Comparisons to Nazi Germany are exaggerated

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In the Israeli documentary, The Gatekeepers, former heads of the Shin Bet make some rather serious charges. One says that Israel is “making the lives of millions unbearable, into prolonged human suffering.” Ok, that seems demonstrable—but when another says that Israel has become “a brutal occupation force similar to the Germans in World War II,” I don’t know.

With all due respect to former Shin Bet chiefs, who I concede are better informed than I am, comparisons of Israeli behavior to that of the Nazis seem to go a bit far. It’s time to confront this exaggeration head on, so here is a partial list of ways in which Israel is not like Nazi Germany:

*Throughout its history, Nazi Germany killed millions of innocent people; Israel has killed only, say, fifty thousand innocent Palestinians, Lebanese, and Egyptians– tops.

*For the sake of deterrence, Nazi Germany would kill ten innocent people, randomly selected, for every one of its own people killed by the resistance. By contrast, Israeli retaliation is less random; indeed, it doesn’t kill even the family members of Palestinian militants who attack Israelis, but merely demolishes their homes.

*Nazi Germany had contempt for all Jews and black people, most of the rest of the European peoples and societies, and the United States. By contrast, while Israel has contempt for Muslims, black people and most European states (the goyim), it has contempt only for some Jews (e.g. Jewish critics of Israel), and not (by and large) for the United States, at least if you don’t count its black President.

*Nazi Germany ruthlessly cracked down on all internal dissent and protest; Israel’s recent pressures on dissenters and other attacks on civil liberties are not as extensive.

*Even before the Holocaust, Nazi Germany passed many laws excluding Jews from all normal participation in their country. True, Israel discriminates in many ways against Arabs, but not as extensively.

*In Nazi Germany, there was no democracy. In Israel, despite the increasing anti-democratic trends, if you don’t count the Arabs democracy is still generally intact—especially for Jewish Israelis who support the government’s policies towards the Palestinians.

No doubt additional comparisons could be made, but the point should be clear: Nazi Germany was much worse than Israel. What a relief!

This is a crosspost from Jerome Slater’s site, “On the U.S. and Israel.”

About Jerome Slater

Jerome Slater is a professor (emeritus) of political science and now a University Research Scholar at the State University of New York at Buffalo. He has taught and written about U.S. foreign policy and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for nearly 50 years, both for professional journals (such as International Security, Security Studies, and Political Science Quarterly) and for many general periodicals. He writes foreign policy columns for the Sunday Viewpoints section of the Buffalo News. And his website it

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