Africa4Palestine compares Israel to Nazi Germany
Local Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) group Africa4Palestine has taken its hatred for Israel to a new low, comparing the Jewish state to the Nazis.
In a Facebook post on 19 August 2021, the group shared a cartoon of a soldier pointing a gun at an old woman. The soldier has the Israeli flag on his helmet. His reflection in a mirror shows Nazi insignia on his helmet and a man in concentration camp uniform lying on the floor. Africa4Palestine captioned the cartoon, “Irony is just honesty with the volume cranked up.”
Also on 19 August, the group shared an image of Auschwitz survivor Dr Hajo Meyer saying, “Call Zionists what they are: Nazi criminals.” Africa4Palestine added the caption, “The truth is like the sun, you can shut it off for a while, but it’s not going away.”
Then on 24 August, it posted an image of three women holding a sign saying, “If you are silent when it comes to Palestine, you would have been silent at the time of the Holocaust.”
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA’s) working definition of antisemitism, states that drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis is antisemitic.
The IHRA definition is “a useful definition to provide a quick indication if an act is likely to be antisemitic or not. The definition is widely accepted in many countries and by scholars,” says Dr Günther Jikeli, associate professor at the Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism at Indiana University.
Jikeli, who is doing extensive work on social media and antisemitism, told the SA Jewish Report, “Such analogies between Israel and Nazi Germany or the situation of Palestinians today with Jews in Europe during World War II are clear examples of libel against Israel and diminishing the Holocaust. An honest comparison would reveal fundamental differences quickly.
“The next question, then, is why such delusional comparisons and false allegations are made. Ignorance can be excluded, given the vast documentation of the Holocaust that’s readily available for everyone who has access to the internet. It’s highly likely that such comparisons are motivated by antisemitic sentiments even if the actors don’t explicitly say that they hate all Jews,” he says.
“Research has shown that antisemitism often works in coded language after World War II. Additionally, Jews are affected directly by vilification of the Jewish state because they are constantly suspected of supporting this alleged ‘evil entity’. This ties into patterns of antisemitism that are hundreds of years old.
“The reference to Hajo Meyer is an example of a widely used attempt to camouflage antisemitic ideas of the Jewish state using quotes from anti-Zionist Jews,” Jikeli says. “The case of Mr Meyer shows that Jews and even Holocaust survivors can say things that are antisemitic.
“These antisemitic posts are a strong indication that this is an antisemitic organisation,” he says.
Meanwhile, Professor Yehuda Bauer, one of the world’s foremost Holocaust experts, told the SA Jewish Report, “A comparison between the two situations actually means that just as the Nazi regime had to be annihilated, so Israel [has to be annihilated], in other words, they want to kill the seven million Jews there. So this comparison is genocidal.”
“Factually – not that facts matter to these propagandists – even the harshest critique of Israel’s policy of occupying the West Bank (Gaza is a matter of confrontation, not occupation) doesn’t ignore the fact that there are no such things as Israeli concentration camps or any racial discrimination,” says Bauer. “It’s a struggle between two ethnic groups over a piece of land. Any comparison with the 1930s is totally ahistorical.
“There is any number of ethno-national confrontations going on in the present, and to pick on Israel only singles out the Jews as a criminal body, just as the Nazis did,” he says. “In other words, the argument that the Jews are Nazis leads to the conclusion that whoever argues like that actually repeats Nazi arguments. In the end, it’s antisemitic propagandists who are like the Nazis.”
The head of media at Yad Vashem, Simmy Allen, says, “Using Nazi images and the Holocaust to criticise or attack Israeli actions is known as ‘Holocaust inversion’ and is considered by scholars to be a form of antisemitism. The tragedy of the Holocaust and that of the Palestinians are two very different historical events.
“Equating the two does great injustice to both, and doesn’t contribute to furthering our understanding of the history of the Palestinians or to finding a solution to the conflict in Israel.”
Official Yad Vashem documentation explains, “Whereas the conflict between the Palestinians and Israel can be seen as one over land and sovereignty, with tangible issues and a long and bitter history, Hamas advocates the total obliteration of Israel and the murder of as many of its people as possible. As such, Hamas is at its core an antisemitic, genocidal terrorist movement. Right now, Israel is engaged in a military operation to prevent Hamas from carrying out its murderous intentions. Despite the tragic casualties implicit in warfare, in no way can this be construed as Israel perpetrating a Holocaust.”
Dr Shmuel Lederman, a research fellow in the Weiss-Livnat International Center for Holocaust Research and Education at the University of Haifa, says, “It should be absolutely clear: whatever one’s criticism of Israel is, depicting Israelis as Nazis is ignorant, offensive to most Jews, and shuts down any potential discussion and co-operation with many Jews, including Israelis, who might otherwise share much of that critique.
“For people who know anything about the Holocaust, the difference between even Israel’s harshest policies toward the Palestinians and gas chambers, mass executions, the extermination of two thirds of European Jewry, and similar basic facts about the Holocaust, is clear enough to make such comparisons tragically ridiculous. Also, they undermine more reasonable claims made by the Palestinian solidarity movement.”
Says Milton Shain, local antisemitism expert and emeritus professor of history at the University of Cape Town, “Africa4Palestine knows well the power Holocaust memory evokes. ‘Perpetrators, bystanders, and victims’ have become a trope deeply etched in the Western psyche. In reality, these comparisons are ludicrous. Besides dishonouring the victims of the Holocaust and all genocides, it flies in the face of reality. Whatever the sufferings of ordinary Palestinians – and these shouldn’t be minimised – they haven’t faced genocidal or Nazi-like assaults at any time.”
Says South African Jewish Board of Deputies Gauteng Chairperson Karen Milner, “The use of Nazi and Holocaust imagery to attack Israel deliberately invokes the most traumatic period in Jewish history to hurt Jews. Such rhetoric not only shockingly defames the Jewish state, but by implication, it belittles the true extent of the horrors inflicted against the Jewish people during the Holocaust.
“It falls into a long line of antisemitic propaganda, which uses that which is most hated and reviled in society to demonise Jews,” she says. “Not only is the analogy a thoroughly vicious one in both substance and intent, it’s intellectually lazy. The Holocaust isn’t some casual metaphor to be dragged out whenever outrage is required, and to engage in such comparisons is to cheapen it.”
Rowan Polovin, the national chairperson of the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF), says, “It’s abhorrent and deeply hurtful for our Jewish community to have to continue to endure the odious statements from some antisemitic organisations such as Africa4Palestine that deliberately and egregiously compare the horrors of the Nazis to Israeli actions. It’s hurtful and damaging for Jews even to begin to explain why this comparison is false and deeply malicious. The SAZF is reminded that it was, in fact, a Palestinian leader, Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, who was a Nazi collaborator.”
He also notes that on 15 May 2019, the German parliament adopted a motion designating BDS methods and actions antisemitic.
“The SAZF condemns this disgraceful behaviour from the BDS movement,” Polovin says. “Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, and is a model of tolerance and inclusion of minorities of all ethnic and religious persuasions. This is light years away from the totalitarian organisations and states that proliferate across the Middle East causing untold human suffering.”
The SA Jewish Report reached out to Africa4Palestine for comment, but didn’t receive a response at the time of going to print.