Imagine if a a retired Israeli military officer went on television and proclaimed that Jews do in fact murder Palestinian children and use their blood for the performance of religious rituals. Would that be reported by any respectable media outlet as if it’s a debatable assertion, as if such comments by one Israeli somehow lend credence to the ancient blood libel?
Of course not.
Yet, the Telegraph engaged in something similar by deciding it was newsworthy to report on comments made on Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, by a retired Israeli general named Amiram Levin that included the antisemitic narrative comparing Israeli actions in the West Bank to Nazi atrocities.
A retired Israeli general and former Mossad spy accused his country’s government of “total apartheid” as he appeared to compare the occupied West Bank to Nazi Germany.
Amiram Levin, who served as commander of the Israeli army’s northern forces and deputy director of Mossad, made the remarks during an interview with the Israeli broadcaster Kan.
“There hasn’t been a democracy there in 57 years. There is total apartheid,” Mr Levin said, referring to the ongoing Israeli military occupation of the West Bank.
“It [the army] is standing by, looking at the settler rioters and is beginning to be a partner to war crimes. These are deep processes,” he added.
Israel increasingly faces accusations from human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, of imposing apartheid on Palestinians in the West Bank. But such criticism from former military commanders or other senior officials is rare.
Later in the interview, the former Mossad deputy drew an apparent comparison between Nazi Germany and the situation in the West Bank, which this year has suffered some of the worst Israeli-Palestinian violence in two decades.
“Walk around Hebron and you will see streets where Arabs cannot walk, just like what happened in Germany,” the Jerusalem Post quoted him as saying, referring to the southern West Bank city where Palestinians live in close quarters with a Jewish settler minority backed by the army.
First, let’s remember that, consistent with the 1997 Hebron agreement signed by the Palestinian Authority, the PA provides security to the Palestinian section of the city (H2), where over 250,000 Palestinians live, while the IDF secures the Jewish section (H1), where roughly 1,000 Jews live.
Palestinians, as CAMERA has documented previously, are largely free to travel between the two parts of the city, which means that Palestinians have access to 97% of the city – the exceptions being small parts of Jewish Hebron, such as Shuhada Street. By way of contrast, Jews are forbidden from entering Palestinian Hebron, which means that Jews have access to just 3% of the city.
While propaganda suggesting that this is an example of Israeli apartheid is, in itself, not only inaccurate, but arguably the opposite of the truth, given that Jews are the ones being denied access to most of the historic Jewish city, the suggestion that what’s occurring there is “just like what happened in Germany” is deranged.
The story is even more ludicrous given that – as the article itself notes – Levin, in 2017, claimed Palestinians “deserved” to be occupied, a sign that the retired general did an ideological 180 – which the Telegraph reporter describes merely as a “change of heart”.
Though it shouldn’t be necessary, let’s also remind the Telegraph that the Nazis didn’t simply subject Jews to restrictions on access to a few streets in Berlin, but to a historically unprecedented system of industrialised mass murder that resulted in the death of two out of every three Jews on the continent.
As the late Manfred Gerstenfeld wrote, “Holocaust [analogies] attempt to delegitimize Israel by associating it with the epitome of evil and criminal behavior, Nazi Germany”. Thus, efforts to destroy the Jewish state can be seen not only as justifiable, but as something of an ethical imperative.
The stray utterings of one retired general don’t render such analogies any less intellectually unserious, or the legitimisation of such libels less morally reprehensible.