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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

“Naked Bibi”: In The Animal Kingdom, There Is No Creature More Dangerous Than A Panicking Politician

In the lead up to Israel’s March 17th election, Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu, fearful that he might lose his reelection bid, threw caution to the wind making blatant appeals to scare voters into returning him to office. He did so not caring who he alienated or what might be the consequences of his behavior. I have always argued that in the animal kingdom there is no creature more dangerous than a panicking politician and, in the last few days, Bibi was one such creature.

The day before votes were cast, Netanyahu gave a series of interviews to friendly media outlets developing themes that preyed on Israeli fears: of Palestinians, of “foreign conspiracies”, and of Israel’s own Arab citizens. He charged, for example, that if his opponents won they would submit to the pressures of the international community leading to the creation of “Hamastan B” in Jerusalem. In another interview he said, “…anyone who moves to establish a Palestinian State and evacuate territory, gives territory away to radical Islamists”. And when asked if that meant he was backing away from his 2009 pledge to support a two-state solution, Netanyahu responded “Indeed”.

He further charged that “the governments of Western Europe…are funding the campaign that is designed to oust me from power”. And he claimed that “there is a massive effort, with tens of millions of dollars…to mobilize the Arab vote…to support Herzog…it’s a massive effort…some governments are involved”.

He tied many of these themes together by race-baiting Israel’s Arab citizens warning that “[if Labor wins] Herzog and Livni will become the prime ministers…with the backing of the Arabs…causing a monumental shift in policy that will endanger the security of Israel”. And on the day of the election, in a final panicked appeal to supporters, he warned “Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls. Left-wing organizations are busing them in”.

This was the honest Netanyahu, stripped of any veneer–not the one who once feigned support for peace or who begrudgingly pledged support for the idea of a Palestinian State. And this was the Bibi who won.

This was the same Netanyahu who once greeted the Oslo Accords with a campaign to discredit Yitzak Rabin in Israel and by teaming up with Newt Gingrich (then Republican Speaker of the Congress) to stymie the Clinton Administration’s efforts in Washington. This was the Netanyahu who was elected in 1996 on a platform committed to ending Oslo, and then acted on his commitment by, in effect, burying the peace process. And this was the same Netanyahu who, when pressured by the West, presented himself as a leader who wanted nothing more than peace, while he pursued policies that only further humiliated and provoked Palestinians, at the same time weakening and discrediting their leadership.

But Netanyahu is also a wily maneuverer. When pressed by President Clinton to sign an agreement with the Palestinians, he did. Upon returning to Israel, however, he did nothing to implement that agreement and, in fact, acted to sabotage it. Similarly, when he was pressed by President Obama, he stated his support for a “two-state solution”, but then added caveats that made mockery of this support.

In his last two governments, Netanyahu sought to hide his naked contempt for peace by adding to his coalition individuals who could provide political cover. Ehud Barak and Tzipi Livni were known figures in the West, and Netanyahu cleverly used them to shield his government from criticism, while he aggressively pursued his anti-peace, settlement expansion agenda.

Now the cover is gone and Bibi stands naked before the world. He made clear his rejection of the two state solution and his contempt for the Arab citizens of Israel. And he won.

Now Netanyahu must govern. He has just enough votes on the far right to form a coalition government that can pursue his anti-peace, anti-Arab agenda. His coalition will include Avigdor Lieberman who recently said that Israel “needs to pick up an axe and cut off the head” of any Israeli Arab “who is against us”, and Naftali Bennett who said that Palestinians were like “shrapnel in your rear end” and pledged that “I will do everything in my power to make sure they never get a state”.

Netanyahu knows that this collection of like-minded bigots will only damage Israel’s relations with the West. And so just a few days ago, when faced with international outrage over his pre-election comments, Netanyahu once again attempted to cover his nakedness by denying that he had actually backed away from support for a two-state solution. What he may also do in an effort to hide his government’s racism is to lure one of the opposition parties into his coalition in order to give his government the veneer of respectability. He will make emotional appeals to national unity and call on his would-be “partners” to do their patriotic duty by joining with him to face the grave threats confronting their country. The question is will any of them fall for such a transparent ploy and agree to serve as Bibi’s newest stooge.

Looking at the polls in Israel, it was clear that the center-left never had much hope of forming a stable government. In the best case scenario, they could have only secured the 61+ seats they needed by relying on the strength of the Arab’s Joint List. This would have left them open to the same racist charge that Netanyahu and Sharon used against Rabin in 1993–that his decisions never had the support of a “Jewish majority”. This paralyzed Rabin and would likely have had the same impact on Herzog and Livni, neither of whom would have had the strength to take on the militant far-right and the massive armed settler movement.

The bottom line is that Israelis succumbed to Bibi’s race-baiting and fear-mongering and elected the government they wanted. It is as if George Wallace had won the US Presidency in 1972. The mask is off. The “peace process” is dead. What will the West do in response? Will they buy Bibi’s act one more time, or will they call his bluff and use the pressure they have long been hesitant to use? Captive Palestinians losing all hope while living under a brutal and humiliating occupation will not wait long for an answer.

 

By: James Zogby, President, Arab American Institute; The Blog, The Huffington Post, March 2015

March 22, 2015 Posted by | Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel, Palestine | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Netanyahu’s ‘Mr. Security’ Mirage”: If Anything, He Has Done Far More To Damage Israel’s Security Than Strengthen It

Ahead of Israel’s March 17 election, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has arrived in Washington on a mission to undermine President Obama’s Iran policy. This, his latest and greatest diplomatic affront, has starkly revealed the degree to which many here have tired of his shtick.

But what may come as a surprise is that Israelis are sick of Bibi too.

Of course, not all feel indigestion at the thought of Netanyahu being reelected next month. But polls show his favorability rating at an all-time low. Meanwhile, the cost of living for the average Israeli has become extraordinarily high — 40 percent of Israelis are unable to make ends meet — and a majority claim socio-economic and social justice issues as their top priority in this election. A majority also say that Netanyahu’s main rival, Labor’s Yitzhak Herzog, is most fit to handle this issue.

Yet, Netanyahu continues to run neck-and-neck with Herzog and his center-left “Zionist Union” alliance. The reason for this is revealed in the same polls that show voters’ distaste for Netanyahu’s handling of the economy: they still trust him most when it comes to security. With his “It’s either me or ISIS” campaign line, Netanyahu has shown that he will stop at nothing to define the election in alarmist terms. Indeed, Israelis have always voted according to this most existential of issues. Assuming they do again, it seems likely that Netanyahu will be Prime Minister for the fourth time.

But the case to be made for Netanyahu as “Mr. Security” is flimsy at best — an assessment consistently put forth by former heads of Israel’s Mossad and Shin Bet intelligence services. If anything, he has done far more to damage Israel’s security than strengthen it.

Netanyahu’s ongoing Congressional speech fiasco is only the most recent example, whereby he has weakened Israeli security on multiple fronts. In choosing to publicly challenge President Obama on his home turf, the Prime Minister has further eroded their personal relationship — a feat that seemed nearly impossible. Polls show that over two-thirds of Americans oppose the speech.

Because of Obama’s unpopularity in Israel, Netanyahu’s perceived “toughness” in standing up to the President may provide short-term political gains at home. But Netanyahu is harming bipartisan support for Israel and alienating young Americans in particular — an ever-more dangerous prospect for Israel’s future.

Even worse for Israel’s security is what Netanyahu seeks to accomplish: undermining any nuclear deal with Iran that could possibly be achieved. The likely result of his success would be a war devastating for Israel, the U.S., and the region — and one that would not prevent Tehran from ultimately getting the bomb. Iran has the technical know-how to build a nuclear weapon, yet it has so far chosen not to. An attack by the U.S. or Israel would likely convince Iranians that possession of nuclear weapons is in their best interest.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu’s record on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been a similar disaster for Israel’s security. The ongoing occupation of the West Bank (alongside continued expansion of settlements) and Gaza is far from the only reason for the Palestinian terrorism Israel faces, but it is nonetheless a fundamental factor. Netanyahu has not offered a single initiative to end the conflict. To those proposed by others, such as the Arab Peace Initiative offering Israel full diplomatic relations with most of the Arab and Muslim world, he has never even offered a response.

Instead, Netanyahu now states that Israeli control of the West Bank must continue forever, and his government has made clear that it has no strategic vision beyond management of the status quo.

But Netanyahu has failed to even manage the status quo effectively. He has no strategy for dealing with Hamas — negotiating with them to release hundreds of prisoners one day and fighting a new war against them the next. Before last summer’s conflict, he failed to deal with the vast system of Hamas tunnels, which led to the avoidable deaths of Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers. Further loss of Israeli life was largely prevented by the Iron Dome missile defense system – funded by the same administration Netanyahu continually thumbs his nose at. And his decision to massively bombard civilian areas in Gaza and its horrific consequences hurt Israel’s image abroad and provoked strong criticism from the White House and State Department.

Ultimately, nothing was gained from the war besides a temporary weakening of Hamas, who Israeli military intelligence says is “ready to go [to war] today”. In the meantime, Gaza has sunk further into misery and extremism.

That’s not all. In the immediate wake of the war in Gaza, Netanyahu’s security failures were again on full display in Jerusalem. He declined to prevent right-wing MKs from making provocative visits to the Temple Mount, leading Jordan — one of only two Arab countries with which Israel has a peace treaty — to withdraw its ambassador. Meanwhile, he allowed Israeli settlers to carry out midnight takeovers of houses in Palestinian areas of East Jerusalem, another action that helped fuel months of Palestinian rioting and “lone-wolf” terrorism. Netanyahu has blamed the latter actions on alleged incitement by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, but most Israelis think Netanyahu has done nothing to curb incitement from his own side.

In reality, the only thing Netanyahu has managed to secure is his own political survival. Though his resume is a desert littered with failure, he has managed to create a “Mr. Security” mirage. In a matter of weeks, we will find out if the Israeli public has finally seen through it.

 

By: Aaron Mann, Outreach and Research Consultant at Americans for Peace Now; The Blog, The Huffington Post, March 2, 2015

March 4, 2015 Posted by | Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Israel, Palestine | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Enemy Of Reason And Moral Judgment”: The Problem With Both “Pro-Israel” And “Anti-Israel”

In a typically thoughtful piece today, Jonathan Chait explains why he has “grown less pro-Israel over the last decade.” I want to push back on this a bit, not because I disagree with any of the particular points Chait makes, but because of the broad framing. The idea of “pro-Israel,” like its mirror “anti-Israel,” is the enemy of rational thought and debate on this topic. Unless you’re talking about whom you’re rooting for in the Olympics, talking about who’s pro-Israel and who isn’t, and to what degree, almost never helps illuminate anything. This is something I brought up a few months ago, but it has a new urgency now, because this conflict is going to cause a lot of people to reevaluate how they feel about Israel.

One of the interesting things about Chait’s post is that he mentions an emotional connection to the country, but the specifics he brings up are all practical questions, on things like the Netanyahu government’s sincerity when it says it’s committed to a two-state solution. Since we’re talking about a democracy where the government and its policies are open to change, in theory that shouldn’t bear much on one’s basic commitment to the country. But of course it does.

So let’s step back for a moment. What do we mean when we say someone is pro-Israel? At the most basic level, we mean that she believes Israel ought to exist (there was a time when this was a matter of some debate in the West, but it isn’t any longer, at least not in mainstream circles). Beyond that though, you can take varying positions on almost any particular area of disagreement and still be pro-Israel. You can think Israel ought to exist within its pre-1967 borders, or that it should hold every inch of land it took since then (and retake what it gave away), and both positions can be “pro-Israel.” You can think that West Bank settlers are heroes for holding the land God granted the Jewish people, or that they’re a bunch of bigots and thugs who make peace infinitely more difficult, and both positions can be “pro-Israel.” You can think that Netanyahu’s decision to launch this war was the only appropriate reaction to the murder of those three teenagers, or you can think that decision was a disaster, and both positions can be “pro-Israel.”

In other words, the idea means almost nothing, unless you’re using it to indicate that someone is laboring to put aside their own capacity for reason and morality in order to justify whatever their side happens to have done, either lately or decades ago. And frankly, that’s how I’ve come to think about it. When I think of someone who’s “anti-Israel,” I think of someone who apologizes for terrorism committed by Palestinians and thinks that there’s only one country in the world where human rights abuses occur; in other words, a moral idiot. And when I think of someone who’s “pro-Israel,” I’m increasingly likely to think of some Palinesque dolt who believes that the Israeli government is perfect in all things, and that that very terrorism gives Israel a pass to treat every Palestinian man, woman, and child with as much cruelty as it likes; in other words, another moral idiot.

Once you stop worrying about whether you’re pro-Israel or anti-Israel, you can judge the Israeli government’s decisions, developments within Israeli society, and other questions related to the country each on their own terms. You can also make judgments about the conflict that are freed from the necessity so many feel to continually compare the Israeli government’s actions to Hamas’ actions, or the opinions of the Israeli public to the opinions of the Palestinian public, with the only important question being which side comes out ahead. Those comparisons end up dulling your moral senses, because they encourage you to only think in relative terms.

If you’re still stuck being pro-Israel or anti-Israel, you end up asking questions like, “Which is worse: for Hamas to put rockets in a school in the hopes that Israel will bomb it and kill a bunch of kids, therefore granting Hamas a momentary PR victory; or for Israel to bomb the school anyway, knowing they’re going to kill a bunch of kids?” If you’re pro-Israel, you’ll answer that Hamas’ action is worse, while if you’re anti-Israel, you’ll answer that Israel’s action is worse. But if you’re neither, then you’ll give the only moral answer, which is: who the hell cares which is worse? They’re both wrong. Questions like that end up only being used to excuse one side’s indefensible decisions.

Believe me, I realize that it isn’t easy to get rid of the pro-Israel/anti-Israel dichotomy. I grew up in a home where Zionism was our true religion. Israel is different than other countries; no matter how much you love going to Paris, eating French food, and reading French literature, it would be weird to describe yourself as “pro-France.” That’s because it makes sense only in the context where there are other people taking the opposite position; while there are people who don’t like France, there isn’t a significant “anti-France” movement.

But you don’t have to buy into the dichotomy. And once you step outside it and stop worrying about which team you’re on, it can become easier to see things clearly.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, July 29, 2014

July 30, 2014 Posted by | Israel, Middle East, Palestine | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“When Will You Stop Beating Your Ally?”: Ted Cruz On Protecting And Promoting Israel’s Tourism Industry

I really thought the peculiar use of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a political weapon against Barack Obama had reached its point of diminishing returns back in the 2012 presidential cycle, when the entire field (with the exception, obviously, of Ron Paul) competed to express how abjectly each as president would defer to Israel’s wishes in using American resources and commitments, in sharp contrast to the faithless Muslim-lover in the White House. I mean, seriously, wouldn’t the tribunes of American Exceptionalism eventually see something wrong with their political representatives demanding that the U.S. outsource its foreign policy to another country?

Leave it to Ted Cruz to take it all to another level, accusing the administration of telling the FAA to ban flights into Tel Aviv as part of a pro-Hamas conspiracy:

“Given that some 2,000 rockets have been fired into Israel over the last six weeks, many of them at Tel Aviv, it seems curious to choose yesterday at noon to announce a flight ban, especially as the Obama Administration had to be aware of the punitive nature of this action.

“Tourism is an $11 billion industry for Israel, which is in the middle of a summer high season already seriously diminished by the conflict initiated by Hamas. Group tours have been cancelling at a 30% rate. This FAA flight ban may well represent a crippling blow to a key economic sector through both security concerns and worries that additional bans will down more flights and strand more passengers. It hardly matters if or when the ban is lifted. At this point, the damage may already be done….

Secretary of State John Kerry issued a veiled threat last February when he encouraged boycotts of Israel [sic] and said that absent serious Israeli concessions at the negotiating table, Israel’s economic prosperity was ‘not sustainable’ and ‘illusory.’ Secretary Kerry unfortunately reprised this theme just this April, when he threatened that Israel risked becoming an ‘apartheid state’ if Israel did not submit to his chosen solution to the Israel-Palestinian crisis.

“Taken in the context of Secretary Kerry’s comments, yesterday’s action by the FAA raises some serious questions.

So apparently the United States has an obligation, at the potential expense of the safety of its own citizens, to promote the security claims of another country in order to protect said country’s tourism industry. Anything less than that is to side with Israel’s enemies, whose bloody hands Obama is already shaking by continuing humanitarian assistance to Gaza.

How much further can Republicans move the goal posts here? Should we become more militantly pro-Israel than the Israelis themselves?

I know this is a sweet spot for conservatives because it pleases a certain type of evangelical Christian activist and projects bloody-minded “strength” without risking a commitment of U.S. troops, since the Israelis really can take care of themselves from a military point of view. And the Palestinians, of course, are the overseas equivalent of those people here, somehow still held to be responsible for 9/11. But if there is a Republican president any time soon, the GOP isn’t doing him or her any favors by mortgaging half its foreign policy to the interests of a single foreign state, however admirable.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, July 24, 2014

July 25, 2014 Posted by | Israel, Palestine, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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