Why Nazi Germany references are banned on this blog

Posted: January 12th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: racism, this is personal | Tags: , , | 6 Comments »

I have made up my mind to ban all Holocaust and/or Nazi Germany references on comments to my posts, for the following reasons:

1.    Israel is not Nazi Germany. It’s not even close. I find the current political trends troubling, even dangerous, but this country is not engaged in a systematic, full-scale genocide, and since 1948, it hasn’t committed mass deportations. There are better ways to say that the Palestinians deserve justice.

2.    Some argue that Israel has one or several laws that were introduced by the Nazis too. Even if that’s the case, so what? The same could be said on many laws, in many countries. Nazi Germany is the symbol of the ultimate historical evil because of the death camps and the industrialized genocide, and nothing else. It’s even not because of the concentration camps themselves, since those weren’t unique to Germany (the USSR had them, and so did the US), and surly not because of racist policy alone. Many countries had racist policies at one stage or the other. Saying that a racist law immediately turns a country into the equivalent of Nazi Germany is like saying universal health-care makes a country Nazi – a claim so stupid no sane person would even think of.

3.    Saying someone is Nazi means he represents the ultimate evil – something that shouldn’t be negotiated or compromised with, but only fought. If you think Israel should be wiped of the map, not just the country but its people themselves, you won’t find support on this blog (If you think the political structure which makes Israel what it is should be change, or that the country should become a bi-national or a multi-cultural one, you are welcomed to express your ideas here – but leave the WWII references out).

4.    My grandfather was a Holocaust survivor, and maybe because of that, I simply find these analogies offending. I rather not read them on my own blog.

5.    Adding WWII references to your argument sounds like a good way to get attention, but it’s actually counter-productive. More often than not, people start debating Nazism (usually revealing very poor historical knowledge) and the real issue you wanted to discuss is forgotten. I want debates here to be focused and on-topic, and I want them to deal with real issues, not propaganda.

This policy will apply for both sides. I will not allow such references to Israelis and Jews, but I will also delete all comments comparing Palestinians, Arabs or Muslims to the Nazis, or calling Leftwing activists Kapos, as some readers have.

Next on the agenda: declaring war on Norway

Posted: October 3rd, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Right | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Avigdor Liberman is doing it again: Haaretz reports that our Foreign Minister is now considering throwing out the Norwegian monitoring force from Hebron. The reason: the anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic policies of Norway’s government. The evidence: Norway’s government’s pension fund’s decision to divest from an Israeli company, Elbit; Norway’s contacts with Hamas, which are yet to be proven (Last week Netanyahu made the same allegation, based on wrongful information, against Sweden); and on top of all, Norway’s insistence – after Liberman has warned them once already! – to mark the 100th birthday of Knut Hamsun, the writer who sympathized with the Nazis during WW2.

Of all the foreign ministers he met with in New York, Lieberman told the cabinet, this meeting [with Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store] was the most difficult, because “the Norwegians take a very hostile line against us.”

“It may be the time has come to reassess our relations with them and reexamine our position on matters important to them, like their monitors in Hebron or [Israel's] cooperation with the forum of donor states [to the PA], which they head,” Lieberman added.

People praise Liberman for his firm stand against anti-Semitism, but personally I think he didn’t even start the real work. According to the same logic, Liberman should cut ties with Germany for playing Wagner‘s music, and with France for publishing Celin‘s work, with Finland (we remember which side they took!), naturally with Japan, and that’s just the beginning. By the way, they teach Hamsun and Celin in Israel’s schools and universities, but I guess that’s beside the point.

If we go back to serious politics, the international monitoring body’s present in Hebron is part of an agreement which Israel signed, and it’s not even in Liberman’s authority to postpone it. Clearly, Liberman knows that. I assume the real motive for his actions is an attempt to win some points with the Israeli public, since he can’t do anything else, as he is considered a persona non grate by most of the world. Obviously, Liberman is eroding whatever credit this government still enjoys in Europe and turning the very real the fight against anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial into a joke, but that’s not too bad either. In a way, he represents the current atmosphere in Israel better than Shimon Peres or Tzipi Livni ever did when they held the same office. We couldn’t have asked for a more suitable Foreign Minister.

Using and abusing the Holocaust / the work of Khaled Mahameed

Posted: September 29th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: culture, guest post | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off
Mahameed giving a workshop in Askar Refugee camp

Mahameed giving a workshop in Askar Refugee camp

Harvey Stein is a filmmaker/journalist, originally from New York, who moved to Israel 3 years ago and now lives in Jerusalem. Harvey is working these days on a documentary called “Heart of the Other“, which follows the work of Khaled Mahameed. Just before Yom Kippur, he suggested writing something about it for Promised Land, and I was more than happy to agree, as I think that Mahameed’s is one of the most inspiring projects I’ve heard of in the last  years.

Besides working on “Heart of the Other,” Harvey has made short videos for Time magazine website, CNN, ABC, and other TV stations and websites in Europe and the United States. If you’d like to contact him, write me (my e-mail is in the “about” page), and I’ll forward your mail.

Since moving to Jerusalem from New York three years ago, I have been fortunate to spend considerable time with Khaled Mahameed (I’m making “Heart of the Other,” a documentary about his work, excerpts here: http://www.heartoftheother.com/trailer). Mahameed is a Palestinian-Israeli citizen who has gotten notice for his “Holocaust education” for Arabs – both at his tiny museum in Nazareth, and in villages, towns, and refugee camps in the West Bank.

Mahameed is a lawyer by trade, and a complex “intellectual in action” by nature. Since at least age 18 (when his Jewish tutor at Hebrew University responded to his request to study more about Nazi Germany with, “Why would an Arab want to do that?”) he has basically been obsessed with the Holocaust – unpacking its meaning and its effect on both Palestinians and Israelis, and their fraught relationship. Read the rest of this entry »

Prove that you are alive

Posted: April 24th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: this is personal | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Tuesday was Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel, and my sister visited the Yad Vashem site to go through the names of our relatives who died during the war. Yad Vashem’s database of the Holocaust’s victims has over 3 million names in it – about half the total number of Jews murdered by the Nazis.

Surprisingly enough, when she typed the name of my grandfather, Henry Fogelman, he was listed among the French Jews who were murdered in Auschwitz. The full entry goes:

Henri Fogelman was born in Radom in 1923. During the war he was deported with Transport 48 from Drancy to Auschwitz on 13/02/1943. Henri perished in the Shoah. This information is based on a list of deportations from France found in the Le Memorial de la deportation des juifs de France, Beate et Serge Klarsfeld, Paris 1978.

Reading this still gives me the chills.

All the details in the Yad Vashem database are accurate, except one: my grandfather didn’t make it to the death camp – he jumped from the train somewhere along the way. In fact, he was deported again to Auschwitz, and again he managed to escape. Later on, he came to Israel to fight in the 48′ war, where he met my grandmother. The marriage didn’t work out, and after a few years Henry went back to live in Argenteuil, a northwestern suburb of Paris. He died in 2000. Here is a picture of him with my grandmother in one of his visits to Israel.


As it turned out, my mother contacted Yad Vashem sometime ago and pointed out the mistake. She was asked to present proof that her father did in fact escape from transport 48.

“I am the proof,” said my mother.

Apparently, that wasn’t enough, and she gave up on the whole thing.

I don’t know what my grandfather would have thought about his name appearing among the other family members who were murdered in Auschwitz. As for me, I kind of prefer the entry to stay as it is. The Holocaust had some sort of a “happy ending” for us: my grandfather survived, and so did his older brother Albert, who passed away in 2003. But the truth is, the Holocaust had no happy endings, and I wonder what is left for a person who lost so many members of his family, jumped from two trains heading to Auschwitz and spent the rest of the war hiding in the snow and in the woods. What did he leave behind him when he returned from Poland to France? and to what extent did he really survive?

Read the rest of this entry »