Friday, April 24, 2009

Zionism and the holocaust again

I've written before about the moral sadism implicit in the accusation that Zionists (or Israelis) are the new Nazis. The flip side of this must also be acknowledged; there are lots of Jews and Israelis who really do say that because of the holocaust no-one can criticise Israel, or that Israelis don't need to listen to anyone that does.

Writing in the latest issue of Standpoint, a magazine produced by the right wing Social Affairs Unit, Howard Jacobson says "...those who want to speak in those terms accuse the Jews of employing the Holocaust for pity. I don't know a single Jew who does that..."

Funnily enough, the day before I received an email from a nice Israeli friend, who seems to have civilised opinions, with a link to what she described as a 'terrific video'. I clicked through to the video, and it turns out to be series of images of anti-semitism with a backing track of someone reading a diatribe by "Rabbi" Meir Kahane. The message is that we don't have to care what anyone thinks about us, because they've always hated us anyway.

The vileness of this argument takes some beating; it is precisely a claim that anti-semitism gives Jews a 'get out of jail free' card that means they can do whatever they like to anyone and everyone. This is the most flagrant exploitation of the holocaust for political purposes. How can Howard Jacobson (or anyone else) get all huffy when accusations are leveled against Israel but look the other way when this sort of thing goes on?

More to the point, how can apparently nice Israelis think that this sort of thing is acceptable to send out as a contribution to understanding? Or complain about how cruel Hamas was, to force them to such terrible things in Gaza against their own better judgement? It's hard to avoid the conclusion that there is a different moral universe here.

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