Barry Rubin: Let's Talk About the Nazis

Roundup: Historians' Take

[Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs Journal His latest books are The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan) and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley).]

“Comparing contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis is increasingly commonplace." --U.S. State Department report on antisemitism, 2007.

Let’s talk about the Nazis. There should have already been more than enough discussion about this in the more than half-century since Adolf Hitler’s bunker fell in 1945. There have been hundreds and thousands of books, articles, speeches, and so on about what is commonly known as the Holocaust.

But apparently it hasn’t been enough, or well enough understood.

The Nazis were not just mean people. They had an explicit doctrine of being superior human beings and of the Jews and others (especially Slavs and non-white peoples, except for their ally, Japan,) of being sub-humans who should be wiped out. Homosexuals and Gypsies would all be killed. Germany would rule the world.

This does not resemble Zionism. To put it bluntly, Zionism as an ideology has absolutely no interest in the world as a whole. It focuses only on building a Jewish state in the land of Israel. It has no interest in defining any other group of people, no global perspective. It has never even argued that Jews are better but only that Jews are a people with the same rights as other peoples. The concept is on asserting Jewish equality, not superiority.

There is, however, an ideology which does have a lot in common with Nazism, though there are also of course differences. Radical Islamism claims that other religions are inferior, that the people who hold them are evil, that Jews and Christians are evil, and that Islam should rule the world. The Hamas Charter quotes a source on this point: “You are the best community that has been raised up for mankind….Ignominy shall be their portion” of non-Muslims unless they convert to Islam.”

If it doesn’t seek the extinction of all Jews in the world, it favors the elimination of at least half (those in Israel) and the large part of the other half that supports Israel. The Hamas Charter says that only by killing all the Jews can the messianic era come and that Jews are the cause of all the world’s problems. Oh, yes, and it also calls Israel a “Nazi-like society.”

Mind you, these are the people controlling the Gaza Strip, firing rockets daily at Israel, teaching their children by television and in the classroom that killing Jews is their highest duty and honor, sending gunmen to murder Jewish students deliberately, and then celebrating that fact.

Let’s return, however, to the original and self-described Nazis to get a sense of what it means to have a Nazi policy.

My father’s family comes from the village of Dolhinov which was in Poland, a few miles from the Russian border. Most of the inhabitants were Jews. By 1941, there were nearly 5,000 Jews in Dolhinov, about half had lived there for centuries, the other half were refugees from the part of Poland already under German rule. On June 22, 1941, the Germans invaded the USSR and they entered Dolhinov six days later. No one in Dohinov had a gun. No one fired a single shot at a German soldier.

What was the Nazi policy? All the Jews were forced into a ghetto. On March 3, 1942, the Germans murdered the rabbi and 22 other men. On March 28, about 800 Jews were killed. Between April 29 and May 1, all the rest of the Jewish inhabitants, except for a few who were kept temporarily as workers, were shot and thrown into a big ditch. The rest were murdered on May 21. Of 5,000 Jews then living into town, 96 percent were killed deliberately and systematically. And if the Nazis had their way it would have been 100 percent.

The only survivors were about 200 people who had fled into the forest, wandered for days, and finally had the luck to meet up with a Red Army patrol. They were taken to safety in Siberia for the rest of the war. Virtually all of them came to Israel, where they rebuilt their lives.

Today, these people and their descendants have the privilege of being compared to the Nazis by large parts of the world, including many who enjoy privileged lives in democratic countries.

This is my great aunt’s family on my grandfather’s side. Haya Doba Rubin, her husband Aharon Perlmutter, and their two sons, Haim who was 12 years old and Jacob who was 10 years old were murdered. No survivors.

This is my great uncle’s family on my grandmother’s side. Samuel Grosbein married Rivka Markman and they had two children, Leah Rivka, 18 years old, and Lev, 23 years old. All of them were murdered on the same day. No survivors.

Here is the family of my great aunt on my grandmother’s side. Rahel Grosbein married Yirimayahu Dimenshtein and they had two children, Moshe, 21 years old and Tova, 16 years old. The first three were murdered on the same day. Only Tova survived because she had fled into the forest.

That is what a Nazi policy is like. Multiply that by six million for the Jews alone and more for the Poles, Gypsies, homosexuals, and others.

Let’s compare this with a conventional Western democratic war-fighting policy. The goal here is to defeat the enemy army but it has been permissible to strike against the economy and infrastructure as well. There is no intent to kill civilians but they may be hit by accident. During World War Two, U.S. and British warplanes engaged in carpet bombing of German and Japanese cities as well as factories where civilian workers were employed. Tens of thousands of French civilians were killed in raids on occupied France.

To my knowledge, no Allied soldiers were punished for killing civilians by accident or through carelessness. Nobody was court-martialed for shooting prisoners.

Israeli policy is far more careful to avoid injuring civilians. Most airstrikes are against specific buildings or even individual automobiles. Civilian bystanders have been killed yet far fewer proportionately than has been true for, say, the U.S. or French armies. Soldiers have been tried and punished for actions which, at least in the recent past, would have been ignored in Western armies.

There is no instance I know of in which Israeli units opened unlimited fire on a crowd, even when rocks were being thrown or shots fired against them. Individual targets were picked out. Unarmed people were killed but not deliberately and in small numbers. If Israelis were as their enemies picture them to be, there would be hundreds of Palestinians killed in a single day, tens of thousands in a year.

Thus, even if Israel has been held to a double standard, its record has been better than that of even Western counterparts. Only by lying about that record—the norm in the Arabic-speaking world and all-to-common in the Western one—can it be made to seem terrible.

We need only remember what the Nazis believed and did, what Israelis believe and do, and what their enemies believe and do. It should not be so hard to understand the distinctions.

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art eckstein - 3/30/2008

In israel in 2007, a case involving a Left Wing Israeli suing a Right Wing israeli for "slander" over a political statement was provisionally decided in a court in Nazareth presided over by an Arab Israeli judge.

In israel in 2004, an Arab Israeli jogging in an upscale neighborhood in jerusalem was shot and killed by a passing car filled with Fatah men--they thought he was a Jew.

So much for "Apartheid".

Elliott Aron Green - 3/29/2008

Kislock, just what does the USS Liberty incident during the Six Day War of 1967 have to do with Judea-Samaria & Gaza today??? The Liberty was a US naval warship. Just what is proof that apartheid exists in those territories mentioned. Indeed, carter is the one who wants apartheid, since he denies Jewish rights to live in those areas, thus he endorses racist exclusion of Jews. Carter is a racist against Jews.

Stephen Kislock - 3/27/2008

The Facts on the Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, shows President Carter, was and is Right, These occupied territories are Apartheid; at their worst.

The wanton Attack on the USS LIBERTY, by Israel, justify?

art eckstein - 3/23/2008


Yes, and he lays out the vile strategy of the terrorists exactly. This is an issue none of the Sally Gee's or Kislocks of the world want to deal with.
We need to keep shoving it at them. FACTS will win in the end.

Elliott Aron Green - 3/23/2008

Art, that was an interesting quote from the letter of the Lebanese physician in the German paper. His village he says is near "mardschajun." This is apparently the mainly Christian town of Marj`ayun near the border with Israel.

Elliott Aron Green - 3/23/2008

kislock may be referring to preventive or administrative detention. This is based on a British law from when the British ruled the country. It is a law carried over from the British mandatory period. The law is explicitly meant for emergency situations. I submit, sk, that Israel has been in a state of siege for 60 years, that is to say, a state of emergency.

N. Friedman - 3/21/2008


Presumably you are trying to make a point. It is, however, so poorly stated that I can only guess at what you mean.

Yes, I remember the Nuremberg Laws. What of it?

Stephen Kislock - 3/21/2008

War, Israel and the U.S., we need special protection.

WW II, at the of this War, we had the Nuremberg Laws, Remember?

N. Friedman - 3/20/2008


I agree that in the West we have a trial first, at least in most situations. Of course, we do not do that when there is a war. We hold people - as the US now does.

In any event, if we have a trial first, how is it that you condemn Israeli generals who have not yet been tried and found guilty? Do you see the hypocrisy in your newfound discovery of due process? Is your view, justice to everyone but Jews?

Stephen Kislock - 3/20/2008

In the West, we have a Trial first, then the Jury reaches a Verdict.

Unlike Israel, there is No holding for 180 day and then after 90 days see their lawyer.

N. Friedman - 3/20/2008


The answer to your question is that, prior to shooting rockets at Israelis, Gazans could freely travel to and visit Jerusalem and, if they wanted to, pray. And, were the attacks to stop, the Israelis might again allow them in.

The issue for Israelis is to avoid being massacred by Palestinian Arabs. In other words, Israel's refusal to permit Gazans into Israel is morally and legally correct.

As for your comment about some Israeli generals being unable to travel to Europe, I am not here to defend wrong behavior by Israelis - if those so accused did, in fact, do something wrong. If such people did wrong, they deserve punishment.

I am, however, not inclined to give the accusers the benefit of the doubt. Those who accuse most loudly live in Europe and Europe's history of bigotry against Jews is too great and long standing to take their holier than thou accusations without at least a grain of sand. Which is to say, the generals in issue may have done wrong and, if so, they should be punished as provided for in the law. However, I do not take the word of a mere accusation from some Europeans.

Which means, I do not take seriously your point about the travel plans of certain generals. If and when a convincing case is laid out, I shall consider it and I shall consider the defense as well - since those accused have that right before being condemned. And, that goes doubly when the accusers have a millennium of making dubious accusations.

Stephen Kislock - 3/20/2008

Who is the War Criminal, Israeli IDF Generals cannot travel the world, because at any time, they will be Arrested and Charged with Crimes Against Humanity.

Speaking of travel, can a Palestinian leave Gaza and go to Jerusalem, and Practice his/her Religion?

art eckstein - 3/20/2008

Kislock described "the Occupied Territories" as a ghetto. Now he's reduced to Gaza, by facts, since the WB isn't a ghetto.

But Kislock also needs to consider whether there was ever a time when Gazans could cross into Israel. The answer is yes, all the time. When did it stop? When the Gazans began shooting HUNDREDS OF ROCKETS into Israel.

He need to look at the whole board.

And he needs to answer Michael Walzer's point: when terrorists intentionally use civilians as human shields from which to shoot hundreds of rockets at civilians, THEY, the terrorists--and ONLY they--are responsible for the casualties caused by counterfire.

Kislock's not morally repulsed by the Gazan death cult, or by the handing out of candy to children to celerbrate the slaughter of students reading the bible in Jerusalem, or the popularity of Mein Kampf, or the naming of children after Hitler, or by the Nazi salutes, or the genocide envisioned in the Hamas Charter, or the intentional attack on Israeli civilians with hundreds of rockets--no, he's not.

Given that situation, he can hardly set himself up as a judge in which israeli self-defense against hundreds of rockets is described as aggression and 'genocide'. It's morally and intellectually perverse.

art eckstein - 3/20/2008

Can Israelis rent apartments in the West Bank or Gaza?
Can israelis even visit Saudi Arabia? In fact, can Jews even visit Saudi Arabia?

Would 85% of Israelis approve of an attack on students reading the Koran in a mosque? 85% of Palestinians approved of the attack on the yeshiva 10 days ago. The Palestinian pollster who took the poll said he is in shock.

Kislock needs to look at the whole board. He can't, though, because he obsessed with Jews.

Stephen Kislock - 3/19/2008

Ghetto "any section of a city in which many members of a minority live or to which restricted as by social discrimination." (Websters Dictionary)

Now change city to Gaza Strip, the sea, Israel and Egypt, access denied on all side, by the military. I know there was a few days of Freedom, but what of the Years Oppressed?

The JP 3-19-08 Hebron , in the West Bank? Kiryat Arba Chief Rabbi Dov Lior plans to issue a Halachis ruling Forbidding Israeli Jews from rent apartments to Israeli ARABS or Palestinians or to employ them.

The WEST BANK, Not Israel.

art eckstein - 3/19/2008

1. Kislock answers none of my posts because he cannot answer my questions there, and so he seeks to shift the topic.

2. As for Lebanon:

30 July 2006

In a letter to the editor of the Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel a Lebanese Shia explains how after Israel’s withdrawal from South Lebanon, Hezbollah stored rockets in bunkers in his town and built a school and residence over it.

I lived until 2002 in a small southern village near Mardshajun that is inhabited by a majority of Shias like me. After Israel left Lebanon, it did not take long for Hezbollah to have the say in our town and all other towns. Received as successful resistance fighters, they appeared armed to the teeth and dug rocket depots in bunkers in our town as well. The social work of the Party of God consisted in building a school and a residence over these bunkers! A local sheikh explained to me laughing that the Jews would lose in any event because the rockets would either be fired at them or if they attacked the rocket depots, they would be condemned by world opinion on account of the dead civilians. These people do not care about the Lebanese population, they use them as shields, and, once dead, as propaganda. As long as they continue existing there, there will be no tranquility and peace.

Dr. Mounir Herzallah

(translated from the German by David Ouellette)

Stephen Kislock - 3/19/2008

When Secretary of Rice, was told that Israel, wanted it's yearly stipend, in euros! This took a lot of guts from the Failed state of Israel.

The 100 Billion dollars, given to Israel in AID and military hardware over the last 50+ years, Why?

What of the Billion dollar damage done to Beirut, mass punishment. The numerous Cluster bombs use against civillans targets in Beirut?

I know, you had then and International Treaties be Damned, Israel.

art eckstein - 3/19/2008

Kislock's propaganda fails on facts.

In what sense are the OC's like a ghetto, let alone the Warsaw Ghetto? In the WG the population was being annihilated; in the OC's it is growing rapidly. The population of the WG could not escape, and it was almost totally unarmed; the West Bank has a 300 mile open border with Jordan, and people pass across back and forth--while it is armed to the teeth. The WG was not aggressive towards any neighbors; Gaza has shot almost THREE THOUSAND rockets into pre-1967 Israel--and then people like Kislock complain when the Israelis seek to defend themselves.

Kislock's position is reprehensible both intellectually and morally. The "Ghetto" stuff, like "Israel as Nazis with genocide" stuff is pure slander, the worst kind of lies and propaganda, though Kislock does apparently hope to apply the Goebbels maxim that if you repeat a big lie often enough, someone will believe it.

Elliott Aron Green - 3/19/2008

kislock, I know you're confused. But try to remember that the US State Dept does NOT favor Israel. Rather, it has almost always favored the Arabs --going back to the 1940s. Hence, Caroline Glick pointed out in a recent column in the Jerusalem Post, that sec'y of state Rice had pressured Israel to stop its military offensive in Gaza, when she came to Jerusalem a few weeks ago. This was not because Condi is squeamish about civilian lives in general. Rather, she seems to want to help Hamas and Fatah against Israel. You don't recognize this reality in your confused rant about Iraq, Vietnam, ghettoes, and "occupied territories." For your information, there were Jewish ghettoes in Arab/Muslim countries as well as in Europe. In North Africa --the Maghreb-- the ghetto was called the mellah.

Stephen Kislock - 3/19/2008

Why should an country which has real weapons, etc. If 1 in 50 are guerrillas/freedom fighters, this I apply to The Occupied lands of the Palestinians and Iraqis.With the military might of Israel and U.S. conventional weapons, are proving, Inadequate, because it's Political.

Look to Vietnam, four million wounded and dead, Remember the embassy rooftop?

So if Israel is turning the occupied territories into a Ghetto of the "Death-Cult", the reason for living is taken away and the asymmetrical/guerrilla warfare, will not end..

Elliott Aron Green - 3/19/2008

"You cannot occupy, another's Land and make him the outcast in his own country, without him fighting back."

kislock puts the Jews' historical situation in a nutshell. Their land was occupied and later they were made an outcast in their own land. First, the Jews were defeated by the Romans in 2 major wars in Judea [the Roman name for the whole Land of Israel]. In these two wars, the Romans benefitted from the collaboration of Arab auxiliary troops and Arab legionnaires. Later, the Arabs conquered the country, eventually bringing the Jews down to a low level of humiliation, pecuniary exploitation, and oppression, etc. in their own land, as dhimmis. In fact, there is evidence that Jewish dhimmis were treated worse than Christian dhimmis. Be that as it may, then came the European Crusaders in 1099. The latter massacred most of the Jews in the country [according to Moshe Gil]. The Arabs of today benefit from the genocidal crimes of the Crusaders, who much reduced the Jewish population of the country.

After the Crusades, under Mamluk & Ottoman rule the country declined by most socioeconomic and cultural measures [agricultural production, literacy, amount of cultivated land, etc]. But kislock wants to believe that the Land belongs to the Arabs. The labels of "colonial state" and "settler state" have been unjustly applied to Israel. However, if kislock lives in the USA or Canada, and he opposes "colonial" or "settler" states in principle, then he ought to forthwith leave and go to Europe.

Art, I would add to your list of people displaced after WW2, the Finns of eastern Karelia, driven out at the end of WW2. As you may know, Poles were expelled from the formerly Polish-controlled areas of Belarus & Ukraine and resettled in areas annexed by Poland from Germany whence the ethnic Germans had been expelled. Also bear in mind Danzig & East Prussia.

I think it's a mistake to speak of a "palestinian culture" separate from Arab culture [which the PLO itself claims is the culture of the "palestinians"]. Nor is their culture separate from Islamic religious values, as the Hamas would no doubt agree. In fact, there never was a "palestinian people" in history. This notion was invented by psychological warfare experts, in my view.

art eckstein - 3/18/2008

Mr. Kislock, if you look at maps from pre-1967, you will see that the West Bank is OFFICIALLY part of Jordan, and Gaza is OFFICIALLY part of Egypt.

N. F. is right about this. And he is also right that any time in those years, Jordan and Egypt could've created a Palestinian state. They did not. Why not? Because this was land conquered by them during the war of 1948-1949 and encorporated into Jordan and Egypt (though they weren't able to destroy the Israelis and throw them into the sea, as they wished).

Mr. Kislock should think about these actions of Egypt and Jordan, and the implications of these Egyptian and Jordanian actions, in terms of understanding that the Israelis aren't any more unique in their behavior than the Palestinians are unique in what happened to them.

It would also be nice if Mr. Kislock would answer the points made in my post above, which N.F. emphasized.

N. Friedman - 3/18/2008


That is a very well stated post.

N. Friedman - 3/18/2008


In 1947, the Arab side, including Palestinian Arabs, rejected the creation of a state for Palestinian Arabs. No Arab state voted for it at the UN and, rather than go along with the project, they started a war. They lost the war and, at the same time, they lost some land in the process.

They did not need to start a war. That was a choice. Those who choose the sword sometimes lose. Ask President Bush.

But, even after that, Arabs did not create a state for Palestinian Arabs. Instead, Jordan controlled what is now often called the West Bank. Egypt occupied Gaza. Jordan and Egypt could, at any time between 1948 and 1967, create a state for Palestinian Arabs. I do not recall Palestinian Arabs demanding a state at that time either.

So, I take your view but I note that it is unrelated to the facts. It is also unrelated to what I posted. In fact, what you now write is basically a non-sequitur.

Stephen Kislock - 3/18/2008

What are you doing by Occupying Palestinian Land, in the first place.

I think the UN settled, the borders in 1947?

art eckstein - 3/18/2008

Mr. Kislock:

1. 10 million Germans were kicked out of Eastern Europe, or fled, in 1945; 1 million died in the journey west, 1 million women were raped. They had lived in the region for hundreds of years. Some Eastern European is enjoying their property right now. They spent years in miserable displaced persons camps in W. Germany--I know how miserable they were, and how traumatic the situation was, because I know a child of one of these people. By law, such people cannot return to, e.g., the Czech Republic or Romania.

Yet we do not see these Germans or their descendants blowing up discoteques in Prague or shooting up schools in Bucharest.

2. 850,000 Jews were forced to leave the Muslim countries of N. Africa and the Middle East between 1948 and 1960. That is 100,000 more people than the Palestinian refugee population from 1948. They had lived in these countries for hundreds (sometimes thousands) of years. They were left penniless, and some Arab is enjoying their property right now. For years those who went to Israel (about 700,000) lived in miserable conditions

Yet we do not see these Jews or their descendants blowing up supermarkets or busses in Tunis or Baghdad.

3. In the 1950s, 300,000 Greeks were forced to leave Egypt, under "Egyptianization" policies pursued by the Nasser govt. That's half the size of the Palestinian refugee population of 1948. Some of these people had lived in Egypt for literally 2,300 years. They were left penniless, and today some Egyptian is enjoying the property taken from them. They spent years in displaced persons camps in Greece. They are very bitter.

But we do not see these Greeks, or their descendants, shooting up schools or blowing up busses filled with civilians in Cairo or Alexandria.

The Palestinians have suffered, and their suffering was great, but neither was it unusual in the chaotic conditions of 1945-1960: the end of WWII and the traumas of decolonization. What we see now is their CHOICE, a cultural choice (as Omar Ibrahim Baker has proudly procliamed on this site) not something inevitable in the kind of victimization they have suffered, for MANY populations have suffered as they have but did not and do not resort to genocide-laced terrorism in response.

What is unusual about the Palestinian situaiton? What is unusual is the turning of Palestinian society into a death-cult, and their constant violence against civilians, their chosen and intentional target, with the message this carries of genocide, a message which in the case of Hamas Charter is overt.

Again, terrorists who hide among civilians and use them as human shields while shooting hundreds of rockets at enemy civilians--THEY and only THEY are responsible for the counterfire that occurs, and the civilian casualties that result on their side.

If you are an advocate of asymmetrical war, than it is hypocritical to complain about civilian casualties whose occurrence is intended by the terrorists. I gave you the quote from the Hamas MP on that, taking responsibility for using old people and children as shields. You seem not to have read it.

N. Friedman - 3/18/2008

Mr. Kislock,

If asymmetric warfare works, then you cannot blame countries with countering it with means that also work. Such is a moral obligation of the highest order.

In this regard, I draw your attention to famed philosopher Immanuel Kant, who made clear that violent uprisings and wars of the type you equivocate on should, instead, be properly crushed. Such is a moral imperative. And that those who engage in such manner of uprisings and wars are engaged in an unjust war.

I suggest you ponder Kant's point, most especially given your equivocation regarding asymmetric warfare.

Stephen Kislock - 3/18/2008

Dose the use of a WMD, to conquer a country and punish the world for your cause, is wrong.

What people in their right mind, would go toe to toe with the U.S. military?

When other countries/U.S. Invade a country like, Iraq and Saddam having learned his lesson from the Kuwait Invasion, fall back and pick them off one by one.

When one is fighting on home turf, for the Homeland, to defend ones self with the means at hand.

The Scorch Earth Policy of Russia vs. Napoleon and the Nazi, it worked. And the Russians paid heavily for this form of Defense. Asymmetrical Warfare won the day for Russia.

Suicide or Death, what is worse?

N. Friedman - 3/18/2008


Do you favor asymmetrical warfare? It sounds like it. Consider that asymmetrical warfare is, by definition, a form of unjust war - in fact, a paradigmatic example thereof -, not to mention illegal under any understanding of International law.

If, as you say, asymmetrical warfare could be in our future, does it not make moral sense that such unjust and illegal forms of warfare be put down as decisively as possible? The alternative, it seems to me, is to condemn us to the future you believe we all have.

Why should an country which has real weapons not respond to asymmetrical warfare by the tactical and strategic advantages that such country has?

It seems to me that you confuse propaganda with fact.

Stephen Kislock - 3/18/2008

What if any International Treaties, has Israel, lived up to?

You cannot occupy, another's Land and make him the outcast in his own country, without him fighting back.

Aircraft bombing vs. Suicide bombing, the might of Israel and the U.S. are in Advanced weaponry, but the Suicide bomber, can equalize the supposed advantages of technology.

Most wars in the future, will be Asymmetrical.

Mass punishment, was wrong when the Nazi's did it, and so it's wrong when Israel does...

Bush open the Pandora's box, when Kosovo, was recognized. If it's good for Kosovo, watch me!

N. Friedman - 3/18/2008


I agree entirely with your point.

art eckstein - 3/18/2008

In a genocide, population numbers go down in devastating fashion: as in the Holocaust, or Rwanda. The population of Gaza in 2003 was 1,300,000. The population in Gaza in 2007 is 1,430,000. The population has risen by 140,000 or so in three years.

The population of Gaza (and the West Bank) is poor by israeli and Western standards, but well off by Egyptian and Jordanian standards. And no one is starving.

The Warsaw Ghetto didn't fire thousands of rockets into civilian neighborhoods, or send terrorists to kill any civilian they could find, or dance in the streets when students studying the bible were slaughtered.

Mr. Kislock needs to find an answer to the statement of Michael Walzer, one of the leading political philosophers of our generation, and a man of the left:

When terrorists intentionally hide among a civilian population while shooting thousands of rockets at an enemy civilian popuation, it is only the TERRORISTS--and ONLY THE TERRORISTS--who are morally responsible for the counterfire that occurs, and any civilian casualties that result on their side.

The following is a statement from a Hamas official about the intentional use by Hamas of old people and children to act as human shields.

Hamas MP Fathi Hammad: We Used Women and Children as Human Shields
Following are excerpts from a speech delivered by Hamas MP Fathi Hammad, which aired on Al-Aqsa TV on February 29, 2008.

To view this clip, visit

Fathi Hammad: [The enemies of Allah] do not know that the Palestinian people
has developed its [methods] of death and death-seeking. For the Palestinian
people, death has become an industry, at which women excel, and so do all thepeople living on this land. The elderly excel at this, and so do the mujahideenand the children. This is why they have formed human shields of the women,the children, the elderly, and the mujahideen, in order to challenge the Zionistbombing machine. It is as if they were saying to the Zionist enemy: “We desire death like you desire life.”

This evidence from the Hamas MP above puts “Case closed” to the issue of whether Hamas intentionally uses old people and children as shields from among whom they fire hundreds of rockets at civilians; the purpose is either to prevent the Israelis from retaliating, or to make big propaganda about “civilian casualites” or even “genocide” when they do retailate.

Kislock's post is an example of either sheer ignorance of facts, or anti-semitic malice, and it's the crudest sort of propaganda. It's the kind of thing we've been getting at HNN for a long time, instead of serious discussion.

Elliott Aron Green - 3/18/2008

kislock, do you have a source for the Ben Gurion "quote" or for your other claims that is not an Arab propaganda "factsheet"???

The fact is that the Arab nationalist leadership in the country and the British mandatory authorities there collaborated in making pogroms against Jews and driving Jews out of their homes. This started in April 1920 [see Richard Meinertzhagen's Middle East Diary & his report to his superiors in the Foreign Office about the encouragement given to Arab leaders by local British military officials, particularly Colonel Waters-Taylor].
Also see
William Ziff, Rape of Palestine
Horace Samuel, Revolt by Leave
Pierre van Paassen, Days of Our Years
Pierre van Paassen, Forgotten Ally

Fahrettin Tahir - 3/18/2008

Mr Kislock,

Nazi Germany was under no external threat. They did not need to fight to live. They could have accepted the world order and live as a properous country.

Israel has no such luxury. If they stop fighting they stop existing. The enemies of Israel are demanding that they stop shooting back so they can kill Israelis at their leisure.

Stephen Kislock - 3/18/2008

Was it right for the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto, to rise up in an Infada?

"We must expel the Arabs an take their place and if we have to use force to guarantee our own right to settle in those places--then we have force at our disposal", David Ben-Gurion 1937.

"Building a Jewish State in the land of Israel", since the establishment of Israel in 1948, on 78% of historic Palestine, 385 Palestinian Villages were destroyed and 700,000 Palestinians expelled to neighboring states.(*)

Military Occupation of these area, West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. Since 1967 15% or 650,000 Palestinians have been held by the IDF.

April 2007, 11,229 Palestinians held of this total 104 are women and 375 are children. International Law,UN Juveniles Deprived "All disciplinary measures constituting cruel inhuman or degrading treatment shall be strictly prohibited, including corporal punishment, placement in a dark cell, closed or solitary confinement or any other punishment that may compromise the physical or mental health of the Juvenile concerned.(^)

There are 1500 Military Regulations governing the West Bank and 1400 the Gaza Strip.(^)

Just as with the U.S., the Military Courts of Israel Fail to meet International Standards.Interrogation for up to 180 Days.

Mr. Rubin, as the Expert, what is the percentage of Radical Islam?

Israel the sixth most powerful military in the World and the only Nuclear power in the Middle east, with 40+ WMD. Yet, the IDF, crushing to death a Teenage Peace Protester, with a caterpillar bulldozer, is met with just silence, by the world, Why?

Mass Punishment is Illegal under the Geneva Convention, Yet, with Impunity, Israel Punishes a Million and a Half Peoples and thinks this is Fine.

Yes Israel and the Nazis, do have a lot in Common. I see no difference.

(*)Lama Dr. Jamjoum
(^)Palestine Monitor Factsheet

Elliott Aron Green - 3/17/2008

Art, the Free Officers Group of Nasser & Sadat were actively pro-Nazi, and tried to aid Rommel's invasion of Egypt. On this see Sadat's book Revolt on the Nile [in French

art eckstein - 3/17/2008

Ditto from me, Fahrettin


N. Friedman - 3/17/2008


I understand and appreciate your views about Nazis and about Israel. No need to explain them.

Fahrettin Tahir - 3/17/2008

Art, Mr Friedman

I am sure that Israel is not a nazi state and that there are genocidal nazis who would love to mass murder jews among the Hamas people.

I have a cultural problem of my own: I don't understand such people and sometimes find it hard to believe they exist.

art eckstein - 3/17/2008

But Fahrettin, all of this is different from the slander that ISRAEL is "a Nazi state." That is really what Rubin is talking about. And that slander is simply what I said--a vile slander. It has the purpose of delegitimizing Israel's existence (and the right of the Jewish people along with all other peoples for self-determination) via the most evil kind of lying.

art eckstein - 3/17/2008

Fahrettin, I take your point about different cultures being different.

But...It is a fact that Husseini during WWII was an overt advocate of genocide of Jews, and he was idolized then and is idolized now among the Palestinians--so what is one supposed to think? The Hamas Covenant overtly advocates genocide of Jews. What is one supposed to think?

And it's not merely a matter of general ideology but of genocidal actions. When one sees Hamas celebrating the murder of Yeshiva students as they were studying the bible, and the populace handing out candies in celebration--what is one supposed to think?

When one sees Nazi salutes and the popularity of Mein Kampf and the naming of babies after Hitler --what is one supposed to think?

My point is that one can indeed trace a direct and poisonous connection between modern jihadist ideology and the Nazis. This isn't just a general ideological similarity, though it is that, nor is it that the general goal of genocide is similar, though it is that. We can trace the very specific links: strong and direct Nazi contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood, + Husseini, lead to Hamas and also to al-Qaeda (via the Egyptian Ayman Zawahiri). Kuntzel has demonstrated these links. My colleague here at Maryland is writing a book on the ideological content of Husseini's broadcasts for the Nazis to Egypt and Palestine, because he has found the transcripts of those broadcasts.

This isn't about all Muslims, or even all Muslims who hate Israel. But it IS about these very specific and now very influential groups. The Nazi link, very strong, is not the only ideological inspiration of these groups; I'm not saying that. The direct Nazi inspiration coexists in these groups (and again, I am speaking only of these groups) with a certain interpretation of Islam--Kharajite, one might call it.

It is, I think, an important historical point I am making here, but a limited one.

art eckstein - 3/17/2008

Fahrettin, I agree with N.F. when he writes:

"Professor Rubin's comment seems to be directed at radicals and their beliefs, not at ordinary Muslims and their beliefs. He thinks that there is a fair comparison between what the radicals think and what the Nazis thought. He is not saying that Islam is inherently no different than Nazism or anything of the sort."


I also agree with N.F. that todays nihilistic jihadists are akin in ideology to the Kharajite heresy within historic Islam.

Fahrettin Tahir - 3/17/2008


I am sure you know more about the specifics of who had which ideology than I and the Mufti of Jerusalem is known to have been a Nazisympathiser. What I think is simply that the most Moslems of the Middle East did not really understand nazism as they did not really understand communism. These were ideologies from a world they did not know nor understand. They percieved certain problems and the Nazis seemed to them to be a solution to these problems. They were projecting their own motivations into the Nazis, presuming them to be what they wanted them to be. In Turkey where I come from this is the usual attitude towards the west. People project their own hopes and fears and fight each other over them without really trying to understand what motivates western politics.

I have spent most of my life in germany and needed about a quarter of a century to half understand nazism. It was not what I had grown up to believe. The culture behind it is so different from what I grew up in. Possibly you people are doing something similiar with the Arabs and projecting your fears and hopes. That is the point I am trying to make.

N. Friedman - 3/17/2008


I thank you for your thoughtful contribution.

That said, I think you read more into Professor Rubin's comment than he likely intended. His comment seems to be directed at radicals and their beliefs, not at ordinary Muslims and their beliefs. He thinks that there is a fair comparison between what the radicals think and what the Nazis thought. He is not saying that Islam is inherently no different than Nazism or anything of the sort.

It seems to me that one can say that, historically, he or she thinks highly or not highly of Islam. One can say that, historically, there were episodes of great decency as well as grave indecency and violence from those who espouse Islam. One can argue that there are tenets of the Jihad doctrine which can or cannot be put to rather nasty use - as it was most particularly in the invasion of India. But, that is not what Professor Rubin is addressing.

He is addressing, instead, the views of the radicals, who find guidance in some of the worst episodes that can be found in Islamic history and noting connections with the Nazis - which, in fact, did exist - and noting the ideological overlap in thinking, which is real. Such is not the Islam of Mehmet II, who found accommodations with those he conquered. It is more akin to the Islam believed in by the Kharajites.

art eckstein - 3/17/2008

Fahrettin, you are a reasonable guy. Arguments you have made elsewhere on HNN have validity. But you are historically wrong when you write that "sympathy for the Nazis was an expression of hope of liberation from oppressors and definitely not motivated by a desire to kill Jews."

In his memoirs after the war, Amin al-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem and the greatest Palestinian leader of the 1930s and the 1940s, and still revered today,i noted that "Our fundamental condition for cooperating with Germany was a free hand to eradicate every last Jew from Palestine and the Arab world. I asked Hitler for an explicit undertaking to allow us to solve the Jewish problem in a manner befitting our national and racial aspirations and according to the scientific methods innovated by Germany in the handling of its Jews. The answer I got was: 'The Jews are yours'."

There you go. I'm not saying that national liberation wasn't part of the Nazi appeal to Arabs, and indeed the Nazis made a big (false) show of respecting Arabs. But for specific and very important and influential ideologues such as Husseini, killing Jews was paramount. This quote from his memoirs shows it. And my point is that there is a real and direct link between Nazi propaganda (ideology beamed into the Middle East in this period) and the Muslim Brotherhood (and a strong link to Husseini too of course: he did a lot of the broadcasting for the Nazis!). And from the Muslim Brotherhood descends both Hamas and al-Qaeda in terms of ideology (and even personnel).

Fahrettin Tahir - 3/17/2008

I don't like Nazism nor radical Islamism. But the comparison is as nutty as the one with Zionism.

Islam believes it is the better religion, but anybody can join it, there is no limit like ethnic origin. Most religions believe they are better than their rivals, why else should they exist?

The nazis were indeed popular in parts of the moslem world. They were fighting the english, the french and the russians which colonised it and were at least first no worse racists then these three. The victors of the second world war like to believe they were much better than the defeated enemy, 1 million dead algerians in the 1950ies, 10 million dead indians after the sepoy mutiny and millions of irish starved to death by the english, the 5 million victims of the 19th century christian genocide against the moslems of europe beg to differ. Were or were not english colonisers paying people money for indian scalps in the north american colonies? I am not apologising for the nazis. Just stating what is obvious to moslem nations if not to people who read history written by the west. Sympathy for nazis was an expression of hope of liberation from oppressors and definitely not motivated by a desire to kill jews.

I understand Jewish frustration at Arab policies towards Israel. They are not helping themselves by representing their enemies as eternal monsters.

art eckstein - 3/17/2008

Muslim anti-Judaism has medieval roots, but the image is of the Jews as a weak and contemptible people.

This is different from modern Muslim anti-semitism, in which the Jews are powerful and evil people. Whence the difference.

There are many reasons, including the founding and success of Israel. But recent scholarship has also shown that the Nazis spent quite a bit of effort in propagandizing their view of Jews into the Middle East between 1935 and 1945: this was done by radio on a daily basis in Arabic. The reason, beyond the Nazis' general fanatical antisemitism, was that the Jews were perceived as the allies (and of course sometimes the controllers) of the British.

The Nazis efforts were concentrated in Egypt and Palestine. Egypt received nightly broadcasts of Nazi propaganda for 10 years, faithfully recorded and transcribed by the U.S. embassy in Cairo--I have a colleague working on these transcripts and what they say, and he tells me that the themes are those which now appear in mdoern Arab propaganda. In addition, once Rommel arrived on the scene, the SS genocide group that rode with his tanks (the SS Einsatzgruppe Egypt) developed special ties with the Muslim Brotherhood. In Palestine, Eichmann met with the Palestinian leader Amin al-Husseini in the late 1930s, and Husseini spent the war in Berlin, as a guest of Hitler. There he (a) organized three SS divisions of Musllims (which committed atrocities in the Balkans), working especially with his friend Himmler, while (b) engaging in frequent radio broadcasts to Palestine. Husseini was the most important Palestinian leader of his generation, remains popular in Palestinian memory--and was one of only two non-Germans indicted as a war criminal at Nuremburg. The SS Einsatzgruppe Egypt was also in touch with Husseini's supporters in Palestine in 1941-1942.

The Nazi effort at propagandizing the Muslim Brotherhood (Egypt) and the Palestinians with their ideology has paid off in big dividends. The Muslim Brotherhood adopted the Nazi world-view of the Jews, and from the Muslim Brotherhood descends directly both Hamas and (through al-Zawahiri) al-Qaeda.

The Hamas charter retails all the Nazi slanders against the Jews, starting with the Jews being the originators of the French Revolution, WWI and WWII. Palestinians now name their chidren Hitler. Mein Kampf is a best seller in Gaza and the West Bank. Egyptian propaganda praises Hitler. Hezbollah soldiers give the Nazi salute (just google Hezbollah + salute and take a look). Ahmedinejad, while denying the Holocaust, threatens a new one. The same two (contradictory) themes appear in Walid al-Rashudi, the Chair of the Department of Islamic Studies at King Saud University, in a speech (a rant) given in late February on Arab TV.

Yet, in a vile development, it is Israel and the Jews who now are tagged as Nazis, and no amount of logic or argument can persuade the new alliance of far left and Muslim medieval men that they are wrong because the weapon is too good to use. (Take a look back in HNN at the persistant, repulsive and idiotic posts of "Sally Gee").

There's been a lot of work done in German on the Nazi connections to the Muslim Brotherhood and Amin al-Husseini. In English, the bet work is Matthias Kuntzel, Jihad and Jew-Hatred: Islamism, Nazism, and the Roots of 9/11 (transl. from the German). This book received a very positive review recently in the New York Times Sunday Book Review.

But then, the NYT is owned by Jews, isn't it? (Thanks for that one, Sally Gee.)

Elliott Aron Green - 3/17/2008

Ewener, you neglect the actual Arab collaboration with the Nazis before the State of Israel existed. You also neglect how the Arabs/Muslims treated Jews over the centuries as dhimmis.

Jeffery Ewener - 3/17/2008

Mr Rubin's arguments are well-taken, but the question he raises here is a much larger one than could ever be exhausted in such a narrow space. Two objections to his argument show, I think, some of the questions and areas that would have to be addressed in a fuller treatment.

The first is to take that combination Mr Rubin elucidates -- that of theory and practice, or what Nazis and Zionists, respectively, believe and do, as he puts it -- but at a more basic level of geopolitical goals. This is not the "Ve vill conquer ze vorld!" caricature that Mr Rubin at the outset descends to. Rather, the Nazis, open as they may have been to global hegemony, had a more local strategy in view. They wanted lebensraum -- a living-space -- in Europe for the German people.

There's a lot of key words in that sentence, but for my purpose here the big one is "people". The Nazis, in ideological corner in which they had painted themselves, perceived their enemies, the obstacles between themselves & their goals, to be not so much other governments and armies (whose defeat was for them just the first step), not so much even other ideologies, a notoriously flexible issue for Hitler, except on the fundamental question. The obstacle for the Nazis was the other people, the ones already occupying the land, participating in the nation. On this, Hitler never wavered. The enemies of the Germans were the non-German peoples, pre-eminently (but, as Mr Rubin points out, not exclusively) the Jews.

This is precisely the strategic issue facing the Zionist project -- indeed, it is one that has always faced it, and been recognized as such to varying degrees over the years, notably by Jabotinsky. The enemy, the obstacle to Zionism's freedom of action, is not a nation or army, not even an ideology (or religion, or religious ideology), but a people. And that is a very dangerous circumstance, a strategic quandary very dangerous to both sides. It is what creates a perception of Total War. The Zionists have most certainly not behaved toward this enemy-people as the Nazis eventually did, but they have in fact used many similar strategies, tactics and techniques -- the same ones used by the Americans in Vietnam and Iraq, the French in Vietnam and Algeria, the British in Malaya and Kenya (and for that matter, innovatively, in South Africa in 1900), the South Africans in South Africa, and other countries which have found themselves or placed themselves in this same situation. And, Mr Rubin, they do tend to get vehemently criticized for their actions at these times, and often compared to the Nazis.

The second point, one which is too often glided over in questions of Is Country X Really Like The Nazis, is one of historical definition: Which Nazis? The Nazi period lasted barely a generation, but it has a complex and nuanced history and development. The Nais of 1930, who were street-fighting thugs and spittle-flecked speech-makers? The Nazis of 1933, moving fast to consolidate power while not totally alarming dubious political power-groups, like Junkers, the Army, investors. The Nazis of before the Wansee Conference, or those of its aftermath? Jews were treated quite differently in different periods -- tragically, since this was precisely why so many remained so long. Conditions under the Nuremberg Laws were bad, but after Crystal Night they got far worse, though even then they were far batter than they would be 5 years later. Very few nations have behaved toward any other national group the way the Nazis behaved toward Jews and others in 1943 -- more have acted the way the Nazis acted toward Jews and others in 1939 -- and quite a few have acted against (perceived-) enemy national groups the way the Nazis acted in 1934.

Mr Rubin is to be applauded for opening this incredibly fraught historical question with such boldness and cogency of argument. I hope he finds the time to expand on his article and strengthn his points, and also that others will try to give this whole complex and important issue some of the attention it deserves.

Elliott Aron Green - 3/17/2008

Barry, what you write is obvious but it will be hard for those who are emotionally/psychologically committed to a Manichean [Nazi-like, if you will] anti-Jewish worldview to perceive the obvious distinctions. We are dealing with a cult, a mystique which is Judeophobic in the worst sense.

The very defamation of the Israeli army [and sometimes the Israeli people] as Nazi-like is in itself akin to the real Nazi defamation and demonization of Jews, graphically manifested --for instance-- in the Nazi film, Der Ewige Jude, in the cartoons of Phips in Der Stuermer, etc. This defamation & demonization are meant to pave the way for a future mass murder of Jews by justifying such a mass murder through the demonization/defamation of Israel, and to a certain extent, of Jews generally. It is of interest that those who complain that Israel's army kills "innocent civilians" [overlooking Article 28 of Geneva Convention IV] have little or nothing to say against the deliberate targeting of Israeli civilians/non-combatants [as in Sderot & Ashqelon] and of arguments that emerged in Europe that Jews living there [particularly in France & UK] were legitimate targets of violence since they supported Israel. As we know, this attitude in Europe has led to many physical assaults on Jews and their dignity in Europe, including several murders of Jews. Indeed, some of those who complained that Israel was killing "innocent civilians" among the Arabs in Gaza and elsewhere [including Lebanon], vocally supported or even themselves perpetrated attacks on Jews in Europe.

It is ironic that during the Nazi period, 1933-1945, the Arab nationalist movement was pro-Nazi on the whole. Arab kings too, as in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, were pro-fascist. The chief Palestinian Arab leader, Haj Amin el-Husseini [al-Husayni], spent most of the war years in the Nazi-fascist domain and participated in the Holocaust, urging the Germans & Axis satellite states to send Jews, including Jewish children specifically, to Poland where they would be under "active supervision," in Husseini's words. Husseini was not prosecuted at Nuremberg, despite calls in some Allied countries to do so. Further, Arab pogroms/massacres of Jews in Arab lands during the Holocaust & in harmony with it are largely overlooked in the effusion of sympathy for Palestinian Arabs today. Husseini was held responsible [by an Iraqi investigation], among others, for creating an anti-Jewish mood in Baghdad in 1941 which led to the notorious Farhud pogrom, which left between 179 & 600 Jews dead, according to various estimates.

Nevertheless, the current mystique sympathizing with the "Palestinians," a people unheard of in history, which was created by semantically separating the Palestinian Arabs from the Arabs as a whole, seems unaware of these Arab actions and does not take them into account, so eager is it to find Jews guilty once again, as pro-Nazi opinion in the Nazi period was eager to find justifications for the Nazi persecutions and mass murders of Jews.