Let us first agree that there is nothing in human history to equal the savagery perpetrated against the Jews of Europe during the Holocaust; nothing to parallel the relationship of power and powerlessness between perpetrators and victims; nothing to equal the collective, systematic, calculated and all-inclusive barbarism, as well as the nearly universal indifference that attended it.

With that in mind, I want to share the reasons why it is deeply offensive to me personally (and I hope to many Jews and non-Jews alike) when the memory and images of this uniquely murderous and successful campaign against the Jews are used to enhance the emotional impact of trendy political memes, or to score cheap partisan points in any context, on the Left or on the Right.

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This image is a case in point. It is one of several such images being posted on social media, often by Jewish Democrats who are inconsolably unhappy with the results of our recent presidential election.

If you are not viscerally repelled by it, then you should know the reasons why some of us are.

Here is a list of a few of the great differences between the Holocaust and the recent Executive Order by president Trump, or the suggested registry for Muslims alluded to in the image:

(The Executive Order is a temporary suspension of admission of citizens from countries that have been designated by the Obama administration as "countries of concern", until a more rigorous system of vetting could be established.  The registry is not yet a policy of the Trump administration, and it will surely be challenged all the way to the US Supreme Court if it ever does become a policy.)

1. The US is a fully functioning and vibrant liberal democratic society,  governed by laws enacted within a framework of a 230-year old constitution. This society cannot be remotely compared to the National Socialist dictatorship which carried out the Holocaust.

2. The largest group of Muslims in US history was naturalized in 2005 during the administration of George W Bush, and 4 years after the events of 9/11, at a time when complaints about Islamophobia had reached a crescendo. Muslims continue to immigrate to, settle in, and thrive throughout the US in large numbers.  It is simply absurd to make analogies between their current flourishing condition in the US and that of the Jews in Nazi Germany.

3. From the outset, the Holocaust was secretly planned as a program of racial extermination, not a publicly discussed proposal for the vetting of immigrants.

4. The Jews are a people; Islam and Islamism are ideologies with core political components at odds with many of the foundational notions of our democracy (i.e. equality under law, freedom of expression, and separation of church and state, etc.) In that respect, US immigration and naturalization laws have long contained proscriptions against adherents of certain ideologies like Communism, Naziism, and against groups that seek the overthrow of the US government. It is neither unprecedented or unreasonable to introduce a proscription against Islamists who also seek to attack our country and terrorize our population.

5. Rejection of the Jews as such is a form of racism; rejection of Islamism and core elements in Islam is a form of intellectual and moral dissent practiced throughout Islamic history by brave and enlightened luminaries of science, art, and culture. It is not Islamophobia, but an aspect of the struggle for reform within Islam.

6. The Jews trapped in Nazi controlled Europe had no place to go; the Muslims living freely in the West have 47 Muslim majority countries in which to live.

7. The world was stubbornly indifferent to the plight of Jews in Europe; by contrast, a simple insult to a Muslim citizen anywhere in the US invariably makes national news and elicits widespread official and popular condemnation.

8. Last but not least, anti-Semitism, the racist ideology behind the Holocaust is endemic in the Islamic world. The Jews are repeatedly anathematized in the Qur’an & Traditions (Hadith) of Mohammad. In fact, comfortable majorities in many Muslim countries either deny the Holocaust or, worse, justify it. Many Muslim leaders, like Hajj Amin al-Husseini, cheered it on, and were engaged directly in its execution. 

In short, whatever policies or countermeasures against the widespread phenomenon of Islamist terror are being discussed in the US now, they are being discussed within the context of a vibrant and functioning liberal democratic tradition. The principles and mechanisms of the separation of powers are still in place; the checks and balances are working; the opposition to president Trump (both Republican and Democratic), though often hysterical and embittered by its loss, is alive and well.  No National-Socialist dictatorship obtains now as was the case in the Germany of 1930s. And it is not a racial animus that drives the agenda of those advocating the registry, but an anguished search for a balance between the country’s security needs and the rights of its very diverse citizenry.
To conclude: Making facile analogies between the Holocaust and any current policy controversies in this country cheapens and disrespects the memory of the six million Jews who were murdered in it. Even when made by descendants of Holocaust survivors or by the survivors themselves, such analogies are both, historically ill-informed, and morally obtuse.

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official position or viewpoint of The Jerusalem Post. Blog authors are NOT employees, freelance or salaried, of The Jerusalem Post.

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