Israel = Nazi Germany?
Kathy, I’m going to take a deep breath and summon the temperament I need to respond your suggestion that, in light of Israeli policy toward the Palestinians,
It really is getting increasingly difficult to avoid comparisons with being Jewish in Germany during the decade before World War II began.
That suggestion is both reckless and intellectually indefensible. It is an old fallacy, so none of my dismissals of it will seem terribly new.
Hitler imposed the Nuremberg laws because of his fundamental belief in the inferiority of those with Jewish blood. He turned the power of the state against a tiny minority, thousands of whom had laid down their lives in service of the Reich during the First World War.
There were no suicide bombings by Jewish extremists in Berlin or Munich. Germany was not surrounded by hostile Jewish states that sought to destroy it. There was no peace to be made with the Jews, because there was no war.
In spite of the threats Israel has faced for over sixty years, its Arab citizens have greater rights than they would if they lived in an of the Arab states of the Middle East. There is certainly what to criticize about Israel’s treatment of its Arab citizens. There is racism in Israel. Yet the status of Israeli Arabs immediately illustrates the absurdity of any suggestion that Israel’s government is motivated by the same virulent, irrational racism of Nazi Germany.
The comparison itself is dangerous because the only way to eliminate a threat like Nazism is with violence.
What of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza? Their suffering is unquestionable. There is a very serious discussion to be had about Israeli human rights violations. But any comparison of Israeli policy to that of Nazi Germany immediately destroys the seriousness of that discussion.
Now let me address the specific concern that led to your comparison of Israel and the Third Reich. The title of your post was Israeli Military to Begin Mass Deportations of Palestinians from Gaza and the West Bank. It sounds as if the deportations are imminent. Yet that is not the case, as indicated by the same article in Haaretz you cite as the basis for your post.
The headline in Haaretz is IDF order will enable mass deportation from West Bank. That headline itself is inflammatory and misleading, but at least it conveys that deportations are a possibility, not a certainty. The new military order “enables” deportations, but does not mandate them.
How does the IDF intend to apply the new order? Why was it passed? The article in Haaretz provides no clear answers. Some new reporting today in the Jerusalem Post does shed light on the matter, however:
Peter Lerner, IDF Southern Command spokesman, told The Jerusalem Post that the only change created by the new orders was the establishment of a clear legal procedure that gave the subject of the order the chance to appeal before a tribunal instead of, as until now, the military commander who issued the order.
Lerner said that over the past three years, there had been only 30-60 expulsions per year.
“There will not be an increase in the volume as a result of the new orders,” he added.
Hamoked – Center for the Defense of the Individual, which brought the new orders to public attention several days ago, warned that their wording was so loose that it could be interpreted in many ways, depending on the political views of the interpreter.
For example, even if Lerner was sincere when he said there would be no increase in the numbers of deportations, the wording of the law made it possible to expel an inestimable number of West Bank residents, including even Palestinians born in the West Bank, Hamoked said.
The Israeli government and its critics seem to be engaged in a serious discussion about the legal implications of the precise wording of the new military order. Perhaps the critics are right and the wording is far too broad. Perhaps that wording could be used to inflict unnecessary suffering on residents of the West Bank. I have no vested interest in defending either this policy or the Netanyahu government.
The real issue here is a gross distortion of the facts, so that a substantive debate about the law has become a screaming, untrue headline about the imminence of mass deportations. On the basis of that distortion, a reckless and indefensible comparison was made between Israel and Nazi Germany. The result was similar to loud protests from the Syrian state media, denouncing Israel’s ethnic cleansing.
The difference, Kathy, is that the Syrians mean to do violent harm to Israel, whereas you are sincerely committed to both human rights and factual analysis. What I can’t explain is how your commentary wound up being the same as theirs.
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