In a speech before the World Zionist Organization on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed the Palestinian Grand Mufti gave Adolf Hitler the idea for the extermination of Jews during the Holocaust. While Netanyahu has a long history of shamelessly exploiting the Holocaust to drum up fear, whether it be of Palestinians or Iran, this outrageous, offensive, and ahistorical statement amounts to extreme incitement against the entire Palestinian people and comes at a particularly dangerous time.
“Netanyahu’s shameless exploitation of the Shoah to stoke fear of Palestinians contributes to the ongoing state-sponsored demonization and dehumanization of the Palestinian people,” said Cecilie Surasky, Deputy Director of Jewish Voice for Peace.
“As someone who lost family in the Holocaust, I am deeply concerned that, not only do these comments fan the flames of hatred and fear, but they also dangerously legitimize Holocaust revisionism. This is part of a long Israeli government policy of blaming the victim as a way to deflect from unjust Israeli policies and justify ongoing state violence and collective punishment.“
In this moment of crisis, both Israelis and Palestinians are experiencing intensified fear, but the fact is that the vast majority of the violence and increased repression has been directed at Palestinians. Over 45 Palestinians have been killed and over 2000 injured and hundreds detained without charge. Ten Israelis have been killed, and scores injured in individual attacks. Jewish mobs are roaming the streets of Jerusalem and elsewhere, chanting “Death to Arabs” and attacking passersby. An Eritrean asylum seeker was killed this week after being mistaken for an attacker based on racist assumptions.
What is happening today must be understood as an uprising which is the inevitable result of decades of occupation, dispossession and state violence. This resistance will only end when the Israeli government stops brutally oppressing Palestinians so that they too can live with freedom and equality. Demonizing and inciting hatred of Palestinians will only lead to more violence, suffering, and never-ending occupation and apartheid.
Note: Jewish Voice for Peace is a national organization inspired by Jewish tradition to work for the freedom, equality, and dignity of all the people of Israel and Palestine. JVP is one of the fastest growing Jewish organizations in the US, with more than 60 chapters and 200,000 members and supporters.