The Holocaust as a Pretext for Annexation

JVL Introduction

We need to be grateful to Israeli Zionists like Zeev Sternhell who say truths for which any member of the Labour Party in Britain might find themselves on a fast track to expulsion.

Sternhell pulls no punches. The Trump Plan “was leaked just as the memorial ceremony of the World Holocaust Forum was taking place at Yad Vashem. It’s hard to conceive of a more cynical combination: In Jerusalem, anti-Semitism was used to silence the expected worldwide opposition to the annexation plan.”

Furthermore: “Likud’s Israel has branded denial of the occupation and the apartheid in the territories as anti-Zionist and then equated this anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.” He see this as “the epitome of the cynical and shameful exploitation of the Holocaust and anti-Semitism for the Israeli government’s political needs”.

A Polish-born Israeli who survived the Holocaust as a young child, Sternhell is a historian, political scientist and writer. Formerly head of the Department of Political Science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, he is one of the world’s leading experts on fascism.

 

This article was originally published by Haaretz on Fri 31 Jan 2020. Read the original here.

The Holocaust as a Pretext for Annexation

The joint operation by Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu to grant American legitimacy to the annexation of Palestinian territories was leaked just as the memorial ceremony of the World Holocaust Forum was taking place at Yad Vashem. It’s hard to conceive of a more cynical combination: In Jerusalem, anti-Semitism was used to silence the expected worldwide opposition to the annexation plan.

And thus the anti-Semitism that brought catastrophe upon the Jewish people was turned into a cynical and shameless political tool by Israel. Jerusalem turned anti-Semitism into the ultimate weapon against any call for the removal of even a few Jews from the West Bank and against the idea of dividing the land fairly. To the nationalists, any policy that doesn’t completely mesh with the Israeli interest as they see it is tantamount to anti-Semitism.

The talent of Netanyahu and his minions for using the Holocaust and anti-Semitism as a currency requires no further proof, and Europe’s cowardice and inability to stand up to the Israeli right’s blackmail is also notorious. Likud’s Israel has branded denial of the occupation and the apartheid in the territories as anti-Zionist and then equated this anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. Europe is, justifiably, racked with guilt feelings toward the Jews; this account will never be closed, but it still doesn’t justify Europe’s forgiving attitude toward Jewish-Israeli nationalism and racism.

Paradoxically, this forgiving stance also ends up amounting to active support for the destruction of Israel as a liberal, democratic and Jewish society. Every reasonable person understands that annexation without equal rights for Palestinians means the establishment of a new apartheid state – creating such a reality isn’t exactly one of the EU’s reasons for being. Who in Western Europe is willing to lend patronage to this act and let the Jewish nationalists exploit the unforgivable past to entirely drain Jewish nationalism of any drop of liberal values?

Beyond all the discussion on what constitutes the religious and national Jewish identity, Zionism was an answer to European anti-Semitism and one solution to the oppression of the Jews and the mortal danger they were in. Escape to the New World was the favored solution for 90 percent of those who fled Europe before the gates of the United States were closed in the early 1920s.

The Zionist solution proved itself because all other doors were locked, and after the Holocaust it gained worldwide legitimacy. But now the nationalist right is trying to expand this legitimacy for freedom and independence to include occupation and annexation. This is the epitome of the cynical and shameful exploitation of the Holocaust and anti-Semitism for the Israeli government’s political needs.

Now comes the question: How to make the liberal world understand that there is no connection between anti-Semitism and savage criticism of the occupation and annexation, or of other aspects of Israeli policy in the territories?

The German president expressed remorse in a way that inspires respect. Under the leadership of Chancellor Angela Merkel, his country absorbed a million non-Christian and non-European refugees in an attempt to show that it is free of racism. But Germany and France, which has its own anti-Semitism issues, act like they’re afraid of their own shadows when touching on the sensitive nerve of criticism of Israel.

The right’s propaganda has managed to convince many of the best West European liberals that such criticism amounts to opposition to Zionism, which amounts to denying Israel’s right to exist – and therefore amounts to anti-Semitism. This is a total lie, and Israelis should be the first to shout this truth from the rooftops.

 

Comments (9)

  • Alasdair MacVarish says:

    yes, quite shameful mobilisation of the holocaust industry to carry on the colonial project which has been criminal from the outset over the last century.

  • Sarah Perrigo says:

    Is there a way of getting the guardian to publish this. It is so powerful.or am I being naive?

  • JanP says:

    Well done JVL for helping to expose the false accusations of antisemitism for what they are. The key difference between the anti apartheid campaign and the campaign for Palestinian rights is the pole-axing use of feelings of guilt about the Holocaust. Emotional blackmail in other terms. It brings shame to honest thinking Jewish people, plus increased danger to everyone and, even if it takes over the whole of Palestine, Israel will never, ever, rest in peace.

  • RH says:

    In answer to Sarah Perrigo –

    I’m afraid it is indeed over-optimistic to expect the Guardian to publish such as this.

    Although the paper will publish accurate stories about Palestine, it shrinks from confrontation with the Israel Lobby. How much is actual complicity and how much is fear, it’s hard to say – both operate amongst the ‘liberal’ press (see the New Statesman’s and Private Eye’s acceptance of the confected ‘antisemitism’ myths – as well as the BBC.)

    At best, there is a degree of schizophrenia regarding the paper’s ‘fearless journalism’, and complicity was certainly also there in the constant traducing of Corbyn on a political basis. You will note amongst Guardian journalists (as far as I’ve detected) a total acceptance of the Labour/antisemitism myths and absolutely *no* examination of the telling contrary evidence.

    Even 10-12 years ago, (i.e before the current crisis of media honesty) the activity of the Israel Lobby, and the fear engendered, was well known, and detailed by, for instance, Peter Oborne in a ‘Dispatches’ documentary and Nick Davies in his book ‘Flat Earth News’.

    Bottom line : even when their is no obvious complicity, editors and journalists are scared witless by The Lobby and won’t touch stories that highlight venality on the part of Israel. Get close enough, and you’ll see this fear in operation, and fear breeds dishonesty.

    Of course, this took on a further dimension in the recent election and with the alliance with the wider right – but that has only strengthened the stranglehold.

  • Teresa Steele says:

    Thank you for continuing to deliver the information necessary that actually helps when combating Fascism. We can only stick to the truth, to facts and hope that one day anti Semitism is no longer weaponised in a way that demeans the unimaginable crimes that were committed in the Holocaust.

  • Billie Dale Wakefield says:

    There is a solution, the Israeli settlers can choose to stay in an independent Palestine subject to Palestinian law makers, or return to Israel.

  • George Wilmers says:

    Readers: please post a link to this on every possible mendacious mainstream media and JLM/BOD/CAA propaganda site in order to shame them with a dose of reality, and to highlight the irony that the coalition of the UK’s corporate neoliberal and ethnonationalist media collaborators have so far been more successful at censoring the UK media than Netanyahu himself has been at censoring the media of the Israeli apartheid state.

  • christina evans says:

    It does Israel no favours that nobody is allowed to say anything non positive. It is unrealistic to think any government are perfect. It is a dangerous precedent if people can not say what they think is wrong. We are all human beings and everyone should treat people the way they them selves would like to be treated. It will all come to a head soon and hopefully Israel will treat the Palestinians with friendship .

  • Jennifer Hobson says:

    @ RH; I used to subscribe to the Grun. After the terrible way they treated Corbyn I stopped my subscription and came to understand just how “establishment” they really are. Yes, some fine journalists work there, but overall, only just on the political left. I’ve just bought a copy of Finkelstein’s ‘The Holocaust Industry’, which I have known about for years, but have always ignored, is now going to be read voraciously.

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