Guardian publishes repulsive letter evoking Israel-Nazi analogy

Alvin Rosenfeld, in a recent essay at The Forward (Moral Emptiness of Holocaust Survivors Who Took on Israel, Aug. 28), argued that “stamping” Israel-Nazi analogies “with the moral authority that supposedly belongs to Holocaust survivors does not turn these lies into truth”.

Rosenfeld wrote these words in the context of addressing a Guardian letter on Aug. 15th by Holocaust survivors (also published by the New York Times) condemning Israel’s alleged ‘pro-genocidal’ policies – a Holocaust inversion which the Guardian once against saw fit to amplify in the following letter, published on September 11th:

One night, when I was 13, I was woken by the sound of a door being broken down. Boots stumbled up the stairs, there was loud shouting, and a terrifying series of crashes. Nazi stormtroopers had identified our house as the home of a Jewish family, and this was the night of 9 November 1938, when the Kristallnacht pogrom raged across Germany. Our entire home was destroyed before our eyes, with axes and sledgehammers.

I have a vivid recollection of my father, after the monsters had gone, sitting on the one chair that remained and weeping. I had never seen him weep before. I now realise that, but for the presence of myself and my younger sister, my parents might not have survived the raid. It was a brutal demonstration of our situation. My sister and I left Germany on the last Kindertransport from Düsseldorf in May 1939. We have never had a full account of our parents’ fate.

Even now, I sometimes start up in bed, reliving that night. But in recent weeks, it is more often images of devastation in Gaza – of homes and families destroyed in Israeli targetings of such “military objectives” as the homes of officials in the democratically elected Hamas government – that have recalled the terror of the Kristallnacht. For I can hardly believe that a Jewish government is doing these things. How can Jewish people, aware of their own history, undertake a campaign of collective punishment that kills a higher multiple of the casualties cited as justification, than did the Nazi reprisals for resistance in occupied Europe?

Surely we have reached the point where every government not composed of utter humbugs must join in insisting that an Israeli renunciation of ambitions for expansion beyond the 1947 boundaries is a prerequisite for progress towards reconciliation and peace within a two-state solution. The very doubtful prospect of a unified, multinational, secular state in Palestine appears to be the only alternative.
Karola Regent
Newport-on-Tay, Fife

Though Regent’s claim that Israeli attacks evoke the 1938 Nazi pogrom against innocent German Jews known as ‘Kristallnacht’ is completely ahistorical and extraordinarily offensive, the suggestion that Israel’s war against Hamas represented ‘collective punishment’ on scale with “Nazi reprisals” against civilians during World War 2  is simply delusional.

Whilst the IDF took extraordinary (arguably unprecedented) measures during the recent war to avoid civilian casualties in Gaza (amidst the widespread use of Hamas of human shields), the Nazis systematically used murderous reprisals against innocent civilians on a massive scale.  Frequently, if partisans killed a German soldier, Nazis would round-up and execute all the men and teenage boys in a nearby village, often employing a reprisal ratio of one hundred civilians for every German soldier killed.

In addition to the six million Jews (and millions of others) systemically murdered by the Nazis, it is believed that such ‘reprisals’ over the course of WWII may have accounted for “hundreds of thousands [of innocent civilians] killed in Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Greece, and France”, and likely over a million in Poland and the Soviet Union.

Finally, though there may very well be a good argument to be made for simply not dignifying intellectually unserious comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany with such comparative data on civilian casualties, we believe that such responses are at least sometimes necessary to expose such inexplicable Guardian editorial decisions to legitimize these appalling abuses of Holocaust memory.

29 replies »

  1. Rosenfeld is so right. A lie is a lie even if it is told 1000 times. It does not, as Mao Zedong claimed, ever become the truth. The Nazi/Israel comparison is a revolting lie.

  2. Note, also, the reference to “1947 boundaries”–presumably a reference to the original Partition Plan (which was rejected by all the Arab countries).

  3. HOw nice of her to want to see the end of the Jewish state. Many Holocaust survivers that live in Israel and who fought its independence war don;t agree with her. She is no better than all other Jews haters who call to see the end of the Jewish state.

      • I think it’s fair to say that you are not a Liberal Progressive. So how can you speak about what Liberal Progressives seek in this world? Like most assholes, you only say what you want others to think so that it fits your narrative. People like you need to go fuck yourselves, and I mean that sincerely.

        I hug trees. I support Israel. I hate assholes.


  4. I´ve seen a lot worse than that letter in all honesty. But yes its mainstream now this moral equivalence with the Holocaust.

    The worst slander is the “genocide” one because while perhaps one can argue that Israeli methods are somewhat similar in some circumstances to Nazi behaviour, that is the same for any country dealing with conflict.

    The Nazis wore boots, so do IDF soldiers etc…its gets silly.

    But the genocide slander can be proven as false just based on simple demographics and number of deaths. The fact the Palestinian population is growing sort of defeats the whole genocide comparison.

    I think law should take it on.

    • Morris:

      “…perhaps one can argue that Israeli methods are somewhat similar in some circumstances to Nazi behaviour,…”

      The Israelis do not tend to arrest or segregate entire communities preventing them from leaving their new built ghettos.
      The Nazzis used to shot people inside the ghettos randomly and many died from diseases and mal nutrition.
      So many Palestinians are healthy thanks to Israelis allowing them to work within its borders and enter its hospitals that I can’t begin to fathom such analogies.
      Let’s just say that had Israeli troops behaved a bit like Nazis the vast amount of illegal Palestinian workers caught up inside Israel having entered ilegaly would be shot on the spot or hanged after a short summery trial.

      There is no comparison between Israeli troops standard operation and the of the Nazi SS troops (or any troops for that matter) just as there’s no comparison between British troops and Nazis.

      The fact is that IDF is constantly underneath the microscope while other troops hardly ever examined to such extent.

      • I agree completely. My point was the “genocide” canard is much easier to refute with law, based on simple maths and facts.

    • “I think law should take it on.”

      The Guardian is shamefully anti Semitic to the point of incitement to hatred when making these comments. Is there nothing that can be done in Law to sue the paper and its editors or is it best to let them stand as examples of media wickedness?

  5. And Adam has suggested that there is no institutional anti-Semitism at the Guardian. Hah!

    In his own special way Alan Rusbridger is every bit as repellent and dangerous as Julius Streicher.

    • I fully stand by my analysis. Here’s an excerpt from the post you’re referring to:

      “We are often asked if we believe the Guardian to be institutionally antisemitic. While their obsessive and almost entirely negative coverage of the Jewish State fans the flame of antisemitism, this writer, for one, does not believe the media group is compromised institutionally by anti-Jewish racism.

      It may be more accurate to observe in the Guardian worldview a capacity to forcefully condemn antisemitism in the abstract, but an inability to summon such righteous indignation when doing so would require parting company with other ‘historically oppressed’ groups, and indeed challenge their very ideological identity.

      In their failure to condemn Hamas, and morally distinguish antisemitic extremists from the Jews they’re trying to kill, lies not a visceral antipathy towards Jews as such, but a tragic lack of courage to follow their convictions into uncomfortable political places – cowardliness which continues to bring dishonour to their once proud journalistic community.”

      You can read the full post here.

      • Adam,

        Imagine the following:
        Joe does not hate Jews and even have few friends who happened to be Jewish. He is a normal person that does not care too much about minorities and just like to get on with life.
        One evening he encounters a harsh words between a Jew and an Antisemite. The altercation becomes violent and the Jew ends up being beaten while the Antisemire runs away.
        Joe chooses not to get involved because it is not his fight even though he heard that the reason for the abuse were clearly racialy motivated.

        Does Joe’s choice not to act make him an acomplise?
        And if so, does it also make him an Anti semite?

        If not, then what does it make him? And is that new description worse than being an Antisemite, equal or better?

        “lies not a visceral antipathy towards Jews as such, but a tragic lack of courage to follow their convictions into uncomfortable political places – cowardliness which continues to bring dishonour to their once proud journalistic community.”

        You see, in my mind many of those collaoberating or ignoring Antisemitism but were not Antisemites themselves during WW2 in occupied Europe did so for two main reasons.
        Out of fear or lack of courage to stand up to the monster.
        Or – in search of the promissed reward in the likes of Jewish properties or their business.

        The Guardian these days chooses to get his reward in the likes of revenue it gets from the crowds it attract. We all know it is very fashionable to be Anti Zionist these days regardless of the way the opposite side behaves. It is the entertainment of fools.
        We also know that the Guardian chooses not to counter Hamas arguments out of lack of courage for being seen supportive of the Israeli stance.

        Either way you look at it, I’m afraid it seems they chose to collaborate, and we know what comes after that.

        Evil prevails when good men do nothing.
        The Guardian chose to do nothing.

        • I agree with much of what you say and (as anyone who’s read my body of work on the subject would clearly know) I definitely think that some Guardian contributors and editors are antisemitic. I also think that, as an institution, they clearly legitimize antisemitism. However, that’s different than saying that they are institutionally antisemitic.

          • Adam Levick writes:

            “In their failure to condemn Hamas, and morally distinguish antisemitic extremists from the Jews they’re trying to kill, lies not a visceral antipathy towards Jews as such, but a tragic lack of courage to follow their convictions into uncomfortable political places”

            And you know this how exactly? The mere fact that the Guardian promoted so actively and passionately the most anti-Semitic play to be produced in Europe since the Holocaust with no vocal opposition from within its ranks proves beyond question that it is anti-Semitic right from its lice-ridden head down to its foul-smelling toes.

            I have the greatest admiration for your stout Jewish heart, your incredible determination and your splendid work, but about this I believe that you are as wrong as you could be.

  6. Am I the only one noticing the silent rewriting of history?

    “Israeli renunciation of ambitions for expansion beyond the 1947 boundaries”

    This will mean that the entire western galilee as well as evrything surrounding Beer Sheva from the north and east of it be handed to a hostile entity.

    Akko will be handed to the arabs as well as Ashkelon, half of TA and Bat Yam, Holon, Ramle, Gan Yavne, Nazareth and Afula, much of Jezrael valley and the gilboa mountain. Hell even Arad and the neuclear facility be handed to the Arabs.
    Israelis will have to find another place for an international airport and will have to use their passports everytime they want to visit Jerusalem not mentioning enduring a road trip through Arab land if they wish to visit Jerusalem or any other holy site except Tverya or Safed.
    We all know what happened last time the Arabs controlled the area leading to Jerusalem.
    They shot at every Jewish convoy.
    This letter is hinting that Israel cease to exist.

  7. I don’t recall Jews firing 20,000 rockets on German civilians nor do I recall Jews blowing up Germans in coffee shops and restaurants.

    Perhaps my memory is faulty?

    Or is it possible that the Guardian is blaming the victim?

  8. The halo effect in operation – the guardian feels justified in publishing this letter because after all it was written by a holocaust survivor. However the survivor lives in Scotland but could in fact be living on another planet so divorced is she from the realities of the situation in Israel.Since when was defending your citizens from unmitigated rocket fire akin to Nazi reprisals against innocent civilians. Quite frankly it is pointless becoming aggravated by someone who clearly has little appreciation or sympathy for her own people and uses her “sainthood” to mask her self-hatred.

    • She’s upset to hear thugs walking down her quite street shouting “gas the Jews” or “Hitler was right” because the recent operation gave them an excuse to openly vent what they already thought behind closed doors.
      She, like them, believes that if Israel would fall back and behaves like the quite Jew and kiss the feet of its neighbours it will all go away.
      Sadly, she didn’t learn anything from her family’s murder.
      Not an iota of a lesson.

      Unlike her, I learnt from my father’s 6 years of hiding in Nazi Czech, that we can never again rely on others to defend ourselves.

      I do not feel happy when people die in conflict, be it in Gaza, Ukraine or Syria. I feel that this world seem to be learning so little about war and its aftermath.

      When Israelis send their young men and women to the front they do this with heavy heart and in somber mood.
      These are not the images we see that are being sent from the other side.
      Time and time again we see how much Hamas yearns for blood.

      And yet here we are again.

      don’t get me wrong, there are many Israelis who have had enough and are eager to vent their frustration and inflict pain, but they dwarf in comparison to the amount of Arabs from all nations who wish worse upon them.

  9. Sure, sure. Krystallnacht and Gaza. Like two peas in a pod. The very two things that constantly bother me as well, since they are just so exactly alike, and, let’s face it, the only two things that have ever happened that would be of concern to anyone.
    If Israel could only go back to those “1947 boundaries,” the letter writer could get a good night’s sleep, causing us all to breathe a sigh of relief.
    Stupid, delusional, beyond ridiculous, but pleasing to Guardian readers.

  10. It is disgusting to compare the two situations. When Israelis strike, they first warn. The houses are deemed millitary targets once rockets have been fired from them. That is not comparable to Jews hiding from nazis. Shame on you to misunderstand this situation so badly and to publish such a warped view on it.

  11. I completely agree with the view expressed here that Frau Zurndorfer (her original name) has lost the plot in comparing IDF actions in Gaza to those of the Nazis either on Kristalnacht or, most especially, against civilians during WWII and I agree that she deserves round condemnation for a) succumbing to such views and b) being stupid enough to express them in a national newspaper, thereby giving succour to virulent antisemites who would love to see her dead with the rest of the Jewish people.

    I also agree that a strong, proud, unafraid Israel is something to celebrate, and that Regent is 100% wrong to suggest that a return to “the 1947 boundaries” would bring about peace or satisfy the demands of “justice”, but I don’t feel that she should be abused for those views as some have above.

    The issue of the “correct” approach to antisemitism (in general) and specifically the I/P issue is NOT black and white. I understand that many have strong views, (and I share some of them myself, but I also recognise that there are valid arguments for many possible approaches, and just because I disagree with those approaches, sometimes very strongly, I don’t abuse someone because they support them.

    e.g. I very strongly oppose the death penalty, but I can have a civil debate with someone who strongly supports it.

    I know I am going to attract negative feedback for this – and I respect your right to disagree with me – I just felt it had to be said that some on this blog (and in the World in general) seem so intolerant of any view that differs from their own that they far too easily descend into personal abuse that doesn’t advance the argument at all.

    Thanks for listening!

  12. Just another ignorant racist antiSemitic P.O.S.

    Really pathetic that the bigots at the Guardian see fit to publish this type of hateful rubbish.

  13. It is reasonable, given the cultural and educational deficiencies of say, Hamas, that any statement made by them is best regarded as an approximation of the truth, or a deliberate distortion which even they may not see as such, given their cognitive limitations. When war is lost and ‘victory’ claimed, one could only wonder at how the obligations of daily contact with reality are discharged. Initial engagement with educated men and women in a British newspaper might be expected to avoid such errors of thinking, but there they are. ‘Massacres’ are ubiquitous, if Jews are involved, and all the horrors of unrestrained cruelty let loose against innocent Arabs on a daily basis. Kristallnacht and genocide, infanticide and worse. There have been so many lies that any conclusion as to the nature of Guardian reporters and their Editor that does nor include deliberate, malicious dishonesty, is flawed. The paper is institutionally anti Semitic.

  14. I really can’t see why this letter expressing the opinions of an aged survivor of the Kindertransport, living in a small village near Dundee in Scotland, should get anyone over-excited. The letter is full of false comparisons, erroneous conclusions, culminating in that forlorn, unrealistic and entirely theoretical “one-state.” Evoking her experiences as a victim of the Nazis was meant to add emotional weight to her arguments, but they remain flimsy and worthless.

  15. You have to respect the views of the survivors in such letters.
    But on the other hand: where are the opinions of those similarly traumatised who agree with Israel’s actions?

    I’ve not been keeping count, but it seems the G. tends to publish the former.