Parallels Between Israel and 1930s Germany

Hits: 845

“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?


Originally published on 2016-05-21

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.

Source: Anti War

Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!

Donate to Support Us

We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.

READ MORE!
Only Fools and Liars will Blame Assad
So, here's how it is: 1) There is still no evidence - that has been presented to the public - that Assad ordered a chemical weapons (CW) attack. 2) Yes, that evidence should be made public, discussed and debated by Congress, and a vote taken before we use force. I acknowledge that the War Powers Resolution gives the President the authority to use force for 60 days - but the interests of peace and stability are better served through a debate and a democratic process as opposed to a unilateral decision made in secret, especially when the military action is punitive and ...
READ MORE
Pages Purged by Facebook Were on Blacklist Promoted by Washington Post
Media outlets removed by Facebook on Thursday, in a massive purge of 800 accounts and pages, had previously been targeted in a blacklist of oppositional sites promoted by the Washington Post in November 2016. The organizations censored by Facebook include The Anti-Media, with 2.1 million followers, The Free Thought Project, with 3.1 million followers, and Counter Current News, with 500,000 followers. All three of these groups had been on the blacklist. In November 2016, the Washington Post published a puff-piece on a shadowy and up to then largely unknown organization called PropOrNot, which had compiled a list of organizations it claimed were ...
READ MORE
Where do Matters Stand? Does the U.S. Intend to Wage War on Russia?
On the eve of World War II the United States was still mired in the Great Depression and found itself facing war on two fronts with Japan and Germany. However bleak the outlook, it was nothing compared to the outlook today. Has anyone in Washington, the presstitute Western media, the EU, or NATO ever considered the consequences of constant military and propaganda provocations against Russia? Is there anyone in any responsible position anywhere in the Western world who has enough sense to ask: “What if the Russians believe us? What if we convince Russia that we are going to attack her?”The ...
READ MORE
The 2014 Ukraine Coup was as Much about China as Russia
The events which led to the 2014 coup in Ukraine are generally blamed on anti-Russia actors, including the United States and EU.Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was recently in the EU where he said the following,“The largely-provoked-from-the-outside Ukrainian crisis has become the direct consequence of such short-sighted policy of Washington and Brussels”.He continued,“We hope that Germany and France, as partners within the Normandy format, as well as the US who have a special influence on the Kiev establishment, will use their means to change the situation”.Lavrov went on to define his hopes for Ukraine stating,“We want to see Ukraine a ...
READ MORE
Top Ten Myths Аbout the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Myth #1 – Jews and Arabs have always been in conflict in the region Although Arabs were a majority in Palestine prior to the creation of the state of Israel, there had always been a Jewish population, as well. For the most part, Jewish Palestinians got along with their Arab neighbors. This began to change with the onset of the Zionist movement, because the Zionists rejected the right of the Palestinians to self-determination and wanted Palestine for their own, to create a “Jewish State” in a region where Arabs were the majority and owned most of the land. For instance, after a ...
READ MORE
Clash of Imperialists: 21st Century Competition and Confrontation by the Great Powers
Led by the US and NATO, the clash of imperialist powers accounts for the absence of stability not just in the Middle East and Africa, but also the Ukraine and parts of Asia. Behind the rhetoric of democracy, national security, and anti-terrorism there are direct diplomatic and indirect diplomatic efforts through government-financed and pro-business NGO’s. There are overt and covert military operations carried out by the US, EU, China, Russia and their less powerful allies motivated by aggressive intentions for spheres of influence and markets. Behind the “war on terror” and regional conflicts around the world rests the reality of ...
READ MORE
The Forerunner of the European Union
When Napoleon crossed the Neman River and said about Russia, “May its fate come to pass”, could we call it aggression on Russia by a nineteenth-century European Union? Whatever you call it, with the exception of the Balkans, which were under the Turks, all the rest of Europe had been pulled into this campaign—Prussia, Austria, and Switzerland as allies, and Poland, Spain, and Italy as vassals. That leaves almost no one else. Of course, when writing about history you can’t use modern terminology in the past tense. But a polemicist can do what a scholar cannot. And understanding the conditional nature of ...
READ MORE
Book Review: Robert Fantina, “Empire, Racism and Genocide: A History of U.S. Foreign Policy”, 2013
In its entire history, there has been very little time when the United States has been at peace. As it wages its many wars and ‘interventions’, the stated goal is always something few people could argue with: fostering democracy when a struggling people are resisting tyranny, removing threats to U.S. security, or punishing a cruel dictator for unspeakable misdeeds. Yet on closer scrutiny, these reasons are seldom valid. They simply hide the true purposes of U.S. military involvement, which are power and wealth. Starting with the barbarous destruction of Native American culture in order to gain farmlands, right through to the ...
READ MORE
Croatian Ministers Salute Criminals and Dishonour the Dead
Last week was marked by the moral acrobatics of two Croatian ministers – War Veterans’ Minister Tomo Medved and Defence Minister Damir Krsticevic – who publicly endorsed two convicted Croatian war criminals, Tomislav Mercep and Mirko Norac. A WWII Independent State of Croatia in which 700.000 Serbs were brutally killed Croatian news site Index reported last week that Mercep, who is serving a prison sentence, spent a total of 45 days at a spa instead of in jail this year and last year. As Mercep is a Croatian war veteran, Medved said he vouched for him as worthy recipient of the spa ...
READ MORE
America’s War Аgainst the People of Korea: The Historical Record of US War Crimes
The following text by Michel Chossudovsky was presented in Seoul, South Korea in the context of the Korea Armistice Day Commemoration, 27 July 2013 A Message for Peace. Towards a Peace Agreement and the Withdrawal of US Troops from Korea Introduction Armistice Day, 27 July 1953 is day of Remembrance for the People of Korea. It is a landmark date in the historical struggle for national reunification and sovereignty. I am privileged to have this opportunity of participating in the 60th anniversary commemoration of Armistice Day on July 27, 2013. I am much indebted to the “Anti-War, Peace Actualized, People Action” movement for this opportunity ...
READ MORE
Western Silence as 20,000 Neo-Nazis March in Ukraine
In one of the largest, if not the largest, Neo-Nazi demonstration in Europe since WW2, 20,000 facists marched through the streets of Ukraine’s capital Kiev last weekend under the silent gaze of the western media. Other than Russian state media RT and Sputnik News facists throwing Nazi salutes and parading in their tens of thousands in a European capital didn’t concern any of the major western news outlet. Nothing on BBC, France24, CNN, New York Times, The Guardian…the silence of the media lambs when it comes to a growing facists movement in Ukraine is deafening. The Ukrainian Nazis were honoring their ...
READ MORE
Israel: The Nuclear Hegemon That Poses a Potential Threat to Europe
It is calculated that in addition to the secret arsenal of up to 400 nuclear warheads, according to American Scientists, the Israeli state also reportedly possesses chemical and/or biological WMD, making it a dangerous nuclear hegemon that poses a potential threat not only to the Middle East but also to Europe.  Neither France nor Britain nor Germany can equal Israeli state nuclear weaponisation on both land and sea. This calculation is based on the fact that the state of Israel is the only WMD state to refuse to be a party to either the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) or the Biological ...
READ MORE
Japan’s Legacy of War Crimes in China
During World War II, Japan’s imperialist military invaded Northeast China and afterward spread throughout Southeast Asia, then on to an ill-fated attack on Pearl Harbor. Japanese crimes were many during the war and included the coerced services of ianfu (comfort women) for Japanese troops, slave labor, and experimentation on living humans. Today Japanese right-wingers clamor for a re-expansion of Japanese militarism; prime minister Abe Shinzo pays visits to a shrine venerating Japanese dead — among them war criminals; the Diet demonstrates belligerence toward North Korea, a country Japan had formerly occupied; Okinawans’ (Japanese living on the southern archipelago) call for the removal ...
READ MORE
The Note Donald Trump Left in Israel’s Western Wall
Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement! Donate to Support Us We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.
READ MORE
September 11, 2001: The Crimes of War Committed “In the Name of 9/11″
The following text was presented at the International Conference on “9/11 Revisited – Seeking the Truth”, Perdana Global Peace Foundation (PGPF), Kuala Lumpur, November 2012 Introduction The tragic events of September 11, 2001 constitute a fundamental landmark in American history, a decisive watershed, a breaking point. Millions of people have been misled regarding the causes and consequences of 9/11. September 11 2001 opens up an era of crisis, upheaval and militarization of American society. The post September 11, 2001 era is marked by the outright criminalization of the US State, including its judicial, foreign policy, national security and intelligence apparatus. 9/11 marks the onslaught of ...
READ MORE
Why the United States’ Use of Force Against Syria Violates International Law
The United States the use of force against the sovereign state of Syria is a prima facie violation of international law. It is an act of aggression against the UN Member State in violation of the Charter of the United Nations. It therefore gives Syria the right to react in self-defense or a legal justification for the use of force and it gives any other United Nations Member State the right to act in collective self-defense and to support Syrian action against the US This is the basic understanding of the international legal consequences of the United States use of ...
READ MORE
Kosovo Albanian “Skanderbeg SS Division”
The historical and political precedents for the creation of a greater Sqiperia or Greater Albania was set during World War II when the Kosovo and Metohija regions along with territory Southwest of lake Skutari from Montenegro and the western region of Southern Serbia, or Juzna Srbija (now part of Macedonia), were annexed to Albania by the Axis powers led by Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, under a plan devised by Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler to dismember and to destroy the Serbian Nation and people, which the Germans and Italians perceived as the main threat to the Axiss powers and ...
READ MORE
Israeli Blockade of Gaza: The Only Solution is the Establishment of an Independent Palestinian State
Antisemitism needs an excuse and Netanyahu sadly provides it every day on the Israeli- Gaza border.  His heavily armed snipers have gratuitously killed over 200 unarmed Palestinians at the March of Return protest and injured over 10,000 at the border since 30 March 2018 in a sickening exhibition of state sponsored violence that has brought death and disability to those actively, and largely legitimately, demonstrating for return of their land and property. You cannot deprive 2m of their human rights, enshrined in international law, without consequences. Israel is not an island in the sky and the dispossessed Palestinian people are very ...
READ MORE
Threats to World Peace and America’s Imperial Wars: Syria, Afghanistan, North Korea
Afghanistan has gained lead story status in the western corporate and government-sponsored media outlets again for the wrong reasons. This Central Asia state has been at war since the late 1970s when the United States under the then President Jimmy Carter developed a counter-insurgency program to remove the socialist-oriented administration ruling from Kabul. Of course today there is largely no mention in these same press agencies about the organization, training, funding and diplomatic cover provided by Washington through the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Pentagon and State Department for al-Qaeda (the core) which facilitated the armed struggle waged against the Soviet-backed system ...
READ MORE
Native American Genocide
The term Genocide derives from the Latin (genos=race, tribe; cide=killing) and means literally the killing or murder of an entire tribe or people. The Oxford English Dictionary defines genocide as “the deliberate and systematic extermination of an ethnic or national group” and cites the first usage of the term as R. Lemkin, Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, (1944) p.79. “By ‘genocide’ we mean the destruction of a nation or an ethnic group.” The U.N. General Assembly adopted this term and defended it in 1946 as “….a denial of the right of existence of entire human groups.” Most people tend to associate ...
READ MORE
Only Fools and Liars will Blame Assad
Pages Purged by Facebook Were on Blacklist Promoted by Washington Post
Where do Matters Stand? Does the U.S. Intend to Wage War on Russia?
The 2014 Ukraine Coup was as Much about China as Russia
Top Ten Myths Аbout the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Clash of Imperialists: 21st Century Competition and Confrontation by the Great Powers
The Forerunner of the European Union
Book Review: Robert Fantina, “Empire, Racism and Genocide: A History of U.S. Foreign Policy”, 2013
Croatian Ministers Salute Criminals and Dishonour the Dead
America’s War Аgainst the People of Korea: The Historical Record of US War Crimes
Western Silence as 20,000 Neo-Nazis March in Ukraine
Israel: The Nuclear Hegemon That Poses a Potential Threat to Europe
Japan’s Legacy of War Crimes in China
The Note Donald Trump Left in Israel’s Western Wall
September 11, 2001: The Crimes of War Committed “In the Name of 9/11″
Why the United States’ Use of Force Against Syria Violates International Law
Kosovo Albanian “Skanderbeg SS Division”
Israeli Blockade of Gaza: The Only Solution is the Establishment of an Independent Palestinian State
Threats to World Peace and America’s Imperial Wars: Syria, Afghanistan, North Korea
Native American Genocide
Policraticus

Written by Policraticus

SHORT LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The website’s owner & editor-in-chief has no official position on any issue published at this website. The views of the authors presented at this website do not necessarily coincide with the opinion of the owner & editor-in-chief of the website. The contents of all material (articles, books, photos, videos…) are of sole responsibility of the authors. The owner & editor-in-chief of this website is not morally, scientifically or legally responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the contents of all material found on this website. The owner & editor-in-chief of this website is not responsible for the content of external internet sites. No advertising, government or corporate funding for the functioning of this website. The owner & editor-in-chief and authors are not morally, scientifically or legally responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the text and material found on the website www.global-politics.eu

Website: http://www.global-politics.eu