Flat White

The monstrous evil of Nazi/Israeli moral equivalence

19 April 2018

4:21 PM

19 April 2018

4:21 PM

Gaza is the Warsaw Ghetto. The Israelis are Nazis. Palestinians are the victims of genocide. These are claims that are routinely made by critics of Israel. They feature in respectable media outlets and in the bedlam of lunacy that is social media. And, like all examples of degeneracy, they say more about the person making the claims than about the rights and wrongs of Israeli policy.

To anyone with an ounce of wit, a scintilla of justice, or a sliver of historical knowledge, these claims are not only untrue but are morally reprehensible. It’s the equivalent of saying a woman was responsible for her rape. It inverts the whole notion of justice and it compounds the original crime – not only did the victims suffer, but their suffering is denied or relativized by people trying to score a cheap political point.

There are three reasons why somebody would claim that Gaza is the Warsaw Ghetto or that the Israelis treat the Palestinians like the Nazis treated the Jews. One is ignorance. The person doesn’t know what he’s talking about and can be ignored. The second is stupidity. The person can’t tell the difference between evidence and nonsense. To put it bluntly, the person is a fool. The third is malevolence. The person knows that he’s telling lies and doesn’t care. In other words, he’s an anti-Semite. His hatred of Israel or the Jews overrides any sense of decency or justice. None of these people should be taken seriously.

Here’s a short history of the Warsaw Ghetto for anyone who believes that there is a moral equivalence between Nazi Germany’s murder of the Jews and Israeli policy towards the Palestinians. After the Germans invaded Poland, over 400,000 Jews were forced into the Warsaw Ghetto.

It was 3.4 kilometres square. Seven people, on average, lived in a room. The conditions in the ghetto were horrendous. Disease and starvation ravaged the population. The Germans controlled the food supply and allocated a daily ration of 184 calories to the Jews. In contrast, Germans living in Poland were allocated 2613 calories. 100,000 Jews in the ghetto died of starvation. Mass shootings were routine and Jews died in droves from forced labour. Dead bodies littered the streets. On an average day, when nothing particularly bad was happening – think about what I’ve just said – a dozen starved bodies were found and cremated in pits.

On any reading of the situation in Gaza, linking the conditions there to the Warsaw Ghetto should bring a blush of shame to any sad fool who makes the connection. But what I’ve outlined above is just the start of the horror. The Nazis transported the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto to the extermination camps of Treblinka and Majdanek, where they were beaten, stripped naked, and forced – men, women and children – into specially constructed gas chambers and murdered. It sometimes took hours for the people to die.

Over 300,000 Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto were gassed to death. There were so many bodies that people could smell Treblinka kilometres away. The mass graves were so large that the decomposing bodies would sometimes rise to the surface and roll away. The death camps and ghettos of Nazi Germany were the closest thing to hell ever created by human beings.

The Palestinian genocide, in contrast, is the most peculiar genocide in history. The Palestinian population has increased under Israeli occupation. Palestinian life expectancy is higher than in 132 other countries – the average Palestinian born today will live to be 75 years of age. In 1970, three years after Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza, the Palestinian population numbered 1,124,649. In 2018, the population is 5,052,776. Other genocides decrease the population, but the Israeli genocide of the Palestinians creates more Palestinians.

The United Nations’ Human Development Index, which ranks countries on literacy, the standard of living, life expectancy and education, says that 34 per cent of the world’s countries perform worse than the Palestinians, including Indonesia, Egypt, Pakistan and South Africa. In the New Economics Forum’s 2012 Happy Planet Index, the Palestinians were the second happiest Arab population and were ranked number 30 of the happiest people in the world.

To put this in its bluntest terms, if you see anyone equate the Israelis with the Nazis, in an article, a documentary, a meme or a placard, you’ll know that the person is ignorant, stupid or malevolent, and is someone not to be taken seriously.

Lying about the present makes you complicit in the crimes of the past. Creating a false impression of Jews or Israelis – that they behave, for example, like Nazis – is anti-Semitic. There is nothing noble about creating the conditions that lead to the murder of Jews.

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