February 2, 2007
Hussam Ayloush: Poison Discourse Dispelled
By Rachel Neuwirth
Hussam Ayloush, the director of the California branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is fond of comparing Israelis to Nazis and Israel to Nazi Germany. For example, he appeared on a TV talk show during the Hezb'allah-Israel war of 2006 and compared Israel's acts of self-defense following Hezb'allah's attack to Nazi atrocities during World War II. He did not criticize Hezb'allah at all for bombing Israeli territory, killing three Israeli soldiers and capturing two others, even though it was an entirely unprovoked attack. Nor did Ayloush have a word of criticism for the rockets that Hezb'allah rained down indiscriminately on Israeli communities, killing 43 Israeli civilians, some of them Arabs. But Israel's military response to the attack on its territory and citizens he considered Nazi-like. Ayloush is also fond of labeling anyone who expresses sympathy with Israel a "Zio-Nazi." One of the individuals that he so labeled was myself, in an e-mail to me.
Of course, Ayloush is not unusual in this regard among anti-Israel propagandists. The comparison between Israel and Nazi Germany, and between Zionism (meaning Jewish nationalism) and Nazism has been repeated so often by so many "opinion-makers" that millions of people around the world must by now accept it as undisputed fact. But since the Israel-Nazi comparison has become so accepted in Middle East discourse, it is time that we examine it against the facts, in order to dispel this myth. When we do this, the following facts will draw our attention:
- The Jewish population of Europe declined from about 8 million people in 1939 to about 2 million people in 1945, after six years of Nazi horror. By way of contrast, the Arab population of Israel has increased from about 160,000 in 1949 to around 1,400,000 today. The entire Arab population of Palestine west of the Jordan River was at most 1,300,000 on the eve of Israel's declaration of independence; it is now somewhere between 3,600,000 and 5,000,000, depending on whose statistics you believe. And this total does not even include the millions of Arabs who live outside of Western Palestine and who claim to be Palestinians. If the Israelis are Nazi-like, why have they allowed, even assisted, the Arab population in the areas under their administration to increase so dramatically? Would Nazis behave like this?
- The average life expectancy of an Arab citizen of Israel in 74.6 years-comparable to the average life expectancy of Americans, the world's wealthiest nation and its superpower. The life expectancy of Arabs in Israel has increased by 27 years since the state was founded. By way of contrast, the life expectancy of newly born Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe was close to zero.
- Arabs in Israel receive free medical care, government pensions for each and every child they have (and Arab families have very large numbers of children), unemployment benefits and a host of other welfare state benefits, free education in public schools in their own language, and equal opportunitiesadmissions to all Israeli colleges and universities. Arabs are free to use all Israeli public facilities, such as parks, restaurants, trains and buses, (even though some of them plant bombs on buses). By way of contrast, Jews in Nazi Germany and the Nazi-occupied lands received no public assistance or medical care of any kind, and were not allowed to attend schools, ride buses or trains, enter parks, dine at restaurants, shop at most stores, etc.
- Arabs in Israel are free to work in all trades and professions, including the Armyand the police, both of which have high-ranking Arab officers . Jews in Nazi-ruled lands were banned from nearly all trades and professions. Some "half" Jews (or mischlings, as the Nazis called them) were allowed to serve in the German army, but no "pure-blooded" Jews.
- Of the 120 members of the Israeli parliament, thirteen are Arabs. There is an Arab member of the Israeli Supreme Court. Recently, an Arab was appointed to a cabinet post. Of course there were no Jews in the Nazi government.
- Arab citizens of Israel, like all Israeli citizens, are able to choose between dozens of political parties and candidates in free and fair elections. Many of these parties are fiercely hostile to the government, and some are even hostile to the State of Israel itself. Of course Jews could not vote in the Nazi state, while other Germans were only allowed to vote for a single Nazi slate.
- The Israeli government pays for the Islamic religious education of Israeli Arab children, allows Islamic courts to have jurisdiction over the private affairs of Muslim citizens, and even pays the salaries of Muslim clerics in the mosques, despite the open hostility to Israel of much of the Moslem world. Islamic organizations and preachers in Israel are free to denounce the state of Israel and even to advocate the dissolution of Israel into an Islamic state. This extreme religious tolerance is of course the exact opposite of Nazi policy. The Nazis banned Jewish worship completely and destroyed all synagogues. Christian ministers who refused to toe the government line were imprisoned and sometimes killed.
- Arab members of the Israeli parliament have often publicly expressed support for the "struggle" of the Palestinian terrorist organizations against Israel. They have sometimes expressed this support while visiting states at war with Israel, such as Syria and the "Palestinian National Authority." One Arab member of the Israeli parliament urged Palestinians to kill Israeli soldiers but spare Israeli civilians. Another assured his Jewish colleagues in the Knesset (Israel's parliament) that "we will drive you [the Jewish people] out the way we did the Turks and the Crusaders before you." Yet they are not charged with any crime, remain in the Israeli parliament and continue to receive their salaries from the state. In Nazi Germany, any individual, whether in the government or not, who in private expressed sympathy for Germany's wartime enemies was instantly shot, if the Nazis found out about such remarks. No one ever dared publicly to express support for Germany's enemies.
- Israel's ultra-free press constantly denounces and ridicules Israeli government leaders, often with sarcasm and vitriol. The press is constantly reporting on scandals and other developments that reflect unfavorably on the government. Military leaders are also frequently criticized. Many journalists express sympathy for Israel's Arab enemies. Of course, no newspapers or radio stations in Nazi Germany were allowed to criticize the government or to report any news that reflected unfavorably on the regime or its leaders.
- Israel provides free electricity and free drinking water to millions of Arab residents of the territories governed by the "Palestinian National Authority," even though that "Authority" is openly at war with Israel, and its agents have killed over a thousand Israeli civilians and soldiers. Israel has turned over hundreds of millions of dollars in "taxes" to the Palestinian government, despite its state of war with Israel, and has even volunteered its services in collecting the taxes for the PA for free. Israelis have given thousands of Palestinian Arabs free treatment in Israeli hospitals, even including Palestinian terrorists wounded in gun battles with Israelis, even though the Palestinians pay no taxes to Israel and are overwhelmingly hostile to Israelis. Israel also provides free medical treatment to over a thousand children from throughout the Arab world suffering from severe disabilities, even though they come from countries unfriendly to Israel. No other nation in history has been as generous and forgiving towards its enemies as Israel has been and continues to be.
- The Nazis, of course, gave nothing to the people of nations who forcibly resisted them except death and destruction on a vast scale. They certainly did not provide them with free medical care, water, electricity and "taxes" while they continued to fight the Germans-or even after they had surrendered. For that matter, even the other democracies of the world, besides Israel, have never shown this kind of generosity to their enemies while they continued to wage war against them. Did the United States provide Germans and Japanese with electricity, running water, medical care and food while World War II was still going on? Did it provide the North Koreans or the North Vietnamese with these benefits while their governments were at war with America? Of course not.
- Israel grants captured Arab terrorists, who attack Israelis without uniforms or insignia of any kind identifying them as combatants, and who deliberately murder unarmed civilians in cold blood, even small children, the same rights normally granted to legitimate prisoners of war, or to ordinary convicted criminals in democratic societies. Yet the long-established rules of war permit the execution of combatants who fight without uniforms as spies, and also allow the execution of those who deliberately kill civilians. Israel even permits imprisoned terrorists to attend college in Israel. Some have even done graduate studies and have been awarded university degrees while in custody! The terrorist prisoners are also allowed conjugal visits from their wives-a privilege not required by any of the international conventions on treatment of prisoners of war. The Nazis, on the opposite end of the humanitarian spectrum from Israel, shot all out-of-uniform combatants or undercover enemy agents immediately, or as soon as all information could be tortured out of them. They also caused millions of lawful, uniformed prisoners of war to die of starvation and disease in their POW camps. In contrast, the overwhelming majority of Arab terrorists held prisoner by Israel have survived their captivity and have eventually been released in good health.
These are only a few examples of the absurdity of the Nazi-Israel equation made by Ayloush and so many other anti-Israel propagandists. As Hitler shrewdly observed in his Mein Kampf, the bigger the lie, the more easily people can be persuaded to believe it, provided it is simple enough for the simplest person to grasp and it is repeated constantly. Today's anti-Israel propagandists are always careful to follow Hitler's advice on how to lie; and like him, they have become highly successful at persuading people to believe their lies. Their rhetorical maneuvers are also examples of the technique that George Orwell, the great prophet of propaganda warfare in our time, termed blackwhite or turnspeak-the deliberate attempt to represent something or someone as the exact opposite of what it, or he, truly is, and to make one's own views or objectives appear to be the exact opposite of what they truly are. According to Orwell, the turnspeakers wish us to believe that "war is peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength." Certainly this motto accurately distills the essence of anti-Israel propaganda. Israel, the ultimate humane and democratic society, humane and democratic to a fault and to its own injury while it is being victimized by utterly ruthless enemies, is the exact opposite of Nazi Germany in every possible respect.
But if Israel in reality bears no resemblance at all to Nazi Germany, is their any side in the Arab-Israeli dispute that does? Stay tuned .
John Landau contributed to this article