Latest update: January 30th, 2013
January 27, the date in 1945 on which Auschwitz was liberated by the Allies, is the day designated by the United Nations to officially commemorate the Shoah.
But there are some who cannot permit a mention of the Holocaust without insisting, sometimes in lurid pictures, that Israel is a modern day version of the grand masters of genocide: Hitler and the Nazis. And there are armies of willing collaborators for that concept, which include many in the chattering classes. These second level haters repeatedly insist that Jews use the “Holocaust” card to block what they say is just criticism of Israel’s “Apartheid,” and brutal “occupation” of the Arab Palestinians.
The cartoon in this week’s British Sunday Times is a stellar example of the first category.
Notice the hulking presence of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Raheem Kassam, of The Commentator, describes the depiction as the stereotypical Jew anti-Semites love to hate: “the large-nosed Jew, hunched over a wall, building with the blood of Palestinians as they writhe in pain within it.” He is slathering the bricks of the infamous “Apartheid Wall” – which is neither about a separation of the races, nor is it a brick wall – more than 97% of it is fencing. Also, instead of mortar, the cartoon depicts the substance being used to cement the “wall” is blood. And whose blood? Why, the blood of Arabs, of course.
The words printed beneath the wall say “Israeli Elections.” Perhaps the author never got the memo that rather than a huge right-wing surge by the Israelis, this election instead brought in an almost perfectly balanced knesset of members from the right and the left. The scrawled words beneath the picture state: “Will Cementing Peace Continue?”
Many people were horrified not only that the Times ran the cartoon, but that it was run on Holocaust Rememberance Day. The Anti-Defamation League condemned the cartoon by calling it a “blood libel” and “grossly insensitive,” according to a report in the Algemeiner.
The Times of London is indirectly owned by Ruport Murdoch. Murdoch, as the Algemeiner points out, has been the recipient many times of honors from Jewish groups, including the ADL, for being a friend to Israel.
The cartoonist Gerald Scarfe, is well known not only for his Sunday Times work, but also for drawing musicians. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that one of his best known album covers is for Pink Floyd’s “The Wall.” Roger Waters, lead singer of Pink Floyd, is a virulent Israel hater who penned an appeal to fellow artists to boycott Israel, and most recently compared Israel to Nazis.
Which brings us back to Holocaust Remembrance Day, and the use by anti-Semites to accuse Israel of being the new Nazis.
Merry Olde England had another bout of “Let’s Call Israel Nazis” just a few days ago, on January 25. David Ward, who is a Liberal Democrat member of Parliament, wrote the following in his personal blog after signing his name in the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment in the House of Commons during an event in anticipation of Holocaust Remembrance Day:
Having visited Auschwitz twice – once with my family and once with local schools – I am saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza.
After a flurry of criticism, Ward invoked the standard excuse given when caught with one’s pants down and anti-Semitism showing: “I never for a moment intended to criticise or offend the Jewish people as a whole, either as a race or as a people of faith, and apologise sincerely for the unintended offence which my words caused.”
And many hours after the Sunday Times began receiving criticism for the “grossly insensitive” cartoon it ran on Holocaust Remembrance Day, its editors used the very same excuse, to wit: it isn’t Jews we were criticizing, just Israel.
The Sunday Times firmly believes that it is not anti-Semitic. It is aimed squarely at Mr Netanyahu and his policies, not at Israel, let alone at Jewish people. It appears today because Mr Netanyahu won the Israeli election last week. The Sunday Times condemns anti-Semitism, as is clear in the excellent article in today’s Magazine which exposes the Holocaust-denying tours of concentration camps organised by David Irving.
Oh my: we don’t insult dead Jews, only live ones, especially the kind that firmly believes in, and practices, self-defense.
But there are those who won’t pretend to honor the memory of the Holocaust. These are typically ones who are not in positions where the general public can have an impact on their bottom lines, as is the case in the media, or with public officials. A good example of such people are academics – and their game of Holocaust inversion goes one step beyond simply calling Israel the New Nazis.
For instance, in response to calling the Sunday Times Scarfe cartoon being published on Holocaust Remembrance Day “obscene,” a political science professor from Carleton University in Canada, who is also a blogger at Haaretz and the Daily Beast‘s Open Zion wrote, “It’s obscene. But so is the wall/barrier trapping Palestinians and ignoring the Green Line, as Israel maintains Occupation.”
When pressed about whether it was appropriate to run the cartoon on that day, the professor, Mira Sucharov, wrote that it was, and that she didn’t think “mourning the Holocaust should make any day immune from decrying justice.”
Finally, her interlocutor metaphorically threw up his hands, and wrote that for Haaretz writers, the “occupation” is bigger than anything else, “even common sense.” To this, Sucharov responded, “I think you’ve reversed the logic. The Holocaust obscures discussion of anything involving Israeli culpability.”
Professor Sucharov discounts the wounds of the Holocaust because she sees what she calls Israel’s “occupation” as being equivalent, if not worse. It’s the same for MP Ward and for the Sunday Times editors. But a bizarre twist is that Professor Sucharov has a Jewish bully pulpit from which to preach moral equivalence between the Nazis and the Israeli government, in addition to her academic position.
According to her bio on the Carleton University website, Mira Sucharov writes a regular column in the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin and Vancouver’s Jewish Independent, and won an award in 2010 from the American Jewish Press Association for a column on Holocaust education and Israeli foreign policy. That article was critical of the organizers of the March of the Living because its organizers connect it too closely to Israel. She writes,
There is a potential problem with introducing youth to contemporary Israel on the heels of sending them to witness the remnants of humanity’s darkest moments. If the message is that the existence of Israel safeguards the “never again” imperative of Holocaust remembrance, then our generation’s youth may conclude that Israel is justified in taking any action in the name of security to protect Jews worldwide.
Sucharov fears the “continuing blockade over Gaza,” and the “daily humiliation and collective punishment” of the “Palestinians” by Israel may seem acceptable to impressionable adolescents who have just learned about the horrors of the Holocaust. But Sucharov’s Holocaust narrative is used to prove that whatever happened to Jews during World War II is not enough to forgive the Jewish State its right to self-defense. And that message is sounded even on the official Holocaust Remembrance Day.
UPDATE: Rupert Murdoch, who owns News Corporation which owns News International, the owner of the Sunday Times, issued an apology via twitter for what he called the “grotesque, offensive cartoon” in yesterday’s paper.
Waiting to hear if the spokesperson for the Sunday Times who issued the earlier non-apology suffers any consequences.
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.
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