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crime in Gaza

The Holocaust justification for the crime in Gaza is an intellectual and moral failure

Constantina Rodi
4 Dec, 2023

Academics and historical scholars objected to using the Holocaust of the Jews during World War II as an excuse to proceed with the massacre of Gaza.

The names of the signatories are as follows:

  • Omer Bartov, Samuel Pisar Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Brown University
  • Christopher R. Browning, Frank Porter Graham Professor of History Emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Jane Caplan, Emeritus Professor of Modern European History at the University of Oxford
  • Deborah Dwork, founding director of the Center for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Crimes Against Humanity at the Graduate Center-City University of New York
  • Michael Rothberg, chair of the Department of Comparative Literature, professor of English and Comparative Literature, and holder of the 1939 Samuel Goetz Society Chair in Holocaust Studies at UCLA.

The text is signed by:

  • Karyn Ball, professor of English and Film Studies, University of Alberta
  • Alon Confino, Professor of History and Jewish Studies, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  • David Feldman, director, Birkbeck Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism, University of London
  • Amos Goldberg, Jonah M. Machover Chair in Holocaust Studies, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  • Atina Grossmann, Professor of History, Cooper Union, New York
  • John-Paul Himka, Professor Emeritus, University of Alberta
  • Marianne Hirsch, Professor Emeritus, Comparative Literature and Gender Studies, Columbia University
  • A. Dirk Moses, Spitzer Professor of International Affairs, City College of New York
  • Raz Segal, Associate Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Stockton University
  • Stefanie Schüler-Springorum, director, Center for Research on Anti-Semitism, Technical University of Berlin
  • Barry Trachtenberg, Rubin Presidential Chair in Jewish History, Wake Forest University

The text states that the context of the Holocaust is used to present Israel's collective punishment of Gaza as justified, as a "battle of civilization against barbarism".

The academics who sign the text declare that they are "duty to maintain the intellectual integrity of our profession and support others around the world to understand this moment", while characterizing the comparisons of the current crisis with the Holocaust as "mental and moral failures".


The undersigned are scholars of the Holocaust and anti-Semitism from different institutions. We are writing to express our dismay and dismay at political leaders and prominent public figures who invoke the memory of the Holocaust to explain the current crisis in Gaza and Israel.


Israel's ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, wore the yellow star to the UN General Assembly, and next to it the slogan "Never Again".

Joe Biden, the US president, said that Hamas exhibits brutality as damaging as that of the Holocaust.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel told the German Chancellor that Hamas is the new Nazis.

Brian Mast, American Republican of Florida stated that there are no innocent Palestinians, while they resemble Nazi citizens like those of the second world war.

gaza seige israel hamas palestine GettyImages 1715074100

Here are excerpts from the text:

… <<Anti-Semitism often rises in times of heightened crisis in Israel and Palestine, as does Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism. The senseless violence of the October 7 attacks and the ongoing airstrikes and invasion of Gaza are devastating and cause pain and fear in Jewish and Palestinian communities around the world. We reiterate that everyone has the right to feel safe wherever they live and that tackling racism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia must be a priority.

It's understandable why many in the Jewish community recall the Holocaust and past pogroms when trying to make sense of what happened on October 7 — the massacres, and the images released in their aftermath, have tapped into the deep-rooted collective memory of genocidal anti-Semitism, driven by very recent Jewish history.

However, invoking the memory of the Holocaust obscures an understanding of the anti-Semitism that Jews face today and dangerously misrepresents the causes of the violence in Israel and Palestine. The Nazi genocide was about a state — and its willing civil society — attacking a tiny minority, which then escalated into a continent-wide genocide. Indeed, comparisons of the crisis unfolding in Israel and Palestine to Nazism and the Holocaust — especially when they come from political leaders and others who can influence public opinion — are intellectual and moral failures. At a time when emotions are running high, political leaders have a responsibility to act calmly and avoid fanning the flames of pain and division. And, as academics, we have a duty to maintain the intellectual integrity of our profession and to support others around the world to understand this moment.

Israeli leaders and others use the context of the Holocaust to present Israel's collective punishment of Gaza as battle for civilization against barbarism, thus promoting racist narratives about Palestinians. This rhetoric encourages us to separate the current crisis from the context from which it emerged. Seventy-five years of displacement, fifty-six years of occupation and sixteen years of blockade of Gaza have created an ever-escalating spiral of violence that can only be halted by a political solution. There is no military solution to Israel and Palestine, and the development of a Holocaust narrative in which an "evil" must be defeated by force will only perpetuate an oppressive state of affairs that has already lasted far too long.


Insisting that "Hamas are the new Nazis" — while holding Palestinians collectively responsible for Hamas's actions — attributes harsh, anti-Semitic motivations to those who defend Palestinian rights. It also places the protection of Jews against the defense of international human rights and laws, implying that the current assault on Gaza is a necessity. And invoking the Holocaust to dismiss protesters calling for a “free Palestine” fuels the suppression of Palestinian human rights advocacy and the conflation of anti-Semitism with criticism of Israel.

In this climate of growing insecurity, we need clarity about anti-Semitism so that we can properly identify and combat it. We also need clear thinking as we deal with and respond to what is unfolding in Gaza and the West Bank. And we must be honest in confronting these simultaneous realities — the resurgence of anti-Semitism and widespread killings in Gaza, as well as escalating displacement in the West Bank — as we engage in public debate.

We encourage those who so readily invoke comparisons with Nazi Germany to listen to the rhetoric coming from Israel's political leadership. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in the Israeli parliament that "it is a struggle between the children of light and the children of darkness" (a tweet from his office with the same phrase later deleted). Defense Minister Yoav Gallant proclaimed: "We fight human animals and act accordingly." Such comments, along with a widespread and often cited argument that there are no innocent Palestinians in Gaza, indeed bring to mind echoes of historical mass violence. But these reverberations should serve as an exhortation against large-scale killing, not a call for its expansion.

As academics we have a responsibility to use our words and expertise with judgment and sensitivity — to try to limit inflammatory language capable of further discord and, instead, to prioritize speech and action aimed at preventing further loss of life. So when we invoke the past, we must do so in ways that illuminate the present and not distort it. This is the necessary basis for the establishment of peace and justice in Palestine and Israel. That is why we call on public figures, including the media, to stop using such comparisons>>.



source https://www.imerodromos.gr/


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