Sunday, December 6, 2015

Comparing Israel to Post WWI Germany is anti-Semitism

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.
Sincerely,
Your Jewish, pro-Israel, anti-Nazi classmate,
Emma
No questions for this post.
Sources:

6 comments:

Christopher Duan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christopher Duan said...

I feel that in order to learn from our past and make meaningful connections, comparison of anything to anything else is warranted. If Israel is not as bad as the Weimar republic post WW1, there should be no problem with the comparison, as it would be evident quickly that such a claim is ridiculous. However, I feel as though making these connections allows us to make better connections in history, and free thinking is important. Furthermore, I would point something out. Post WW1, Jews were scapegoated and blamed for Germany's post war problems. Similarly recently, Netanyahu has scapegoated Palestinians and their leader, stating that "the forefathers of the Palestinian nation, without a country and without the so-called occupation, without land and without settlements, even then aspired to systematic incitement to exterminate the Jews.” in an interview with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He said that Germany was not inclined to kill the Jews, rather he only wanted to get rid of the Jewish population by emigration, but was inspired to kill the Jews by the Palestinians. Blaming the Palestinians for a problem which is clearly not caused by the Palestinians is a similar action that I would compare to post- WW1 Germany. It is similar in that a racial group/ ethnicity is being blamed for others' actions. Such is an example of meaningful comparisons that we can and I feel we should make, to learn form our mistakes in history. I welcome your comment or questions.

Source of quote: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/22/world/middleeast/netanyahu-saying-palestinian-mufti-inspired-holocaust-draws-broad-criticism.html

Nick Jadallah said...

Part 1:
First of all, I strongly agree with Emma's point about the comparison of Israel to anything related to the Nazi treatment of Jews. Besides being factually incorrect, it is also morally unacceptable to draw such a comparison, and in addition to being insulting to (probably) every Jewish person in an extreme sense, it is also counter productive when attempting to engage in intelligent dialogue in regards to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The only way this decades-long issue has any chance of being resolved is when the radical elements on both sides are suppressed, and comparing Israeli policies to Nazi policies is, to say the least, extremely radical.
With that said, I would be more hesitant to label Israel as a country which gives equal rights to all citizens. True, it may be better than its neighbors when it comes to certain things, but that does not mean it does a good job. While there are several examples that could be mentioned, I will just focus on two here. The first one deals with voting. All Israeli citizens in Israel can vote. This means Palestinians, Jews, Christians, Muslims...everyone. The conflict comes in to play regarding settlers. There are about 500,000 Jewish settlers living in the West Bank. According to international law, these settlers are illegally occupying Palestinian land that does not belong to them. But because of the protection of Israel's military, these settlers are allowed to stay. Now, besides the fact that the Palestinians are subject to an oppressive military occupation, it is the voting rights that I think relate best to my point. These Jewish settlers living on West Bank land are subject to Israeli civilian law (like citizens living in Israel). This means that they are allowed to vote in Israeli elections. The Palestinians in the West Bank are subject not part of the Israeli civilian political system. Rather, they are subject to Israel's military law. Grant it, technically, in some parts of the West Bank, Israel has allowed secular Palestinian leadership (the PA) to govern, but that leadership is not effective for a variety of reasons which are very complicated, but in a VERY incomplete summary: The president of the PA has been in power to long (no elections for quite a while...corruption?) AND Israel doesn't really give them that much real authority in the first place (they are not even allowed to collect their own taxes and they have been granted jurisdiction over a relatively small portion of the West Bank). Furthermore if you are a Jew, you can easily move to Israel and become a citizen. You could also elect to live on West Bank land as a settler, all with full citizenship rights. As a Palestinian, if you live in the West Bank, you are a victim of an awfully organized political system (the defunct PA and the oppressive Israeli occupation). Even if you wanted to, you would not be allowed to move in to Israel. You can't vote in Israeli elections, and even if there was a vote for PA, it would not make a big difference because they barely have any power grated to them by Israel to begin with.
(to be continued...word limit)

Nick Jadallah said...

Part 2:
**To sum it up, Palestinians in the West Bank, even though so much of their lives are dictated by Israeli military policy, do not get any Israeli citizenship privileges. They do not have any say in who gets elected in Israel or what Israeli policy gets enacted. In contrast, if you are a Jewish settler living in the occupied West Bank, which is technically Palestinian land, you are subjected to different laws than the Palestinians living in that SAME LAND, and you are allowed to vote in Israeli elections as a benefit of full, Israeli citizenship. I would hardly call this "equality". Hopefully, if a two-state solution works itself out, the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza will have a functional government which has democratic elections in which they can vote for themselves, but that kind of solution is a long way off.
Well, I was going to talk about the bulldozing and destruction of Bedouin/Arab villages in the Negev in addition to the Prawer Plan, but I think what I have written is already enough to get the idea across of where I am coming from.
Before I finish, I just want to point out that I agree with most all of what you say in your article except for this one point. If I was going to give a detailed description of the entire dilemma, I would write about Hamas and rocket attacks, the current knife attacks, the separation wall, Iran, the water, incitement (both governments just love to do this, don't they?), and much more, but I my purpose here is not to elaborate on all of this, so if it seems like I am ignoring large chunks, it is because I am. For example, Hamas and the current "knife intifada" are vital parts to the entire narrative, but not essential to this specific idea of EQUALITY. Unfortunately, both Israel and the Palestinians have made some poor decisions, and one can only hope that through respectful, careful negotiation, there will someday be a solution which satisfies both sides.
Good article. Thanks for the post.

Christopher Duan said...

I agree with NIck's point of view on Israel and Palestine's relations, but also would like to respond that I am not comparing Israel to Nazi Germany, rather I am just offering a comparison of attitudes of scapegoating and blame that could be compared to anti- semitic sentiment after WW1 in Germany. This is just one case of why I think that this comparison would make sense, just as we could compare the internment camps of the Japanese in the US to the concentration camps of Nazi Germany. Though we weren't KILLING the Japanese in internment camps, there are still similarities that exist. In that same fashion, this also applies to my example of Netanyahu's remarks about Palestinians being responsible for the death of Jews during the Holocaust, which is completely based on fiction and scapegoating, just as Germans developed a view of Jewish responsibility for German problems after WW1. I just intend to point out that though it may be offensive, I don't see how it is factually incorrect. After all, opinions are not facts, and conclusions we draw based on opinion are not factual in any way. Rather, they are a product of our minds. One is free to disagree, but fundamentally, I believe that these comparisons are important to prevent the repeating of history. Would it be wrong to compare Trump's racism against Muslims, and proposed racial ban against racial groups to Hitler's? These are merely academic and hypothetical analyzations and discussion.

Nick Jadallah said...

Christopher,
I do see your point: similarities can exist between two situations, and I did not in any way mean to point out that you were comparing Nazi Germany to Israel. If my first paragraph came off that way, I apologize...not what I intended at all. However, by factually inaccurate, I was referring to the fact that Germany (Hitler) had a goal to literally kill all of the Jews, and I felt that analogy was very inappropriate in regards to this situation. True, there can be similarities, and I agree drawing comparisons from history is important, so I guess, I could have replaced "factually inaccurate", with "factually inaccurate in the minds of many people...or at least in the mind of Nick". It is an opinion after all, like you say. Insightful commentary. Thanks for bringing that up for clarification and sorry for the confusion!