Talk Isn’t Cheap

Children of Holocaust survivors tend to be hypersensitive to any mention of the Holocaust. Just hearing certain words like ‘Nazi’, or  ‘Hitler’, or ‘concentration camp’, or ‘Gestapo,’ will cause a quickening of the pulse and a surge of adrenaline. And when one of these terms is used as a cheap metaphor that trivializes the Holocaust and thus its victims, we tend to scream.
Holocaust trivialization is so deeply offensive to so many people – in fact, to ALL people with respect for history and sensitivity to those who suffered and died. It is all despicable.Whether it’s PETA launching an animal rights campaign called, “Holocaust on Your Plate” that compared chickens in chicken farms to Holocaust victims, or a state representative in Arizona who referred to President Obama as “Der Fuhrer,” or any other number of examples.
Much of the time, the analogy is not so much an analogy at all, but rather an attempt to vilify someone or something that is disliked. When someone makes that type of accusation, you have to wonder: what do they actually mean? Does a Nazi simply imply a person whose ideology we disagree with? What makes the opponent Nazi-like, and why?
Inaccurately invoking Nazism creates a moral and emotional distance from the Holocaust that has evolved into something more dangerous: a distance to the truth. For those who have not properly learned what the Holocaust was, this can be their introduction to it. Intentionally or not, the abusers of the Nazi analogy are paving the way for false understanding.
In Israel, a country where the Holocaust casts a long and very dark shadow,  Jews are not above using Holocaust language to challenge or insult opponents. The use Israeli politicians make of the Holocaust… reduces Nazism and Hitler’s responsibility specifically and cheapens the Holocaust’s memory. It seems that if the real historical background doesn’t serve the political incitement, they invent “facts” and associations.
When the prime minister of Israel deliberately creates a Holocaust narrative that is utterly specious to justify a particular political position, it goes far beyond anything ever seen or heard before.
In a speech to the World Zionist Congress, this past Tuesday, the Prime Minister of Israel said:
“Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews. And Haj Amin al-Husseini [the Mufti of Jerusalem] went to Hitler and said, “If you expel them, they’ll all come here.” “So what should I do with them?” he asked. He said, “Burn them.”
This, of course, is utter nonsense, an invention. Every major Holocaust historian, regardless of their political bent, agrees that Bibi is simply not sharing facts. Instead, he is claiming that an Arab who hated Jews – a fact that is beyond any question – gave Hitler the idea to murder the Jews – which is ludicrously not true.
Why did Bibi make this assertion? Does he actually believe that the Grand Mufti was Hitler’s inspiration, his muse, to commit genocide? Or is it that by telling this story, he “proves” that the latest wave of Palestinian attacks on Israeli Jews is linked to the Nazi sympathies of a man who died 41 years ago, a man who had lost any real influence, even among Palestinians, decades earlier?   Bibi actually explained that his intention “…was not to absolve Hitler, but rather to show 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.”
To manipulate history is to wreak havoc on how we determine truth. But playing fast and loose with the truth seems to be par for the course in the world of political discourse. In a world where Holocaust denial is an ever-present reality, the last thing we need is a prime minister of Israel pointing away from Hitler towards a hateful Arab as the instigator of the Final Solution. There is no direct line between the murderous attacks of random Palestinians on Jews and the Holocaust.

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