“The Germans will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz.”—attributed to Zvi Rex, Israeli psychologist.
Neither, it appears, will much of the world. So, we begin to hear—including placards held in front of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum—about the “Holocaust in Palestine.” The compulsion to turn Israelis into Nazis and self-defense by the Jewish state into “genocide” is methamphetamine for today’s antisemites. It seems to justify the slaughter of Israelis and violence against diaspora Jews.
Germany’s Holocaust against European Jewry epitomized the crime of genocide. Collaboration in it by Poles, Ukrainians, Lithuanians and others and passive enabling by Great Britain, the United States and additional wartime Allies exposed a fundamental Western moral failure. Assistance to the Third Reich from pro-Hitler Palestinian leader Haj Amin al-Husseini and pro-Berlin, anti-British, anti-French movements in Iraq, Syria and Egypt—and subsequent wars against Israel—did the same for much of the Arab-Islamic Middle East. Now the post-World War II compulsion to gain absolution from Jew-hatred and genocide accelerates. As novelist Howard Jacobson noted nearly a decade ago, what better way than to invert reality by falsely convicting the Jews and their state of the great crime committed against them?
Hamas, (the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement), rules the Gaza Strip. Its terrorists ecstatically slaughtered 1,200 people in Israel on October 7—the biggest single-day massacre of Jews since the Holocaust.
Israel went to war against Hamas. So, 1,200 Yale University students and faculty signed a petition accusing Israel of genocide. Yale is still considered an “elite” institution by some status-seekers, but it behaves like non-elite San Francisco State University.
In 2002, a mob at SFSU shouting “Hitler didn’t finish the job!” and “Get out or we’ll kill you!” surrounded pro-Israel students. Campus police, reportedly told not to arrest anyone, eventually marched the pro-Israel students to the Hillel House and posted a guard at the door. In 2017, students at the school filed a federal civil rights suit against it for enabling creation of a hostile—that is, antisemitic—environment. Fifteen years came and went but things didn’t improve. Only in 2019 did the school settle, agreeing to some of the students’ demands.
In a 2016 Washington Post column, David E. Bernstein, professor of law at George Mason University, related that recent Oberlin College alumna Isabel Storch Sherrell had recounted multiple incidents in which other students dismissed the Holocaust as merely “white-on-white” crime. Bernstein found the post not just a “troubling sign of emerging hostility to Jews and Jewish concerns among self-proclaimed social justice advocates on left-wing campuses but as an equally troubling sign of the degradation of intellectual discourse at such campuses generally…”
That degradation requires not denying the Holocaust but misappropriating it. Pretend that Israel commits something similar against Palestinian Arabs. Erase the Jewish Holocaust in favor of Israel’s fabricated “Holocaust of Palestinians,” and one advances erasure of both the Jewish state and those who support it.
An ostensibly “pro-Palestinian” march in Washington, D.C. on November 4 drew tens of thousands. It was, asserted talk radio host Chris Plante, the biggest racist demonstration in the capital since the 1925 Ku Klux Klan march attracted 30,000.
Participants condemned “racist” Israel for “genocide” in the Gaza Strip. News media did not cover the event as a gathering of Jew-hating bigots seeking Israel’s destruction. Instead, they portrayed the rally rather as calling for “freedom” for Gaza.
Where were rallies in support of freedom of Gazans from the theocratic, repressive Hamas or of West Bank Arabs from the corrupt, thuggish Palestinian Authority before October 7? Nowhere, because the hundreds of thousands in the streets of Washington, New York, London, Paris, Berlin and elsewhere aren’t about Gazans or West Bankers. They’re about getting the Jews.
Due to the intellectual degradation—not to mention moral collapse—Bernstein saw, today’s haters of the Jewish state and Jews often are termed progressive. However, by embracing antisemitism they reveal themselves as reactionary.
They haven’t blasphemed about “Israel’s Holocaust of the Palestinians” just yet. One of their number, Rutgers University Prof. Jasbir Puar, promoter of the grotesquery that Israelis shoot-to-maim Palestinians to subjugate but not kill them, used to agree that Israel commits genocide but the term was too “tethered to the Holocaust” to be useful. Not anymore, the new blood libel is invoked incessantly.
What to do? Stop “fighting antisemitism.” Fight the antisemites, their collaborators and apologists instead. Hit them politically, judicially, economically and culturally. Relentlessly.
Eric Rozenman is communications consultant for the Jewish Policy Center. He is author of Jews Make the Best Demons: “Palestine” and the Jewish Question.