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May 5, 2016 7:34 am

A Shocking Mockery of Holocaust Remembrance

avatar by Ruthie Blum

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IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Yair Golan. Photo: Wikipedia.

IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Yair Golan. Photo: Wikipedia.

The deputy chief of the Israeli army seems to be trying to compete with his boss in the arena of supplying Israel’s enemies with political ammunition. On Wednesday evening, Maj. Gen. Yair Golan went beyond the call of duty, so to speak, and outdid IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot in the battlefield of ideas on the world stage.

Unfortunately, these ideas all involve delegitimizing the Jewish state and blackening its reputation.

While Eizenkot has taken a few opportunities recently to make the army he leads sound as though it has been on a slippery slope to be deserving of the slurs it incurs from Palestinian terrorists and Western leftists, Golan simply cocked his weapon, aimed and fired at Israeli society as a whole.

During a speech he delivered on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, Golan was quoted in Haaretz as saying, “If there’s something that frightens me about Holocaust remembrance, it’s the recognition of the revolting processes that occurred in Europe in general, and particularly in Germany, back then — 70, 80 and 90 years ago — and finding signs of them here among us today in 2016.”

Lest we imagine for a split second that Golan was referring to signs of pre-Nazi Germany rearing their ugly heads in Europe of late, rest assured that the IDF bigwig was doing no such thing. On the contrary, he was talking about imaginary “revolting processes” occurring in the Jewish state.

He said that the Holocaust “must make us think deeply about the responsibility of leadership, the quality of society, and it must lead us to fundamental thinking about how we, here and now, treat the stranger, the orphan and the widow, and all who are like them. There is nothing easier than hating the stranger, nothing easier than to stir fears and intimidate. There is nothing easier than to behave like an animal and to act sanctimoniously. On Holocaust Remembrance Day we ought to discuss our ability to uproot the seeds of intolerance, violence, self-destruction and moral deterioration.”

He then asserted that “it’s essential” for Holocaust Remembrance Day to be a national day of atonement, the way Yom Kippur is a religious one. This breast-beating, he said, “ought to include unsettling issues,” such as the abuse of weapons by soldiers. This was a not-so-veiled reference to the controversy surrounding the manslaughter indictment of Sgt. Elor Azaria, who killed a subdued Palestinian terrorist in Hebron on March 24.

“A few weeks ago, the public began to debate purity of arms,” Golan said. “The misuse of weapons and harm to purity of arms have occurred in the history of the IDF since its establishment. The IDF has always taken pride in its ability to investigate difficult events impartially and to take full responsibility for what is good, but also for what is bad and unacceptable.”

Indeed. So where is the need for penitence on Israel’s part? If Golan had an answer, he didn’t offer it. Instead, he concluded with a statement that, if anything, illustrated why Israelis of all people have no need to engage in “atonement” for the sins to which he was alluding. You know, the kind that led to Auschwitz and Treblinka.

“We didn’t justify ourselves, cover up, smooth things over, dismiss with a wink or make excuses,” he assured. “Our path was always that of truth and taking responsibility, even when the truth is difficult and the responsibility weighty. We believe very much in the justice of our path, but not everything we do is just. We trust the IDF’s moral standards as an organization, but we do not ignore individual deviations.”

It is this last remark that should have been the focus of Golan’s speech. Any calls for a collective mea culpa should have been directed exclusively and forcefully at the individuals and groups abroad who are enabling, supporting and promoting anti-Semitism — by way of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel at campuses across the West; through old-style Jew-hatred on social media; to the British Labour Party, so many of whose members have been spewing the sort of unthinkable vitriol that became taboo in Europe after World War II; and last, but certainly not least, through global jihad committed by radical Islamists within and surrounding Israel’s borders.

It is the job of the IDF brass to combat the last factor for the security of Israel’s citizens, not to imperil us by emboldening those who seek to undermine our very existence. Golan is the one who really ought to be soul-searching right now — first by examining what possessed him to make such a vile comparison, and then by retracting and apologizing for making a mockery out of Holocaust commemoration.

Ruthie Blum is the managing editor of The Algemeiner.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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  • Paul

    Ruthie Blum
    what gives ammunition to our enemies is NOT the fact that our officer points out a problem. What gives ammunition is the fact that the problem really exists !!! Denying the holocaust is totally reprehensible. And denying the appearance of fascist mentality in Israel recently, is equally so.
    Are you in favor of “Noar Hagvaot”, who have avowed to set the region on fire due to messianic beliefs, and who do not recognize the sovereignty of the State of Israel ? Do you support firebombing Palestinian civilians in their homes ? Burning churches and Mosques, while smearing “Mohammed is a Pig” and “Price tag” on the walls ? THESE THINGS ARE HAPPENING, AND THEY ARE UNDERMINING ISRAEL MORAL RIGHT TO EXIST.
    If you support these actions, your article makes sense. If you are against them, you should retract and apologize to this courageous officer who supports the values that give moral rectitude to the state of Israel.

  • nat cheiman

    I think he was referring to heinous acts of murder by Israeli settlers in terrorist and murderous activities. IE burning of a palestinian youngster by Israeli kids. Whilst Israel should rid itself of palestinians in Judea and Sumarea, it should be careful in doing so, lest the world imply that Israel is using “the final solution”as a tool

  • Enezio E. de Almeida Filho

    What a shame!

  • Paul

    Israel often makes the statement that the IDF is the most moral army in the world.
    I believe this to be true.
    Even the name of our army is, Israeli Defense Forces. Defense !!
    I believe the reason why we actually ARE the most moral army in the world is, that truly moral people like our Chief of staff AND his deputy, speak out honestly and morally when the inevitable immoral acts do occur. We do NOT gain decent moral status in our own eyes or in the eyes of sane people world-wide by trying to deny where the wrong thing is done, or by denying the appearance of negative traits in our society. The moral justification given by our right wing and apparently by the author of this unfortunate article, is that we are Jews and God is on our side, therefore what we do is always OK. I will not state who and in what language those who brutally murdered Jews stated the exact same justification.
    Whoever originally said “Remember (tizkor)” in regard to the Nazi atrocities meant we should remember what was done to us, and to be vigilant about it happening again. Here we are being warned of something much worse: many fanatical Israelis are truly doing things that we must NOT do if we wish to remain a moral society – since they come from the same place of hatred and dehumanization as was leveled against us. Even Benny Begin spoke of fascist traits appearing in our society. To ignore these is betraying “Tizkor” in the worst way – and that is what the author of this article is trying to do.
    It is the people who demonize what this brave, honest, moral officer said, who are supplying the ammunition to the enemies of the Jews, and worse – turning our friends against us as well.

  • Monty Pogoda

    The man is an idiot. Good behavior in the IDF is a taken.Yom HaShoah is to “remember the Amalekite” and mourn our dead.

  • this is a free country and every general has a right to shoot off his mouth in public and private, just as they did so successfully in the Olmert Lebanon war. None of these guys are trained in how to check their comments for their stupidity, carelessness, and public misinformation… let alone danger to us all. taking one or two or three soldiers behavior, right or wrong (i let the courts decide that, tho their decisions arent all that bright either), and comparing it to Germany in the 1930s, or anywhere else in the 30s, is sloppy and uneducated and typical nonsense the members of parliament spout, but no one expects wisdom truth or knowledge from them. we DO expect better of our generals tho. our lives depend on these guys.

    • Paul

      Israeli society is undergoing a dangerous swing to the right. Benny Begin, for example, commented that our society is beginning to display dangerous traits of fascism. To ignore this trend, which you seem to advise (perhaps due to ignorance ) may either bring about the destruction of state of Israel, or turn it into something that was never the intention of the founding fathers, and that would make it not a worthy effort. Force does not given moral right. Burning Churches and mosques, smearing “Mohammed is a pig” in Arab villages, tossing firebombs into the homes of Palestinian civilians, and burning arab children alive SHOULD BE ROUTED OUT FROM what we accept here.
      This officer is talking about the growth of a horrible mentality in Israel. ARE YOU IN FAVOR OF THIS ? Or should you, too, speak out against it, as did this officer ?

  • ita

    Time for these Generals to retire outside of Gaza or Hebron where they
    can live out thekr lives inpeace an harmony with their neighbordd.

  • Carol

    Do these idiots have their heads where the sun don’t shine.

    You probably won’t print this because of your PC attitude.

    • Howard Wohl

      The Algermeiner is PC? Sort of like Trump is?

    • Paul

      I believe YOUR head is where you mention – the head of the officer in question is in the shining light of the values which led us to found the State of Israel.

  • Unfortunately, some people make pedestrian comments that diminish the historicity of the Holocaust. The Jewish Holocaust was unique in the history of mankind, as no government prior to Nazi Germany systematically murdered over 6 million Jews. There is no intellectually honest way to compare the Jewish Holocaust to other genocides.

  • Sonia Willats

    Shocking. He was campaigning against this young kid who made a wrong decision IN THE HEAT OF BATTLE. I read that the IDF employed a private lawyer to help prosecute this unfortunate young lad, who could be any of our sons! Also shocking! Would not military discipline do – it cannot be construed, in 100 years, as a pre-meditated act!!

    I hope the IDF is planning a retroactive campaign against King David, who had the temerity to cut off Goliath’s head once he had felled him to the ground (which then raised the spirit of the armies of G*d, who had, till then, been cowering behind their king and leader, Saul – not known for his cowardice.) So please, let’s put King David on trial too. OR SHOULD WE RECOGNIZE THAT THE SPREE OF ROCK-THROWING (not new), drivings over and stabbings and shootings (at Damascus Gate) are in invitation to war/civil war and should be put down with resolute force AS IN THE RULES OF WAR, not the rules of peace. Surely civil war needs to be deterred at all costs -V.DIFFICULT WHEN THE P.A.+HAMMAS continuously incite blowing up of buses, stabbings etc. even to YOUNG CHILDREN. So who are the murderers, really, of the young Palastinians who go out and fight?

    SURELY THE U.N. has taken on the mantle of Nazi Germany and the Nations who love to condemn G*d’s people. This spirit comes from the pit of hell. It is in the christian bible too – I recall, Revelations 13.

    • Howard Wohl

      Wrong decision in the heat of battle? Just like My Lai, I suppose. No, this soldier did not follow orders. There was no longer any heat of battle. If you watch the video, he simply shot a wounded individual to death. That is murder. If you really believe in God’s Commandments, murder is forbidden. Killing as in defense, protecting oneself or, as the IDF does, engage in killing those who endanger us is justified. If we act like our enemies, who have no respect for life and encourage martyrdom, we will no longer be Jews who follow the law. We would be no better than our enemies.

  • Ilya Bixon

    The general’s speech is outrageous. He is simply a poseur in uniform, a schtetel mentality pretending to be a man of the world. He fails to comprehend how pathetic and provincial he is

  • Lyone Fein

    Indeed, every institution created and peopled by human beings is imperfect. Nonetheless, Israel is probably the only nation in the world whose institutions are held under the moral microscope to this absurd extent by the rest of the world AND by ourselves, as well. I know of no other place on the planet where every single military infraction becomes a major international media event, and an occasion for national self-examination.

    While I do agree with Golan’s sentiments–as I believe that Judaism’s spiritual call is for each of us to engage in this level of self-examination on an ongoing basis; I also believe that he chose the wrong platform in which to air those sentiments. The place for this reflection is within ourselves, and in private venues between one another. As a leader it is up to him to set the proper example for appropriate behavior to the rest of those around him, and he very much missed the mark on this one.

  • Howard Wohl

    Imaginary? I think not. Yes, initiL reports seemed to say that his speech was comparing Israel’s actions to those of the Nazis. That was not the case. What he was referring to is what is happening here in the United States where a presidential candidate refuses to counter David Duke’s support. For that same candidate to scoff at his supporters who trash a Jewish journalist in the fiercest anti-Semitic charges and say he has no idea what they said and it doesn’t matter to him. For that same candidate to deride immigrants as rapists and murderers and that he will deport more than 10 million individuals from the United States yes, American values are being trashed and right-wing Jews don’t seem to care. After all, it’s suddenly someone else’s tsuris. And in Israel, those who want to ignite war between the Jews by violating rules governing the Temple Mount, along with those who would kidnap and torture and then torch innocent individuals. These are Jewish values. When the Prime Minister makes a mockery of Israel’s democracy and denigrates Israel’s citizens, with callous indifference, maybe we can say that we Jews have not learned the lessons of the Holocaust. Would we say the same things about what is coming out of the mouths of UK’s Labour Party? Let’s not create double standards and stop thinking that what Jews do is perfect. Let’s not go down the slippery slope.

  • Chris Rettenmoser

    Israel cannot afford such irresponsible MORONS !!!!!!!