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August 26, 2015 0

Holocaust Analogies Continue To Taint Discourse On Wide Range Of Issues

The charged polit­i­cal debates over issues rang­ing from Iran to abor­tion con­tinue to be tainted by inap­pro­pri­ate invo­ca­tions of Hitler, Nazis, and gen­eral Holo­caust imagery.huckabee-israel-holocaust-oven-tweet-twitter

These mis­placed and offen­sive com­par­isons, made by politi­cians, pun­dits, and oth­er pub­lic fig­ures,  triv­i­al­ize this unique tragedy in human his­tory.  They not only rely on his­tor­i­cally incor­rect premises and exag­ger­a­tions, but also deflect atten­tion away from impor­tant national discussions.

For exam­ple, U.S. Sen­a­tor and Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Ted Cruz recently sent let­ters to pas­tors through­out the U.S. to encour­age them to speak out against Planned Par­ent­hood, claim­ing that abor­tion rep­re­sents an “ongo­ing holo­caust.” Of course, invok­ing the Holo­caust in the dis­cus­sions on abor­tion is noth­ing new.

The Iran deal is also an area where offen­sive Holo­caust analo­gies have been increas­ingly crop­ping up. On July 26, for exam­ple, Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Mike Huck­abee stated in an inter­view that Pres­i­dent Obama’s poli­cies on Iran will “take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.” Huckabee’s cam­paign also high­lighted this inap­pro­pri­ate com­par­i­son in a graphic on Twitter.

The analo­gies are not only used by politi­cians.  In a sign of how our pub­lic dis­course has coars­ened, crit­ics of pub­lic offi­cials also invoke Nazi analo­gies.  When New York Con­gress­man Jer­rold Nadler pub­licly sup­ported the pro­posed agree­ment on Iran, he report­edly was swamped with hate­ful mes­sages on social media.  One com­men­ta­tor referred to him as a “kappo,” a ref­er­ence to Jews who worked for the Nazis in con­cen­tra­tion camps.  curt-schilling-muslims-hitler-tweet-twitter

The Holo­caust com­par­isons are not lim­ited to the polit­i­cal world either. On August 25, ESPN “Sun­day Night Base­ball” ana­lyst and for­mer major league pitcher Curt Schilling shared a post on Twit­ter that com­pared extrem­ist Mus­lims to Nazis. The tweet sug­gested that a sim­i­lar per­cent­age of Mus­lims are extrem­ists as Ger­mans were Nazis. It also included an image of Hitler.

Such inap­pro­pri­ate Holo­caust ref­er­ences seem to sur­face around almost any con­tro­ver­sial issue. For exam­ple, dur­ing the charged polit­i­cal debate over gun con­trol in the after­math of the Sandy Hook Ele­men­tary School shoot­ing, there was a flurry of inap­pro­pri­ate invo­ca­tions of Hitler, Nazis, and gen­eral Holo­caust imagery by pub­lic fig­ures.  Oppo­si­tion to Pres­i­dent Obama’s Afford­able Care Act engen­dered sim­i­larly offen­sive comparisons.

Pub­lic dis­course today is seri­ously lack­ing in civil­ity and respect for dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives on impor­tant issues.  One unfor­tu­nate exam­ple of this lack of civil­ity is repeated inap­pro­pri­ate ref­er­ences to the Holo­caust.  It is long past time for pub­lic offi­cials and pub­lic offi­cials to stop invok­ing the Holo­caust in an effort to score polit­i­cal points.

* As a 501(c )(3) non-profit orga­ni­za­tion, the Anti-Defamation League does not sup­port or oppose can­di­dates for polit­i­cal office.

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August 19, 2015 1

Holocaust Comparisons in Arab Media Examination of the Horrifying Death of a Palestinian Child

There has been intense focus on the reac­tions within Israeli soci­ety fol­low­ing the hor­rific attack on two houses in the West Bank vil­lage of Duma, result­ing in the death of tod­dler Ali Dawab­sheh, the sub­se­quent death of his father, Saed and the wound­ing of his brother and mother.  The appar­ent price tag attack, per­pe­trated by extrem­ist Israeli Jews, has led to much soul search­ing among pub­lic Israeli polit­i­cal and reli­gious fig­ures, and among the pop­u­la­tion at large.

The Arab world also paid close atten­tion to this heinous inci­dent.  And, not sur­pris­ingly, many char­ac­ter­ized the inci­dent as merely part of Israel’s long his­tory of crimes against the Pales­tini­ans (such as the burn­ing of Mohammed Abu Khdeir by Jews in July of 2014), or have claimed that PM Netanyahu is per­son­ally respon­si­ble for the toddler’s death, and this attack reflected Israel’s cul­ture of hate.

Some in the Arab world used Nazi imagery and Holo­caust com­par­isons, includ­ing equat­ing PM Netanyahu to Hitler and the burn­ing of the infant to the Holo­caust; and claimed that Israel has not only adopted Nazi prac­tices, but it has focused them on Pales­tin­ian children.

One car­toon, for exam­ple, appear­ing both in Gaza’s Filastin news­pa­per (Aug. 2) and cir­cu­lated on Twit­ter, shows Israeli PM Netanyahu per­form­ing a Nazi Salute with the burn­ing baby in the back­drop, fram­ing the attack as no less than a “Holocaust”.

Another, pub­lished in Saudi Arabia’s Al-Watan news­pa­per (Aug. 3) shows the arm of an ultra-orthodox Jew form­ing a swastika while hold­ing a Molo­tov cocktail.

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The cartoon’s head­line: “The crime of burn­ing the Pales­tin­ian infant.”

The use of such com­par­isons sim­i­larly appears in opin­ion pieces in the Arab press. “No one can deny that the Nazis are mur­der­ers and that they per­pe­trated the crime of the Holo­caust, which inno­cent Jews, some say mil­lions, fell vic­tim to.”, said one arti­cle in Jordan’s Ar-Rai news­pa­per (August 2), which went on to par­al­lel the attack with those per­pe­trated by the Nazis, even draw­ing on the Torah. “But more crim­i­nal than them is the vic­tim who imi­tated the mur­derer and who didn’t learn the lessons of his­tory: instead of react­ing to what Hitler and his gang did by treat­ing with tol­er­ance and peace­ful coex­is­tence the peo­ple whose land it force­fully occu­pied – it resorted to the same Nazi meth­ods. There­fore, this crim­i­nal who killed the Pales­tin­ian infant, burned his family’s home and gravely wounded them, con­sid­ers him­self to be a Torah “hero”…”.

The cartoon’s headline: “After the burning of the Palestinian infant Ali Dawabsheh to death”.

The cartoon’s head­line: “After the burn­ing of the Pales­tin­ian infant Ali Dawab­sheh to death”.

Other such arti­cles charged that Israel not only uses Nazi meth­ods, but it specif­i­cally focuses on Pales­tin­ian chil­dren in apply­ing them. An Egypt­ian daily (Al-Yawm As-Sabi, August 1) argued this is com­mon for Israel,  writ­ing:  “The crime of burn­ing a Pales­tin­ian infant at the hand of Israeli set­tlers yes­ter­day, Fri­day, in south­ern Nablus in the occu­pied West Bank – wasn’t the first against Pales­tine. Surely it won’t be the last, since offi­cial doc­u­ments and sta­tis­tics indi­cate that Israel is an entity which has made a habit of tar­get­ing chil­dren in every form, includ­ing the use of fire. This brings back to mind the Nazi party’s crimes known as the Holocaust.”

Another arti­cle sim­ply refers to a “Holo­caust of the chil­dren of Pales­tine”: “On Fri­day, at exactly 2:30 am, took place in Duma vil­lage south of Nablus the most loath­some crime since the burn­ing of the mar­tyr Mohammed Abu Khdeir ..… the vil­lage insisted on bid­ding farewell to another mar­tyr, the village’s mar­tyr, 18 month old Ai Saad Dawab­sheh. He was burned by set­tlers in cold blood, before the eyes and ears of the world, who stood silently in the face of the Holo­caust of the chil­dren of Pales­tine…” (August 3, Filastin, Gaza).

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April 16, 2015 3

Yom Hashoah: The Renewed Importance of Remembering

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Holo­caust Remem­brance Day is com­mem­o­rated each year a week after the end of the Passover hol­i­day, a day when the world pauses  to remem­ber the Holo­caust, the mil­lions who died and those who lived on, many to tell their sto­ries to a gen­er­a­tion born more than half a cen­tury later. To the younger among us, the Holo­caust can feel like ancient his­tory. Why is it impor­tant that we remem­ber? And why do we con­tinue to utter the man­date of Never Again, when the real­ity is that geno­cide has occurred again and again in parts of the world today.

It is often said that our youngest gen­er­a­tion will be the last to meet and hear sur­vivors tell their own sto­ries, and those that have this priv­i­lege are unlikely to ever for­get it. There are impor­tant lessons to be learned from sur­vivors’ words and expe­ri­ences, lessons that still have rel­e­vance to stu­dents’ lives today. One impor­tant les­son is about the ten­dency of hate to esca­late when it is unchecked.  When we wit­ness every­day acts of insen­si­tiv­ity, bias or intol­er­ance, it’s easy to turn our backs and walk away, to avoid get­ting involved. Many did just that in Europe sev­enty years ago, and that sub­tle bias was able to grow and fes­ter like a can­cer.  A wise per­son once reminded us that the Holo­caust did not begin at the gates of con­cen­tra­tion camps. It began with words – words that grew into prej­u­dice and then acts of dis­crim­i­na­tion and bias-motivated vio­lence and finally genocide.

We remem­ber the Holo­caust because of our hope that the world will never go through dark­ness as deep as that, but also because we know that the mil­lions who did not sur­vive to tell their sto­ries took with them a world of lost pos­si­bil­i­ties. They would want to know that they were not for­got­ten. And because today’s youth will be the last to hear sur­vivors speak in per­son, there is a renewed impor­tance to find­ing new ways to keep their sto­ries alive.

But how do we do that?  And how do we inspire in one another the moti­va­tion to make Never Again the real­ity the world longs for?  We can begin by tak­ing a moment wher­ever we are to remem­ber those who died. We can be wit­nesses who carry on the sto­ries we have heard to oth­ers.  We can ensure that stu­dents today have oppor­tu­ni­ties to reflect on the lessons of the Holo­caust and to hear the sto­ries of sur­vivors, resisters and res­cuers.  And we can take the time to stop and take a stand against the insen­si­tive, biased and intol­er­ant words and acts that hap­pen around us. Work­ing together, we may even turn the hope of Never Again into a global reality.

Yom Hashoah will be observed on the fol­low­ing dates:

Thurs­day, April 16, 2015 Thurs­day, May 5, 2016 Mon­day, April 24, 2017 Thurs­day, April 12, 2018

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