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Anti-Israel Campus Activists Aren't Nazis. But They're Complicit in Trump's Fascism

Anshel Pfeffer
Haaretz
May 2, 2024 9:03 pm IDT

Benjamin Netanyahu has yet to address the Israeli people on such minor matters as the war that broke out with Iran just before Passover, but somehow he found time in his busy schedule last week to record a video statement about the riots on a few U.S. campuses. They are, he said, "reminiscent of what happened in German universities in the 1930s." Except they aren't.

This is far from the first time the son of the historian has gratuitously used Holocaust comparisons. We can expect more on Holocaust Remembrance Day, when Netanyahu is bound to once again use the Shoah to cover up for his government's gross mishandling of the war against Hamas. But it's imperative to challenge this misuse of Jewish history – and not just because it's an excuse for Netanyahu's intentional lack of strategy in Gaza.

Netanyahu and other like-minded commentators are doing the campus rioters a huge favor by likening them to the Nazis. It is a ridiculous comparison that makes it easier for them to insist they are not the antisemites they truly are, just "anti-Zionists."

Back in the '30s, the German universities expelled their Jewish students and fired their Jewish faculty members under the race laws passed by the Third Reich. The riots on the U.S. campuses this week are as much against a Biden administration that has gallantly supported Israel since the October 7 massacre as they are against Israel. This is an important distinction we need to make, in order to truly understand the nature of contemporary Jew-hatred and confront it. Dragging the Nazis into it won't help.

There are those, of course, who insist on denying the fact that Jews are being targeted on these campuses, when it's happening in front of our eyes, when Jewish students and lecturers have been violently harassed, when a classic antisemitic discourse is being used.

Some of the deniers are themselves Jews who ignore the fact that they've had to renounce any form of solidarity with the rest of the Jewish people in order to be welcomed among the rioters. It's the standard excuse used by Jews on the far left and far right to cover for their antisemitic allies: they're not like the Nazis, they don't hate all Jews. Only most of them.

But there's another important distinction. The Nazis were in power of a great country. This lot control at most a couple of buildings they broke into. And despite some of the dire predictions that they're "the next generation" of American leaders, all you have to do is listen to their weak, ignorant shrieking to realize that no one there is ever going to lead anything other than a splinter group of malcontents.

Their numbers are small, even when compared to the student bodies of the universities they claim to belong to (not all of them even study there), and they wouldn't be getting any attention if they hadn't made camp in the center of campuses in America's main cities. It is intensely unpleasant for Jews who study or teach in those universities (the majority of Jews who won't abandon their fellow Jews), but their impact on the Israel-Palestine conflict they claim to be so interested in is zero.

They are a tiny, privileged minority who, as they get more shrill and violent, are only serving to toxify the Palestinian cause in the eyes of most Americans.

That doesn't mean, however, that they are not dangerous. Not to Israel. They can do nothing to Israel or the vast majority of Jews who have no reason to venture onto the campuses they are temporarily occupying. But they are a threat to American democracy, which is facing one of its most dangerous moments according to the polls, with Donald Trump poised to make a comeback to the White House this November.

If they did indeed care for human rights and minorities, they would now be organizing to try to face that threat. Trump isn't hiding his plans to arrest and deport millions once he is back in power. Nor his plans to fire federal prosecutors, allow states to monitor pregnant women and use the National Guard to quell protests. But these proud anti-fascists are instead agitating against a country on another continent and abominating the only alternative candidate to Trump. In one of the riots at the University of Alabama, when confronted by a counterprotest from the far right, they quickly discovered they had a joint enemy and chanted in unison "Fuck Joe Biden!"

Their standard response to the charge of collaboration with Trump is that Joe Biden has no right to take the votes of Muslim and progressive Americans for granted. This is undoubtedly correct. No politician should treat their voters as a given. But that argument goes both ways. Citizens can't take their right to vote for granted either. They have a responsibility, especially those among them with heightened political awareness, to exercise judgment.

If Trump makes it back to the White House, it will first and foremost be the fault of the Democratic Party for not fielding more viable alternative candidates to the octogenarian Biden and hapless Kamala Harris. They will have tragically failed in protecting American democracy. But those on the progressive left who prioritized their hatred for (nearly all) Jews over any real attempt at fighting fascism will bear a large part of the blame as well.

What is motivating those who claim to be fighting against fascism and "imperialism" thousands of miles away, but are prepared to allow their own country to become an autocracy?

Some truly see the Palestinian struggle as the overriding cause of our age. Many are politically naïve. And some just hate America – and by extension Israel – so much that they have sided against it with the fascist regimes of Russia and Iran. To them, Biden, who has supported Ukraine and Israel to the hilt, is indeed an enemy, while the Putin-admiring, NATO-hating Trump is just a useful idiot to them.

But there is a simpler explanation that actually does have a historic precedent from the '30s. Hatred of Jews has always gone hand-in-hand with hatred of free societies and elected governments. This isn't about helping the suffering Palestinians. "Anti-Zionism" is just a convenient way of trying to bring down Western democracy. Together with Trump, they finally have a shot at it.
Richard65 · M
The insidious irony is that a few years ago Netanyahu stated in a public interview that Hitler didn't want to murder the European Jews, but had been urged to do so by Jerusalem’s then-grand mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini. His statement was met with fury by Jewish historians who denied the statement, some even accusing Netanyahu of being a Hitler apologist. Netanyahu stood by his statement, but attempted to dilute its meaning in subsequent interviews. Think about that, Netanyahu tried blaming the Holocaust, not on Hitler and the Nazis, but on a Muslim.
Northwest · M
@Richard65

You mean this: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/benjamin-netanyahu-palestinian-mufti-gave-hitler-idea-exterminate-jews-n448326

Netanyahu and Trump are peas in a pod.
trollslayer · 46-50, M
@Northwest yikes!!!!
Richard65 · M
@Northwest yes, that's the one. Not many media outlets talk about that. Jewish writer Jonathan Freedland has stated Netanyahu has worked for three decades to prevent a two state solution.
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trollslayer · 46-50, M
@jshm2 Unfortunately, emotion will not facilitate an objective comparison, and never will.
This editorial does make a couple of good points, for instance:

... But that argument goes both ways. Citizens can't take their right to vote for granted either. They have a responsibility, especially those among them with heightened political awareness, to exercise judgment

... If Trump makes it back to the White House, it will first and foremost be the fault of the Democratic Party for not fielding more viable alternative candidates to the octogenarian Biden and hapless Kamala Harris ....

Moreover, the thought of this happening ...

In one of the riots at the University of Alabama, when confronted by a counterprotest from the far right, they quickly discovered they had a joint enemy and chanted in unison "Fuck Joe Biden!"

... is indeed mind-boggling insanity.


But overall I get the vibe from this specific writer that they could've co-authored, e.g, the ADL's broad (convenient) definition of antisemitism, and that they imagine that or pine for the entirety of the global Jewish diaspora to be a uniform monolith of unwavering support for Zionism and the geopolitical state of Israel. Going even further they seem to imply than any Jew even daring to criticize Zionism or Israel is a traitor to the rest of the imagined Jewish monolith of thought, perhaps not even a "real Jew" any longer, shamed with some sort of excommunication.

It's as though they'd rather see anyone in the US with any anti-Israel thoughts just shut up, while presumably they would welcome any pro-Israel voices in the US, which of course would be hypocritical.

Honestly I'm a bit surprised to see this in a left-leaning outlet like Haaretz. Have we stumbled upon the Uri Berliner of Haaretz?

This in particular is just a ludicrous assertion:

"Anti-Zionism" is just a convenient way of trying to bring down Western democracy

Israel itself isn't even truly a democracy. Imagine people from Idaho driving over into Washington and taking the homes of Washingtonians as part of some Idaho settler project with the blessing of Boise.
Northwest · M
@BlueGreenGrey @trollslayer

I think the following encapsulates the point:

they are a threat to American democracy, which is facing one of its most dangerous moments according to the polls, with Donald Trump poised to make a comeback to the White House this November.

I don't think the author is saying that protesting is bad. He's saying that the "noise" drowning the intent of some of the protesters, is going to result in another Netanyahu government, enabled by a new Trump term, and that "trumps" everything.

Yes, I am not happy with the Biden position on Gaza, but that's not as critical as keeping out of the White House.

As an aside, I give to the ADL. The real problem, is AIPAC.
This isn't about helping the suffering Palestinians. "Anti-Zionism" is just a convenient way of trying to bring down Western democracy.

🙄
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