This is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.
As Netanyahu’s Holocaust revisionism continues to find its way around the world, Jewish memory is besmirched. That’s the consensus of the many Holocaust historians and political figures that continue to weigh in on Netanyahu’s misreading of Holocaust history. Buried in the outrage, though, is a deeper issue: Is Netanyahu’s use of the Holocaust to further incite his political constituency against Palestinians what we should focus on? Or is it the fact that many of those who condemn Netanyahu for his Holocaust blunder are also enablers of the destruction of Palestine?
The almost panicked desire to separate the real culprit of the Holocaust, Hitler, rather than an irrelevant side-kick, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, is telling. It is also too easy. Separating the two, while important, is a distraction from the real and ongoing culprit in the suffering of Palestinians – the correct, substantial, highly prestigious, well-funded, real history of the Holocaust.
Rather than the historical details of Holocaust history, how the Holocaust functions in relation to Palestine is the issue at hand. Netanyahu’s misreading of the Holocaust pales in significance to how the Holocaust is used to strengthen Israel at the cost of Palestinian life. The question is whether Netanyahu’s Holocaust distortion will bring the real history of the Holocaust back into Israel’s corner or whether his distortion spells the end of the use of the Holocaust in relation to Israel and Palestine. Has Netanyahu inadvertently weakened or even ended the use of the Holocaust as an enabler of Israel’s injustice toward Palestinians?
The Jewish Holocaust narrative supporting Israel in the world has been collapsing for decades. Instead of concentrating on the internal and highly political debate about the Holocaust, we should refocus our attention on Israel’s military occupation of Palestine, Israeli settlements in Jerusalem and the West Bank, Israeli and Egyptian control of Gaza and United States and European foreign policy in relation to Israel and Palestine.
After all, it isn’t the Holocaust that is displacing and murdering Palestinians today. It’s apartheid.