Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu’s claim that Hitler did not want to exterminate the Jews until convinced to do so by the Palestinian Grand Mufti, Amin Husseini, is a form of Holocaust denial.
Like other forms of Holocaust denial, Netanyahu shapes the Holocaust to suit his own political agenda, and his statement will be used by neo-Nazis in the service of anti-Semitic fascism. But this transference of Holocaust guilt from the Germans to the Palestinians accomplishes numerous other goals as well.
By blaming a Palestinian leader for the Holocaust, Netanyahu transubstantiates Holocaust guilt. As if by some act of magic, the high priest of Israeli mystification transfers blame for the Holocaust from the Germans to the Palestinians. No longer are we to blame the Germans but rather the Palestinian puppet-master, who acted behind the scenes to shape the will of Hitler.
Israelis have long substituted Palestinians for Germans in their fantasies of collective revenge. While the Holocaust is often used as an excuse for Israeli collective violence, Israeli collective traumas are real enough. The fear of existential annihilation is palpable in conversations among Israelis. And it effects Israeli psychology, social organization, and military mobilization. But now that the Israeli military is one of the most powerful in the world, the victim has been turned to perpetrator and this sits uncomfortably with Israelis.
If it is the Germans who are responsible for the Holocaust, then Israel is simply being a bully to innocent Palestinians. But if the most powerful Palestinian at the time of the Holocaust could be held responsible for it, then Israel is doubly absolved. First, Israel is absolved of its perpetration of collective violence against Palestinians, for Israel is simply avenging itself for the Holocaust. Second, Israel is absolved of its inferiority complex brought on by the Holocaust, for Israel is now beating up the bully, which caused the death of six million Jews. All of a sudden, the Israeli victim-turned-perpetrator is absolved of both its inferiority before the European bully and its sadism over the Palestinian victim. And the way is paved for a very real Israeli genocide against Palestinians.
But if we are to blame the Gand Mufti for the Holocaust, two more miracles are also accomplished. Anti-Semitic fantasies have long seen Jews pulling the strings of great world events. But now it is the Palestinians who are pulling the strings. If Palestinian puppet-masters can control even Hitler, at the prime of his power, then Palestinians might take on the role of the new Jews in the minds of conspiracy theorists. Like the Jews, prior to the formation of the state of Israel, Palestinians are displaced across a wide diaspora, increasingly successful, well-educated, and the victims of great prejudice. But now, with this new mystification of Holocaust guilt, they have become heirs to the secret society of Rothschilds.
If Palestinians can be held responsible for the Holocaust, the relationship of the Jews to Europe will also be healed. By holding Muslims responsible for perhaps the worst event to ever befall the continent, the Holocaust becomes simply a dumb mistake. While it often appears as if Muslims have taken over the role of despised European minority, previously held by Jews, holding a Muslim responsible for removing the Jews from Europe demonstrates that Israelis belong in Europe. They are part of the European family, living in a civilized democracy.
But as Israel strives, with every act of imagined propaganda, to make itself appear a prosperous and stable democracy, deserving of entry into the club of civilized nations, it sets for itself a bar it can never reach. The more Israel suggests it belongs in Europe, the more Netanyahu looks like Assad, and with that perception a whole new set of insecurities suffuse Israel’s bad conscience—not least, the insecurity that their leader looks like a moron.
The Mufti told me to write that last line.
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Author: Theo Horesh
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Flickr/thierry ehrmann