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memri
June 7, 2001 No.
225

Zionism and Nazism: A Discussion on the TV Channel Al-Jazeera

Dr. Faysal Al-Qasem's weekly talk show of May 21,2001, on the Qatar TV channel Al-Jazeera, discussed the question, "Is Zionism worse than Nazism?" [1]Against the background of this program were on the one hand, the anti-Semitic remarks made by Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, and on the other, the manifest signed by 14 Arab intellectuals, denouncing the planned international conference of Holocaust deniers in Beirut.

The program hosted Dr. Hayat Al-Hwayek 'Atiya, " researcher of Zionism" and follower of Holocaust denier Roger Garaudi and translator of his book into Arabic. Liberal Tunisian intellectual Lafif Lakhdar represented the opposition to Holocaust denial in the Arab world.

At the opening of the program, Al-Qasem, posed the following question to Dr. 'Atiya: "Is there a difference between Zionism and Nazism?" 'Atiya responded that the question should be looked at from two perspectives, the logical and the textual. Logically, she claimed, "the question must be asked: 'what is it exactly that we denounce in Nazism?'" According to her, there are two elements in Nazism that should be denounced: "The first is the racism, that is, the belief in the superiority of the Aryan race over the rest of the races, and the second is the military expansion at the expense of others, stemming from this belief."

After establishing these two points, Dr. 'Atiya stated that these two principles "precisely existed in the Zionist mentality and ideology… ever since the days of the Jewish Torah... the belief in being the 'Chosen People' is one of the foundations of the Zionist project. As for the expansion, there is nothing left to say, because we are living through it."

As for the textual perspective, 'Atiya cited "some of the words of both Jewish and Nazi intellectuals. Nahum Goldman says that there is a common trait to both German Nazis and Jews, and that is the selectivity and the belief in a common destiny as a divine mission. Writer Michel Rashlan compares sections of Mein Kampf to the Jewish Torah, and comes to the conclusion that… the ideological roots of the Nazis can be found in the Book of Joshua… In 1935 a French newspaper published an interview with the Nazi theoretician, Alfred Rosenberg, in which he said he supports Zionism and is enchanted by it, because of its similarity to Nazism…"

Lafif Lakhdar was asked to respond to the comparison between Nazism and Zionism, but he began by addressing the manifest by 14 Arab intellectuals, denouncing the planned conference of Holocaust deniers in Beirut.

The conference was subsequently cancelled by the Lebanese government following protests from Arab intellectuals and Jewish groups: "The only reason for which I did not sign the manifest was that I was not asked to. Furthermore, if they had not been in a rush, hundreds of Arab intellectuals would have signed it," explained Lafif Lakhdar.

The main reasons given by Lafif Lakhdar regarding his stance against the conference of historical revisionists in Beirut are as follows: He explained that from a political point of view, following the collapse of the Soviet Bloc, no policy can succeed if it is not favorable to international diplomacy and public opinion. "If we adopt the Nazis' garbage," he explained, "we will lose on our issue, namely the liberation of the Arab lands occupied in 1967... Politically, if we support revisionism and Holocaust deniers… we will lose international diplomacy."

Lafif Lakhdar began by emphasizing that he does not denounce revisionist historians only for political reasons, but also on moral grounds. Before he could finish his explanation 'Atiya interrupted him and would not allow him to continue. "Madame," Lafif Lakhdar said to her, "do not be a Nazi and do not be fascist."

Once Dr. 'Atiya was given the stage, she complained: "He did not answer the question. He avoided the subject. I was talking about the 1930s, when there was no revisionism and no Holocaust. I was talking about the cooperation between Zionism and Nazism… he evaded history in order to attack the Beirut conference… He should not be telling us about appeasing diplomacy and the media. [The Arab intellectuals] living in the West only want to appease. Those of us who live here are not interested in appeasing anyone; we are interested in the truth… The Jews supported the Nuremberg Laws because they made the Transfer easier…"

Dr. 'Atiya's comments angered Lafif Lakhdar, who accused her of "talking like the Taliban, saying that 'the media doesn't interest her.'" According to him, "whoever wants to recover the land and establish a homeland for the Palestinians must take the international media into consideration."

"There is no doubt that there is a commonality between Nazism and Zionism," Lafif Lakhdar said, but he quickly added, "this commonality exists between Nazism and all nationalist movements," which are based on one principle, namely the centrality of ethnic and racial elements. That is why they use expressions like "the Chosen People" or the phrase common among Islamists: "We are the greatest nation delivered to mankind." "The nations that have given up national narcissism and the centrality of ethnicity," he added, "are the nations that have risen to a higher level of civilization."

On the defensive, 'Atiya claimed she is involved in the media, even in the French language, and denied having said the media was unimportant. She added that she is a Maronite Christian and therefore "I cannot be compared to the Taliban."

Al-Qasem raised the possibility of renewing the UN resolution equating Zionism to racism, and Lafif Lakhdar claimed this proposal "is un-political": "While there is a consensus that Israel is not a Nazi state, you get up and yell that Israel is a Nazi state. Then you get into trouble, just like one of the leaders did recently [meaning Bashar Assad]. Then you approach international diplomacy and waste weeks and months trying to explain and clarify and claim that your comments were taken out of context, etc. The main thing for us is the struggle against the occupation and the settlements. What is the point, then, to constantly say: Israel is Nazi, Israel is worse than Nazism, Israel is worse than fascism, etc. We cannot fight against international diplomacy, because then we will lose our cause… We must learn from Israel and be realistic."

On the other hand, 'Atiya claimed that dealing with the Holocaust serves the general interests of the Arabs and Palestinians. "The media is psychology," she explained, "the comparison of Zionism to Nazism in the media is a blow to Western psychology, because the Western conscience is particularly sensitive to the Nazis."

The discussion was then opened to audience participation. On the line was Ibrahim Alloush of Jordan, editor of the anti-Semitic web-site The Free Arab Voice and board member of the League Against Zionism and Racism. He claimed that "The Holocaust myth has three aspects. First, there is the lie about the policy of extermination of the Jews; second, the lie about the killing of six million Jews in the Second World War; and third, the lie about the gas chambers. The most important aspect about the Holocaust myth are the tales about the gas chambers, because they are where [the locations] the Jews were supposedly exterminated. If we prove that the gas chambers did not exist, as the [revisionist] historians have done, the entire Holocaust myth will collapse."

Alloush agreed with 'Atiya's assertion that Holocaust denial serves Arab interests, "because it is not merely a historical question, but an issue of contemporary politics and media. The importance of the Holocaust myths for the Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims, is that they justify the need for the existence of an occupying Zionist state, because the Jews need a state of their own for safe refuge. Secondly, it also justifies the Zionist movement's violation of UN resolutions, claiming what happened to the Jews in the so-called Holocaust gives them a excuse for not following international law…"

Alloush also addressed the intellectuals who signed the manifest against the Beirut conference and stated they "betrayed their role as intellectuals because they asked an Arab government to prevent intellectual activity. They also betrayed their political role as Arab intellectuals, because instead of fighting Zionism, they joined it and adopted its rhetoric… Accepting the Holocaust is the heart of cultural normalization with the Zionist enemy…"

Lafif Lakhdar said that although Dr. 'Atiya's activities could be described as a media campaign, "it is a media campaign aimed at Arab public opinion, which is already in her pocket." He, on the other hand, is trying to win over the world's public opinion. Lafif Lakhdar explained, "she has no chance of writing in any international newspaper, besides the revisionist newspapers which are distributed secretly. She cannot say it on CNN or on any Western TV station. Instead of dealing with the Nazi's garbage and the lies of the revisionists and the deniers, we should be translating the works of the Israeli new-historians. They have truly exploded the Zionist founding myths, according to which Palestine was a land without a people… They have proved that the Palestinian people was exiled and that Arab villages were turned into Jewish villages."

Enraged, 'Atiya responded, "It is a shame that an intellectual should stand on the side of the strong and not on the side of the truth… President Bashar Assad said that Zionism is equal to Nazism. This is a courageous position that must be commended rather than be denounced in order to appease the West… Why does he (Lafif Lakhdar) call for translating the writings of the Israeli new-historians? Because they are Jews? At the same time, however, he denounces the French, the American and the English historians."

At this point, the show's production team brought French Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson on the line. Faurisson said, "Historical revisionism is the most dangerous thing for Zionism. Historical revisionism that proves the hard and bitter facts about Zionism – this is the nuclear weapon of the poor. We have proved and are still proving that there was no massacre or Holocaust of the Jews, and that there were no gas chambers for the Jews and that the figure of six million victims is exaggerated... if you want to protect Palestine, you cannot do so with guns and shells, but by saying the truth about the biggest lie of the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries, the lie of the Holocaust.

Lafif Lakhdar's response to Faurisson was that it is his right and the right of all American and European researchers to research what they want and to say whatever they feel. However, it is not constructive for the Arabs to use the following statements: "When 96% of the German people denounce Nazism, it is strange that we [Arabs] should come and say to the German people: You are wrong. Nazism was not a disaster, the Jews simply invented a massacre that never happened, and invented gas chambers that exist only in their imagination. This is a kind of stupidity and insanity. I am not opposed to Garaudi or Faurisson writing, I am against us adopting this rhetoric…"

At this point, Dr. 'Atiya lost her cool again and yelled at Lafif Lakhdar: "I do not allow you to speak in the name of the Arab intellectuals… Three days ago we held a conference at the Jordanian Writers' Association. 150 intellectuals attended, none of whom were willing to sign. What you say is shameful."

The show's host, Al-Qasem, joined 'Atiya and said Lafif Lakhdar statements "are full of contradictions. At first he calls the revisionists garbage, and now he said that Faurisson has the freedom to write what he wants but that it would be a mistake for us to use it.

At this point, the host cited statements of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef against Arabs and his call for exterminating them. Lafif Lakhdar explained that "Rabbi Ovadia Yosef is a criminal and insane person, and his is a case for mental doctors. He was even denounced in Israel. He is like the Taliban."

The host, Al-Qasem, lost his cool and defied his guest: "Mr. 'Afif Lafif Lakhdar, why is it that every time the Zionists expose their true character, you act just like the Western media, and begin to call them insane. When Goldstein killed the people at prayer, they said he was crazy. These people express Zionism's true belief. They are the true spokesmen of Zionism. He [Ovadia Yosef] is by no means insane. He is the official spokesman of the Jewish people who voted for Sharon."

'Atiya joined in with Dr. Al-Qasem and explained that Rabbi Ovadia Yosef "is a religious man, and the Book of Joshua goes even further. This man expresses his religion."

Al-Qasem decided at this point to cite [a caller] Abd Al-Hamid Thakr's opinion from Al-Jazeera's web site: "Sons of Zion, whom our God described as the descendants of apes and pigs, will not be deterred unless there is a true Holocaust that will exterminate all of them at once, along with the traitors, the collaborators, the scum of the [Islamic] nation…"

At this point, Dr. 'Atiya took out a large picture of the baby, Iman Hiju, who was recently killed in the territories from Israeli fire. On the picture, written in red, "The murderers of the prophets are the murders of the innocent". She cried out: "This is the Holocaust, this is the Holocaust. There is no Jewish Holocaust, there is only a Palestinian Holocaust." In addition, 'Atiya claimed that Lafif Lakhdar "is weaving conspiracies against the Palestinian Holocaust by repeating what the Western media says.

The two exchanged insults, Lafif Lakhdar calling 'Atiya a liar, and she referring to him as a "Nazi" and a "fascist". Lafif Lakhdar then summed up his view of 'Atiya's position: "Faurisson and Garaudi can write what they want, and they will always write garbage. Garaudi, for example, is garbage. As a person he is garbage."

Concluding the show, the host, Dr. Faisal Al-Qasem, read the results of the internet poll held on the Al-Jazeera web site comparing Zionism and Nazism. 12,374 people participated in the poll and the results are as follows: "84.6% of Arabs said that Zionism is worse than Nazism; 11.1% said that Zionism is equal to Nazism; 2.7% said that Nazism is worse than Zionism. All that is left for me to do is to congratulate the Zionists for this painful result; indeed, they have excelled in exceeding the Nazis."


[1] Al-Jazeera TV (Qatar), May 21, 2001.