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In Israel, Holocaust obsession prevents real change

A new law punishing people for calling each other ‘Nazi’ makes clear that the Holocaust has became a tool used to keep us, the Jews, in a position of eternal victimhood – to blind us from seeing what is happing in Israel. That’s exactly what the right wing wants.

By Nir Baram

“Israel became boring,” complained a reporter who was obsessed with Israel for many years, “the world is changing and in Israel everything is the same…”

***

One of the most important articles ever to be published in Israel was “The Need to Forget.” In his 1988 op-ed, Yehuda Elkana, who was carried off to Auschwitz as a boy of 10 and survived the Holocaust, wrote:

Lately I have become convinced that the deepest political and social factor that motivates much of Israeli society in its relations with the Palestinians is not personal frustration, but rather a profound existential ‘angst’ fed by a particular interpretation of the lessons of the Holocaust and the readiness to believe that the whole world is against us.

And he was right.

In Israel, the way in which we interpret events is rooted in the Second World War. Even in our childhood, the Holocaust was present at all times. During my adolescence I was curious about WWII but felt that the discussion was limited. I sometimes felt suffocated by the simplicity of the conclusions and by Israeli institutions’ tendency to use the Holocaust in order to lock us, the Jews, in an eternal position of victimhood.

As I grew up and became a writer I began giving lectures in high schools. To my horror, I discovered that what I remembered had become much worse: the distance between the Holocaust (“what they did to us“) and the lesson (“it shall never happen to us again”) had become smaller.

Among adolescents in Israel, the common interpretation of history goes something like this: “They” hated us throughout history – in Egypt, in Spain, in Russia, and then came the final strike, the Holocaust – and “they” also hate us now. It is us, the Jews, against the world.

The Holocaust, a historical event that should teach us always to say no to racism, became an important factor in the Jews’ own racism against the “other.” It did not happen accidentally: the Holocaust is shoved down our throats – the atrocities, the victim cloak. This is the way Israeli institutions grasp and teach the Holocaust. This is what children here are exposed to from their first day in school.

***

So maybe the new draft bill that would forbid people from using the Holocaust’s symbols should be an encouraging sign? Under the new law, if you call someone “a bloody racist,” that’s okay. But if you call them “a bloody Nazi” (who were bloody racists) – well, that’s a different story, and you can spend six months in prison. Naturally, people have pointed out how the law impinges upon freedom of speech. That’s obvious. But let’s look at it from a different angle.

As I wrote, the Holocaust became a tool that is used in order to keep us, the Jews, in a position of eternal victimhood and to blind us from seeing what is happing in Israel. The Holocaust is now the most effective ingredient in a grand mechanism of denial. Thus, could this new law be the first step on a road leading to an Israeli society that is less obsessed with the Holocaust? Absolutely not.

The real motivation behind the new law is simple: it’s not about building a less exclusive, less paranoid and less Holocaust-obsessed Israeli society. It’s about keeping the Holocaust sacred; it’s about taking the Holocaust out of petty fights between conservatives and liberals where everyone calls each other a “Nazi.”

Right-wing Israeli politicians understand that if people are brainwashed with the Holocaust, they will see it everywhere and all the time. That is a problem. For these politicians, the Holocaust should always separate us, the Jews, from “all the others.” It should not be a part of the endless internal political battles between Jews in Israel. After all, the Holocaust has become the most effective tool to unite Israeli Jews under a common assumption: they have always hated us, and nothing has changed since, beside the fact that now we have a “Jewish army.” The new law’s role is to keep the Holocaust as the sacred “uniter” in a society consumed by fear.

***

“Why does everything in Israel stay the same?” In the last few months I have been hearing that question more and more. Forty-six years of occupation, 20 years of negotiations – and still, nothing has really changed.

Professor Elkana understood that all the way back in 1988. Since then, not only has the way the Israelis understand the Holocaust become an obstacle for any real change in our society, but the Holocaust’s role in the Jews’ eternal-victim complex dramatically increased. The new law reflect an understanding by the right that the Holocaust has “gotten out of control”: it is everywhere,  all the time. It was great to use it against Arafat, Iran’s nuclear plans, proposed borders for Israel, any journalist from Europe who dares to mercilessly criticize Israel. In short, all the “others.” But lately, more than ever, Jews in Israel are using it against each other – and that defeats the purpose.

As always, the solution is quite pathetic, even funny, once you understand that the same politicians who believed they could control the Holocaust discourse realized that it’s uncontrollable, and that they must redirect it in order to make use of it for external enemies. But what’s hidden behind this law isn’t funny: the greatest tragedy in our history has become an obstacle to any meaningful change toward a more inclusive, open and democratic Israeli society. I have to believe it is still possible to build a real democratic society in Israel

Nir Baram is a writer whose last two novels, The Remaker of Dreams (2006 ) and Good People (2010), were nominated for Israel’s Sapir Prize for Literature. Good People was translated to 12 languages and was also nominated for the Primo Roma Prize. His new novel, World Shadow, published in July 2013, was a best seller and will be published in different languages starting 2014.

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  • COMMENTS

    1. Danny

      I think the heart of the issue raised here is how Israel uses the holocaust as a shield against criticism of the occupation, reminding the world (particularly Europe) time and time again how we were the victims 70 years ago, so they should shut up about today’s victims (the Palestinians).

      The holocaust is also a bountiful resource, channeling hundreds of millions of Euros every year in holocaust reparation and guilt money.

      The holocaust is a golden goose for Israel, and this is the main reason for the comical outlawing of the word “Nazi” in Israel.

      By the way, I wonder if the term “Judeo-Nazi” – coined by the late Yeshayahu Leibovich – can still be used to accurately describe the settlers and the soldiers who enable their illegal squatting on stolen Palestinian land. My guess is – no.

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        Only 70 years ago? That was an entirely isolated incident in the history of Europe? It had no past. Aliens dropped from the skies and carried it out, right?

        Israel ‘uses’ the Holocaust and prior persecution of Jews living as minorities as demonstrations that Jews are not safe and should be extremely cautious about taking unnecessary risks that could lead to persecution or destruction. It is not a ‘shield against criticism’. It is an explanation why we are not willing to put our fate in the hands of people whose historical memory extends to the last election at best and whose claims to have produced a better and safer world are easily demonstrated to be junk.

        Reply to Comment
        • Danny

          Today’s Europeans have nothing to do with what happened 70 years ago. Most, if not all, of Europe’s leaders are staunch allies of Israel. Germany – our ultimate boogeyman – is nothing short of our most trusted and loyal ally, who supplies us with nuclear submarines to threaten our neighbors with.

          Speaking of which, it’s not a second holocaust that I fear, but rather the outbreak of WW3 started by an irresponsible Israeli government whose members are some of the looniest, craziest messianic-inspired zealots in the world today.

          I’d rather hear German in the knesset any day instead of the filthy Hebrew of the likes of Bennet and his ilk.

          Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            Indeed, three generations ago the Germans turned Europe into a Jewish graveyard. Four generations ago Jews though they were on the way to safety in assimilation in Germany, Hungary, France, Holland and a bunch of other places. Many of these scoffed and laughed at the Zionists when they were told that they would not be safe in Europe. They are, for the most part, dead. They were on the wrong side of history. Literally.

            The ‘loony’ Zionists that built Israel and continue to run the country are the ones that were right, and it annoys some people to no end. Of course now we are in a wonderful new age when genocides and persecutions are a thing of the past. In this wonderful world it is a sin to talk about the Holocaust as anything more than a temporary madness that has since been cured. Genocide and persecution should never be discussed as possible outcomes of harebrained schemes because that would be pessimistic and humanity is obviously past that point, Syria, Rwanda and Bosnia notwithstanding.

            Reply to Comment
          • shachalnur

            Interesting exchange,Danny and Kolumn9.

            As a child of Holocaust survivors and someone who lived in Israel for 7 years in the 80′s I would like to add a few facts.

            There are millions of (ex) Jews that don’t voice their opinion, they voted with their feet.

            Assimilation rates for European Jews in 1940 were 4%,now it’s about 60% in US and Europe.
            There were 13,5 million Jews in 1945 world wide,now the number is still 13,5 million.
            Taking Jewish brirthrates into account,which are higher than the population around them in US/Europe, there should be about 30 million Jews world wide today.
            Where have 17 million Jews gone,and why did they turn their backs on Judaism?
            Could it be that many Jews have decided that they don’t feel comfortable with 1897 Zionism taking over Judaism,while protesting only creates confrontation with family and their Jewsih communities ,and therefore decide to take distance in silence?

            Another fact is that a huge amount of Jewish children today are Orthodox Jews,who don’t accept 1897 Zionism and have a totally different view of the Holocaust.
            Then there’s the uncomfortable role the early Zionists played before ,during and after the Holocaust.
            Lenni Brenner’s “51 documents” and the essays of Rabbi Gedalya Lieberman will give you an idea.

            Judaism has changed into “Chosenite Holocaustianism” and their supporters are getting more vocal,rule in Israel, but are dwindling in numbers,and there’s a serious risk it will turn into a suicidal sect.

            1897 Zionism has not only turned Judaism into a paranoid, criminal,lying sect,it has also caused almost 60% of Jews world wide take distance in silence and disgust over the last 70 years.

            The more the “Chosenite Holocaustionists” claim their illegal rule over Israel is justified by the Holocaust,the more Jews will take distance and the more isolated (Israeli) Zionists will become.

            Never forget the 17 million Jews that took distance.
            Most of them didn’t stop being Jewish,they just refuse to be part of what 1897 Zionism has done to Judaism.

            From this point of view the Orthodox Jews,anti-Zionist Jews and 17 million Jews that turned their back on what Judaism has become under 1897 Zionism,have more in common than one might expect and they are the mayority.

            Israel can try to ship in another few hundred thousand Russian,Indian,or South American indigenous “Jews” without Jewish parents to desperately make up the numbers.
            They can convert any amount of nonJews through fast track conversions they want.
            They can try to scare any amount of French or Hungarian Jews into fleeing to Israel,screaming anti-Semite to everybody all the way.

            The truth still stands; 1897 Zionism has made more Jews disappear since WW2 than all the anti-Semites and Nazi’s in the world could ever dream of.

            Ever looked at it from this point of view?

            Orthodox Jews today and almost all European Jews before WW2 saw this coming from the beginning and rejected Zionism as program to exterminate the Jewish people.

            Soon it will be clear they were right,but will Jews wake up on time?

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            That sounds like an old Christian argument. It is the one that tries to prove that people remaining Jews are wrong because there have been many people that converted. This is an argument often made by ‘ex-Jews’ who, in order to justify their decision, turn to the hatred of Judaism and Jews. You are not alone, nor particularly creative.

            We can use play with the argument that people are ‘voting with their feet’, if you really wish to pursue that line of argument. Since 1897 the Jewish population of Israel has gone from 27,000 to slightly more than 6,000,000. That number is growing rapidly. Soon the absolute majority of the Jewish people will live in Israel. At the same time, those that opposed Zionism in Europe, clinging to being accepted, to assimilation, to appeasement, to socialism, to communism, to European nationalism, to autonomism, to self-hatred and self-flagellation are dead, in America, or after horrendous suffering, in Israel.

            Given the circumstances, perhaps we should use a different metric entirely? How about voting by grave. How many early graves in Europe belong to those that embraced your analysis and how many to those that embraced mine?

            Now, if you want a serious answer to your question as to why Jews are assimilating, you should look at the Haskalah movement in Europe which started pulling Jews out of their ghettoes at the same time as Europe started turning away from religion as the building block of society. Jews became citizens of the states in which they lived starting from Napoleon in the early 19th century. The Reform movement, which has its roots in Germany, started preaching a very “open” Judaism with many strands of it explicitly urging assimilation. In many places in Europe such an attempt to assimilate met an unwelcome reception and that point became the starting point for what eventually became Zionism. The view was that Europeans were not going to accept the assimilation of Jews (then considered by the ‘progressive Jews’ to be desirable in the first place) and so a solution for the misery the Jews experienced needs to be sought elsewhere and the Jews must leave Europe as soon as possible. The Zionists proved prophetic in terms of the eventual destruction of European Jewry at the hands of the “enlightened” Germans.

            The Reform movement (started long before 1897 and virulently anti-Zionist until after WW2) continued to have large numbers of living adherents in the United States and the assimilation rates in America are a demonstration of that and the acceptance that Jews found in immigrant societies like America. Whether that trend continues is certainly a matter for discussion, but that has so little to do with Zionism as to be tangential. What matters most is that Reform Judaism effectively emptied Judaism of any meaning and has turned the children of its adherents into people who see no particular reason to continue to be Jews, to marry Jews, or to raise Jewish children. The same is true of ‘secular’ Jews for whom Judaism itself seized to have any value in a modern society.

            None of these trends have anything to do with Zionism, except in the muddled minds of people so obsessed with Israel and Zionism as to leave their logical facilities behind.

            Reply to Comment
          • shachalnur

            Kolumn5,

            Where did I mention the words”conversion” or “Reform”?

            Are you going to adress anything I wrote,or is some ad hominem ,accusations of being a self hating “ex-Jew”,and ignoring the facts,all you can do.

            The fact you’re getting in such a tangle indicates that my arguments are inconvenient,but true.

            European Jewry before WW2 rejected 1897 Zionism vehemently,calling it “a program to exterminate the Jewish people” ,these Jews were traditional,conservative and Orthodox,not Reform.

            After the Holocaust the big mayority refused to go to Israel,just like most Sfaradi Jews that lived and survived in Muslim countries before and during WW2..

            When the Spharadi Jews were scared(with Mossad help) into leaving their countries the rich ones went to the US,Canada and France.

            The poor ones were forced to go to Israel where they were treated like dogs(“The missing Yemeni children”,”The Ringworm Affair”) by the Eugenics ministry of Health in Israel.

            I’m only mentioning basic facts, the 17 million “missing ” Jews,and my surprise this is not an issue for modern Zionists.

            It even looks like people like you are happy with the assimilation,since it makes the few that are left even more “exclusive”,more paranoid,more of everything Judaism was never supposed to be.

            You and your 1897 Zionism lovers had your fun for 115 years and now the party is over.

            Your only option is to hate the whole world for being “anti-Semite”,hate Orthodox for not accepting your program to exterminate the Jewish people and all other Jews that refuse the fact you Banker slaves took over Judaism and turned it into something undigestible for Jews and non-Jews alike.

            Your time is up,1897 Zionism has played it’s part serving the Bankers,the question is ;”will you drag all Jews and Judaism and the Middle East(or more) down with you?.”

            Judaism was hyjacked by atheist Communist Fascists,and real Jews had no other option than to take distance from this hell called “Zionism”.

            And after you and your friends will have your glorious suicide,the “17 million missing Jews”,anti Zionist Jews and the Orthodox Jews will have to start all over.

            And we will,having to live with the deep shame and horror you and your friends brought on Judaism over the last century.

            Open your eyes,you have served your purpose for the Bankers and you’re being dumped.

            It was by design and recognized by a minority,an minority that was right,like so often in Jewish history.

            Judaism will overcome you and your friends,the question is;”at what cost?”

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            You asked why Jews are assimilating. You call them ‘missing Jews’. I answered you. Your answer is Zionism. I pointed out that your answer is historical nonsense. Your whole theory is bunk and the assimilation of Jews started earlier as did the religious/cultural movements that made it possible, both among Jews and in the wider world.

            After hearing this from you: “Judaism was hyjacked by atheist Communist Fascists” and the nonsense about the “Banker slaves”

            I don’t think there is much of a point in continuing the conversation. Whatever the original reason for your dislike of Jews and Judaism was, now you have decided to jump onto the wagon of also hating Zionism and Israel and seeing them as the root cause for everything you hate. Feel free to continue to stew in your hatred. As entertaining as it is to read the usual Jew-hating propaganda from someone that claims to be a Jew, there is no point wasting effort on responding further. We will be fine without you and your merry band of “real Jews”. I can only imagine your delightful meetings.

            Reply to Comment
          • shachalnur

            Kolumn5,

            You answered nothing.

            The following numbers are from the Jewish Virtual Library,and they are disputed.

            Other sources are not that kind.

            Growth of Jewish population World wide:

            between 1880-1900;7,8 million to 10,6 million = avg. 17% per decade

            between 1900-1939(assimilation 4%);10,6 million to 16,7 million = avg. 11% per decade.

            between 1945-2012;11 million to 13,7 million = avg. 3% per decade.

            Simple numbers from the horse’s mouth,anybody can do the math..

            Why I don’t like playing chess with a pigeon;

            They crap all over the board,knock over the pieces and fly back to their flock claiming victory.

            Just what I needed; you solving the “Who is a Jew?” question.

            It’s been a pleasure conversing with you.

            Reply to Comment
          • Tess

            In my opinion you’re the definite winner of that debate.

            Reply to Comment
          • sh

            “Ever looked at it from this point of view?”
            Kind of, but never as clearly thought through. I didn’t know, for instance, that the number of Jews in the world is the same now as it was in 1945.

            Altogether a very interesting comment. Don’t go away.

            Reply to Comment
    2. Average American

      It is ridiculous to expect an “open inclusive society” in The JEWISH State of Israel. It is ridiculous to expect a Jewish hiring manager to hire a non-Jew. It is ridiculous to expect the Jewish-owned Federal Reserve Bank to allow anyone but a Jew on its Board of Governors, as we saw with the recent installation of Janet Yellen as Chairperson, and indeed there never has been a non-Jew in that position. The Jews are separatists and supremists, and have been throughout their history, and THAT is why people don’t like them.

      Reply to Comment
      • Vadim

        The thing is – Jews are not a solid homogeneous mass. We are people, just like everyone else.

        It is not ridiculous to expect a Jewish hiring manager to hire a non Jew. This happens quite a lot in Israel.

        Jews were hated because they were different and had to become separatists because of people like you. The supremacy you imagine is part of that behavior.

        “and THAT is why people don’t like them”. There were and are enough people that have never seen a Jew, let alone spoke with one. And still hate us. People like you.

        I feel offended that people like you still exist.

        Reply to Comment
        • Average American

          Certainly I have met and known and worked with Jews. And Christians. And Muslims. I find each lives up to its reputation. The reputation of Jews is because of the behavior they most often display. Particularly what we see in the world spotlight in the Jewish State of Israel.

          Reply to Comment
          • Vadim

            “I find each lives up to its reputation.”

            You have an expectation for people’s behavior based on their religion?!
            What about secular\agnostic\atheist Jews? How about Jews that were baptized and raised as Christians? Or as Muslims?

            I just want to understand something. Is this behavior that Jews often display due to their religion? To their upbringing? To their genes?

            How you don’t get banned from this site (and humanity) is simply beyond me.

            Reply to Comment
          • Al Harris

            And you, sadly, live up to my expectation of the ignorance of an “average American”. In an interesting and nuanced debate about the Holocaust and Zionism you felt entitled enough to add your racist drivel! Your ignorant racist comments feed the sort of “us and them” lines promoted by right=wing Zionism to justify every brutal act and policy delivered by the Israeli Government against the dispossessed and long-suffering Palestinian people. The policies of Israel don’t justify racist stereotyping of Jews. Read these pages (Thanks 972mag.com!!) and witness the critiquing of Zionism by Jews and Israelis.

            Reply to Comment
          • Vadim

            Zionism is about creating a state for the Jews. Part of that concept is to provide for some level of security. People like average are not actively used, their existence simply proves several concepts which the left is trying very hard to ignore.

            Average would have hated Jews and Israel no matter what. He would call us brutal when we are strong and pathetic when we are weak. He would deny a Holocaust took place, but would claim we behave just like the Nazis had they performed a holocaust. He would fight against the existence of the state of Israel but would also fight the rights of Jews in his own country (“…Jews have too much power…”). And the saddest thing is – he’s not alone. Very far from being alone stuck in his useless hatred.

            So while you may not agree with Israel’s policies, or the reasoning of our political right – at the very least try to see him as a proof that some of our thoughts are correct.

            Reply to Comment
    3. Steve Benassi

      Minority Jews can’t dominate majority Arabs, Germans, Romans, Egyptians, Persian, nor Americans, forever, without experiencing backlash.

      Jewish history 101.

      Reply to Comment
    4. I am a little unclear as to whether this proposal is a bill or has become law, as at one point you say “the new draft bill,” at others, “law.”

      The Boycott Law also denies speech and advocacy for association. And it is illegal of long stranding to deny the existence of the Holocaust.

      I see the Knesset moving towards reality control. The Boycott Law of the last Knesset applies only in Israel. So, assuming crazed leftists are indeed a tiny minority, advocacy of Boycott should go nowhere; and, consistent with this, the law does not require proof of damage for compensation. Under the assumptions of the right, Boycott calls within Israel will be ineffectual. So the law is meant to freeze speech and so thought. Controlling use of “Nazi” seems equally designed to control thought over what happened in Germany during the rise and domination of National Socialism. All of this is a hysterical denial of word usage in something of a national secular imposed faith.

      So what happens if one speaks of National Socialism before the Weimar collapse? The overwhelming majority of these could not envision the Holocaust. Yet they did reify race and asserted individuals the manifestation, perhaps tool, of their respective races. If I say someone has reified race as the Weimar era National Socialists did have I violated this new law (or proposed law)?

      The national right continues to win, yet continues as well to suppress speech, association, and thought. Why?

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        The courts would have to figure that out, but it wouldn’t be particularly different from the laws against incendiary speech that are in practice in much of Europe.

        And, the reason why the right is doing what it is doing is because it has won elections and can now pass laws that it likes. As long as the laws are in themselves constitutional that is how democracy works. Likewise, when the left was in power it made its own attempts to push society in the direction that it likes. Feel free to look up the changes made to the educational system under Yossi Sarid and Shulamit Aloni when they held the Education Ministry.

        Reply to Comment
        • You are aware that courts accrue power in part by declaring laws unconstitutional, and that these laws, by definition, are often enacted by majority coalitions? What’s the point of having a constitutional court if a majority can do what it wants?

          And there is the rub.

          Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            The point of having courts is to interpret the laws passed by legislature and rule accordingly in cases presented. Where the courts have an additional basis in judging laws to contradict semi-permanent standards (such as a constitution) set previously by the legislature (still, again, by the majority) they can rule the laws unconstitutional and throw them out. The legislature has the full right to change the semi-permanent standards according to rules it defined previously. The courts do not exist to create laws or to impose their desires on the majority.

            Reply to Comment
    5. Kolumn9

      It isn’t “Holocaust obsession”. You don’t like the whole historical narrative that the Israeli right has. The Holocaust is just the biggest sacred cow that you would like to see slaughtered because it effectively clinches the argument.

      You would prefer the Holocaust to be studied as if it happened to some other people, not to the Jews. That is fine for everyone else, but for Jews there is a more particular historical context of that event, in particular the historical fact that the Jews have been persecuted for millennia and the corresponding historical conclusion that Jews need to protect themselves from a continuation of such a history. This interpretation of history started before the Holocaust, as did the arguments about the historical conclusion to be drawn from it, so really your argument against the memory of the Holocaust is just a convenient means of battling your ideological opponents.

      If only those Jews forgot their history the world would be so much better. Can’t they see that the world is different? That genocides and religious persecution are things of the past? History is irrelevant anyway in the face of the dream of a brighter future which will overcome all. The future shall be bright. It must be. There can be no other way and it is racist/primitive to dare to consider the possibility to the contrary. Right?

      Reply to Comment
      • “You would prefer the Holocaust to be studied as if it happened to some other people” : I think you are right. There is a sense that others, who have not undergone what you have, must exist to prevent the full expression, the full consequence, of what happened to you. We need people who have not been assaulted. To stop us.

        True as well of Cambodians, Russians, Native Americans, descendants of slaves.

        Reply to Comment
        • Kolumn9

          There is a sense that we must ensure that what happened to us, does not happen to us again. Because we know full well that others will not. That is the lesson for us. The ‘others’ can pretend that such a thing can’t happen again, but looking around the world it is pretty obvious that they are both wrong that it can’t happen and are incapable of ensuring that it doesn’t.

          Reply to Comment
      • Ernie

        Don’t you find that the Jewish state gave the world yet again a new quasi-religious paradigm. What we have seen developing over the years into a victim/justified opressor complex (in a sence of a political doctrine) in Israel is repeated in a conscious and systematic way in such nearby places as the Palestinian authority. It is building up a generation of brainwashed cannon meat that is programed to act irrationaly without moral judgement every time the “triger” phrase is pronounced. Being myself a refugee from ISraeli schooling system i can confirm that Holocaust is not presented as an issue for contemplation or a fact field to discover moral imperative. It is instead pushed in king size packaging of gore to scar the young psyche with a wound that would cause a post traumtaic strees. A handle of manipulation is installed for 12 years so that the conscripted soldier would not doubt any order. What is noticable that after the military service no-one cares to indoctrinate you again, you are considered a ready automaton, but that’s where I have noticed many young Israelis start to semi-consciously graple for a more peacefull outlook on life. That is difficuilt enough, since the Holly Cows are still a taboo among most.
        Living now in Eastern Europe I have witnesed the rise of Russian shauvinism and their state sponsored quasi-religion of “The Great Victory”, namely the unleashed PR assault that creates a painfull victim like mentality in subjects. They can no longer judge the facts of WWII and any oppinion other than absolute glory to the russian soldier-liberator provokes prety zoological agression. Not much different in Israel though. What is strange – the leftminded are called Naci in both cases for exposing a gradual slide of a nation mentality into a dimmed and controled state.

        Reply to Comment
        • Kolumn9

          There is a dominant paradigm in Israel. I wouldn’t classify it as victim/justified oppressor complex. It is a highly risk-averse evaluation of the way the world works based on a particular religious/historical/regional reading of history. That force and even oppression may be required for survival is considered reasonable and easily justifiable. The glaring contradiction between the ideological perspectives/norms dominant in many established Western societies and the actual political and cultural reality of the Middle East feeds into and reinforces it. I don’t think that the core of the approach is very different from that dominant in most European states before they went through a long period of peaceful interaction with their neighbors (that also went through the same process). Worse yet, the building blocks of European reconciliation – established and relatively stable nation states – have not yet arrived in the Middle East. All our neighboring states are in various stages of decay and collapse and are at present busy fighting their version of the 30 Years War. It might take a while for them to arrive at a variation of the Peace of Westphalia (and that was 300 years before 1945). In this environment it is very difficult, if not impossible, to take seriously the kind of cooperation paradigm that rules in Europe and which is promoted by left-wing intellectuals. That has a major impact on a society’s evaluation of risks and how its norms are established. The historically unstable (understatement) experience of Jews and the religious baggage of a group persecuted for thousands of years certainly do not contribute to an optimistic view of the world or of other groups. However, the focus of society on these aspects of history and religion is usually a reaction to the environment rather than the cause.

          I do not see in this a ‘brainwashing’, but a rather sober analysis of the reality that Israel and Israelis find themselves in. Were there to be more peace in the region and a less genocidal hostility towards Israel and Israelis society would almost certainly move rapidly towards a less risk-averse outlook. There would be more of an attempt to look at more positive periods of Jewish life in the diaspora and more tolerant strands of religion would likely play a dominant role. For many in the Israeli peace movement this is a more important effect of peace than its security or economic aspects.

          As for the Holocaust itself, I fail to understand the complaints raised here. It is almost like an attempt to insist that it not be taught at all or that it be taught in some kind of generic sense as if it happened to some other group of people. It happened. It happened to us. It was traumatic. It induces post-traumatic stress. One could make the argument that it was a one-off event in world history and so it is wrong to have it impact the way people see the world. But, it wasn’t a one-off event. History didn’t end in 1945. Genocides didn’t stop in 1945. Humanity has neither evolved nor created any mechanisms that would prevent it from happening repeatedly again. This is the world and this is humanity. There is mass murder of civilians happening at this very moment less than 100km from where I sit.

          The Israeli education system does not produce automatons. It produces thinking young adults. They are then conscripted and put into an army which, like all armies, are based on a clear chain of command. Questioning orders is, like in all armies, largely discouraged. Conscript armies are not an Israeli invention. Nor is the level of obedience of orders in the Israeli army higher than in other similar armies. After the army Israeli youth reach an age where people start to question authority and seek to find their own answers to life’s questions. Again, this is not different from anywhere else. The argument that the Israeli educational system generates machines is nonsense.

          Russia has its own demons. WW2 was extremely traumatic for the Russians. It is also a more heavily indoctrinated and isolated society than Israel, which makes sense since it is a dictatorship where the opposition is silenced and persecuted. There is also much less influence of foreign culture and thought. Fewer people speak/write/read English and Russia is a large enough market that it has its own massive cultural scene. In Russia a group like Zochrot would find itself sewing police uniforms for 14 hours per day in a reeducation camp. Zahava Gal-On would be exiled. Ahmed Tibi would disappear as a terrorist. It is difficult to take the comparison between Russia and Israel seriously.

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    6. God piece, Nir. And yet, calling someone a Nazi is stupid and counter-productive, unless they actually do espouse National Socialism, wear Swastikas etc

      To say that aspects of behaviour of the state and its army under the Occupation are similar to what happened in occupied Europe may, at times, make sense and give an understanding of what is wrong with collective punishments, house demolitions, or killing 1500 people in Gaza in retaliation for some rockets (actually that’s very like the German Army in WW2. But even then, the situation is not the same.

      Whether a law should prevent such misuse of historical terms is another matter. Undoubtedly calling individuals ‘Nazi’ may cause extremely deep shock and offence to Jews in Israel and elsewhere, and at that level only it should perhaps be part of a general law against extreme hate speech and crimes. Shouting or spray-painting e.g. ‘death to Arabs’ would undoubtedly come under such a law (or, indeed, “death to the Jews”) – it is illegal in UK and most European countries.

      But as Nir analyses, that’s not the intent here.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Rehmat

      I wonder if this new anti-Nazi bill will apply to Netanyahu who has a great record of calling foreign leaders “Hitler and Nazis” for criticizing the Zionist regime.

      No one can dare to lower the importance of Holocaust in Israel. According to Israeli professor Yeshyahu Leibowictz, Holocaust has become the new Jewish religion. Even Barack Obama agreed with it during his speech at the UN General Assembly in September 2012.

      http://rehmat1.com/2012/10/26/barack-obama-holocaust-is-a-religion/

      Reply to Comment
    8. Average American

      I have read conflicting information about The Holocaust. Conflicting because written by different sides of the issue. USA Military, on one side, who were there first and who saw the state of things unfold at the end of the war, say Jews were no worse treated than any other ethnicity, but Jews sure did pour in to take more than their share of relief efforts, pushing other ethnicities aside, including housing for “displaced persons”. Thing is, the Jews that poured in were from Poland, Russia, not even Germany, not even Holocaust victims, taking advantage, just because they were Jews. Also, USA Military says the pictures of emaciated inmates were from one single workcamp, at the end of a long supply line which had obviously been cut by the Germans being on the losing side, and at other workcamps the inmates were no worse off than our own incredibly overworked soldiers. Further, USA Military could plainly see these workcamps were acres of sophisticated modern factories for making coats and rifles and boots and fuel, and that was what the workers were for, and the claims of being death camps for the extermination of the entire Jewish race were laughable. Also laughable were claims of the volume of people killed, 6 million, because that number couldn’t have been achieved even if that’s all the camps did for the entire war instead of making coats and rifles and boots and fuel.

      Reply to Comment
      • JG

        You can criticize Israel politics without believing made up bullshit. Unless you’re a real anti-semit.
        But it turns out that you’re just an “Average Holocaust Denier” scum.

        Reply to Comment
    9. Great information. Lucky me I came across your website by accident (stumbleupon).
      I have bookmarked it for later!

      Reply to Comment
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