I find the current situation deeply sorrowful, harrowing. There is one aspect of it that I think needs clarification, a clarification that will help thinking about the situation as a whole, and that is the analogies between Hitler, the Nazis and Hamas.
So, as the author of Explaining Hitler, having spent some time studying the subject, I thought I would point out a few differences.
–The Hamas founding covenant explicitly calls for the extermination of all Jews. Hitler never made total extermination an official plank of the the Nazi party platform. (see Holocaust scholar Omar Bartov’s article in the February 2, 2004 issue of The New Republic. He points to the extermiationist 7th article of the founding Hamas covenanat which cites the Hadith (saying of the prophet). Here is a translation of the Hadith in a deeply disturbing summary of Hamas’ exterminationist anti-semitism by the Brown University scholar Andrew Bostom:
“The Prophet, Allah’s prayer and peace be upon him, says: “The hour of judgment shall not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them, so that the Jews hide behind trees and stones, and each tree and stone will say: ‘Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him,’ except for the Gharqad tree, for it is the tree of the Jews.” (Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Number 6985)
In other words, Hamas is not committed merely to the political goal of expelling Jews from the land of Israel but to what they believe is a sacred religious goal of exterminating all Jews everywhere behind every tree in creation. (I’m not pinning any hopes on “the Gharqad tree”). I’d suggest those who deceive themselves into believing Hamas is just another Palestinian rights group, maybe a little on the extreme side, read the whole Bostom article. The exterminationist anti-semitism of Hamas is more excessive than Hitler’s.
So that’s one difference.
–Hitler made efforts to conceal the purpose of the death camps and distanced himself from them, avoided written as opposed to oral orders for the Final Solution. Not because he felt any shame about them, but because he felt knowledge of the death camps might be counter-productive to the Nazis political goals. Hamas makes no effort to conceal the fact that it wants to kill Jewish civilians, not just combatants, but women and children–all Jews (it’s in the charter, remember)—because Hamas feels this will make them more popular.
Those who point to the inefficiency of Hamas rocket attacks act as if they wouldn’t be happy to have more efficient or deadly rockets or that they regret the ones that fall on kindergartens and hospitals.
So Hamas’ open pride in its mass murder goal–that’s another difference between Hamas and Hitler.
–Hitler’s party came to power in part because of the claim Germany’s lands had been stolen from it and it would reclaim them. Hitler did not (inititally) call for the murder of all those who had lived on the land long before World War I. (he didn’t for instance, want to murder all the Czechs in the Sudetenland, just return it to its pre-war German identity). Hamas came to power with the claim that the Palestinian lands had been stolen from them and that it would murder all Jews living there however long they or their families had been there. So there’s another difference.
–Hamas calls for a system of law in which women are mutilated and murdered (sometimes beheaded) if they dare to transgress their inferior status under sharia law (and approves crucifixion as a method of punishment for both sexes. And of course Hamas suports stoning gays to death). Hitler consigned women to a subordinate “breeder” role for the most part but did not mandate their mutilation and murder as women if they sought an independent existence. Unless of course they were Jews.
So that’s another difference.
–FDR called for the “unconditional surrender” of Hitler and the Nazis. The UN, and international human rights organizations call for “proportionality” in the treatment of the Nazi-like murderers of Hamas which translates, apparently to using only enough force so that Hamas can keep on firing rockets at Jews at the same rate as before, a situation they found acceptable as testified to by their silence and inaction.
So that’s a big difference.
–The Allies in World War II did not care about causing civilian casualties in the course of seeking the defeat of the Nazi empire. In fact they thought the Nazi regime, busily engaged in genocide and the German people who supported him did not deserve especially “humane” or “proportional” treatment. The Israelis today go to great, even self-destructive lengths to avoid civilian casualties in trying to combat those who seek their extermination, despite the fact that Hamas is a self-proclaimed genocidal organization.
So that’s another difference.
-Liberals and liberal Jews (I’m one myself) used to think of theselves as anti-fascists and internationalists. They would be horrifed by the idea of supporting the goals of a Nazi-like party such as Hamas. Liberals and liberal Jews almost without exception supported the use of force to cause the unconditional surrender of Hitler and the Nazis. Some – not all – contemporary American liberals and some liberal Jews support the maintenance of the Nazi-like theological fascists of Hamas, who support the beheading of women and the stoning of gays, in power, rather than use force to oust them. They pat themselves on the back for being brave dissenters in their defense of the plight of a fascist genocidal party.
Presumably then these “liberals” would have been out in the streets in the ’30s demonstrating in support of Hitler’s demands for the Sudeten Deutsch against the Czechs despite the fact that the irredentists among the Sudeten Deutsch were mainly Nazis. Germany’s land was stolen after all.
So that’s a big difference too. (and perhas a reason the current Czech government supports the state of Israel.) But imagine, liberals serving as the defenders of the continuing rule of a Nazi-like party more extreme than Hitler’s! (Talk about “shtetl police”)
–This one is more complex. The people of Germany supported Hitler, yet many still claim the Germans didn’t really know what he was doing to the Jews, gays, gypsies or his plans for other ethnic minorities. Or they say that they suppported Hitler for other reasons. Some believe the German people shouldn’t be held accountable for Hitler’s crimes, some think it’s naive to believe they didn’t know and shouldn’t be held responsible. The people of Gaza voted Hamas in by a larger percentage than Hitler ever got. They knew that the Hamas charter called for genocide and supported Hamas attempts to kill as many Jews as they could.
Should they–and the Americans who believe in “even-handed” treatment of a pro-genocide party be held responsible for Hamas and what Hamas has brought upon the land, the way some believe the German people should be held responsible for the destruction Hitler brought upon Germany? Should the German people who supported Hitler have been treated with the “proportionality” we are supposed to reserve for the Gazan people who support Hamas?
I don’t know the answers to these difficult questions. I just wanted to clarify things so no one was making any false analogies between Hamas and Hitler and ignoring the fact that Hamas was more extreme than the Nazis.
I hope to see this mentioned in news reports and commentaries on the current situation.
I’m not holding my breath.