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New York Times Marks Holocaust Remembrance Day With Piece Warning of Israeli Fascism

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avatar by Ira Stoll


A taxi passes by in front of The New York Times head office, Feb. 7, 2013. Photo: Reuters / Carlo Allegri / File.

The New York Times is marking Holocaust Remembrance Day by publishing an article claiming that fascism is on the rise in Israel.

The article is by Tom Hurwitz, identified by the Times as “an award-winning documentary cinematographer and director.” Hurwitz recounts being 14 years old and sitting with his director father, Leo Hurwitz, in the television control room during the trial in Jerusalem of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann.

Hurwitz writes, “The question of how fascism gains power is no less urgent today. As nationalisms multiply around the globe, lies gain supremacy as political weapons and scapegoating minorities proves itself a powerful mobilizing force, danger is burgeoning, here and in Israel itself.” He goes on, “What I witnessed as a 14-year-old in that control room, I am witnessing again. The fascination with individual people’s guilt or innocence is obscuring the society-wide re-emergence of fascism.”

If it strikes you as tasteless verging on grotesque to use Holocaust Remembrance Day as an event to portray Israelis as incipient fascists, you aren’t alone. Doing so essentially equates Zionism to Nazism in violation of the International Holocaust Remembrance Association’s working definition of antisemitism, which offers as an example of antisemitism, “Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.”

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The Hurwitz piece generated strong pushback from Times readers, including from those at rival publications.

“Offensive piece. Especially on day we mourn the loss of 6 million,” tweeted Gregory Zuckerman, a special writer at the Wall Street Journal.

Hurwitz’s website describes him as “a verger at New York’s Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, helping to oversee weekly services and the great holiday liturgies of the world’s largest gothic church.”

In the 2017 documentary “My Coffee With Jewish Friends,” Tom Hurwitz describes himself as having been “half Jewish.” His paternal grandparents were both Jewish but his father was brought up without religion and his mother was a Baptist. His father Leo started a new religion, the “Yuna creed.” After a period without religion, eventually he decided, “I just had to go back to church.”

In the same documentary, Hurwitz describes visiting Israel “in the early 70s, mid-70s,” and seeing the Israeli police in the Old City of Jerusalem, “bullying people aside like occupying forces anywhere…people being pushed aside and treated like dirt.” After the 1967 war, he said, “the Jewish state became an occupying state.”

Ira Stoll was managing editor of The Forward and North American editor of The Jerusalem Post. His media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.

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