Thursday, February 27, 2020 -
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The ‘Nazi’ Rorschach test

Is it just me, or has the use, or rather misuse, of the word “Nazi” and Nazi implications, or tampering in other ways with memory of the Holocaust, gone off the rails?

I can’t seem to read the news without the word or era being invoked, usually very irresponsibly or disturbingly.

This past week, while Poland has proposed a controversial law rendering it illegal to link the concentration camps to Polish soil, as if to declare Poland’s innocence because they, too, were occupied by Germany, the Holocaust has been surfacing in multiple upsetting ways. While it’s true that Poland was occupied by German forces, the extent of the Poles’ collaboration is also well documented.

Granted, it’s a complex discussion, but when I read this piece of news it served as the straw that broke the camel’s back. For me, it’s the latest craze of Nazis in the news.

It seems these days that every group uses the slogan Nazi or other Holocaust-related terms, photos or personas, to advance their agandas.

The radicalized haredim in Israel scream “Nazi Nazi” at police at anti-draft demonstrations with such fierceness, it’s like they really mean it.

This week in the haredi press, there appeared a story about Mengele and his ghastly experiments on twins during WW II. A photo of a female twin was pixelated in the name of “modesty.” The week before that, Israeli poet and leftist Yehonatan Geffen compared Ahed Tamimi, the teen Palestinian provocateur who has beat up and spat on IDF soldiers and has since been arrested, to Anne Frank. Anne Frank! Due to the public outcry he has since recanted and issued a public apology.

In the generally leftist Israeli media, that same week, African refugees were also being compared to Anne Frank.

Israelis who are politically right wing-inclined threw out the Nazi card, often in the form of “kapo,” referring to leftist Israelis with whom they disagree. some liberals here in the US have been making obscene comparisons between Trump (who I did not vote for) and Hitler.

A few years back a law was proposed in Israel to outlaw the illegitimate use of the word Nazi. At the time, I was hoping the law would not come to pass.  I still believe that, but the invoking-the-Holocaust hysteria carnival has got to stop.

It really cheapens the Holocaust, the memory of those who were murdered in the Holocaust and the survivors, as well as propping up the old saying of “crying wolf.” Bandying about the word “Nazi,” and invoking the fear or association of Nazism and its attendant symbols at every turn caricatures it to the point where it becomes meaningless — not only meaningless, but disrespectful to those who actually did live under Nazism.

The Holocaust was humanity’s defining atrocity and, for our generation immediately following it, it is even deeper and more immediate a responsibility as we are the guardians of making sure its memory is transmitted.

We do need to use the lessons of the Holocaust as the compass of our compassions, ethics, morals and guide for how we mold our societies.

Remember, Nazism is equal to genocide. That’s what Nazism actually was.

Granted, genocide didn’t start in one day. Indeed, there was a gradual narrowing of society which is crucial to understand in order to learn from history.

There are times when we must keep the parallels of the Holocaust before us, so as not to be doomed to ever repeat it. Although not on the scale of WW II,  there have been genocides in our times: Rwanda, Darfur, Syria — and somehow silence reigns. But when it comes to micro-political maneurverings everyone starts shouting Nazi!

It just comes off as so disingenuous.

And it is dangerous. We must guard humanity, and especially the Jewish people in Israel and abroad, from the true dangers of Nazism ever replicating themselves again.

Don’t sink so low as to erase a Holocaust victim in the name of a disturbing radicalized ideology of erasing women from photos. Don’t compare modern-day struggles — and struggles they are — to Anne Frank, the universal visage symbolizing the innocence of millions of children who were murdered just for being Jewish, as an instrument to prop up your leftist political positions. Stop the ad hominem Nazi attacks on people who disagree with your positions, even when you are certain they are dead wrong.

Just stop.

Poland, I understand you were an occupied land, but you are the other extreme, never seeing any link, never acknowledging the collaboration between yourself and Nazism.

It’s two sides of the same coin.

We need to take the discourse of WW II back, before it’s too late. It’s out of control.

It seems that one only sees Nazis in Rorschach tests — or when they are actually present, see none at all.

Copyright © 2018 by the Intermountain Jewish News

Tehilla R. Goldberg

IJN columnist | View from Central Park

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