Playing Politics at Yad Vashem

This is what I call cynically using the Holocaust for political purposes: Netanyahu recently used the opening of a new exhibit at Yad Vashem as an opportunity to denounce the Iranian regime, saying:

There is a new call to destroy the Jewish state, it’s our problem, but not only our problem. This is a crime against the Jews, and a crime against humanity, and it is a test of humanity. We shall see in the following weeks whether the international community deals with this evil before it spreads.

When I read this report, it sounded vaguely familiar – then remembered blogging about a similar comment Netanyahu made three years ago. Here’s what I wrote at the time:

Clearly Ahmadinejad’s murderous rhetoric toward Israel cannot and should not be taken lightly, and we should never minimize the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear ambitions. But we must also be very clear about what we are suggesting when we compare Ahmadinejad to Hitler and present day Iran to Nazi Germany. For what it’s worth, consider me to be one member of the organized Jewish community that finds this comparison unhelpful – and the prospect of an American or Israeli attack on Iran truly horrifying to contemplate.

Apropos of Netanyahu’s most recent comments: Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric toward Israel is definitely hateful, and is clearly designed to bait Israel and the West – but I can’t see how it possibly constitutes a “crime against humanity.”

Netanyahu’s Yad Vashem rhetoric certainly seems to indicate he’s itching to take the bait. Let’s hope the international community will see past his dangerous, wrongheaded invoking of a “second Holocaust” and deal with this crisis with intelligence and moderation.

6 thoughts on “Playing Politics at Yad Vashem

  1. Brant – You are so right. The question is HOW??? But I do agree with you. The Holocaust is the Holocaust, and it is minimized by such comparisons in my mind.

  2. I lived in Israel for 14 years, and every time it looked like peace might be about to break out, the specter of returning land to the Palestinians would bring right wing protesters out with bullhorns and signs. Invariably, one (or several) of the signs would read “No to Auschwitz borders!”, indicating that if Israel were to pull back to the Green Line, it would be equivalent to turning Israel into a death camp.

    Every single time I saw these signs, and every single time I hear Netanyahu, or anyone, speaking in this manner, I feel such fury.

    If the six million had had the power and access to power that Israel has — a half of it, a tenth of it, a half of a percent of it — they wouldn’t have become the six million. To compare the status of the best armed and trained country in the Middle East to Auschwitz/the Holocaust not only does a grave disservice to the very soldiers and military in whom the right always claims to have such faith, but does violence to the memory of six million people who were beaten and starved and slaughtered in the most ghastly ways known to humanity.

    The State of Israel deserves more respect — as do the victims of Nazi Germany.

  3. The prime minister has been busy recently. As he planted trees in anticipation of Tu Bishvat, his pronouncement about settlements that will always be Israel’s makes it clear his interest in resuming talks with the Palestinians is nil. I have a vague and distant hope that, combining those comments with his political pandering and provocation about Iran, Netanyahu will begin to cast himself as a truly loose canon, one the US President will finally decide he can no longer abide. Wishful thinking? Probably.

    1. You can read more about Netanyahu’s observance of Tu B’shvat here:

      http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3838827,00.html

      An excerpt:

      “The message is clear – we are here and will remain here. We are planting and building; this is an inseparable part of the State of Israel,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday during a tree-planting tour of the West Bank settlement blocs.

      Netanyahu made the comments shortly after meeting the visiting US Mideast envoy George Mitchell. Mitchell has been pressing Israel to halt settlement construction in the West Bank.

  4. To me, the only appropriate answer is to enfranchise everyone between the river and the sea.

    One person, one vote.

    After the elections, then MKs representing the entire populace can discuss what is to be done in the Knesset.

    If they decide for partion, at least it will be done from a position of equal strength. If they decide for co-existance, then again, it will be done from a position of equal strength.

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