Saturday, January 17, 2009

It's not good, but it's not the same

Pat Buchanan links to this photo series equating Israel with the Nazis at Norman Finkelstein's site.

Okay, here's the problem with this sort of equating of wrongs. First of all, the Nazis took populations in their own country and in countries they had conquered, that were peaceful, law-abiding components of those States and societies, and for no reason beyond blind, racist hatred carted them off to death camps after first subjugating them to ghettos, theft of property, etc.

In Israel the situation is bad. Very bad. The treatment of the Palestinians is often inhumane. The checkpoints make life hard on many people. The rocket strikes and incursions are devastating.

The difference, though, is that Israel was warred against numerous times by her neighbors; they suffered through terrorist intifadas that drove them to these security measures; they do their best to minimize civilian casualties and are responsible for providing the Palestinians with a great deal of humanitarian aid. They also do many things that make peace harder to come by, like the ridiculous settlements in the West Bank, the blockade in Gaza, and so forth.

But they are not Nazis, and they are not in the same category or ballpark even, and it is a cruel, awful thing to use propaganda like Finkelstein is using at his site to suggest that they are. There is a moral divide between Israel and Nazi Germany that it will take much, much more to bridge. Their hands aren't clean, to be sure, but they are nowhere near as bloody as Hitler's Germany.

This sort of fear-mongering does nothing to further the debate. It is emotive only, and dismissive of historical circumstance. I am so tired of the fringes of this debate running its course and direction. I am tired of Finkelstein and his bunch of loudmouths, and I am tired of the extremists on the Zionist side as well, who seem so blind to any fault they may actually have in this.

Israel isn't Nazi Germany, and not all Palestinians support terror. Most of the people in this mess are just normal people caught up in decades-old conflict with no end in sight...


Wellsy said...

Comparing Israel with Nazi Germany is foolish, I agree. But will there ever come a time when that comparison is accurate? If Israel were operating on some sort of sliding scale with "Nazi Germany" at one end and "peaceful, non-genocidal" at the other, would the current trend push them one way or another?

I realize things aren't so black and white, but I think what many people are trying to do when they compare Israel to the Nazi regime is take a monster from the Jewish past and show the world that Israel is in the process of becoming that monster. Things don't have to be exactly the same for the atrocities to be just as great.

Killing is killing. It's impossible to measure, but I can imagine that many of the feelings the Jews in the concentration camps felt are also felt by the innocent Palestinians: fear, starvation, anger, depression, confusion, powerlessness, despair. The list goes on. The Nazis made the Jews feel that way and now the Israelis make the Palestinians feel that way. It doesn't matter if its collateral damage or not; it's happening.

E.D. Kain said...

I have a Jewish friend who said that she supports Israel but that she's saddened because now that the Jews are in power, it's made them "ugly" (her words); that Israeli's treat the Palestinians like "niggers" (and she said this not meaning to speak poorly of blacks, but to illustrate that this is how they're treated in Israel, not as equals, but as a sub-citizen). I'd say that's a lot better analogy than the Nazi Germany one. And it hits closer to home.

Max said...

the term 'apartheid' is closer, although even that is simplistic. the problem with these comparisons is that they're never exact, and so the argument immediately devolves into how they are or are not appropriate. they're instant discussion-killers -- i have never once heard a debate over israel made more intelligible or useful through the use of any of these references, which i think gives the lie to wellsy's point. (nb my all but uncontrollable urge, when reading his comment, to point out all the ways that israel is not even close to being on a sliding scale with nazism. but i'll refrain and pretend that i know better.)