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memri
August 1, 2008 No.
85

Leading Israeli Journalist understands Arab Holocaust Denial

Throughout Israeli society and the Jewish community around the world Holocaust denial has always drawn vigorous condemnation. At the same time, Holocaust denial is endemic in the Arab media (see MEMRI’s website www.memri.org for numerous recent examples) and is coupled with Arab claims that Jews fabricated the Holocaust as a tool for garnering sympathy for Israel and distracting the world from Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.

Recently, Holocaust denial in the Syrian media (for example in the Syrian daily Tishrin[1]) has helped to create doubts in Israeli public opinion about an agreement with Syria. Holocaust denial raises questions about the intentions of the Arab nations and the Israeli peace camp joins Israeli society in condemning it.

But, in an article in the Israeli daily, Yediot Ahronot, March 5, 2000, Yaron London, a leading left-wing Israeli journalist dismisses these concerns by endorsing the Arab argument that the Holocaust is a tool in the hands of Jews and Israelis that advances their political goals. In making his argument, London compares the Arabs to a "ten year old girl" who is raped and Israel to a rapist. London not only justifies Arab Holocaust denial, but also the continued Arab struggle against Israel. Such a statement by a mainstream Israeli figure is unprecedented.

Following is London's article:

"Holocaust denial in the Arab world, particularly among intellectuals who should be familiar with modern history, stiffens Jewish political positions. In this regard, the attack by the Syrian paper Tishrin on the ideological foundations of Israel's existence, and the Arab media's comparison of [Israeli Foreign Minister] David Levy to Hitler, harms Arab interests, which ought to be to calm our suspicions. [This Arab] mistake does not excuse us from our need to find out why such statements agitate us so much."

"The first explanation is that we doubt the enemy's ability to distinguish between fact and fiction. The second explanation is that we are appalled by his vulgarity. The third explanation for our sensitivity is the most important: The Holocaust has been embedded in our minds as the supreme moral justification for the establishment of Israel, and the expression 'from Holocaust to Resurrection' is at the core of the collective Jewish-Israeli consciousness."

"After Jewish thinkers among the early settlers of Palestine became aware of the suffering of the country's Arab inhabitants, they explained away the dispossession of the Arabs as resulting from an uncondemnable necessity to 'cause a small injustice in order to prevent a greater one.' This explanation was validated by the Holocaust. Therefore, the Holocaust is both the explanation for the establishment of the state and the moral justification for the fact that we caused Palestinian suffering. Arab Holocaust-denial is therefore not only an attack on Israel's existence, it undermines the justification for our own sins."

"People with a developed moral conscience have difficulties accepting this. However, as in any other conflict, we would be better off putting ourselves in our enemies' place in order to understand their thinking…"

"Indeed, the Holocaust is a great event with implications that are different from any act of cruelty committed since the beginning of recorded history. But although almost every educated individual in the world knows the term 'Holocaust,' its magnitude and implications were not absorbed in the minds of people of all cultures. As one distances himself from the Christian and European communities, the levels of understanding and knowledge fade. For a Chinese intellectual, the murder of six million at the other end of the world is a minor episode."

"The Arabs are not Chinese, but they are also not a part of the murdering culture. They are the Holocaust's secondary victims, not those who caused it. Therefore, their tendency to deny our suffering - the factor that caused their suffering and humiliation - is understandable."

Israel compared to a Rapist

"What is the reaction of a man whose daughter was raped when he is asked to recognize the suffering of the rapist who was abused by his parents in his childhood? The reaction will be on a scale between a disinterest in the villain's future and denial of the facts relating to his life's circumstances. If the rapist… claims that he was attacked by the ten year old girl and only responded to her provocation - the father of the raped child will not only be unwilling to hear about the rapist's hardships, but will also try to cause him physical harm. Would that be just? Yes, it would."

"The rape of the earth, mother earth, their land, is a common metaphor in Palestinian poetry and literature. Read early Zionist texts and you will find the same metaphors, but in Hebrew they discuss the exiling of the Jews from Zion. The Zionist myth does not ask, 'who was at fault' in the Great Revolt [against] the Romans, the Jews or the Romans? Likewise, the Palestinian myth does not ask 'whose fault' were the shooting skirmishes that preceded the 1948 war. We are their Romans, but from our Arab citizens we took away even their right to mourn. Is it difficult to understand why so many of the Arabs repay us by denying our Holocaust?"

"All these things point to the following conclusions: a different [reality] will create a different consciousness, and when we make peace the Arabs will stop teasing us with Holocaust denial. The problem with us is that we fight against Holocaust denial the way one fights to hold on to a political asset, but the value of the Holocaust as a political asset will decline over time."

"In a generation, only few in the world will remember the connection between Auschwitz and the state named Israel. We are better off getting used to the happy fact that two generations after the Holocaust Israel's right to exist results from its very existence. The Arabs recognize this too, a few out of volition and the majority reluctantly."

[1] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 71, "Holocaust Denial in the Syrian Media," February 2, 2000.