Israeli Avram Burg recently raised difficult questions as to whether the Holocaust has become ingrained as a dangerous lens through which Israeli leaders view the world. He suggests that the Holocaust skews their view of reality and leads to a “they are all out to get us” mentality. One may agree with or take issue with Burg’s argument, even as one praises the fact that a democratic society allows such critique from within.
Sadly, the Holocaust is being used increasingly in another way, as a “weapon against Jews and the Jewish state.” This is even more dangerous. Two articles, which came to my attention through the Daily Alert prepared by Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, illuminate this darkness:
Using the Holocaust to Attack the Jews – Walter Reich (Washington Post)
- The Holocaust is being increasingly used as a weapon against the Jews and the Jewish state. As some people who don’t like Jews have found, it’s worth acknowledging the Holocaust if you can then turn it into a cudgel against the Jews. According to this crowd, the Jews today have become Nazis. The Jewish state is now supposedly carrying out a Holocaust against the Palestinians.
- People of good will around the world are naturally shocked by the tragic and appalling deaths of Palestinian civilians, including those killed in the recent war in Gaza. But the massive and unceasing eruptions of outrage against the Jewish state – in a world in which other countries and groups have engaged in immensely more destructive and immoral behavior while provoking barely any outrage – can only be explained in a few ways.
- One is that attacking Israel has become a means of attacking Israel’s ally, the U.S. Another is that over-the-top attacks on Israel, particularly those invoking Holocaust language, have become a means of once again attacking the Jews.
The writer, a professor of international affairs at George Washington University, is a former director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Diminishing the Holocaust – Irwin Cotler (Montreal Gazette)
- The lessons of the Holocaust risk losing their value if the tragedy of the Holocaust is invoked to fit every case of moral outrage. No recent event makes this more clear than the inflammatory misuse of Holocaust comparisons to describe the conflict in Gaza, in a dual demonizing indictment.
- On the one hand, Jews are blamed for perpetrating a Holocaust on the Palestinians, as in the appalling statement of Norwegian diplomat Trine Lilleng that “The grandchildren of Holocaust survivors from World War II are doing to the Palestinians exactly what was done to them by Nazi Germany;” and on the other hand, crowds are incited to another Holocaust against the Jews, as in the chants of protesters who scream “Hamas! Hamas! Jews to the gas!”
- Consider the simultaneous humanitarian crises in the world that were largely ignored during the war in Gaza. Darfur continued to be beset by genocide. Mass rape was being used as a weapon of war in the Congo. In Zimbabwe, a disastrous cholera epidemic was afflicting tens of thousands. Anarchy reigned in Somalia; systemic repression endured in North Korea, and political prisoners were being executed in Iran.
- Meanwhile, Israel unilaterally halted its fighting in the middle of the day to allow humanitarian supplies to flow to Palestinians, and it warned civilians – by dropping leaflets and by phone – when attacks in their vicinity were coming.
- The comparison between Israel’s action against Hamas – a terrorist group sworn to destroy Israel – and the Nazi Holocaust is as false as it is obscene. I say this not as a proponent of Israel, but as a voice for Holocaust remembrance.
The writer is a member of the Canadian Parliament and a former justice minister.