Following the recent 22-day conflict between Israel and Hamas, anti-Israel proponents – in politics, the UN, Hamas, trade unions, academia, and in the media - have drawn spurious comparisons of the situation of Palestinians in Gaza to that of Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II.
The reason the Warsaw Ghetto analogy is used is to trump up libelous claims that Jews who were once the victims of the Nazis during the Holocaust are now the victimizers carrying out the genocide of Palestinians. It should be noted that comparisons of Israeli policy and actions to Nazism fit the European Union’s and U.S. State Department’s working definition of anti-Semitism.
Vancouver-based “alternative” magazine Adbusters, which bills itself as an “anti-consumerist” publication, recently made this comparison in its May/June edition. A prominent 6-page report (click here to view it in PDF format) by Saeed David Mohammed, mockingly titled “Never Again,” featured nine large photographs juxtaposing gruesome images of the Warsaw Ghetto with images of Gaza in a feeble attempt to demonstrate similarities.
The grotesque and misleading photo montage, along with the article, lacked the necessary context required. For example, one photograph contrasted dead members of the Jewish resistance executed by the SS in the Warsaw Ghetto with unknown Palestinian prisoners wounded after an Israeli airstrike in Gaza in late December. Other photos showed dead bodies outside of a Hamas “police headquarters” compared to bodies of Jewish policemen executed in the Ghetto uprising.
[Click on the image below to view in greater detail]
Comparing any event with the actions of Nazi Germany during World War II should never be done lightly. When events lend themselves to such comparisons, however, it can almost certainly be said that something is very wrong. Though the stated goal of Israel has never been the complete destruction of the Palestinian people, the tactics and policies supported by the state of Israel paint an extremely grim picture.
Contrary to Mohammed’s pernicious thesis, 1943 Warsaw is nothing like 2009 Gaza for the following reasons:
1) Ha’aretz’s Bradley Burston notes that this comparison:
… denies and diminishes and exploits the Holocaust, does disrespect to Holocaust victims and survivors alike, alleviates European guilt over complicity with the Nazis, alleviates American guilt over inaction in the face of the annihilation machine, misrepresents both the cruel reality of the Gaza Strip and the cruel reality of the ghetto, dismisses the humanity and the vulnerability of the million Israeli Jews and Arabs within rocket range, and ignores completely the role of Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees, and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, in having sent thousands and thousands and thousands of rockets and mortars into Israel.
2) As Eamonn McDonagh expounds on the Z-Word blog:
The Jews in the Ghetto didnt have their very own international aid organization to provide for their basic needs and there was no Jewish political entity down the road which enjoyed a limited measure of peace and prosperity despite being occupied by Germany. No Jewish organization had ever sworn to destroy Germany and turn it into a Jewish state. No Jewish organization had ever fired thousands of rockets at Germany towns and cities. No Jewish organization had sent suicide bombers into Germany and slaughtered hundreds of Germans while they went about their lawful business.
3) According to Middle East historian Mark LeVine on the Al Jazeera website:
Gaza is not the Warsaw Ghetto. Even after the latest war, Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank remain rooted to the soil, not buried beneath it.
The Warsaw Ghetto was used by the Nazis to confine Jews into the smallest possible space, eventually in preparation for their ultimate extermination – which became official Nazi policy within a year of the ghetto’s creation. Out of an initial population of over 400,000 Jews, 100,000 had died of disease and starvation by the time the uprising began in 1943. To be comparable, by 2007 over 300,000 Gazans would have to have died from similar causes.
This isn’t the first time Adbusters has been in hot water. In 2004 the magazine was accused of anti-Semitism for featuring an article entitled “Why won’t anyone say they are Jewish?” that identified supporters of the Bush Administration and the Iraq war as Jewish. A list of fifty prominent “neo-conservatives” was presented, half of which featured dots next to names of those who are Jewish.
Adbusters’ and Mohammed’s highly charged Gaza/Warsaw Ghetto comparisons are odious and do not hold up to scrutiny. As Deborah Lipstadt, Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies at the Institute for Jewish Studies at Emory University notes, comparing “Jews to Nazis is not only ill-informed, it demonstrates a certain prejudice anti-Semitism which will never help resolve the situation. Whatever one thinks of Israeli policy, to describe it as akin to the Nazi policy of murdering all of European Jewry is to engage in anti-Semitism and a form of Holocaust denial.”
This communique was adapted from HonestReporting Canada. Click on the image below to find out more and subscribe.