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May 6, 2016 7:11 am

The Malady of Jewish ‘Inner-Nazi’ Phobia

avatar by Yishai Fleisher

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An IDF team.Photo: IDF Spokesperson via Twitter.

An IDF team.Photo: IDF Spokesperson via Twitter.

What is the fundamental lesson of the Holocaust for Israel and the Jewish people? There is a divergence of opinion.

Many Liberal Jews believe the main lesson of the “six million” is that we Jews should never do to others what was done to us. We know first-hand what the horrors of hatred look like, and therefore, we must distance ourselves in every possible way from behaviors which are like those of the Nazis. This way of thinking posits that every mortal person has the potential to be a Nazi and when given power, every human and even every Jew can become abusive. But after the Holocaust, we Jews were tasked with being more ethical and virtuous than the barbarians. We took it upon ourselves to be the archetype of restraint, lest our very human Inner-Nazi is unleashed and we end up mirroring the tormentors we escaped. I call the folks in this camp Fear-of-Inner-Nazi Jews.

The other perspective is very different. It posits that the main lesson of the Holocaust is that Jews, having survived the hell of the Holocaust as a people, should “never again” allow anyone to do that to us. The Zionist revolution effectuated a return to the land, to agriculture, a revival of Hebrew, and, so meaningfully, a resurrection of Jewish physical courage and military strength. Israel’s ability to put up a fight, and even to be a global leader in defense techniques and technology, is, for subscribers of this outlook, a source of pride. This group I call the Never-Again Jews.

But not only are these outlooks divergent, they also clash. For those in the Fear-of-Inner-Nazi faction, the Jewish state, when acting with force, can come dangerously close to being like the dreaded Nazis. The latest trigger of this phobia took place when a soldier in Hebron shot a downed terrorist. The Inner-Nazi group immediately sensed danger: Israel was slipping morally, carrying out extrajudicial killings, vigilantism, field execution — the Inner Nazi was coming out!

For those of the Never-Again viewpoint, the Hebron terrorist came to kill Jews, like a classic Nazi, and ended up dead. Was it OK to shoot the terrorist when he was down? Maybe yes, maybe no — but that’s not the big issue. The Jewish people are at war with a global jihad that seeks to destroy Israel and to kill Jews for being Jews. The bottom line is that Israel must, first and foremost, protect Jews, and be the “never again” country which prevents the Nazis of today from harming one hair on one Jewish head.

However, for Never-Againers, it’s not only that Jews have the right to kill Nazis or jihadists because all is fair in war. For many of us, the very assertion that Jews have an Inner-Nazi and the given the “right circumstances” will herd people into gas chambers is preposterous. The father of Nazism, Adolf Hitler, hunted Jews precisely because we were the embodiment of morality, the “conscience of the world” that he wanted to wipe out. Anyone who really knows the Jewish and Israeli people knows that we have never been in danger of becoming Nazis. To the contrary (and contrary to global media), we are a source of light, liberty and progress, regionally and globally.

Yet, the Fear-of-Inner-Nazi Jews are not the only ones who subscribe to the idea that Israel’s actions, unchecked, can easily approach Nazism. Anti-Israel propaganda harps endlessly upon those liberal Jewish fears by insinuating a nexus between Israel’s actions and Nazism. Once the accusation has been lobbied, Fear-of-Inner Nazi Jews face a dilemma: If they believe the propaganda, they become anti-Israel. If they don’t, they bend over backwards to prove that Israel is not like that all, that we are a moral people with a moral army, and we have the Inner-Nazi in check. For Inner-Nazi Jews, the only solution is to throw the soldier who shot the downed terrorist in Hebron into the slammer and throw away the key after making a public example of him. Shackle the Inner-Nazi and hope the world sees the truth of our goodness!

In the meantime, the real Nazis of our time — Hamas, ISIS and Hezbollah —  arm themselves and prepare for war. We know they are digging tunnels and we know they are building up their supplies of rockets with the intent of wiping Israel out. But we don’t hit them hard and we don’t strike with fury; we are chained down, stymied by our fear of unleashing the Inner-Nazi or by the fear of being accused of having one. We can only strike when we are under full attack, and then retaliate with only a measured response. A roof-knocking rocket, a kinder-gentler moral army, which makes sure to never fully win, and certainly would never use the word “vanquish” at the end of the war. Don’t crush the enemy, be merciful to the weak, even though moments ago he tried to kill you — Remember the Holocaust!

Some people say that we Jews talk too much about the Holocaust. I don’t think so at all. I think we don’t talk about it enough. We should take a minute every day to view photographs of dead-Jew-piles being tractored or burned. Then, after watching that, we should make a commitment each day to “never again” allow this, and act upon it by striking mercilessly at the jihad and sending a clear signal that we have zero tolerance for Jewish injury; we have zero tolerance for neo-Nazism. Now that we have the power to stop them, we should “never again” allow for the 6,000,001st victim. This should be our fundamental take-home lesson from the Holocaust.

And let’s take it one step further: instead of fearing the Inner-Nazi who will never appear, imagine embracing our inner “never again” Jewishness, not only to protect our own, but rather to use our newly found strength in the role of liberator. Israel — post-Holocaust-empowered Jews — would go out and fight today’s Nazism wherever it is, and help the world defeat the very same forces that murdered six million when we were weak.

Yishai Fleisher is the International Spokesman for the Jewish Community of Hebron. Follow him @YishaiFleisher.

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  • esther noodelman

    The real Nazis of our times include all the cheerleaders of Hamas,Isis,Hezbollah as well as the murderers in Israel ramming cars into innocent civilians,knifing our innocent citizens,defiling our holy places and then playing “PITY ME!” SAVE ME FROM ISRAELI SAVAGES IN FRONT OF CAMERAS!

  • FALSE ARGUMENTS- Drop the term ‘Nazi’ when referring to Israel

    Perhaps we ought to agree to remove the presumption that a Nazi lies within every people. The Germans produced an ‘uber-State’ that magnified the waning power belonging to their people and magnifying/concentrating that power into the hands of the SS. They even knifed the affiliated SA in the ‘night of the long knives’, unable to share power.

    Uber power in Russia led atheist, (of Christian descent), Karl Marx to develop the Uber-productive commune to placate the thirst of uber leaders for all products of Russian hands. The argument of uber productivity was to permit the holding back of enough product to allow the communal group to survive.

    The normal nation see-saws economically to best allow the expression of the goals and purpose of the people. The nature of a mature people does not have to alter when challenged other than to upgrade defensive and preventive strategies. When we get rid of the ‘Uber’ drive to pretend that twisting power into unrecognizable forms relieves weakness, there is no Nazi within to explain.

    We have the answers to the world’s problems to present when ordinary folks return to the knowledge that we are already ‘good enough’ to make it through the night.

  • Bear Klein

    Excellent article – As A Never Again Jew I think it simply time that we defeat our enemies who for 100 years having by their acts of war and terrorism have made it clear that do not accept us Jews in the land of Israel no matter the size of the borders.

    If you want peace it is time to forget being politically correct and proportional in fighting Palestinian terrorism. It is time to be determined to win the conflict and not just say the conflict will continue forever. It is not acceptable that every few months or years that Palestinians shoot rockets at Israelis, blow up bombs, kidnap children or resort to other forms of violence against Jews in Israel.

    Israel needs to deport and or Jail all terrorists and their supporters. This is a long term war which must be won. Those Arabs that would like to emigrate (polls say up to 80% in East Jerusalem and Judah/Samaria) would like to emigrate, Israel should assist them, including financially. Those Arabs who demonstrate loyalty to the State of Israel (e.g. Druze) are welcome to stay with full civil rights.

    This will take a long time but the conflict is already 100 years old and Israel needs to be determined to win it. Co-existence with those who deny you any right to exist and raise their children to kill you is not possible.

    • Esther Noodelman

      .For us Israelis,we musn’t be too aggressive with our “PIECES”partner.It makes us feel that we are becoming like them. A little(or a lot)naive,wouldn’t you say?What are we teaching our grandkids? It’s okay for the bully in the sandbox to terrorize him daily?The suggestion above sounds exactly like what Moshe Feiglin has been saying about this terror problem. But since Feiglin doesn’t have the “charm” of a Boogie or Tzipi, why take the advice of a mild mannered true lover of the Jewish people and Jewish State Let’s keep getting slaughtered because we still stick to 2 states for 2 peoples when we are only talking about OUR ONE STATE for ONE PEOPLE,the JEWS!

  • Reading the Psalms of David on Memorial Day proves the depths of anguish that we Jews have seen are of ancient origin – a million plus Jews died in a day when Rome sacked Jerusalem, destroying the second Temple. The readings of the day bring gratitude that we have the ability to defend real borders and no longer require the sanction of any but our courts – holding a moral imperative that an educated Jew is unable to abandon. In extremis, others will prevent our tortured brothers or sisters from perpetrating ‘Nazi’ or ‘Roman’ like violence.

    Remembering a soldier defends with lethal force while police protect even perpetrators of crimes inside our cities, we can’t tell the world only their soldiers may fight when attacked and ours will not. David grew from student to warrior to King and his line reads his words daily, words of praise and words of mourning. We can’t alter the historical thirst for Jewish blood through the ongoing effort to make human sacrifices of our people. The original Geneva Conventions might have come straight out of the Jewish texts – we can be moral and still act as aggressive warriors to avoid needless deaths – on all sides. Additionally, taxes collected on behalf of the Palestinians should be used to raise and educate the violent children they force us to arrest and imprison.

    • Esther Noodelman

      Excelllent idea to use the tax money designated for the use of Arabs in Israel to help those Arabs who wish to emigrate …I believe Moshe Feiglin supports this idea.The money could also be used to help the families who have lost relatives by violent Arabs and also help us re-educate our Arab neighbours who wish to remain.

  • Theodore Crawford

    “To the contrary (and contrary to global media), we are a source of light, liberty and progress, regionally and globally.” I agree, Mr. Fleischer. But I’m compelled to point out the fact that the only reason this is true is because of the G_d of the Jews and Israel. We all have that “Inner-Nazi”, Jews and Goyim. It’s the curse of Adam; our fallen human nature. It is G_d’s highest blessing to have Him neutralize our “Inner-Nazi”. Even the wicked and hateful Islamic terrorists are eligible for this blessing!

  • dan ehrlich

    First, just about everything that has befallen the Palestinians they brought on themselves by relying on leaders dedicated to jihad against Israel rather than peace and prosperity for their people.

    Remember, had there been no Arab wars aimed at destroying Israel there would be no refugees or occupation.

    But part of this tragedy has been galvanizing generations of Israeli youths with ill feelings towards Arabs through the garrison state Israel has become.

  • Paul

    It should be noted that the author of this article is the spokesman for what is probably the extreme right-wing community in the region.
    He dismisses the possibility of Jews acting like fascists as impossible, and therefore to be ignored.
    The jews in Hebron, and others of similar ideas, are conducting actions that Benny Begin recently called “tainted with fascism”.
    The Nazis burned synagogues – Jewsish extremists burn churches and mosques. Nazis wrote No entry for Pigs and Jews. And our extremists write “Mohammed is a pig”. The Nazis attacked helpless Jews – our our extremists throw firebombs into Palestinian civilian homes. The end action of the Nazis was extermination of Jews – but this was the final outcome of the initial hatred and dehumanization of other humans – mainly the Jews. this same hatred and dehumanization characterizes the behavior and ideas of the Hebron Jewish settlers. Is anything short of using gas chambers acceptable and moral ? The Nazis said “Gott Mit Unz”, believed in the superiority of their race, and despised all others and wanted to take their lands by divine right. What do the Hebron Jews have to say ? That God is with us ? That we are the superior chosen race ? That Goyim are to be despised and hated, and their land taken because God meant it for the Jews ?
    The traits of the Jews mentiones here are NOT common – they are common to the extremists only. But THEY have so much in common with the spirit of those who oppressed and still oppress Jews. We should be better !!! The Nazis actions were evil because they were against people, not just because they were against jews. If Jews do evil acts against others, being Jewish does NOT exonerate them.

    • A Zionist

      I think you illustrate the problem. In his book, “Trials of the Diaspora: A History of Anti-Semitism in England”, Anthony Julius (2010) describes the ways in which Israel haters de-contextualise or take a statement (or an action) of one person or group and then apply this to the entire Jewish people.

      Thus, you take a Jewish extremist group, who are denounced across Israeli society and then maintain this applies to those who live in the “Settlements” and in particular, Hebron. If Arabs can live anywhere in Eretz Yisrael as is their right as Israeli citizens, why cannot Jews live in Hebron. In fact, why do the Arabs believe in Judenrein and why are you silent on this matter?

      Arthur Schopenhauer the German philospher, wrote a book entitled, “The Art of Being Right: 38 ways to win an argument.” In this satirical work, he uses the example of winning an argument, even when the argument is weak, by putting one’s opponent into some “odious” category.

      This is what you have done. You put the author into some “odious” category and then attack. You do this on the basis that he lives in Judea and Samaria, the heart land of the Jewish people.

      THebron is the most important city for Jews, second only to Jerusalem. Jews have been living in Hebron long before the Arabs who are descendants of 7th century imperialist conquerors. Hebron is the place where the Jewish Patriarchs are buried and where UNESCO has deemed to be “a Mosque” thus denying any connection with Judaism and the Jewish people. Islam is barely 1400 years old. Jews have an unbroken connection with the land pf reason dating back over 3,500 years. Indeed, UNESCO hosted an exhibition, under the Direction of the late Professor Robert Wistrich, z”l. Despite the Arabs attempt to bully UNESCO’s Director, she eventually allowed this exhibition to take place in Paris at UNESCO’s HQ. Interestingly, 3 panels were excluded, all 3 would have shown Arab persecution of Jews and that in 1948, 856,000 Jews were ethnically cleansed from Arab lands.

      Are you aware that a good proportion of “settlers” you clearly despise are actually “secular”? Of course, the secular are never mentioned as this does not further the attack on “religious zealots.”

      A 94 year old Holocaust survivor, Rachel Zaney, has penned a response to the Maj-Gen Yair Golan for using any comparison with the Nazis. Not only is it offensive, it is ahistorical and widely inaccurate. It trivialises the Holocaust and the survivors.

      Only antisemites refer to “Chosen people” and any religious Jew would be able to explain that this phrase is poorly understood or deliberately abused by antisemites. The Jews were chosen by Hashem for a particular task. We were “chosen” because we are small in number and not grand and powerful.

      Since the time of the Gospels, Jews have been used to attack and condemn other Jews. The Gospels of Matthew and Luke are examples. Some of the most vicious persecutors have been Jews, during the Spanish Inquisition, one particular Bishop, a converted Jew, made a special attempt to burn as many Jews as possible. In the 19th century, the antisemite Nesta Webster used to refer to “an honest Jew named More.” But, history has shown that even antisemitic Jews are never saved from persecution. Today, we have an assortment: Chomsky, Finkelstein, Shlomo Sand, Gilad Atzmon, Illan Pappe, Jaqueline Rose, Lynne Segal and many, many more. Jews are thus divided into “good Jews” and “bad Jews”. The novelist Howard Jacobson refers to them as the “ASHamed Jews.”

      Why there exists this disturbing phenomenon is unclear. The psychiatrist Dr Howard Levine posits that this may be a form of “Stockholm Syndrome.”

      Making generalisations about people you do not know adds nothing to the debate but fuels antisemitism, anti-Zionism and does a great disservice to the victims of the Holocaust. It is also a gross distortion of reality to insinuate that these Jewish extremists are anything other than small and are condemned across Israeli society.

      Finally, I do not live in Hebron or across the mythical “Green Line” which refers to an arbitrary line, drawn in green ink to mark where the fighting stopped in 1949 during the War of Independence. As we approach Yom HaAtzmut, we should remember that on 14 May 1948, Israel’s declaration of Independence was read and signed. You would do well to read it carefully and then compare with the Charters of Hamas and the 2 PLO Charters. At midnight, 5 Arab countries attacked and invaded. 600,000 Jews (400,000 of whom were Holocaust survivors) fought against millions of Arabs. From 1920, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, the British appointed Grand Mufti and self-appointed leader of the Arabs, was a pro-Nazi supporter. In 1920, murderous Arab attacks began because Jews were considered second-class “dhimmis”. In 1929, he invented the al-Aksa libel which lead to Jews being hacked to death in Hebron, Jerusalem and Safed. Women were disembowelled, their wombs stuffed with cats.

      Between 1941-45, Husseini was a guest of Hitler in Berlin where he met Himmler and Eichmann and planned the extermination of Jews in the Middle East. It seems your understanding of the Holocaust is impoverished. The Nazis were evil and their Final Solution to the Jewish Question was the intended extermination of an entire race of people. This is what distinguishes the Shoah, the Holocaust. The Nazis had no qualms in murdering the physically and mentally handicapped, the “Slavs”, the gypsies, the Sini, homosexuals and other “inferior” peoples. But, ONLY the JEWS were selected, were “chosen” for the Final Solution. Only the Jewish people were to be completely annihilated and the pro-Nazi Arab terrorist organisations and Iran are intent on completing the task.

      Jews are not Nazis. Nazis are not Zionists. Zionists are not Nazis.

      The late Primo Levi wrote, “that to confuse murderers with their victims is a moral disease, or an aesthetic affectation or a sinister sign of complicity; above all it is a precious service rendered (intentionally or not), to the negators of truth.”

  • Typoist

    Bravo! It should be said more often ‘ the real Nazis of our time — Hamas, ISIS and Hezbollah’