“Please don’t write about Ya’ir Golan!” a friend begged me, “Anything a leftist like you writes will only harm him!”
So I abstained for some weeks. But I can’t keep quiet any longer.
General Ya’ir Golan, the deputy Chief of Staff of the Israeli army, made a speech on Holocaust Memorial Day. Wearing his uniform, he read a prepared, well-considered text that triggered an uproar which has not yet died down.
Dozens of articles have been published in its wake, some condemning him, some lauding him. Seems that nobody could stay indifferent.
The main sentence was: “If there is something that frightens me about the memories of the Holocaust, it is the knowledge of the awful processes which happened in Europe in general, and in Germany in particular, 70, 80, 90 years ago, and finding traces of them here in our midst, today, in 2016.”
All hell broke loose. What!!! Traces of Nazism in Israel? A resemblance between what the Nazis did to us with what we are doing to the Palestinians?
90 years ago was 1926, one of the last years of the German republic. 80 years ago was 1936, three years after the Nazis came to power. 70 years ago was 1946, on the morrow of Hitler’s suicide and the end of the Nazi Reich.
I feel compelled to write about the general’s speech after all, because I was there.
As a child I was an eyewitness to the last years of the Weimar Republic (so called because its constitution was shaped in Weimar, the town of Goethe and Schiller). As a politically alert boy I witnessed the Nazi Machtergreifung (“taking power”) and the first half a year of Nazi rule.
I know what Golan was speaking about. Though we belong to two different generations, we share the same background. Both our families come from small towns in Western Germany. His father and I must have had a lot in common.
There is a strict moral commandment in Israel: nothing can be compared to the Holocaust. The Holocaust is unique. It happened to us, the Jews, because we are unique. (Religious Jews would add: “Because God has chosen us”.)
I have broken this commandment. Just before Golan was born, I published (in Hebrew) a book called “The Swastika”, in which I recounted my childhood memories and tried to draw conclusions from them. It was on the eve of the Eichmann trial, and I was shocked by the lack of knowledge about the Nazi era among young Israelis then.
My book did not deal with the Holocaust, which took place when I was already living in Palestine, but with a question which troubled me throughout the years, and even today: how could it happen that Germany, perhaps the most cultured nation on earth at the time, the homeland of Goethe, Beethoven and Kant, could democratically elect a raving psychopath like Adolf Hitler as its leader?
The last chapter of the book was entitled “It Can Happen Here!” The title was drawn from a book by the American novelist Sinclair Lewis, called ironically “It Can’t Happen Here”, in which he described a Nazi takeover of the United States.
In this chapter I discussed the possibility of a Jewish Nazi-like party coming to power in Israel. My conclusion was that a Nazi party can come to power in any country on earth, if the conditions are right. Yes, in Israel, too.
The book was largely ignored by the Israeli public, which at the time was overwhelmed by the storm of emotions evoked by the terrible disclosures of the Eichmann trial.
Now comes General Golan, an esteemed professional soldier, and says the same thing.
And not as an improvised remark, but on an official occasion, wearing his general’s uniform, reading from a prepared, well thought-out text.
The storm broke out, and has not passed yet.
Israelis have a self-protective habit: when confronted with inconvenient truths, they evade its essence and deal with a secondary, unimportant aspect. Of all the dozens and dozens of reactions in the written press, on TV and on political platforms, almost none confronted the general’s painful contention.
No, the furious debate that broke out concerns the questions: Is a high-ranking army officer allowed to voice an opinion about matters that concern the civilian establishment? And do so in army uniform? On an official occasion?
Should an army officer keep quiet about his political convictions? Or voice them only in closed sessions – “in relevant forums”, as a furious Binyamin Netanyahu phrased it?
General Golan enjoys a very high degree of respect in the army. As Deputy Chief of Staff he was until now almost certainly a candidate for Chief of Staff, when the incumbent leaves the office after the customary four years.
The fulfillment of this dream shared by every General Staff officer is now very remote. In practice, Golan has sacrificed his further advancement in order to utter his warning and giving it the widest possible resonance.
One can only respect such courage. I have never met General Golan, I believe, and I don’t know his political views. But I admire his act.
(Somehow I recall an article published by the British magazine Punch before World War I, when a group of junior army officers issued a statement opposing the government’s policy in Ireland. The magazine said that while disapproving the opinion expressed by the mutinous officers, it took pride in the fact that such youthful officers were ready to sacrifice their careers for their convictions.)
The Nazi march to power started in 1929, when a terrible worldwide economic crisis hit Germany. A tiny, ridiculous far-right party suddenly became a political force to be reckoned with. From there it took them four years to become the largest party in the country and to take over power (though it still needed a coalition).
I was there when it happened, a boy in a family in which politics became the main topic at the dinner table. I saw how the republic broke down, gradually, slowly, step by step. I saw our family friends hoisting the swastika flag. I saw my high-school teacher raising his arm when entering the class and saying “Heil Hitler” for the first time (and then reassuring me in private that nothing had changed.)
I was the only Jew in the entire gymnasium (high school.) When the hundreds of boys – all taller than I – raised their arms to sing the Nazi anthem, and I did not, they threatened to break my bones if it happened again. A few days later we left Germany for good.
General Golan was accused of comparing Israel to Nazi Germany. Nothing of the sort. A careful reading of his text shows that he compared developments in Israel to the events that led to the disintegration of the Weimar Republic. And that is a valid comparison.
Things happening in Israel, especially since the last election, bear a frightening similarity to those events. True, the process is quite different. German fascism arose from the humiliation of surrender in World War I, the occupation of the Ruhr by France and Belgium from 1923-25, the terrible economic crisis of 1929, the misery of millions of unemployed. Israel is victorious in its frequent military actions, we live comfortable lives. The dangers threatening us are of a quite different nature. They stem from our victories, not from our defeats.
Indeed, the differences between Israel today and Germany then are far greater than the similarities. But those similarities do exist, and the general was right to point them out.
The discrimination against the Palestinians in practically all spheres of life can be compared to the treatment of the Jews in the first phase of Nazi Germany. (The oppression of the Palestinians in the occupied territories resembles more the treatment of the Czechs in the “protectorate” after the Munich betrayal.)
The rain of racist bills in the Knesset, those already adopted and those in the works, strongly resembles the laws adopted by the Reichstag in the early days of the Nazi regime. Some rabbis call for a boycott of Arab shops. Like then. The call “Death to the Arabs” (“Judah verrecke”?) is regularly heard at soccer matches. A member of parliament has called for the separation between Jewish and Arab newborns in hospital. A Chief Rabbi has declared that Goyim (non-Jews) were created by God to serve the Jews. Our Ministers of Education and Culture are busy subduing the schools, theater and arts to the extreme rightist line, something known in German as Gleichschaltung. The Supreme Court, the pride of Israel, is being relentlessly attacked by the Minister of Justice. The Gaza Strip is a huge ghetto.
Of course, no one in their right mind would even remotely compare Netanyahu to the Fuehrer, but there are political parties here which do emit a strong fascist smell. The political riffraff peopling the present Netanyahu government could easily have found their place in the first Nazi government.
One of the main slogans of our present government is to replace the “old elite”, considered too liberal, with a new one. One of the main Nazi slogans was to replace “das System”.
By the way, when the Nazis came to power, almost all high-ranking officers of the German army were staunch anti-Nazis. They were even considering a putsch against Hitler . Their political leader was summarily executed a year later, when Hitler liquidated his opponents in his own party. We are told that General Golan is now protected by a personal bodyguard, something that has never happened to a general in the annals of Israel.
The general did not mention the occupation and the settlements, which are under army rule. But he did mention the episode which occurred shortly before he gave this speech, and which is still shaking Israel now: in occupied Hebron, under army rule, a soldier saw a seriously wounded Palestinian lying helplessly on the ground, approached him and killed him with a shot to the head. The victim had tried to attack some soldiers with a knife, but did not constitute a threat to anyone any more. This was a clear contravention of army standing orders, and the soldier has been hauled before a court martial.
A cry went up around the country: the soldier is a hero! He should be decorated! Netanyahu called his father to assure him of his support. Avigdor Lieberman entered the crowded courtroom in order to express his solidarity with the soldier. A few days later Netanyahu appointed Lieberman as Minister of Defense, the second most important office in Israel.
Before that, General Golan received robust support both from the Minister of Defense, Moshe Ya’alon, and the Chief of Staff, Gadi Eisenkot. Probably this was the immediate reason for the kicking out of Ya’alon and the appointment of Lieberman in his place. It resembled a putsch.
It seems that Golan is not only a courageous officer, but a prophet, too. The inclusion of Lieberman’s party in the government coalition confirms Golan’s blackest fears. This is another fatal blow to the Israeli democracy.
Am I condemned to witness the same process for the second time in my life?
About the author:
Uri Avnery is a peace activist, journalist, writer, and former member of the Israeli Knesset. Read other articles by Uri, or visit Uri’s website.
Join the debate on our Twitter Timeline!
For even the greatest of empires, geography is often destiny. You wouldn’t know it in Washington, though. America’s political, national security, and foreign policy elites continue to ignore the basics of geopolitics that have shaped the fate of world empires for the past 500 years. Consequently, they have missed the significance of the rapid global changes in Eurasia that are in the process of undermining the grand strategy for world dominion that Washington has pursued these past seven decades.
A glance at what passes for insider “wisdom” in Washington these days reveals a worldview of stunning insularity. Take Harvard political scientist ...
“We could become the first country to go fascist through free elections.” — William Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
Generally, we avoid using the word “fascism” in polite company, and until recently, a person pointing out parallels between Nazi Germany and the current United States would invite elevated eyelids along with the outworn charge of sounding like a “conspiracy theorist“. The current electoral cycle seems to be changing that, so I will trust that now is the right time to convey some ideas I’ve been marinating regarding fascism in my US Homeland. The ruling plutocrats are clearly ferrying the ...
Real Semites are the Palestinians.
Current Zionists Israelis genetically are not the Semites.
They are the real anti Semitic people.
Please world stop those anti Semitic warmongers Israeli Zionists!
The same arguments used to justify a western ‘humanitarian intervention’ in Kosovo in 1999 could be used to support a Russian intervention in Ukraine.
This article originally appeared at Irrussianality
Yesterday, I gave a talk on ‘The Folly of Military Intervention’ at McGill University. Afterwards, one of the students asked me a question about parallels between the wars in Kosovo in 1999 and Ukraine in 2014/15. As I answered, I found myself thinking about the scale of the humanitarian crises in both cases and what this means for supporters of so-called ‘humanitarian intervention’.
In 1999, NATO aircraft bombed Yugoslavia for three months. The aim, ...
UN Third Committee Resolution L.23 IN, Legitimizes Stranglehold Economic Sanctions., Used as a Means to "Obliterate" North Korea
On November 15, 2016 the United Nations Third Committee adopted the resolution: “Situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Among the co-sponsors of the Resolution were United States, United Kingdom, Ukraine, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, etc.
Disassociating themselves from the resolution, which they denounced as invalid, were China, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela, Syria, and three other countries opposed to the biased character and double standards that typify “country-specific” resolutions. The so-sponsors of this resolution are themselves guilty of criminal human rights ...
“A famous American family” made its fortune from the Nazis, according to John Loftus’ documented historical analysis.
The Bush family links to Nazi Germany’s war economy were first brought to light at the Nuremberg trials in the testimony of Nazi Germany’s steel magnate Fritz Thyssen. Thyssen was a partner of George W. Bush’s grandfather Prescott Bush:
From 1945 until 1949 in Nuremberg, one of the lengthiest and, it now appears, most futile interrogations of a Nazi war crimes suspect began in the American Zone of Occupied Germany.
Multibillionaire steel magnate Fritz Thyssen-the man whose steel combine was the cold heart of the Nazi war machine-talked and ...
Harry Truman surprised Americans with his call for European-style government guaranteed health care for all, Johnson with the extent of the Great Society reforms, and even Nixon with the avalanche of regulatory legislation and social spending he approved, outperforming Johnson on a number of “Keynesian” fronts. Hillary Clinton will offer no such surprises. Her consistent record in the context of the Party’s rightward gallop allows us to infer with iron confidence what we can expect from the Monstress on both the foreign and domestic fronts.
Her coming onslaught against the working population combines neoliberal austerity with some of the dominant strategies ...
If the danger of the anti-Putin, anti-Russian disinformation propaganda campaign out of the Pentagon and promoted by the US corporate media weren’t so serious, the effort itself might be laughable. I did laugh.
In fact, listening last night to a discussion by an NPR host with a government spokesperson about the latest propaganda effort to blame the downing of a Malaysian jumbo jet over Ukraine on July 17, 2014 on Russia. After hearing the government official, whose name I didn’t catch, say that Dutch prosecutors had found “solid evidence” that it was a “Russian-made” BUK antiaircraft missile launched from “pro-Russian” rebel ...
From Libya and Egypt to Syria and Yemen, the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region is undergoing unprecedented tumult and chaos. To understand the current breakdown of states and society, examining the so-called Arab Spring of 2011 that laid the groundwork for this ongoing regional anarchy is indispensable.
Global Research brings to the attention of its readers the newly released book by Christopher L. Brennan. Fall of the Arab Spring: From Revolution to Destruction (available here), propounds an incisive and timely analysis. The book views this widespread Arab upheaval, not as authentic grass roots movements for democracy, but as a US-engineered destabilization. Below are ...
The UK Parliament just confirmed what the alternative media has been saying for years.
Specifically, a new report from the bipartisan House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee – based on interviews with all of the key British decision-makers, review of documents, and on-the-ground investigations in Africa – found that the Libyan war was based on lies, that it destroyed the country, and that it spread terrorism far and wide.
The War Based On Bogus Intelligence … Like the Iraq War
Initially, the report finds that the threat to civilians from Libyan government forces was dramatically overstated:
Former French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé, who introduced ...
On March 11, 2006, President Slobodan Milosevic died in a NATO prison.
No one has been held accountable for his death. In the 10 years since the end of his lonely struggle to defend himself and his country against the false charges invented by the NATO powers, the only country to demand a public inquiry into the circumstances of his death came from Russia when Foreign Minister, Serge Lavrov, stated that Russia did not accept the Hague tribunal’s denial of responsibility and demanded that an impartial and international investigation be conducted. Instead, The NATO tribunal made its own investigation, known ...
The problem is America’s global hegemony comes with insistence on maintaining military and economic dominance right in China’s backyard.
To avoid a violent militaristic clash with China, or another cold war rivalry, the United States should pursue a simple solution: give up its empire.
Americans fear that China’s rapid economic growth will slowly translate into a more expansive and assertive foreign policy that will inevitably result in a war with the US. Harvard Professor Graham Allison has found: “in 12 of 16 cases in the past 500 years when a rising power challenged a ruling power, the outcome was war.” Chicago University scholar John ...
Can we face it in this election season? America is a weapons factory, the White House a war room, and the president the manager of the neoliberal conspiracy to recolonize the planet. It exports war and mass poverty. On the economic front, usurious neoliberalism; on the military front, illegal wars. These are the trenches of America’s battle for world domination in the 21st century.
If not stopped, it will be a short century.
Since 1945, America’s Manifest Destiny, posing as the Free World’s Crusade against the Red Menace, has claimed 20 to 30 million lives worldwide and bombed one-third of the earth’s ...
Reports that US and British aircraft carrying arms to ISIS have been shot down by Iraqi forces have been met with shock and denial in western countries. Few in the Middle East doubt that Washington is playing a ‘double game’ with its proxy armies in Syria, but some key myths remain important amongst the significantly more ignorant western audiences.
A central myth is that Washington now arms ‘moderate Syrian rebels’, to both overthrow the Syrian Government and supposedly defeat the ‘extremist rebels’. This claim became more important in 2014, when the rationale of US aggression against Syria shifted from ‘humanitarian intervention’ ...
Croatia's Jasenovac death camp (photo credit: Courtesy of the Unites States Holocaust Memorial Museum)
The controversy over the canonization of Pope Pius XII concerns whether he spoke out enough against the slaughter of Jews during World War II. But that question is a red herring when trying to grasp the big picture of the Vatican's role during the war.
The real question is whether the Vatican supported the world order, or at least aspects of it, that the Third Reich promised to bring, a world order in which dead Jews were collateral damage - which Pius indeed regretted. The answer can be ...
Thankfully humanity is freed from the scourge of a third Hillary and Bill Clinton crime family co-presidency – she in the lead role with her finger on the nuclear trigger as US military commander-in-chief, perhaps eager to squeeze it.
Newsweek magazine jumped the gun, printing a special edition, distributing it to outlets before November 8 – Hillary on the cover below the heading “MADAM PRESIDENT.”
Shades of November 3, 1948, the Chicago Tribune headlining “DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN.” A beaming President HST held up a copy of the broadsheet, saying: “That ain’t the way I heard it!”
Like polls predicted a Hillary victory this ...
In the immediate wake of the 9/11 attacks, George W. Bush stated in no uncertain terms that “State sponsors of terrorism” would be considered as “terrorists”.
“We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them”.
But there is always an “Exception that the Proves the Rule” and that is George W. Bush himself.
When George W. Bush respectfully kisses King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, does this mean that Dubya could–by some stretch of the imagination– be considered a “suspected terrorist”, who should never have been elected president of the United States of America?
The answer ...
A peaceful dissolution of the USSR according to the agreement between Mikhail Gorbachew and Ronald Reagan in 1988 in Reykjavik brought a new dimension of a global geopolitics in which up to 2008 Russia, as a legal successor state of the USSR, was playing an inferior role in global politics when an American Neocon concept of Pax Americana became the fundamental framework in international relations. Therefore, for instance, Boris Yeltsin’s Russia capitulated in 1995 to the American design regarding a final outcome of the USA/EU policy of the destruction of ex-Yugoslavia in November 1995 (the Dayton Agreement) followed by even ...
The world is at a dangerous crossroads. The United States and its allies have launched a military adventure which threatens the future of humanity. Major military and covert intelligence operations are being undertaken simultaneously in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia and the Far East. The US-NATO military agenda combines both major theater operations as well as covert actions geared towards destabilizing sovereign states.
America’s hegemonic project is to destabilize and destroy countries through acts of war, covert operations in support of terrorist organizations, regime change and economic warfare. The latter includes the imposition of deadly macro-economic reforms ...
Paul Craig Roberts’ address to the Conference on the European/Russian Crisis, Delphi, Greece, June 20-21, 2015
Paul Craig Roberts, formerly Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for Economic Policy, Associate Editor, Wall Street Journal, Senior Research Fellow, Stanford University, William E. Simon Chair in Political Economy, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.
The United States has pursued empire since early in its history, but it was the Soviet collapse in 1991 that enabled Washington to see the entire world as its oyster
The collapse of the Soviet Union resulted in the rise of the neoconservatives to power and influence ...
The Geopolitics Of American Global Decline: Washington Versus China In The 21st Century
A Brief History of Fascism in the United States
Who Are the Jews? Judaism vs Zionism
“Responsibility To Protect” Was Not Valid In Kosovo And Isn’t Valid In Ukraine
Human Rights Violations: North Korea Versus The U.S.
Bush Family Links To Nazi Germany: “A Famous American Family” Made Its Fortune From The Nazis
Hillary’s Agenda Here And Abroad Intertwined: “Full Spectrum Dominance” Around The Globe, A Swelling Precariat At Home
US Propaganda Campaign to Demonize Russia in Full Gear over One-Sided Dutch/Aussie Report on Flight 17 Downing
Fall of the Arab Spring: From Revolution to Destruction
British Parliament Confirms Libya War Was Based On Lies … Turned Nation Into a “Shit Show” … Spread Terrorism
The “Extrajudicial” Assassination Of Slobodan Milosevic In 2006
The US And China Can Avoid A Collision Course – If The US Gives Up Its Empire
The Great Leap Backward: America’s Illegal Wars On The World
The Relationship Between Washington And ISIS: The Evidence
Mass grave of history: Vatican’s WWII identity crisis
Raining On Trump’s Parade
George W. Bush And King Abdullah Of Saudi Arabia: Is Kissing A “State Sponsor Of Terrorism” A “Terrorist Act”?
The West Versus Russia: Towards The End Of A Pax Americana?
Neoliberalism and The Globalization of War. America’s Hegemonic Project
Paul Craig Roberts’ Address To The International Conference On The European/Russian Crisis Created By Washington