Once upon many times, including current times, the Jewish people were brutally murdered, discriminated against, tortured, exiled, and not allowed to practice their religion. I could name countless examples of this, but none were more painful and poignant than the Holocaust. Hitler rose to power during the Weimar Republic and spread misplaced blame on the Jewish people for all of Germany’s many problems during that time. The Holocaust, with the Final Solution and goal being the end of all Jewish people, roughly cut the global Jewish population in half and created traumatic experiences for those who survived. The ghosts of the most extreme act of genocide ever seen still haunt the Jewish community to this day.
The State of Israel, the only Jewish country in the world, is an international symbolism of Judaism and represents Jews all over the world. Of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinions about Israel and its policies, but there are respectful, and disrespectful, ways of expressing them. One of the most appalling ways to express one’s negative opinions is by comparing Israel, Jews, or Israeli government and politics to post World War I Germany. A recent example of this is when a former Cambridge lecturer wrote “Benjamin Netanyahu wants ethnic cleansing. The Jews have become the Nazis”. Not only is this an inaccurate comparison, but in order to make this comparison, one must either be ignorant and thoughtless, or purposefully spiteful and repugnant.
First of all, this comparison is completely false. The number one goal of Germany was to wipe out the Jews. The Holocaust was a genocide. The Israeli/Palestinian conflict is in no way a genocide as Israeli’s do not systematically try to wipe out all Palestinians. As the ADL has stated “there is no Israeli ideology, policy or plan to persecute, exterminate or expel the Palestinian population – nor has there ever been”. Also, Germany was a totalitarian dictatorship who wanted to take over Europe and the entire world. Israel is a parliamentary democracy who not only isn’t fighting for more land, but has actually given up much of its land. Post WWI Germany, with a hatred not only of Jews but of any non-Arian, of disabled, of homosexuals, and many more, is one of the most discriminatory nations ever seen. Israel not only isn’t discriminatory based on race, but is the only democracy in the Middle East and the only country in the Middle East with equal rights for homosexuals, women, and Israeli Arabs (www.thejewishweek.com). Clearly, the comparison of Israel and Israeli politics to that of post WWI Germany is so false it is utterly ridiculous.
More importantly, even if one doesn’t agree with the indisputable facts I have laid out above, comparing Israeli politics to German 1920s-1940s politics is outright disgusting. Yes, there are some who ignorantly might have made the comparison, not realizing the horrid impact of their words. In that case, please think before you speak. It would benefit us all. There are others, however, who purposefully make this comparison “to cause distress to those who survived the Holocaust or who grew up as children of survivors. It’s like disagreeing with someone eating meat, and knowing they are a rape victim, choosing to make your point by comparing meat with rape and saying that someone who had been raped should know better…it’s applying a different standard to someone because they are a victim, making them a victim a second time” (Online Hate Prevention Institute). The European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia gives the following as an example of antisemitism: Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis. This definition, including its examples, has been adopted by the United States, British, and Australian governments. Sarah McCulloch, a pro-Palestinian activist, writes “It’s a deliberate, systematic attempt to make people relive an experience that left millions of Jews dead and a wound on collective Jewish memory that hasn’t even begun to heal”.
Personally as a Jew, seeing or hearing comments like “Israel should stop using the holocaust as their instruction manual” and “Israeli politics are becoming more and more right. It is creepy in a Weimar Republic kind of way” (paraphrased comments that I’ve recently seen/heard) is not only angering and hurtful, but threatening and targeting. “Knowingly trying to hurt someone by using words and pictures that you know will particularly upset them is direct discrimination” (www.sarahmcculloch.com). If one is disgusted by Israel or its policies and politics, there are many acceptable ways of expressing it. Clearly, the comparison of Israel to post WWI Germany is not one of them. Please reconsider the comparisons you make and try to have some respect and sensitivity when talking about Israel and the Jewish people.
Your Jewish, pro-Israel, anti-Nazi classmate,
No questions for this post.