Holocaust Inversion
By MANFRED GERSTENFELD
January 28, 2008

Solemn ceremonies around Europe marked yesterday’s Holocaust Memorial Day. But 63 years after the liberation of Auschwitz on Jan. 27, 1945, one of the most perfidious forms of contemporary anti-Semitism is Holocaust inversion — the portrayal of Israelis and Jews as modern-day Nazis. The charge is that Israel supposedly behaves toward the Palestinians as Germany did to the Jews in World War II.

This distortion of history is particularly widespread in the Muslim world. But it is also gaining currency in the West, where it is no longer just the domain of the extreme Left. Last year, a German bishop visiting Israel compared Ramallah to the Warsaw Ghetto. Portuguese Nobel laureate for literature José Saramago in 2002 compared Ramallah even to Auschwitz.

Cartoons are a particularly popular medium to express such distortions. Portraying Jews as Nazis, Israeli prime ministers as Hitler and the Star of David as equal to the swastika is almost routine in the Arab world. This trend has also reached Europe, where during the anti-Iraq war protests, for instance, many demonstrators held placards depicting similar images. In the Netherlands you can now buy T-shirts and greeting cards showing Anne Frank wearing a kaffiyeh, the traditional Palestinian headdress, wrapped around her neck like a scarf. In other words, the Palestinians are the new Jews, which makes the Israelis the new Nazis.

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