When Holocaust survivor Professor Ze’ev Sternhell compares Israel to Nazi Germany It’s Time to Wake Up
When Holocaust survivor Professor Ze’ev Sternhell compares Israel to Nazi Germany It’s Time to Wake Up
It’s not anti-Semitic to
compare Israel to Nazi Germany – it’s what all anti-fascists should do
If there is one thing that the Zionist
movement and Israel’s supporters hate it is comparisons between the ‘Jewish’
State of Israel and Nazi Germany.
‘Anti-Semitism’ they cry like crows. It is the only Zionist response to criticism. The fake Zionist IHRA
definition of anti-Semitism that Theresa May has embraced, gives as one of
11 illustrative examples of ‘anti-Semitism’:
comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.’
Shami Chakrabarti, in her Report
on racism and anti-Semitism to the Labour Party also criticised the use of
‘In day -to-day political debate , it is always incendiary
to compare the actions of Jewish people or institutions anywhere in the world to those of
Hitler or the Nazis or to the perpetration of the Holocaust. Indeed such remarks
can only be intended to be incendiary rather than persuasive.’
Shami Chakrabarti, whose Report
was admirable in many ways, in particular its (so far ignored) recommendations
on a fair and transparent disciplinary process in the Labour Party, was out of
her depth when she dealt with Zionism and Israel. It was not a subject she knew anything about
and her opinions were shallow and superficial.
Even if it is ‘incendiary’ to compare demonstrations
in Israel that chant ‘Death to the Arabs’
to similar ones in Nazi Germany or Poland, where the chant was ‘Death to the Jews’, is that any reason
to be silent? If Nazi Germany forbade Jews
buying German ‘national’ land in much the same way as non-Jews are prevented
from buying ‘Jewish national’ land in Israel, is the fear of being ‘incendiary’
a reason to be quiet?
But in any case the comparison is not between Jews and Nazi Germany but between Zionists and Nazi Germany – a big difference.
The reason that it should be
compulsory to make comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany is not in order
to offend those whose relatives died in the Holocaust but to ensure that the ideas
of Nazism and Hitlerism do not triumph once again. It is today one of the few moral constraints
on the actions of the Israeli state and Israelis themselves.
is precisely because Israel derives its legitimacy from the Holocaust, which it
claims as its moral and political foundation that we should remind its
supporters of the growing similarity between the State of Israel and pre-war
Neo-Nazi Richard Spencer is a self-declared White Zionist
The fact that ideologues of White
Supremacy, like neo-Nazi Richard Spencer of the alt-Right, call themselves White
Zionists only reinforces this comparison.
Those who pretend that the welcome by neo-Nazi and far-Right parties for
Israel is a one way affair, that it is not reciprocated, are being deliberately
Sebastian Gorka at the Zionist Organisation of America 2017 Annual Gala Dinner
Mort Klein, President of the
Zionist Organisation of America, who welcomed Sebastian Gorka to the ZOA’s
2017 annual Gala dinner asked rhetorically: “Reagan
had Nazis supporting him, so what?” The
Jewish Voice described
how ‘Tonight Klein outdid himself with a
superstar cast of participants including Steve Bannon, Sebastian Gorka, Senator
Gorka, who was a deputy
assistant to Donald Trump was photographed at Trump’s inauguration wearing the Vitézi Rend, a medal issued by a Hungarian fascist group. This
with Nazi Germany during the war. Vitézi Rend was founded by Admiral Horthy, who ruled
Hungary as Prince Regent, in 1920. During
the war Horthy formed an alliance with Nazi Germany and from May to July 1945 Horthy presided over the deportation of nearly
½ million Jews to Auschwitz. Horthy was
a self-confessed anti-Semite.
But it wasn’t only far-Right
Mort Klein, at whose dinner Alan Dershowitz, former Senator Lieberman and Steve
Bannon attended, who welcomed Gorka. As Joseph Massad noted in The
shocking alliance between Zionism and Anti-Semitism, Gorka was welcomed
by the Jerusalem Post with warm applause and a prominent speaking slot at its
annual conference in May 2017 in New York
Other speakers at the same conference included Israel’s Education, Defence
and Justice Ministers Naftali Bennet, Avigdor Liebermann and Ayelet
Shaked. As the Forward noted,
‘Despite his controversial ties to
allies of the Nazis, White House counterterrorism adviser Sebastian Gorka has
scored invitations to speak at upcoming pro-Israeli events.
the leader of the Israeli Labour Party, Isaac Herzog, a man who was always
willing to condemn Jeremy Corbyn as ‘anti-Semitic’ was also
a speaker at the conference.
An op-ed defending Gorka explained that “The real agenda is clear: Gorka has written forcefully about the need
to defeat the jihadi threat to Western civilization,”
The alliance between Europe’s
far Right anti-Semitic parties and the Zionist movement and Israel is founded,
above all, on a common and shared hatred of Muslims. Zionism feeds into anti-Islamic hatred in
Europe and the fascists see Israel as the model kind of state that they would
like to see back home.
In the fight against Islam and the Palestinians, the support of neo-Nazi Gorka is welcomed
Professor Ze’ev Sternhell
Ze’ev Sternhell is a
childhood survivor of the Holocaust who was born in Przemyśl,
Poland. He was smuggled out of the
ghetto into Lwow and survived the war, having been adopted by a Catholic
family. In 2008 Sternhell was injured
by a bomb planted by settler terrorists.
Sternhell is also an expert in fascism, which is why his comparisons
between Germany 1933-39 and Israel today cannot be understated.
What Sternhell compares Israel to is not the Nazi Germany of the Holocaust post-1941 but the pre-1939 era
when the Nazi programme was one of expulsion and the removal of basic rights
from the Jews of Germany. From 1933
onwards there was a steady process of what might be called incremental
discrimination against the Jews of Germany.
The first act was the Law
for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service which resulted in the
dismissal of most Jewish civil servants.
The following six years saw the removal of citizenship from Jews and
their economic pauperisation as Jews were prevented from owning businesses,
Jewish children prevented from going to public schools and even, on November 29th
1938 owning carrier pigeons! See Anti-Jewish
legislation in prewar Nazi Germany.
A kosher certificate handed out by Lehava to employers who refuse to hire Arab workers
Israel too there are growing campaigns
for businesses to dismiss Arab workers, for Jews not to rent land or property to non-Jews
as well as state authorised discrimination in terms of the segregation of
education, jobs, housing etc. This is
accompanied in the social sphere by government sponsored campaigns against
social and personal relations between Jews and Arabs in order to preserve the
ethnic purity of the Jewish race in Israel, because in Israel being Jewish is a
national and not just a religious category.
2014 we had the sick
scenes of hundreds of protestors from Lehava, a state funded organisation,
demonstrating outside the marriage reception of a Jewish woman and an Arab
man. Lehava itself organises lynch
mobs to attack Arabs suspected of dating Jewish men. Under the aegis of now Deputy Foreign
Minister Tsipi Hotoveli, the ‘charitable’ front of Lehava has received state
funding for over a decade. Israel
Funds Group That ‘Saves Jewish Girls’ From Marrying Arabs.
in Israel however has never been a private matter. The Jewish National Fund is a body
established by the JNF Law
1953. The JNF controls 93% of
Israeli land with the Israeli Land Authority.
Its constitution prevents it from leasing or renting land to non-Jews
and when this arrangement was upset by a Supreme Court ruling in Kadan in 2000 the Knesset simply
passed the Receptions
Committees Law which substituted indirect for direct discrimination. It was otherwise known as the “High Court- Kaadan bypass law”.
After the Kadan ruling the JNF argued that not only did 70% of Israeli Jews oppose allocating their land to non-Jews, but that 80% of Jews preferred Israel to be a Jewish state to a state of its own citizens
the present time the Israeli government is piloting through the Knesset a
Jewish Nation State Law which will enshrine in basic law, the equivalent of
Israel’s Constitution, the fact that Arabs are not even second class citizens
of Israel. They are, at best tolerated
process of discrimination in Israel isn’t confined to Palestinians in the
Occupied Territories but increasingly to Israel’s Arab citizens too. Thus we see that the Jewish state is
progressively becoming the equivalent of the Aryan state in Germany before
1939. This is the background to the
comparisons by Professor Sternhell.
Those who decry such comparisons are saying that the present apartheid
situation in Israel is an acceptable price to pay for the existence of a ‘Jewish’
I frequently ask myself how a historian in 50 or 100 years
will interpret our period. When, he will ask, did people in Israel start to
realize that the state that was established in the War of Independence, on the
ruins of European Jewry and at the cost of the blood of combatants some of whom
were Holocaust survivors, had devolved into a true monstrosity for its
non-Jewish inhabitants. When did some Israelis understand that their cruelty
and ability to bully others, Palestinians
or Africans, began eroding the moral legitimacy of their existence as a
The answer, that historian might say, was embedded in the
actions of Knesset members such as Miki Zohar and Bezalel Smotrich and the
bills proposed by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked. The nation-state law, which
looks like it was formulated by the worst of Europe’s ultra-nationalists, was
only the beginning. Since the left did not protest against it in its Rothschild
Boulevard demonstrations, it served as a first nail in the coffin of the old
Israel, the one whose Declaration of Independence will remain as a museum
showpiece. This archaeological relic will teach people what Israel could have
become if its society hadn’t disintegrated from the moral devastation brought
on by the occupation and apartheid in the territories.
The left is no longer capable of overcoming the toxic
ultra-nationalism that has evolved here, the kind whose European strain almost
wiped out a majority of the Jewish people. The interviews Haaretz’s Ravit Hecht
Zohar (December 3, 2016 and October 28, 2017) should be widely
disseminated on all media outlets in Israel and throughout the Jewish world. In
both of them we see not just a growing Israeli fascism but racism akin to
Nazism in its early stages.
Like every ideology, the Nazi race theory developed over the
years. At first it only deprived Jews of their civil and human rights. It’s
possible that without World War II the “Jewish problem” would have ended only
with the “voluntary” expulsion of Jews from Reich lands. After all, most of
Austria and Germany’s Jews made it out in time. It’s possible that this is the
future facing Palestinians.
Indeed, Smotrich and Zohar don’t wish to physically harm
Palestinians, on condition that they don’t rise against their Jewish masters.
They only wish to deprive
them of their basic human rights, such as self-rule in their own state
and freedom from oppression, or equal rights in case the territories are
officially annexed to Israel. For these two representatives of the Knesset
majority, the Palestinians are doomed to remain under occupation forever. It’s
likely that the Likud’s Central Committee also thinks this way. The reasoning
is simple: The Arabs aren’t Jews, so they cannot demand ownership over any part
of the land that was
According to the concepts of Smotrich, Zohar and Shaked, a Jew
from Brooklyn who has never set foot in this country is the legitimate owner of
this land, while a Palestinian whose family has lived here for generations is a
stranger, living here only by the grace of the Jews. “A Palestinian,” Zohar
tells Hecht, “has no right to national self-determination since he doesn’t own
the land in this country. Out of decency I want him here as a resident, since
he was born here and lives here – I won’t tell him to leave. I’m sorry to say
this but they have one major disadvantage – they weren’t born as Jews.”
From this one may assume that even if they all converted, grew
side-curls and studied Torah, it would not help. This is the situation with
regard to Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers and their children, who are
Israeli for all intents and purposes. This is how it was with the Nazis. Later
comes apartheid, which could apply under certain circumstances to Arabs who are
citizens of Israel. Most Israelis don’t seem worried.