ISRAEL AS A NAZI STATE: MAJOR HOLOCAUST INVERSION IN EUROPE
By Dr.Manfred Gerstenfeld
The widespread anti-Semitism in Europe is coming increasingly in the open. The more it develops, the more Israel is accused by hatemongers or by using double standards against it. For many, Europeans this is a necessity in order to whitewash both the continent’s past and present. For some it serves to specifically cover their ancestors’ crimes.
The classic core theme of anti-Semitism is that Jews embody absolute evil. This extremely false accusation has been propagated intensely for many centuries and has lead to major discrimination, murders, pogroms, and the Holocaust. The notion of what absolute evil is has mutated over the centuries as cultures evolved. In contemporary Western societies, the main perception of absolute evil is behaving like the Nazis, or committing genocide.
The massive presence of anti-Semites in the world leads regularly to accusations that Israel acts toward the Palestinians like the German Nazis and their allies behaved toward the Jews. I have coined for this severely dangerous hate motif the expression Holocaust inversion.1 Far-reaching anti-Israel hate mongering is strongest in many parts of the Arab and Muslim world. However surprising, Holocaust inversion there is often combined with Holocaust denial.2
A number of studies concerning several European countries show that Holocaust inversion is a mainstream phenomenon in the European Union. This has been the case already for many years. Germany is the country where there are most studies available concerning this topic. All these studies demonstrate the presence of large numbers of Holocaust inverters.
A study by the German Social Democratic Friedrich Ebert Foundation published in 2015 found that in September 2014, 27% of Germans agreed with the statement that “What Israel does today toward the Palestinians is no different than what the Nazis did toward the Jews.” A second similar question was also asked – “Do you agree with the statement that Israel conducts a war of extermination against the Palestinians?” About 40% of Germans polled agreed with this statement.3
This year the Bertelsmann foundation published a study which showed that 41% of the Germans polled agreed with the statement that “How the state of Israel behaves today toward the Palestinians is in principle not different from what the Nazis in the Third Reich did with the Jews.” The underlying poll was carried out by TNS in 2013.4
Other earlier studies show that there may be a declining trend of Holocaust inversion, yet the figures remain extremely high. A study published in 2011 by the University of Bielefeld was carried out as well on behalf of the Ebert Foundation. It was undertaken in seven European countries. Researchers polled one thousand people per country over the age of sixteen in fall 2008.
One of the questions asked was whether they agreed with the assertion that Israel is carrying out a war of extermination against the Palestinians. The lowest percentages of those who agreed were in Italy and the Netherlands, with 38% and 39% respectively. Other percentages were: Hungary 41%, United Kingdom 42%, Germany 48%, and Portugal 49%. In Poland the figure was 63%.5
If one extrapolates these figures to the entire European Union one can conclude that out of its 400 million citizens of sixteen years and older 150 million embrace a demonic view of Israel. Those who answered in the affirmative expressed deeply anti-Semitic views.
In the first years of this century the University of Bielefeld undertook a similar study, this one relating to Germany only. More than 2,500 people there were asked whether they agreed with the statement: “What the state of Israel does today to the Palestinians is in principle no different from what the Nazis did to the Jews in the Third Reich.” Fifty-one percent answered in the affirmative. Sixty-eight percent agreed that: “Israel undertakes a war of destruction against the Palestinians.”6
A few leading European politicians have compared Israelis to Nazis. One finds senior social democratic politicians among them, such as French President Francois Mitterrand,7 Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme8 and Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou.9
There are many other extreme cases of demonization of Israel in Germany. For example the German Holocaust foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility, Future” (EVZ) is meant to educate about the Holocaust. It has however also used public funds to finance extreme hatred of Israel. It provided more than 20,000 euros for a 2010-2011 student-exchange program. Participants included an East German high school and an Israeli Arab school. Project organizers published a brochure that demonized Israel and compared it to the former communist East German state.
The same agency financed a program for the Anne Frank School in Gutersloh that hosted a Dutch Jewish Holocaust survivor and known anti-Israel hatemonger, Hajo Meyer. There, Meyer equated the suffering of the Palestinians with the persecution and mass murder of Jews in the Holocaust. He also termed Israel a “criminal state.”10 Leon de Winter, a best-selling Jewish Dutch novelist, said that Meyer suffers from extreme “survival guilt.” He added that all Israel-bashing groups love Meyer because of the combination of his being a Jew and a Holocaust survivor.11
There is an additional vile dimension to the European Holocaust inversion, because behavior and ideology similar to that of the Nazis is widespread nowadays. Important movements with ideological genocidal programs similar to those of the Nazis can be found in the Muslim world. They are based on their interpretations of the Koran. Among these Islamo-Nazi movements are Hamas, Al Qaeda, ISIS, Hezbollah, the Taliban, Boko Haram, al-Shabaab as well as others. The word Islamo-Nazism is however rarely used by European politicians and media.
There remains a final question. The Israeli government almost entirely ignores the Holocaust inversion in Europe. I have pointed this it out over the past few years to various high ranking officials. They listen politely but these conversation are never followed up by actions.
1 For more details see: Manfred Gerstenfeld, The Abuse of Holocaust Memory: Distortions and Responses (Jerusalem: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 2009), 101-115. Second edition available for free at: http://jcpa.org/book/the-abuse-of-holocaust-memory-distortions-and-responses.
2 Goetz Nordbruch, “The Socio-Historical Background of Holocaust Denial in Arab
Countries: Reactions to Roger Garaudy’s The Founding Myths of Israeli Politics,”
ACTA, 17 (Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2001), 9
6 Aribert Heyder, Julia Iser, and Peter Schmidt, “Israelkritik oder Antisemitismus? Meinungsbildung zwischen Öffentlichkeit, Medien und Tabus,” in Wilhelm Heitmeyer, ed., Deutsche Zustände (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2005), 144ff. (German). GMF stands for Gruppenbezogene Menschenfeindlichkeit (Group-Targeted Misanthropy).
7 “Begin Hints that Mitterrand Remark Paved way for Terrorists’ Attack,” The New York Times, 11 August 1982.
8 Per Ahlmark, “Palme’s Legacy 15 Years On,” Project Syndicate, February 2001.
9 “Israelis Assail Greek Leader for Likening them to Nazis,” The New York Times, 26 June 1982.
10 Benjamin Weinthal, “German Program Uses Shoah Funds to Play Down Holocaust,” Jerusalem Post, October 14, 2011.
11 Benjamin Weinthal, “Germans Use ‘Anti-Israel’ Jews to Soothe Holocaust Guilt,” Jerusalem Post, October 16, 2011.