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The Language They Understand

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Initially dismayed at the phenomenon, we have by now grown used to seeing pro-Palestinian and pro-Hamas demonstrators behave like Holocaust-era Nazis. These haters goose-step, Nazi-style, and shoot out their arms as they deliver the Hitlerian sieg heil salute. They also chant and scream such charming slogans as “Jews to the ovens,” “Hitler did not kill enough of you” and “Jews to the gas chambers.”

This is rank Jew-hatred; that much is clear. But we are also faced with a major paradox. These same “activists” routinely flash signs accusing Israel of being a “Nazi” state. To them, Gaza is “Auschwitz” and the Israelis have “occupied” it with “genocidal” intentions.

The fact that none of this bears any relation to reality does not matter. The truth no longer matters. People everywhere, including many in the mainstream media, have become comfortable employing this metaphoric overkill.

Some more truth the media prefer to ignore: Hamas and Hizbullah, backed by Iran, are engaged in a serious attempt to exterminate the Jews and to wage jihad against all infidels. Islamic extremists have psychologically projected their own evil design onto their intended victims whom they portray as Christian Crusaders or Elders of Zion.

This would be laughable, or only of psychiatric interest, if it were not so omnipresent and dangerous because of its widespread acceptance.

In a sense, those who knowingly support such a false Nazification of Jews are aiding and abetting the Islamofascists’ determination to destroy the Jews. They hope that by doing so their own necks will be spared the Islamic sword, today at the hands of terrorists and in the not-too-distant future in an Islamicized West.

As psychoanalyst and Arabist Dr. Nancy H. Kobrin puts it, “[Pro-Hamas demonstrators] are pandering to people who like Nazi insignia and the Nazi ideology. But they are also trying to drive the Jews crazy. They must know how seeing Nazi insignia makes us feel. This is very primitive, non-verbal behavior.”

Yes, primitive behavior. Just as certain primitive tribes have been described as literally eating their enemies’ hearts or other organs in order to incorporate their magical power, Palestinian Jew-haters wish to inherit the Jewish status as “sacred, noble victim” by destroying the Jews and presenting themselves (allegedly persecuted Muslims) as the “victims” of vicious Nazi Jews.

Dr. Kobrin calls this “psychological splitting – they want to have it both ways.” What she means is that Palestinian propagandists and Muslim jihadists want to identify simultaneously with the Nazis as triumphant death-cult destroyers and the Jews as history’s foremost martyrs.

Palestinians and Islamists offer up their babies, their women, their elderly – their entire civilian populations – as human shields, human sacrifices, in pursuit of this grisly goal. They also engage in faked staged photos to approximate such Jewish-style deaths as well.

The use of Nazi images is meant to terrify all who view them – especially those who have, in the past, been jailed, tortured, exiled, and wounded by those who displayed just such symbols. These images are forms of visual hate speech. They are meant to re-traumatize real victims and their second- and third-generation descendants and to intimidate bystanders.

But most Islamists who display Nazi imagery do feel genuinely wounded. What wounds torment them? For starters, a culture of cruelty: cruel childhood beatings, cruel parents, cruel teachers, cruel religious leaders and equally cruel peers. A culture that takes cruelty as a given – poor nutrition, illiteracy, no productive hope for the future – mainly due to tyrannical leaders who demand reverence and obedience even as they hoard the wealth meant to alleviate their people’s suffering.

This explains the Arab street. But those in the West (including Jews and even Israeli Jews) who support them – ah, that is a more painful and more curious matter. Perhaps the adoption by many Westerners of the Arab terrorist cause symbolizes a wish to (psychologically) die, to be done with the demands of freedom, to be cleansed of all our “filth” – our greed and lust, the burden of free will.

There is something else. The jihadists’ use of European Nazi imagery is essentially a trick. They are projecting all the sins of Islam onto Jews and Christian Europe. They wish to pretend that there is no long history of Muslim genocide against Jews, Christians, and other infidels; they are denying that there is a 1,400-year history of Islamic Jew-hatred and mass murder of infidels – a history still very much alive today, supported by religious sources that have not been re-interpreted or brought into the modern era.

Historically and despite individual exceptions and moments of respite, Jews were routinely and relentlessly subjected to pogroms in the Muslim world and were ultimately driven out of the Muslim Middle East. The Jewish refugee story is the larger and more hidden story of 1948-1956.

The Christian Crusades got going because imperialist, genocidal Arab Muslims were slaughtering Christians throughout the Middle East and central Asia in what was once known as Byzantium. Christians are still persecuted by Muslims today; many have been forced to flee Muslim lands.

The use of Nazi images in pro-Palestinian, anti-Israeli demonstrations cannot be countered with sweet reason, fact, or truth. The hoarse demonstrators who scream hate-speech slogans, who in fact seem hypnotically in thrall to hate, are not capable of rational conversation in which any truth other than their own prevails.

If you present a jihadi True Believer with objective facts that challenge his version of reality, chances are good that he will either threaten to attack you, actually attack you, or, if you are fortunate, walk away. He cannot engage in honest discussion. He will never concede.

Bullies, including terrorists and their sympathizers, must be defeated by force, verbal or physical, as the occasion demands. They comprehend no other language.

About the Author: Dr. Phyllis Chesler is a professor emerita of psychology, a Middle East Forum fellow, and the author of sixteen books including “The New Anti-Semitism” (2003, 2014), “Living History: On the Front Lines for Israel and the Jews, 2003-2015 (2015), and “An American Bride in Kabul” (2013), for which she won the National Jewish Book Award in the category of memoirs. Her articles are archived at www.phyllis-chesler.com. A version of this piece appeared on IsraelNationalNews.com.

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