The Nazi Slander

Editorial Notebook

Upon being released from his battered compound in Ramallah, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat denounced the Israelis as “terrorists, Nazis and racists.” This remark—equating Israel’s brave defenders with the followers of Hitler—was shockingly offensive, yet it sparked relatively little controversy in the international press. Perhaps, though, this shouldn’t be surprising: Arafat has, after all, historically nurtured an entire generation of Palestinian schoolchildren to hate the people he labels “Judeo-Nazis.”

Autocratic Middle-East leaders and their state-run newspapers, moreover, have been leveling ridiculous charges of Nazism against Israel for years. In 1983, Syrian Defense Minister Mustafa Tlass penned The Matzah of Zion, which propagated the repugnant libel that Jewish families murdered Gentiles and then used their blood to make traditional holiday pastries.

On November 4, 1997, the Syria Times reported that “Israeli labs and institutions are currently completing a shocking research [sic] whose purpose is to pave the way for ‘progress’ which has heretofore never existed in the sphere of racist biology, as planned by Nazi Hitlerism.” These “scientific experiments,” which were being conducted on Arab prisoners in Israeli jails, the paper warned, were comparable to “Nazi crimes against humanity.”

On March 19, 1998, another Syrian daily newspaper, Al-Baath—the official mouthpiece of the ruling al-Baath Arab Socialist Party—cautioned that “…[then Israeli Prime Minister] Netanyahu is following in Hitler’s path.”

For the past two years, the Egyptian press has presented many cartoons depicting Israeli soldiers as grotesque-looking, demonic creatures wearing swastikas on their helmets or armbands. Israeli Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon have been portrayed sporting Hitler-style mustaches, giving the Fuhrer’s infamous one-armed salute and, without fail, proudly displaying a swastika.

Were Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels alive today, he’d surely marvel at such revolting use of falsehoods and misinformation. If the “Big Lie” is told often enough, Goebbels famously explained, people will ultimately accept it as truth. By labeling the Israelis—and Jews in general—as “Nazis,” Islamic ministers, journalists and clerics throughout the Middle East are perpetuating a vicious culture of hatred—hatred that tragically leads, in the case of the Palestinians, to teenagers enlisting as homicide bombers.

Only slightly less reprehensible is the frightening degree of support that many on the American left give to this ludicrous allegation of Nazism against Israel. At a pro-Palestinian rally in Washington, D.C., in mid-April, numerous demonstrators held up posters juxtaposing the Star of David with a swastika, while spouting the far left-wing’s favorite buzzwords: “apartheid,” “genocide,” “holocaust,” “Nazis.” In spewing such disgraceful rhetoric, the “Blame America and Israel First” crowd is needlessly imperiling a democratic nation that is fighting for its very survival.

Still, on this issue of Nazi-slandering there remains one significant difference between America’s Chomsky-ites and the Middle-East terror-mongers: Many Arabs subtly, and some even overtly, commend Hitler’s policies. Sheikh Muhammad al-Gamei’a—a supposedly moderate Muslim cleric who left the Upper East Side to return home to Egypt after Sept. 11—told an Arab interviewer last October that the Jewish people had ridden “on the back of Germany,” but then “Hitler annihilated them because they betrayed him and violated their contract with him.”

Meanwhile, a prominent Egyptian columnist recently wrote, “Thanks [be] to Hitler, of blessed memory, who on behalf of the Palestinians revenged in advance against the most vile criminals on the face of the earth. Although we do have a complaint against him, for his revenge on them was not enough.” And who can forget the headline in Saudi Arabia’s leading state-run newspaper when Israeli agents captured Gestapo henchmen Adolf Eichmann in 1960 (before the 1967 war and the Israeli “occupation” of the West Bank)? The story read: “ARREST OF EICHMANN, WHO HAD THE HONOR OF KILLING SIX MILLION JEWS.”

Thus, the Israelis face virulent hostility from both the Arabs who condemn them as Nazis and from those who privately idolize Hitler’s achievements. Slowly but surely, as Islamic dailies continually refer to Jews as “vampires” and “monkeys,” a sinister brand of neo-fascism is emerging in the Middle East, fueled by lies and unwavering deception. In a most disgusting twist, Joseph Goebbels would be proud.

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