The Spectator’s Auschwitz-Jenin Parallel

Elie Wiesel addresses the UN
General Assembly on Monday

On Monday (Jan. 24), the United Nations and European leaders marked the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camps, testifying to that greatest crime in human history ? the industrial murder of 6 million Jews.

While much of the British media (including BBC) provided helpful educational material on the Holocaust, The (London) Spectator ran an article by Anthony Lipmann, who declared that on this day

I will think not just of the crematoria and the cattle trucks but of Darfur, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Jenin, Fallujah.

‘Jenin’?! Lipmann suggests some comparison between Auschwitz and Jenin ? where less than sixty Palestinians (the majority armed combatants) were killed in an IDF counter-terrorism raid in 2002. Columnist Mark Steyn was outraged that ‘to Lipmann, those 52-56 dead Palestinians weigh in the scales of history as heavy as six million Jews.’

Lipmann, an Anglican whose Jewish mother survived Auschwitz, goes on to make his Nazi-Israel comparison even clearer:

“What would I have done?” I ask myself. “What should I be doing now? What am I doing for those being persecuted today – among them the Palestinians, who are suffering at the hands of Jews? But for a turn of fate, could I have been a Nazi too?… This little band of 600 [Holocaust survivors attending a reception hosted by the Queen] has a terrible responsibility – to live well in the name of those who did not live and to discourage the building of walls and bulldozing of villages.

One would think that the Holocaust anniversary would compel all British media to promote understanding for a secure State of Israel, defending Jews from those who would perpetrate another extermination campaign. Yet The Spectator chose, on this of all dates, to suggest the IDF are modern-day Nazi storm troopers. Says Melanie Phillips:

To imply that the Jews have turned into Nazis in the Middle East does two things. It tells a wicked lie about that tragic impasse, reversing who is victim and who is victimiser. It is the Palestinians who have a programme to eradicate the Jewish state and ethnically cleanse the Jews from the land, as the Arabs have been trying to do for the past 100 years. Israel is merely defending itself…

And of course the second thing Lipmann does through this travesty is to minimise the Holocaust itself and the crimes of the actual Nazis, and thus to betray the memory of those who died.

The Spectator, the oldest continuously published magazine in the English language (since 1828), should have exercised better editorial judgment on this historic occasion.

Comments to The Spectator:

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Anti-Semitic arson at a London
synogogue, June 2004

In a related matter, a disturbing new Israeli government report finds that violent attacks on Jews in Britain rose by nearly half last year, and the total number of anti-Semitic incidents in the UK rose nearly 100% from 2003.

Minister Natan Sharansky holds the British media directly responsible, stating that ‘years of hostile reporting and commentary about Israel in the British press… likening Israel to a Nazi state… are now spilling into the streets.’ A Sharansky aide said:

You can’t brainwash people for four years that Israel is an illegitimate country and that Israelis are like the Nazis and that Israelis are monsters and expect that nothing will happen to Jews.

In western democracies, the media is the largest contributing factor in shaping public opinion. Given this, HonestReporting has long contended that media bias limits Israel’s diplomatic leeway to fight terrorism. This latest report indicates that the impact of media bias against Israel extends far beyond Israel’s borders.

Thank you for your ongoing involvement in the battle against media bias.