Gideon Levy on Holocaust-mongers in High Places

By Gideon Levy

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cheapened the memory of the Holocaust in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday. He did so twice. Once, when he brandished proof of the very existence of the Holocaust, as if it needed any, and again when he compared Hamas to the Nazis.

If Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denies the Holocaust, Netanyahu cheapens it. Is there a need of proof, 60 years later? Or, the world might think, is the denier right?

And it is doubtful that any historian of stature would buy the comparison the prime minister made between Hamas and the Nazis, or between the London Blitz and the Qassam rockets on Sderot. In the Blitz, 400 German bombers and 600 fighter planes killed 43,000 people and destroyed more than one million homes. Hamas’ Qassams, perhaps the most primitive weapon in the world, have killed 18 people in eight years. Yes, they sowed great terror – but a Blitz?

And if we can compare a poorly equipped terrorist organization to the horrific Nazi killing machine, why should others not compare the Nazis’ behavior to that of Israel Defense Forces soldiers? In both cases, the comparison is baseless and infuriating.

Netanyahu began the speech as if he were chairman of the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial – Holocaust, Holocaust, Holocaust; his family and his wife’s family. Then he spoke in Shimon Peres’ terms, proposing a “rosy future” to humanity.

No less demagogic was his attack on the Iranian regime. They shoot demonstrators there, he protested vehemently. As if they don’t do that in our Bil’in and Na’alin.

Then came the kicker: Operation Cast Lead was a pinpoint attack. Israel telephoned thousands of people to tell them to leave their homes. Where to, Mr. Prime Minister? Into the sea? He said the IDF, which killed nearly 1,400 Palestinians, mostly civilians, exhibited unprecedented restraint.

Moving on: We made peace with every Arab leader who wanted to, the premier said. What about Syrian President Bashar Assad, who has been knocking on doors for years, claiming he wants peace? No one has opened the doors.

Talk of security and victims may still have buyers among the WIZO women of America, but that’s it. For a regional power that has almost every weapon in the world in its arsenal and is fighting primitive terror organizations, it is a bit difficult to be taken seriously when talking about security, especially when said security is only for Israelis.

Then came our ancient right to the land and the unavoidable Biblical verses, in English and the original Hebrew, that always end the performance on such occasions – though Netanyahu, unlike his predecessors, did not pull out a skullcap at this crucial moment.

That moment was supposed to move his listeners, but it left me, at least, unmoved by a propagandist prime minister. Hallelujah was heard last night only in Ramat Gan Stadium, at the Leonard Cohen concert.