Among the accusations made against Israel, the comparison between the fate of the Palestinians today and that of the Jews during the Shoah, along with the unfounded accusation of ‘genocide,’ are the most infamous.
The formula is well known: “To name things wrongly is to add to the misfortune of the world,” wrote Albert Camus in 1944. While Israel’s hearing against South Africa is being held at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, there are many actors in the public debate who resort to these fallacious accusations, from former British Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn to Turkish President Erdogan comparing Netanyahu to Hitler, from the extreme left and those demonstrating in the streets of Europe, calling: ‘From the river to the sea.’
Without taking anything away from legitimate empathy for the suffering of the Palestinian civilian population, victims and hostages of this war started by Hamas, these accusations must be firmly rejected.
So, what does this accusation of genocide mean? What does this Nazification of Israel mean? Linking the idea of genocide to the war in Gaza aims to give the label of ultimate infamy to the State of Israel. Materially and legally unfounded, this accusation, in fact, aims at other political goals.
First, this perverse inversion portrays Israel, the state of refuge for victims of the Shoah, into a state of executioners and aims to disrupt the moral compass of our society. Then, by symbolically labelling Israel as Nazi, the accusation relieves European consciences of the guilt of the Shoah. Finally, by maximising the representation of Israel’s moral culpability, the prosecution minimises the gravity of Hamas October 7 abuses. Accusing Israel of genocide is the most effective strategy for ignoring the pogroms of October 7 and the exterminating ideology that motivated Hamas terrorists, massacring, raping, and torturing Israeli civilian populations.
This accusatory reversal is not new. The Palestinian cause has often used the mirror of Jewish history to formulate its own narrative. For example, the choice of the word Nakba (‘catastrophe,’ in Arabic) to describe the historic date of the independence of the State of Israel.
But above all, this accusatory reversal disinhibits all violence. Accusing Israel of committing out a genocide, of being the new Nazi state, justifies the most radical speeches, going so far as to normalise the demand for the dismantling of the only Jewish State. Faced with a supposedly genocidal state, what violence would not be legitimate?
Let’s not be naive: those who use this terminology only do so to accuse Israel. Their selective indignation spares the abuses of the great authoritarian regimes of the world and obscures the Uighur victims in China, Rohingyas in Burma, and Christians in Nigeria. And, of course, they have never criticised Western military operations against Daesh in Mosul and Raqqa, or against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, despite the unfortunately numerous civilian victims.
This accusatory reversal is therefore indeed a voluntary and calculated stigmatisation of the Jewish State alone. And, alas, we know that the opprobrium it arouses will directly extend to Jews all over the world.
We, European Jews, have the responsibility to denounce these dangerous accusations while there is still time. Because no, Gaza is not Auschwitz! Shame on the governments that engage in Holocaust trivialisation and denial.
Ariel Muzicant, EJC President
Yonathan Arfi, CRIF President