Jewish World Review July 29, 2002 / 20 Menachem-Av, 5762

Should Israel go Nazi?

By David D. Perlmutter | Suffering the stones and arrows of blood libel is nothing new to Jews. Butone Big Lie of the modern age has persisted that is especially cruel and destructive--intentionally so, of course--that Israel has behaved like Nazi Germany, and that various Israeli leaders, from Ben Gurion to Sharon, are "another Hitler."

If the simile of evil were spewed only from some crackpot Aryan website, octogenarian Bavarian Nazi, addled Berkeley Stalinist, or obscure Islamic radical, it would be comic. But it is increasingly a mainstream broadcast. It strikes from hundreds of signs at the UN conference on racism in South Africa, to many left and right wing commentary journals, European newspaper opinion and editorial pages, cosmopolitan intellectuals and, of course, from a thousand "respectable" voices in the Arab and Muslim world--including those here in the United States.

The sadism behind such defamations needs no subtle psychoanalysis to explain. But as a war historian, I think the defamation raises a larger question. Israel is increasingly surrounded by enemies better and better armed by American taxpayers and motorists, and soon to wield weapons of mass destruction. As it becomes clear that the ranks of "moderates" in the Arab and Muslim world are pita-thin, and Israelis are repeatedly murdered just for the crime of being living Jews, isn't it time to ask what it would mean if Israel and its leaders had made the slander a reality?

First, a bit of sanity. Ironically, it is the connection between Islam, the Palestinians and the Nazis that is more fertile fodder for conspiracy theorists. Indeed if I were as much of a Palestinian hater as their political and intellectual leaders hate Jews I could make the irrefutable statement that Adolf Hitler was the godfather of the Palestinian people. It was he who gave haven to the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, who in turn learned everything about nationalism from the Third Reich. And didn't Hitler say that Islam was the only religion he respected?

It was the Nazis, too, who raised Muslim Waffen-SS divisions in the Balkans and eastern Europe and trained them with anti-Jewish tracts. It was Nazi-inspired Iraqis who, during the war, enacted a pogrom in Baghdad that killed 100s of Jews in days. Didn't Arab movie audiences react with cackles and clapping at newsreels of the death camps? Is it not the Arabs who have subscribed to their own plan for ethnic cleansing, refusing to accept any Jews living in Hebron as an intolerable provocation? And is not the Arab world successfully judenrein?

In fact, scholars could spend years detailing the exact parallels between Nazi ideology, symbolism, slogans, and racial theory and that of the PLO. And of course, it is our good friends the Egyptians and Saudis who hid Nazi war criminals, worked with the ODESSA, and still keep "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" in print. Didn't the official newspaper of the House of Saud just assure its readers that Jewish women use children's blood for Purim pastries? The average Arab newspaper smells no different than a run of Der Sturmer.

But let's take the original accusation about Israel being like Nazi Germany seriously, and play a deadly game of historical "what if."

If in 1948, 1956, 1967 or 1973 Israel had exterminated every Muslim man, woman, and child who lived between the Sinai and the Jordan, then there would be no Palestinians left to terrorize the Jewish state. Today Israelis would shop, marry, and play unmolested.

And being "Hitlerian", the bloodthirsty Golda Meirs and Begins and Rabins would have been uncompromisingly expansionist. Certainly, Hitler did not believe in surrendering an inch of territory his armies seized. So Israel would not only have blitzed the Sinai and Golan Heights but would have also driven victoriously to Tunis and Basra. Yesterday Gaza, tomorrow the world, right?

Also, a Nazi Israel would make a non-aggression pact with other superpowers and swallow up the inferior states, smash and kill all the inhabitants, and laugh at any concept of peace. A great Jewish empire would sit atop buried mounds of Arab skulls and Persian Gulf oil; in fact, there would be no living Arabs today, rather than the 100 million that seem to have survived on 99% of the land in the Middle East, despite Israeli aggression.

None of this, of course, has happened. Millions of Palestinians live in Israel with a better standard of living and more civil freedoms than their brethren in any Arab nation. The sum total of Israeli genocide is to shoot at terrorists. Indeed, crowds of Arab youths throw stones precisely because they know they will not be rounded up, marched to a pit, and executed. And what of those massive funerals for the Hamas "martyrs," full of young men boasting their willingness to die for their cause? Wouldn't a Nazi/Israeli general drop a nice fat cluster bomb into their shouting mouths?

And of course, a Haifa Hitler would have not failed to use those hydrogen bombs Israel has been building for 30 years--yet, we see no mushroom clouds over Cairo or Baghdad. (In contrast both Syrian and Iranian leaders have vowed that the moment the get the bomb, they will use it on the Jewish state.)

Yes, if Israelis had been Nazis there would be no Palestinian problem and Israel would be a green and pleasant land. Unfortunately Jews seem to have a suicidal moral consciousness even when in positions of power. The Jews did not act like Crusaders, or Jihadists or the SS, and every day they pay a price for their restraint in their own children's blood.

Still I have to warn all those who insist on gleefully calling Israel a Nazi state: one day the Jews may cry to the heavens (or the opposite direction) in exasperation and declare, "If only!" Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.

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JWR contributor David Perlmutter is an associate professor of mass communication at Louisiana State University and a senior fellow at the Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs. He is the author of, among others, Visions of War : Picturing Warfare from the Stone Age to the Cyber Age. Comment by clicking here.

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© 2002, David D. Perlmutter<