeaker will move you:
People of Aida Refugee camp we are the occupation army. You throw stones and we will hit you with gas until you all die. The children, the youth, the old people, you will all die, we won’t leave any of you alive. And we have arrested one of you, he is with us now. We took him from his home and we will slaughter and kill him while you are watch if you keep throwing stones. Go home or we will gas you until you die. Your families, your children, everyone we will kill you. Listen to me, all of you go home, it’s better for you.
I’ll leave you with this thought: Cogitate for a moment on the sequence of these two developments. Specifically, “we will gas you until you all die” occurred about a week after “it was the Palestinians who instigated the Holocaust.” Mere coincidence? I’ll ge with that for now. But if 6 million Palestinians were to perish, I may have to change my mind, okay?