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Holocaust Inversion

“The most common and popular approach to the Holocaust is the attempt to equate Zionism with Nazism. This strategy allows its creators to convey the supposed racism and evil believed to exist at the heart of the Zionist enterprise. It also reverses the role of the Jews in history, transforming their status as victims to that of racist aggressors who now act against a new group of victims – the Palestinians. In this narrative, the Palestinians become the true victims of the Holocaust – the Jews are compensated with their own state and, beginning in 1953, are given billions of dollars in reparations, while the Palestinians suffer displacement and exile for a crime that happened on another continent.”

(Dr Catherine Chatterley: Using The Holocaust Against Israel: Denial, Inversion And The Threat Of Repetition)

Between the 9th of Av in the years 586 BCE and 70 CE (ever since commemorated as Tisha B’Av, the day on which the First and Second Temples were destroyed, the saddest day in the Jewish calendar, which saw the expulsion of the Jews from the Land of Israel); the 9th of Av in 132 CE, when the Romans crushed Bar Kochba’s revolt and in the process massacred 100 000 Jews at Betar; and the mid-20th century, the history of the Jews was an ongoing litany of persecution, oppression and torment.

Century by century, this horror continued.  Cast your minds back to the Middle Ages, when the Jews collectively were held responsible for the killing of Jesus Christ.  During the period of the Crusades, Jews were massacred in their thousands and expelled from many European countries.  They were subjected to violence and infernos, forced to live in ghettos, forced to convert to Christianity, and  accused of every kind of conspiracy.

The Spanish Inquisition was a Roman Catholic tribunal for the discovery and punishment of heresy, punishments including confinement to dungeons, physical abuse and torture.  In 1242, the Inquisition condemned the Talmud and burned thousands of sacred volumes; and 46 years later, the first mass burning of Jews on the stake took place in France, at the same time as Jews in Spain and Portugal were being tortured and driven out of the countries..

In 19th century Russia, Jews were subject to racist laws and were targeted in hundreds of violent anti-Jewish pogroms, forcing millions to flee for their lives.  100 years later, in the mid-20th century, state persecution of Soviet Jews emerged as a major human rights issue in the West.

And then came the tragedy that was the Holocaust, the systematic murder of 6 million Jews, the culmination of the centuries of tyranny, anguish and subjugation. The Holocaust was a cataclysmic disaster, but on its own it was not monstrous enough for an anti-semitic world.  It has given rise to countless Holocaust deniers, who dismiss it as yet another ploy by the Jews to portray themselves as victims.  And it has become the foundation for some of the greatest lies ever perpetrated, this time against Israel. We have mourned and will for all time continue to mourn the decimation of half the Jewish nation in a few short years; we have lived the horrors, but they continue to haunt us; yet still today, so many years later, Holocaust history for those who deny it, who invert it, remains twisted, warped, debased.

In the words again of Dr Catherine Chatterley, ‘If the Holocaust is thought to form the foundation of Israel’s legitimacy on the world stage, and one believes that Israel has no actual historical or moral legitimacy, then one must coordinate one’s attack on that foundation by either denying that the event occurred, or claiming that it has been exaggerated and overemphasized, or that it pales in comparison to other crimes, especially those believed to be committed by Jews themselves.’

What were these lies?  First was Holocaust denial; but now it is Holocaust inversion, framing Israel, where reality is inverted, and where the Israelis are cast as the ‘new’ Nazis and the Palestinians as the ‘new’ Jews.  Now morality too is inverted, and the Holocaust is presented as a moral indictment of the Jews who are accused of having become blind to their own consciences, behaving towards the Palestinians exactly as the Nazis did to them. The victims have become the perpetrators.

Aggressive anti-Israel, and to a lesser extent anti-Jewish, propaganda is its defining raison d’etre.  It focuses on exposing the suffering of the Palestinians under the “cruel and draconian reign of the Israeli government”.  According to historian Deborah Lipstadt – author of Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory – Holocaust inversion or ‘the false equivalencing of Israel and the Nazis  elevates by a factor of a zillion any wrongdoings Israel might have done, and lessens by a factor of a zillion what the Germans did.’

In speeches, in writings and in cartoons, Israelis and Jews are portrayed – by both radical followers of Islam, and by armchair liberals  motivated by a profound sense of the rightness of anti-semitism – as the worst kinds of Nazis. Remember how Zapiro showed Ariel Sharon – the prime minister most often depicted as a Nazi – in Nazi uniform stamping his jackbooted foot on the head of a tiny defenseless Palestinian?  Nazi symbols and even genocidal terminology are used to describe how Israel treats and acts towards the Palestinians.

In fact, probably the most common manifestation of Holocaust inversion comes in the form of cartoons, giving fuel to the adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words”.  It  is not only the Arab media that is replete with abominable Israel = Nazism cartoons: they can be found in papers in Spain, Brazil and Greece, in Italian and French publications, in media in Norway and Sweden.   They range from the Star of David flag morphing into a swastika, to a 1988 Arab cartoon ‘which published a caricature of a soldier with a gun, kippa, and long nose shoving a child into a furnace. The image alluded to both the Shoah and the ancient anti-Semitic blood libel that Jews use children to bake matzo’ – this according to Dr Manfred Gerstenfeld, in his 2007 piece, “Holocaust Inversion: The Portraying of Israel and Jews as Nazis”. 

( And these are merely the tip of a very large iceberg.

Why?  What possible reasons could there be for such distortion of history?  For tarnishing the greatest tragedy of the 20th century and turning it into a travesty?

The answer? To demonise, delegitimise and ultimately destroy Israel and in time the Jewish people.  There may be other reasons, less overt and perhaps more subliminal, but Islam and the Arab world (certainly much of it) cannot countenance a Jewish state in their midst, or in fact a Jewish state existing anywhere in the world; so voila!  Solution!  Demonise it, destroy its credibility, compare its actions to those of the worst oppressors in history, and eventually it will cease to exist.  Convenient and easy. The demise of the world’s pariah.

At a Conference of Holocaust deniers and minimisers in Tehran in December 2006, then-Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said, ‘If the official version of the Holocaust is thrown into doubt, then the identity and nature of Israel will be thrown into doubt.’  His words were, and still are, heeded by millions.

Those in the West who attempt to assuage their guilt at having tacitly endorsed the Holocaust, justify their malicious identification of Israelis with Nazis through distorted   rationalization.  Intellectually they may know that anti-semitism is ugly: emotionally, however, their guilt is wiped away with their categorical belief that the Jews are in truth bad, they are behaving like the Nazis, and therefore any sympathy for their plight is completely misguided.

Wrote Dr Gerstenfeld, ‘During the postwar era, the Nazi regime has become the paradigm for absolute evil. Comparing Israel’s conduct to its actions is a new mutation of this ancient theme.’  Welcome to the latest manifestation of 21st century anti-semitism.

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