Civilized Holocaust denial
Denying the Holocaust doesn't necessarily mean baldly saying it didn't happen. Denial can be accomplished by false parallel, and often is. Indeed, the whole shoddy business can be made to look quite "civilised"
Parody helps people deny the Holocaust while keeping up a civilized front. British Member of Parliament David Ward is a good exponent of civilized denial.
“– I am saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians …on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza…The suffering by the Jews has not transformed their views on how others should be treated."
Andrew Wilkie, don of Nuffield College Oxford, is another denier in tweeds.
“I have a huge problem with the way that the Israelis take the moral high ground from their appalling treatment in the Holocaust, and then inflict gross human rights abuses on the Palestinians.”
Notice how both contrive to kill two birds in one foul shot. (A) They demonize Israel – ‘atrocities and gross abuses on Palestinians’; while (B) they downplay the Holocaust – ‘persecution and treatment.’
After all, black people under Apartheid were also persecuted and treated appallingly. But that is a world away from genocide, the methodical mass extermination of six million Jews, not sparing the newborn.
Notice further how subtly the Holocaust is downplayed. Atrocities don’t enter – except when Jews are said to commit them. The wording could have us think that the Nazis treated Jews like third-class citizens.
They were denied rights and opportunities; deprived of the basics; imprisoned without trial; worked for long hours at low pay; subjected to curfews and check points; made to cope with cramped conditions and bad food, their ring leaders locked up or eliminated.
‘Treatment’ and ‘persecution’ – even when appalling or unbelievable – carry no hint of the Holocaust elements. Ward, Wilkie and co don’t want us to think of Jews worked to death; exterminated by factory methods; mowed down village by village, town by town; slaughtered in fits of fury. By and large when people are persecuted or treated terribly they live to tell the tale.
Civilized deniers are diabolically sly.
But wait for their full subtlety. The Ward - Wilkie ( W&W) types plies a dangerous trade -- the more because it snares customers without their knowing it. Having dwarfed the Holocaust to an apartheid-level crime, Ward & Wilkie conflate Israel and blameless Palestinians with Nazis and blameless Jews.
We’re led to think that after what the Nazis put the Jews through, the Jews turned on Palestinian victims and put them through the same hell.
How sly is that?
But civilized denial goes deeper. There’s no limit to the mindset and method of tweed-attired deniers. Before coming to that we must put the crimes of the Jews to bed.
W&W refer to atrocities and gross abuses, on a daily basis.
What is the tally from all three Intifadas plus the IDF’s two big ops -- Defensive Shield and Cast Lead? Israel has killed how many Palestinians over quarter of a century? Then compare the tally to peaceful South Africa where violent crime has claimed how many victims?
Israel killed a total of 7,660 Palestinians over 23 years, or 333 per year. South African criminals killed some 300,000 victims over 18 years, or 16,600 per year. But remember, victims in the second toll would be 100% innocent, while in the Palestinian toll not less than two thirds would be ‘militants’ killed by their own acts of suicide bombing or shooting or firing rockets or directing any of the above.
Killers don’t belong in the toll. After all, they who live by the sword shall die by it. What remains are some 100 innocent Palestinians killed yearly, and certainly not deliberately.
Where are the atrocities of Ward and Wilkie? Where are the gross abuses? What tally would make them suggest that Jews copy-cat Hitler’s henchmen? And what do they make of South Africans, not at war with anyone, who murdered fifty times more people than juggernaut Jews operating their ‘Nazi-like’ machine?
Don’t wait; the Wards and Wilkies will disappoint. There is no data behind their conflation of Hitler’s Reich and Israel. Emotion drags them to it. Their brain lobes don’t blink. Even the cleverest men can slip their moorings -- and often do when contemplating the Jews.
But what makes them more diabolical than outright or open deniers? How are the Wards and Wilkies more dangerous?
They have fabricated a legend under the name ‘Massacre of the Jews’, spat former Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Why does that make him less of a threat?
The flat denier is too good to be true. Our cultured palates find the Iranian over rich. One can spit him out or laugh him off -- unless you’re a Chomsky or a Finkelstein, or even a Harold Pinter, all of whom flirted with defending Holocaust deniers. But we rank and file people will only buy into a subtle proposition.
And the Ward-Wilkie firm supplies one. When they speak of ‘treatment’ or ‘persecution’ they turn the Holocaust into a commonplace. Having done that they can turn it around and accuse Israel of similar deeds. After the Jews experienced Nazi cruelty they supposedly turned on their own hapless victims.
How could that be? How could Jews possibly have turned into Nazis? Pressed, the men in tweeds might explain that Jews were deployed to commando jobs in the death camps. There they were traumatized to the point where they aspired to become like the murderers they had to work for.
Leap a generation or two, and the trauma of the Holocaust, they’d have to argue, rubbed off on Israelis, who then spun Nazi methods on Palestinians.
So we end up with a vicious cycle, if you like, a Nazi-Jew go-round, a variant of the media’s famed ‘cycle of violence.’ Nazis and Jews spin around a psycho-cycle that propels vicious-turned Jews at Palestinians who are mere bystanders.
The civilized denier has thought the whole thing out. When he claims that Israelis are the new Nazis he polishes up Hitler’s record while tarnishing the record of Israeli leaders. Eventually there comes a point where the two meet, where like is like, and the denier can say that Israeli and Nazi brutality are on a par.
Jew = Nazi. What seemed all light nonsense before, seems all dark purpose now.
Denial of the Ward-Wilkie mode, irradiating hatred from within, is more pernicious than open denial. It beckons you or I to hate along with them, unlike the open denier who stays on one plane.
“The Jews disseminate everywhere the lie of the Holocaust and claim that Hitler killed six million Jews in gas chambers. Although pure falsehood, they have made it part of their history…”
So thunders Sheikh Adel Bin Ahmad of the Jiddah mosque. When he claims that the Holocaust never happened the man never alters his focus, so we feel no bond with him.
But the Wards and Wilkies are different. Jews are not the direct object of hatred; they stand for treating people badly. That offers you and I a bridge to cross.
We might feel inclined to cross it. After all Ward and Wilkie do seem to hate Israelis for good reason. If they hated for no reason they’d not be civilized, and we’d feel no bond. But how different when they express hatred via sympathy for the victim. That would certainly draw people. The hatred of the civilized denier is well clothed, enlightened.
The disgust of Ward and Wilkie has a glow.
Steve Apfel is director of the School of Management Accounting, Johannesburg. He is the author of the book,'Hadrian's Echo: The whys and wherefores of Israel's critics' (2012) and a contributor to, "War by other means." (Israel Affairs, 2012). His articles and blogs are published in several foreign journals and his new work, 'How the West was won' is due out in the next year
We are wholly dependent on the kindness of our readers for our continued work. We thank you in advance for any support you can offer.