It has often been said by me, that there are two equally dangerous historical myths about the Holocaust.
Myth 1) That it didn’t happen or is exaggerated. It is hard for us to exaggerate the horror of burning millions of people in ovens because they were Jews. Others were also targeted for extermination because they were Romani (Gypsies), Gay, Communist.
Myth 2) That it was so singularly horrible that it can not be compared to any other human atrocity. Nothing happens in history exactly the same way twice. But the Holocaust does not represent a unique experience of mass trauma, genocide, extermination. It is part of the history of crimes against humanity, like slavery, Native genocide and too many other examples. If we refuse to compare what happened in Germany to other atrocities we will never understand how to stop them from happening.
Both myths make the quest to rid the world of genocide that much more remote. Now there is a third dangerous myth, put forward by Netanyahu on October 20th 2015.
To quote the New York Times:
“Mr. Netanyahu said in a speech to the Zionist Congress on Tuesday night that “Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews.” The prime minister said that the mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini, had protested to Hitler that “they’ll all come here,” referring to Palestine.
“ ‘So what should I do with them?’ ” Mr. Netanyahu quoted Hitler as asking Mr. Husseini. “He said, ‘Burn them.’ ”
It is not just that Netanyahu’s assertion is untrue. It is the dehumanizing RACIAL assumption, the Hitler-like tactic of brushing a whole people with the false accusation about one person, that makes it so dangerous. For even if it was true it would tell us as little about Palestinian leadership today as the reality of Hitler’s culpability tells us about current German leadership or people.
In fact the speech tells only about Netanyahu and his demonization of a people in order to justify his policies of second class citizenship, state terrorism and the robbery of land and resources of Palestinians. In both deed and propaganda he is borrowing from Hitler’s playbook.