There is no bigger taboo in Israel than comparing the state of Israel to Nazi Germany. And yet that is precisely what Yair Golan, the deputy head of the Israeli military, did during a speech to mark Holocaust Memorial Day. There is now a palpable fear among army commanders like Golan that they are losing control over their soldiers – and with it any hope of holding on to their much-cherished claim to be the “most moral army in the world”.
Holocaust / Anti-Semitism
The Paris killings have reinforced Israeli suspicions that Europe, with its rapidly growing Muslim population, is being dragged into a clash of civilisations it is ill-equipped to combat. And the targeting of a kosher supermarket that killed four Jews has heightened a belief that Jews outside Israel are in mortal danger. In Netanyahu’s conception, a Jew’s primary bond should be to their “true home”, the Jewish state of Israel. Paradoxically, that view is shared by Europe’s far-right.
Netanyahu was probably the least welcome of the 40 world leaders who participated in the rally in Paris on Sunday to demonstrate their outrage at last week’s attack that left 17 people dead, including four French Jews. According to Israeli media, President Francois Hollande’s advisers had urged Netanyahu not to come, concerned that he would exploit the visit – and the deaths – to increase divisions in French society. They had good grounds for concern.
An Arab member of the Israeli parliament has sparked controversy among Jews and Arabs in Israel over his decision to join an official Israeli delegation commemorating International Holocaust Day tomorrow at a Nazi death camp in Poland. Mohammed Barakeh will be the only Arab in a contingent of Israeli parliamentarians and government ministers, including Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, at Auschwitz to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the camp’s liberation.
Iran is the new Nazi Germany and its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the new Hitler. Or so Israeli officials have been declaring for months as they and their American allies try to persuade the doubters in Washington that an attack on Tehran is essential. And if the latest media reports are to be trusted, it looks like they may again be winning the battle for hearts and minds: Vice-President Dick Cheney is said to be diverting the White House back on track to launch a military strike.
The trajectory of a long-running campaign that gave birth this month to the preposterous all-party British parliamentary report into anti-Semitism in the UK can be traced back to intensive lobbying by the Israeli government that began more than four years ago. At that time, he drafted the Israeli media into the fray. Local newspapers began endlessly highlighting concerns about the rise of a “new anti-Semitism”, a theme that was rapidly and enthusiastically taken up by the muscular Zionist lobby in the US.
Anti-Semitism, like some plague-inducing virus, is “evolving” — or so warns Holocaust scholar Daniel J. Goldhagen. His article is one of the latest contributions to a growing body of reports by American and Israeli journalists and research centers purporting to show that a powerful new strain of racism is sweeping the globe. None of the authors is as disinterested as he claims: each hopes to silence criticism of both Israel and the muscular Zionist lobby groups within Washington that support Israel.
For many months the Haaretz newspaper has included a special compilation of reports on the “New Anti-Semitism”. Some commentators have pointed out that Israel’s current preoccupation with anti-Semitism dangerously conflates two separate, and very different, trends: the first a harsher ideological climate in Europe towards Israel’s military assault on the Palestinians; and the second a wave of attacks on synagogues and Jews, often committed by Muslim youths angry at what they see as Western indifference to this assault.