It’s time Israel’s extremists took a look in the mirror
Israeli activists, former ambassadors and right-wing fanatics claimed this week that “Palestinians” flew a Nazi flag in the village of Beit Ummar. To such people, one flag represents the entire Palestinian fight against Israel’s war crimes, human rights violations and contempt for the international rule of law.
Pro-Israel activists and the censored Israeli press inundated social media with a video showing a flag bearing the swastika symbol being disentangled from power lines and dropping to the ground. Proof positive, they asserted, that Palestinians do not want peace and fuel anti-Semitism. In fact, the use of such stereotypes of the apparent actions of some Palestinian extremists, while ignoring the constant violence by the racist settlement movement, is the real force that fuels anti-Jewish hate.
Some Israeli extremists attempt to push innocent people so hard in the hope that, in their anger, they speak out with a rage that can then be propagandized by the media and hate-driven zealots. They will take any incident and blow it up into a scandal, which they hope will overshadow their own violence and anti-Semitic hate, as the Palestinians are also Semites, many of whom are descendants of Jews who converted to Christianity (like my own family) or to Islam.
Certain Israeli zealots love to use the word “Nazi” against their critics, but they are quick to scream when their critics compare Israel’s violence and brutality to that of the Nazis, fluffing up their hate with assertions that this is a “denial” of the Holocaust.
My father George and my uncle Moses, both Christian Palestinians born in Jerusalem, came to America and didn’t hesitate to enlist in the US military to fight the Nazis after America entered the Second World War in 1941. They fought in Europe against the Nazis, with my father serving in the Office of Strategic Services, which targeted Nazi leaders. My uncle served on a battleship in the North Atlantic, taking on Nazi U-boats and protecting the supply lines to the Allied base that ultimately liberated Europe and freed all the victims of the Nazi concentration camps, including Jews.
More than 6 million Jews were murdered by the Nazis, who wanted to annihilate European Jewry entirely. They also murdered more than 12 million non-Jews, including Eastern Europeans, Russians, Slavs, the disabled, and Arabs.
They will take any incident and blow it up into a scandal, which they hope will overshadow their own violence.
Israeli fanatics know that, by simply throwing words like “Nazi” and “anti-Semitism” at the Palestinians, the biased news media will fire up the anti-Palestinian propaganda and deflect the world’s attention from their own crimes, such as the racism against non-Jewish citizens of Israel and the brutality against non-Jews living under horrible conditions in the Occupied Territories.
They know that these biased stereotypes and propaganda fuel the lies they fan in America. If US politicians were ever to shake off the Israeli political headlock and the American people were able to see and hear the truth of the conflict — that Christians are among the millions of Palestinians who are being killed, brutalized and denied their fundamental human rights on a daily basis — then those Americans would challenge Israel. Instead of giving away $38 billion and more in US tax dollars to support Israel’s apartheid system, which denies Palestinians their rights, they would be condemning it for its violations of international law.
I didn’t hear any of the pro-Israel exaggerators scream about how Israel shoots Palestinian civilians in the head — killings that are intentional because the Israeli military uses sniper rifles to target their victims. Those killed include nurses, children, teenagers and protesters. In fact, anyone who stands up and confronts Israel’s war crimes.
So, yes, I denounce whoever placed that single Nazi flag in the village of Beit Ummar, which is just north of Hebron, a city that harbors one of the most extremist and violent settlements of Jewish fanatics.
I have been to Hebron and was confronted by these fanatics face to face. I watched as Israeli soldiers protected the settlers as they screamed racist anti-Christian and anti-Muslim slander. I was serving as the national president of the Palestinian American Congress in 1995 and was on a fact-finding mission in support of peace. I watched the Israeli soldiers stand by and laugh as I stood firm against the Jewish settlers’ calumny and name-calling. I believed the only way to achieve peace was to separate the fanatics from the moderates on both sides.
But I didn’t see any of the Israeli fanatics who posted the Nazi flag on Twitter this week put that image in the same context and denounce all extremism, including their own side’s. How many times have they spoken out against settlers painting slogans such as “Death to all Arabs” or destroying Palestinian farmland through arson and vandalism under the noses of the Israel Defense Forces? Have they denounced the killings of Palestinian children or women? Or the clear violations of human and civil rights when the authorities violently respond to peaceful protests that challenge the Israeli government’s apartheid?
Instead, they do what they always do and hope to foment more hatred to push the conflict toward a violent conclusion.
Let these Israelis bring up the issue of the Nazis and Nazism all they want. It makes it easier for their critics to point out the similarities with their own brand of fanaticism.
- Ray Hanania is an award-winning former Chicago City Hall political reporter and columnist. He can be reached on his personal website at www.Hanania.com. Twitter: @RayHanania