- Emphasis mine:
- Israel: Will Nazism Comparisons Trigger Soul-Searching?
by JONATHAN COOK, http://www.jonathan-cook.net/
Remarks comparing Israel to Nazi Germany reflect fears over growing fault line within Israeli politics and the military
Al-Jazeera – 9 May 2016
There is no bigger taboo in Israel than comparing the state of Israel to Nazi Germany. And yet that is precisely what Yair Golan, the deputy head of the Israeli military, did last week during a speech to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.
“If there’s something that frightens me about Holocaust remembrance, it’s the recognition of the revolting processes that occurred in Europe – and particularly in Germany – 70, 80 and 90 years ago, and finding signs of them here among us today in 2016.” Golan called for “national soul-searching”, adding: “There is nothing easier than hating the stranger, nothing easier than to stir fears and intimidate. There is nothing easier than to behave like an animal and to act sanctimoniously.”
It was a moment of extreme self-recrimination rare among Israel’s political and military leadership. The political backlash was not long coming. The same day Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, demanded a retraction in an angry telephone call to Moshe Yaalon, the defence minister.
Golan dutifully backtracked, with a “clarification” that equating Israel and Nazi Germany was “absurd and baseless”, and that he had not intended to “criticise the political leadership”.
Though extremely uncommon, such comparisons have been made before by Israeli public figures, though never before by someone of Golan’s standing. Shortly after the occupation began in 1967, the late Professor Yeshayahu Leibowitz, a renowned scientist and philosopher, began warning that Israel was in danger of succumbing to what he termed “Judeo-Nazism”.
A similar argument has been made by Avraham Burg, a former Speaker of the Israeli parliament. In the words of a prominent critic, his 2007 book Defeating Hitler argues that “Israel has no moral core and has become a brutal Sparta, fast sliding towards Nazism”.
And only last month Haneen Zoabi, a politician from Israel’s large Palestinian minority, rejected an invitation to a Holocaust Memorial Day event, noting “alarming similarities” between Israel and Nazi Germany in the 1930s.
Despite the outrage in Israel that greeted Golan, Burg and Zoabi’s remarks, none went so far as to suggest that Israel is committing a Nazi-style genocide of the Palestinians. They referred instead to Germany in the 1930s, when the Nazis came to power and started creating a structure of racist laws. This period was a prelude to the Holocaust, which began several years later.
Golan has found some very limited support. An editorial in Israel’s leading liberal newspaper, Haaretz, “saluted” him for his “brave words”. It added: “One of the most important lessons of the Holocaust was ignoring the early signs that brought the Nazi regime to where it ended up.”