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“Another Way Of Saying Palestinians Are Nazis”: The Dangerous Motivation Behind Netanyahu’s Holocaust Revisionism

In a speech to the 37th Zionist conference on October 20, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shocked the world by exculpating Adolf Hilter for responsibility for the Holocaust. The destruction of the European Jews, Netanyahu suggested, came from a suggestion by the Arab nationalist Haj Amin al-Husseini, who was the Mufti of Jerusalem.

In Netanyahu’s own words:

And this attack and other attacks on the Jewish community in 1920, 1921, 1929, were instigated by a call of the Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini, who was later sought for war crimes in the Nuremberg trials because he had a central role in fomenting the final solution. He flew to Berlin. Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews. And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, “If you expel them, they’ll all come here.” “So what should I do with them?” he asked. He said, “Burn them.”

The first thing to say about Netanyahu’s historical narrative is that it is absurd. Husseini was a real person. It’s accurate to say he was an evil man: He led anti-Jewish riots that were motivated not just by opposition to Zionism but also anti-Semitism. He was an eager, although largely ineffectual, collaborator with the Nazis. Husseini hoped to work with the Nazis to thwart the creation of a Jewish state in Israel. To that end, he raised an army of 6,000 Arabs. This stands in contrast to the tens of thousands of Arabs who fought against the Nazis, including the 9,000 Palestinians who fought with the British. As Hussein Ibish,  senior fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine, noted in an article for The National, “The record is a complex, mixed and nuanced one, but the overarching fact is that Arab and Muslim involvement in the war was overwhelmingly on the Allied side, and was a significant factor in fighting on the ground. The overwhelming majority joined the cause voluntarily, despite British and French colonialism.”

Among the millions who fought in World War II, Husseini’s brigade was a sideshow. To elevate him to the level of having “a central role in fomenting the final solution” is a lie.

Responding to Netanyahu’s comments, Steffen Seibert, a spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, re-iterated the historical fact that Germany bears responsibility for the Holocaust. “All Germans know the history of the murderous race mania of the Nazis that led to the break with civilization that was the Holocaust,” Seibert said. “This is taught in German schools for good reason, it must never be forgotten. And I see no reason to change our view of history in any way. We know that responsibility for this crime against humanity is German and very much our own.”

Reviewing a biography of Husseini in The New York Times, historian Tom Segev acutely described the problem of over-emphasizing Husseini’s importance in the history of the Holocaust.

[O]ne can question whether Husseini “played an important role” in the Holocaust. For as Bernard Lewis wrote in “Semites and Anti-Semites”: “It seems unlikely that the Nazis needed any such additional encouragement from outside.”…

The mufti’s support for Nazi Germany definitely demonstrated the evils of extremist nationalism. However, the Arabs were not the only chauvinists in Palestine looking to make a deal with the Nazis. At the end of 1940 and again at the end of 1941, a small Zionist terrorist organization known as the Stern Gang made contact with Nazi representatives in Beirut, seeking support for its struggle against the British. One of the Sternists, in a British jail at the time, was Yitzhak Shamir, a future Israeli prime minister.

The second thing to say about Netanyahu’s statement is that he’s trying to smear Palestinian nationalism as being intrinsically anti-Semitic, indeed genocidal. Netanyahu’s fanciful excursion into Holocaust historiography comes in the context of the larger argument of his speech: that the current outbreak of violence in Israel has nothing to do with Israeli management of the Temple Mount or the on-going occupation. In effect, Netanyahu is arguing that Palestinians have no grievances and are simply motiveless, violent, Jew-hating psychopaths. Which is another way of saying: Palestinians are Nazis.

 

By: Jeet Heer, Senior Editor at The New Republic, October 21, 2015

October 22, 2015 Posted by | Benjamin Netanyahu, Holocaust, Israel, Nazis, Palestine | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Bibi’s Bad Gamble”: Like A Compulsive Gambler In One Of Sheldon Adelson’s Casinos, He Can’t Stop

We’re still in some suspense about the exact margin, and more importantly, whether Barack Obama will or will not have to use his veto pen. But the Iran Nuclear Deal is now quasi-certain to survive congressional review. Or we could put it another way and say that Benjamin Netanyahu’s reckless gamble in intervening in U.S. partisan politics to fight the deal has failed. As usual, writing at the Prospect, Israeli journalist Gershom Gorenberg has the most lucid analysis:

Forget the convoluted theories about how Netanyahu expected to lose but intends to game defeat for political advantage. He fought because he expected to stop the deal, which was a mistake, and because he thought that sinking the agreement would be good for Israel, which is a bigger mistake.

This isn’t rational. Netanyahu’s preference has been a military strike, but even his close circle of political partners balked at that, according to Ehud Barak, who spent several years as Netanyahu’s defense minister. It’s not rational to prefer an offensive that might slow the Iranian arms program for two or three years and reject an agreement because, in your view, it will “only” delay the program 10 or 15 years.

Nor is it rational to be the leader of Israel, a country known to possess a serious nuclear arsenal, yet compare yourself to the Jews who faced Nazi Germany.

Gorenberg points out that one of Bibi’s supposed assets has been his understanding of the United States. No longer, it seems.

Netanyahu’s imagined America is one in which Mitt Romney was sure to win in 2012, as can be seen from the prime minister’s behavior back then. Like the Republicans to whom he is close, he treats Obama’s presidency as a historical glitch. Like many Jewish Republicans, he expects American Jews to place Israel at the top of their voting priorities, to agree with his policies, and to wake up at last to the need to vote Republican. After all, that’s how the American Jews he knows best see things. To these misreadings, add his irrepressible impulse to jump into American politics.

And so Netanyahu has seriously alienated both Democrats–who are tired of being called anti-semites for insisting on a U.S. foreign policy that is independent of Israel’s–and American Jews–who stubbornly refuse to follow Bibi’s instructions to join a Republican Coalition cheek-by-jowl with Christian Nationalists and climate change deniers–in a losing cause. Heck of a job, Bibi.

But as Gorenberg concludes in a savage but apt comparison, Netanyahu can’t seem to help himself:

Making a toast to the Jewish New Year at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem Thursday, the prime minister insisted that “the overwhelming majority of the American people” agree with him. Those aren’t the words of someone trying to cut his losses. Like a compulsive gambler in one of Sheldon Adelson’s casinos, he can’t stop.

 

By; Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, September 4, 2015

September 5, 2015 Posted by | Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran Nuclear Agreement, Republicans | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“What Do They Know About Diplomacy?”: Republicans Who Oppose The Iran Deal Are Making Promises They Can’t Keep

The partisan debate over international efforts to forestall an Iranian nuclear weapons program has been stuck in a loop of self-parody ever since Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attempted to sabotage the negotiations with an address before Congress this past March. In the ensuing months, Republican opponents have continuously echoed Netanyahu’s unsubstantiated insistence that he and other Iran deal skeptics don’t propose war or regime change or outright failure to keep Iran from manufacturing a weapon, but a “better deal,” the particulars of which remain mysterious to everyone.

“We’re being told that the only alternative to this bad deal is war,” Netanyahu said in his joint session address. “That’s just not true. The alternative to this bad deal is a much better deal.”

“It’s either this deal or a better deal, or more sanctions,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell argued just last week.

The putative existence of this “better deal” is meant to trump supporters of the global powers agreement, who argue quite sensibly that the agreement itself must be held up against an array of feasible alternatives, rather than a fantastical scenario in which Iran capitulates to every demand Netanyahu would have made. Netanyahu and Republicans can’t articulate a preferable, feasible alternative, but they also don’t like the intimation that their position amounts to a Trojan Horse, so they say “better deal” over and over again, overwhelming the entire debate with vagueness, deception and hysteria.

But there’s something particularly maddening about this story, above and beyond the fact that the deal’s opponents are equivocating and hiding the ball and generally unwilling to level with the public about their goals. The structure of their critique suggests not that they think cutting a deal with Iran, in which everyone makes concessions, is per se unwise, but that the global powers screwed up the negotiations and gave away too much. They argue in essence that the diplomacy was conducted incompetently, and that they would’ve done a better job.

But there is no reason to believe this, because so many of the deal’s prominent critics have thin or failed diplomatic records of their own or have built their careers around the notion that negotiating with enemies is a sign of inherent weakness.

Netanyahu epitomizes the disconnect better than anyone else. Why should anybody in America or anywhere lend a favorable view to Netanyahu’s pronouncements about diplomatic tradecraft? He doesn’t boast a record of cutting “better deals” or even really of cutting deals at all. To the contrary, the political balance he’s struck in Israel, quite transparently, is to promise a “better deal” with Palestinians at some point in the future, while governing without any intention of reaching it. As his most recent election approached, he briefly campaigned on the promise not to cut one, then sheepishly and unconvincingly backtracked after his premiership was secured. He’s brokered no major deals elsewhere in the region, either, or really treated diplomacy as a useful problem-solving tool in general. Viewed as a diplomatic effort, his campaign of sabotage against the global powers agreement is a reckless disaster, which risks causing irreparable damage to the relationship between his country and its one true, powerful ally.

To underscore that point, there is a pronounced strain of thought within Israel among skeptics of the agreement that Netanyahu is making a profound error by waging a scorched-earth campaign against it—that the only thing worse than the deal itself is interfering to sabotage it. As the Wall Street Journal reported this weekend:

In unusually direct terms, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin this week warned Mr. Netanyahu that his aggressive campaign to defeat the deal risked harming a relationship central to Israel’s security. “The prime minister has waged a campaign against the United States as if the two sides were equal, and this is liable to hurt Israel,” Mr. Rivlin, a member of the premier’s Likud party, said in an interview published Friday in the daily Maariv. Yedioth Ahronoth and Haaretz carried similar interviews with the president.

“I have told him, and I’m telling him again, that struggles, even those that are just, can ultimately come at Israel’s expense,” said the president, adding: “We are largely isolated in the world.”

This isn’t a quirk unique to Netanyahu either. Most Republican presidential candidates have adopted the same approach to global affairs. They support a comically ineffective embargo over normalization with Cuba. They debate each other, as Scott Walker and Jeb Bush just did, over whether it might be necessary to bomb Iran on the first day of a Republican presidency, or only after waiting to get a cabinet in place. President Barack Obama’s foreign policy record isn’t unblemished, but he can boast of real diplomatic successes—reaching climate change agreements with China, Brazil, and Mexico, re-establishing relations with Cuba, to say nothing of the global powers agreement itself. Republicans, by contrast, say things like, “What we object to is the President’s lack of realism—his ideological belief that diplomacy is good and force is bad.”

Yet at the same time, they stipulate that critics should take their promise that a “better deal” is possible at face value. In this way they are like, well, themselves, in the domestic realm—forever promising to repeal Obamacare and replace it with “something that doesn’t suppress wages and kill jobs,” or “something terrific,” without elaboration. Another “better deal” that for some reason can’t be put to paper in a way that convinces anyone of its seriousness. But at least in the similarly farcical debate over Obamacare, much of the public has learned not to place stock in promises like this. The same can’t be said of the Iran deal opponent’s false promises, and against that backdrop the Republican position is beginning to seep into the mainstream.

 

By: Brian Beutler, Senior Editor at The New Republic, August 11, 2015

August 12, 2015 Posted by | Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran Nuclear Agreement, Republicans | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“False And Foolish Prophets”: Iran Deal; Why Would We Heed The Same Voices That Are Always Wrong?

Nobody was surprised by Benjamin Netanyahu’s immediate denunciation of the Iran nuclear agreement as “a historic mistake for the world.” Echoing the Israeli prime minister’s reaction were all the usual suspects in this country — a panoply of pundits and politicians from Weekly Standard editor William Kristol and Fox News Channel analyst Charles Krauthammer to MNSBC host Joe Scarborough.

Focusing on the alleged pitfalls of the deal between Iran and the world powers, these critics elide provisions that would allow economic sanctions to “snap back” quickly if Iran violates its promises, and greatly increase the Islamic Republic’s difficulty in building an undetected bomb. They don’t explain that if the United States had walked away, the result would have been disintegration of international sanctions, a rapid buildup of Iran’s nuclear capability,  and the likelihood of war – not just bombs, but “boots on the ground.”

What everyone should remember about the agreement’s prominent foes is something they will never mention: their own shameful record in promoting our very worst foreign policy mistake since Vietnam.

Like his admirers here, Netanyahu was a fervent proselytizer for war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. He appeared before the United States Congress in 2002 to frighten Americans and whip up belligerence. “There is no question whatsoever” – mark those words – “that Saddam is seeking, is working, is advancing toward the development of nuclear weapons,” he intoned, restating the “mushroom cloud” rhetoric of national security advisor Condoleezza Rice and vice president Dick Cheney, among others.

Around the same time, Krauthammer declared: “Time is running short. Saddam has weapons of mass destruction. He is working on nuclear weapons. And he has every incentive to pass them on to terrorists who will use them against us.” As the vote on Bush’s war resolution approached that fall, he warned that “we must remove from power an irrational dictator who…is developing weapons of mass destruction that could kill millions of Americans in a day.”

And we heard the same endless, hysterical exhortations from Kristol, Scarborough, and the entire cohort that had been pushing for war in Iraq ever since 9/11. No doubt they wish we would forget they ever uttered such nonsense. But at the time they argued that not only would Saddam’s overthrow mean “the end of his weapons of mass destruction,” as Scarborough once gloated, but the democratic ouster of all our enemies in the Mideast.

On that claim, Netanyahu was unwavering and absolute. “If you take out Saddam, Saddam’s regime,” he told Congress, “I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region. And I think that people sitting right next door in Iran, young people, and many others, will say the time of such regimes, of such despots is gone.”

Of course, Bibi’s “guarantee” was worth less than the pitch of any used-car salesmen. So was Kristol’s blithering reassurance that Iraq’s Shi’a and the Sunni communities felt no enmity that would disrupt the bright future post-Saddam.

As Netanyahu noted not long ago – while arguing, ironically, against negotiations with Iran – the mullahs in Tehran now have far greater influence than we do over the Iraqi government in Baghdad, because both are dominated by Shi’a parties. (He failed to recall his own wrong predictions.) So we wasted blood and treasure to throw out Saddam and empower the Iranian mullahs in his place. And now the same figures responsible for that policy disaster demand that the United States turn away from the prospect of a peaceful resolution with Iran, and toward still another armed conflict.

The fundamental truth, recognized by Republican idol Ronald Reagan, is that negotiations are always preferable to war. Yet many on the American right have often preferred war, including the utterly insane risk of nuclear war, to dealing with our enemies. Earlier this year, Scarborough suggested that even if the Iran deal looked better than expected, he disdains peace talks on principle – as do the neoconservatives, who rose to prominence lobbying against strategic arms negotiations with the Soviet Union.

“I never trusted the Soviets,” said Scarborough. “I never wanted Reagan to make deals with the Soviets in the late ‘80s. It turned out well, but I was always against détente and against dealing with communists. And right now, I’m against dealing with a country whose Supreme Leader calls us the devil, who says death to America at the same time he’s negotiating this deal.”

“It turned out well” is to put it very mildly. Not only was President Reagan’s reputation enhanced, but owing to decades of negotiation, we avoided a nuclear conflict that would have ended life on this planet. Yet Scarborough and his ilk reject the idea of talking with our enemies – although any negotiation over matters of war and peace will always require that distasteful necessity.

Twelve years ago, we made the historic mistake of listening to all these false and foolish prophets. There is no excuse to repeat that tragic error.

 

By: Joe Conason, Editor in Chief, Editors Blog, The National Memo, July 14, 2015

July 15, 2015 Posted by | Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran Nuclear Agreement, Neo-Cons | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Limits Of “Israeli Exceptionalism”: The Perilous Path The Current Israeli Government Is Pursuing

This incident from the 2008 campaign, relayed by Matthew Duss at TNR, tells you a lot about trends in U.S. thinking about Israel in the Netanyahu era:

[R]epresentatives of the Obama, McCain, and Clinton teams appeared at a Jewish community forum. Daniel Kurtzer, the former U.S. ambassador to Israel and Egypt, spoke for Obama, explaining that he wanted to see a “plurality of views” on Israel. Clinton adviser Ann Lewis responded that the United States should simply support Israeli policy, regardless of its content. “The role of the president of the United States is to support the decisions that are made by the people of Israel,” she said.

It was a pretty strange statement (is there any other country in the world to whose electorate anyone would similarly suggest outsourcing U.S. policy decisions?), but it does accurately describe the operating theory upon which much of conservative pro-Israel advocacy in Washington is based.

But it’s an increasingly rare point of view outside the conservative opinion bubble. After her service in the Obama administration, it’s pretty clear Hillary Clinton would not again allow herself to be represented as simply ratifying whatever policy is yielded by Israeli elections (presumably the only way one is permitted to deduce “decisions of the Israeli people,” who are deeply divided by Netanyahu’s policies towards Palestinians and indeed towards the rest of the world).

It’s against this backdrop of a growing tendency among Democrats to reject the idea of “Israeli exceptionalism” as the centerpiece of U.S. foreign policy that you can understand the perilous path the current Israeli government is pursuing in demanding the same–or perhaps greater– unconditional American support as in the past. This posture is not only liberating Democrats to assert national interests as superior to those of any foreign country in formulating U.S. foreign policy, but as I think we will see in 2016, leading public sentiment in the same direction.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Wasgington Monthly, June 17, 2015

June 18, 2015 Posted by | Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Policy, Israel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

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