Taking The Holocaust, Nazis etc Out Of The Rhetoric



Daniel Goldman posted an article on Holocaust Remembrance Day about the use of Holocaust terminology and imagery in Israeli political campaigns and rhetoric.

Daniel observes that he has personally been called a "Nazi" several times during the recent contentious Bet Shemesh local election campaigns, mainly by screaming kids. One could add that the Abutbul campaign used Holocaust imagery (barbed wire around some Chareidi kids - illustrating the alleged risks to these children if Eli Cohen were to be elected) in their official ads.

Furthermore, even the most respectable politicians in Israel will use Holocaust references - such as Benjamin Netanyahu in his speeches about the Iranian threat; or this week, in reference to the PLO's agreement with Hamas:

"Hamas denies the Holocaust while trying to bring about a new Holocaust through the destruction of the State of Israel," Netanyahu said at the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting.

Menachem Begin was renowned for using the Holocaust in his political speeches about erstwhile unrelated issues.

Of course, our enemies will try to use Holocaust references in their attempts to condemn Israel's activities and policies.

If an Israeli soldier is heavy-handed, or if Israel takes some military action, then the Palestinians will draw comparison to the Nazis. They could instead, to make the same point, draw comparisons to the hundreds of unpleasant regimes, from the British in India, to the Egyptians in Tahir Square, the Americans in Guantanamo etc, etc. Reaching for the gas-chambers comparison instead, and outrageously applying it specifically to Israel's army, is clearly grossly abusing the memory of the Holocaust.

I still recall my disgust at seeing an animal rights organization's pamphlet on campus in England, protesting the use of shechitah, which had a large cartoon of cows being led to the gas chambers.

At a mundane level, where (arguably) I have some influence, I try to impose a rule in my own home, where politics, religion and other sometimes-heated debates are common-place fare around our family table.

In my home, our rule is that one may not use Holocaust, Nazi etc references in any other context than the Holocaust itself.

Comments

  1. I agree with your sentiments, but I would no not go so far as to ban political debate at the table. I had similar thoughts about the misappropriation of holocaust language.

    http://frumfollies.wordpress.com/2014/04/27/speaking-about-the-holocaust/

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    Replies
    1. Hi Yerachmiel - Thanks for your feedback. I like your article!

      By the way, I most certainly was not advocating "banning political debate at the table"! This would certainly be a lost cause in my family!!

      What I have tried to do is to ban the use of Holocaust analogies, etc, during discussions of OTHER topics (ie any topic which is not the Holocaust itself).

      As you say in your article, reaching for such a debating card, when discussing religion, politics, police actions, army brutality, the Arabs, etc, etc, cheapens the Holocaust, and is by definition a gross exaggeration of whatever one's discussing.

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