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November 4, 2014 12:45 am

Genocide, the Jews, and Why They Call Israel Nazis

avatar by Shmuley Boteach

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sits with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas before they meet and celebrate iftar, the breaking of the daily fast during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, in Amman, Jordan, on July 16, 2013. Photo: U.S. Department of State.

We’ve long witnessed Mahmoud Abbas – “the moderate” – naming public squares after Palestinian terrorists whose hands are dripping with Jewish blood. He posthumously bestowed the “Star of Honor” on Abu Jihad, the mastermind of the 1978 Coastal Road attack – where 38 Israelis, including 13 children, were killed. Abbas called him “the model of a true fighter and devoted leader.” Abbas named a public square after Dalal Mughrabi, the Palestinian woman who led the attack, in 2011.

Last August, Abbas gave a hero’s welcome to Palestinian murderers who were stupidly released by Israel as a goodwill gesture. We’ve also watched as Abbas has slowly become yet another Arab dictator who, once he is elected, ceases all elections. We’ve watched as Abbas has turned the Palestinian Authority into a kleptocracy enriching his two sons Tarik and Yasser as they’ve illegally taken control of the cigarette, construction, and other trades.

Now comes the news that Abbas’ response to last weeks’ shooting by a Palestinian terrorist of an Israeli-American activist in Jerusalem was to write the murderer’s father, praising the killer as a Palestinian hero. All this from the Abbas who wants peace. The man Israel is supposed to be doing business with. The man who is not Hamas. The man who would lead a peaceful Palestinian state.

Last September, three days before he went before the UN and accused Israel of genocide against the Palestinians, Abbas spoke at Cooper Union’s Great Hall to a crowd comprised mostly of NYU students. Many gave him a standing ovation as he repeated his blood libel about the Jewish State. And this in a University with more than 8000 Jewish students. Only one protest was staged outside the building. It was organized by my son Mendy, an NYU undergraduate, who wisely focused on the positive message of the American values of democracy, racial harmony, and freedom of expression and how Abbas contravenes all three.

Abbas is in the 10th year of his 4-year term as President and has no plans to go to elections. In July 2103, he promised that no Jews would be allowed to remain in a Palestinian state. It would be Judenrein. And his Palestinian Authority continues the practice of Yasser Arafat before him of punishing independent news editors who may be critical of his leadership. I was very proud of my son and his siblings and friends who joined him in the protest The American campus is now a battleground for Israel, and how can a battle be fought without fighters?

On November 17th we will go beyond that protest and organize a proper response in an evening panel featuring the greatest living Jewish personality and one of the three most respected people alive, Elie Wiesel – the living face of the Holocaust and the world’s most respected voice on genocide. Who better to respond to Abbas’ lie of an Israeli genocide against the Palestinians.

Professor Wiesel has been my friend and I have been his disciple for 25 years. This past summer he and I published a full-page ad in the world’s leading newspapers that assailed Hamas for engaging in human sacrifice by intentionally firing rockets from schools and homes and encouraging Arab children to devote “their shoulders and bodies” to the Palestinian cause. The world needs Professor Wiesel’s voice right now when so much slaughter and human rights abuses are taking place around the globe. We also need to him to safeguard the word genocide – the most powerful in the English language – so that it is not abused by those with a political agenda, be they Jew-haters who wish to trivialize the Holocaust and compare Jews to Nazis, or tyrants like Recep Tayyip Erdogan who scapegoat Israel so as to conceal their destruction of Turkish democracy.

Holocaust denial started as an attempt to undermine the suffering of the Jewish people and delegitimize Israel. For if  the Jews of Europe were not exterminated, what were they doing coming from Germany and Poland to take away Arab land?  Abbas himself wrote his shameful PhD thesis on Holocaust denial. There is one problem, however.

No matter how much anti-Semitic historians like David Irving and murderous tyrants like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran try to deny the Holocaust, there are just too many Jews who died with too much evidence to suppress it. So another idea has arisen.

OK, millions of Jews were killed by the Nazis. But rather than the Jews becoming more humane and sensitive as a result, they have internalized the hatred of their tormentors. They have become Nazis themselves. They are engaged in the extermination and genocide of the Palestinians people. Thus, ignoramuses like Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz along with self-hating Jews like Naomi Wolf and terrorist-lovers like Mahmoud Abbas have been parading the ultimate blood libel – that Jews are engaged in genocide. What better way to destroy the State of Israel than to make it impossible to defend itself.

On November 17th I have also asked my close friend Professor Noah Feldman of Harvard Law School, whose Rabbi I was during his Rhodes scholarship at Oxford, to join our panel to help legally define the term genocide and give it moral and political context so as to impede its abuse. Noah is one of the foremost public intellectuals and legal scholars in the world and played a central role in the formation of the Iraqi constitution. Noah and I do not agree on all things political. But few people are more respected as experts in the fields of human rights.

And we’re especially honored to have my friend Samantha Power, America’s Ambassador to the United Nations, giving the introduction and special tribute to Elie Wiesel. Samantha’s Pulitzer-Prize-winning work A Problem from Hell is the foremost book on genocide ever published and influenced my life deeply. Since becoming Ambassador, Samantha has traveled to areas around the world where true genocides are taking place, like the Central African Republic and South Sudan, not to mention having just visited, at great personal risk, West Africa to help lead the world’s efforts to fight the Ebola virus. As our Ambassador and voice at the UN, she is a great American light unto the nations.

When genocide is trivialized it is not just the six million of the Holocaust who suffer. It is the 1.5 million Armenians slaughtered by the Turks. It is the 2.5 million Cambodians murdered by the Khmer Rouge. It is the 800,000 Tutsis slaughtered by the Hutu. And it is all the innocent victims in Croatia, Serbia, and Kosovo. It’s time for people who truly care about human rights to start responding to those who use the murder of the others as a smokescreen to camouflage their despicable treatment of their fellow man.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi,” is the international best-selling author of 30 books including “Renewal: A Guide to the Values-Lived Life.” He has just published “Kosher Lust: Love is Not the Answer”. Tickets for “Genocide and the Jews: A Never-Ending Problem” on 17 November are available at www.shmuley.comwww.thisworld.us. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.

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  • Julian Clovelley

    There is a breakdown in this article that needs to be addressed. Many of the people most concerned about Israel’s present behaviour in the context of the continuing half century Occupation, and the de facto invasion by construction of racially defined settlements on Palestinian land, are exactly the same people MOST articulate and vociferous in relation to the obscenity of holocaust denial

    Israel’s real problem in this is that it has deeply upset many of its strongest sympathisers and supporters – people who unreservedly oppose antisemitism, people who demand that Genocide be explained in schools

    Israel needs to understand that opposition to its policies has absolutely nothing to do in most cases with antisemitism. The world is telling Israel that the present course is incompetent and unsustainable, and in the process of pursuing a dysfunctional policy, mostly aimed at appeasing or assisting Zionist initiative, the actions they take often seem counterproductive, irrational and cruel.

    Israel to many people is seen as insulting the United Nations that gave it birth, defying International Law, breaching trust placed in it in relation to restraining and dismantling settlements and ending the occupation and the Gaza blockade. It is seen as defying Geneva Conventions in relation to behaviour in Occupied Territory, and defaming hard working and long trusted charitable organisation some of which were the organisations most to come to the aid of the suffering and displaced Jews of Europe after the Second World War

    Israel seems to display bad faith to many people in its failure to construct replacement homes for the population of Settlements when these are closed, leading the world to conclude that there is no intention to close the settlements, and therefore no intention to withdraw Israeli forces from the West Bank region. A de facto invasion and colonisation appears to many people to be what has happened – and as a result a de facto Apartheid situation exists in Israeli society. The West Bank looks very much like an intended colony. Most colonies looked like this at the beginning with raids and attacks coming from the displaced idigenous peoples against the settlers in them too, as the land was stolen.

    All this and more is what needs addressing. You cannot claim to be a “democratic” society when the area under your military control is so poigniantly split along “racial” lines

    To the people of progressive persuasion The Jewish people have become one of the last to actually believe there is such a thing as “race” or even a genuine division of “ethnicity”. To them the Genealogical claims that Zionism has emphasised are in fact just as ludicrous an expression of difference when expressed by a person labelling himself Jew, as when they are expressed by a Nazi. The people murdered in the concentration camps were not just of a particular group – that was just a label – they were of us all – a defamation and extermination relevant to all humanity. there is neither Gentile nor Jew – the people murdered were of us all – our people, divided unnecessarily by concoted history and superstition in times of peace – and by brutal propaganda in time of war and pogrom.

    It is much harder for someone who is not a person who labels himself “Jew” to “racially” evaluate comparative suffering. As a result that person expresses horror at innocent death, at collateral damage at discriminatory and unequal tratment – at unfair wealth and opportunity division – and at anyones determination to maintain in place items that almost certainly make genuine negotiation impossible

    Every time a Jewish Settler is recorded as saying ” the land is all mine God gave it to me” – every time a Zionist extremist makes the same claim on record, Israel loses more of its fervent earlier supporters, who find such claims impertinent in the extreme.

    That should keep the persons discussing these matters busy. Throw in the big one too – how can a religion that defines membership in terms of Genealogy – be it mythical or actual – not be regarded as “racist” – if there is such a thing as “race” – And if there is no such thing as “race” then surely we have to recognise that which in fact appears to be scientifically true – that through conversion, assimilation and the sheer reality of family history – we share ancestry – nobody is special or even different. Its a religion not a race. It’s a belief not a reality. The little boy that was me over sixty years ago who sat next to Jewish children, had two Jewish best friends who he played with every day, and couldn’t see a blind bit of diffeence between himself and them was right.

    And it is that little boy who looks in horror at what “Jews” and “Arabs” are doing to each other, and sheds tears for the suffering of both. For beyond the hate they are the same “people”. We all are.

  • Paul

    If Rabbi Shmuley has a BETTER candidate than Mahmoud Abbas for trying to make peace – he should name him, and we can immediately start negotiations with him. We don’t have to LIKE him, we just need to make peace with somebody.

    The fact that we Jews went through the holocaust is a terrible fact – of history. But what Ben Gurion and Others have warned us of is coming true – our trying to hold on to the West Bank by forcing ourselves on a few million Palestinians is dehumanizing us from within, and in the eyes of the world – which includes our friends, supporters and fellow Jews, not only anti-semites.

    The truth of the holocaust makes our behaviour even worse: after all we jews suffered from the Nazis, everyone expects us to realise how terrible it is to hold other people in contempt, to rule them by force of arms. For territory. (Here of course, some will say for security. Well, security requires the presence of military means – not settlements, which are a security burden). The words summing up the holocaust – Remeber – Yiskor – are not just to remember what was done by the jews, but to remember what injustice people can do to others if we do not regard them as fellow, equal human beings. To regard all the Palesitians as Hama is a self-fulfilling prophecy – if we continue to act as we are, we will turn all of them into Hamas. We are the largest contributor to the political power of the Hamas.

    It is often asked, why the world pays so much (negative) attention to Israel – wrongly accusing us of genocide, while ignoring true genocide taking place world-wide. Perhaps this is the biblical prophesy coming true: we are supposed to be the light of the nations. We are supposed to give the nations of the world a positive example. And when we give a negative example, the result is even MORE attention.