Currently in the U.S. Holocaust Museum, you can view an exhibit: “The Power of Nazi Propaganda.” One of the main takeaways is in their description of what “propaganda” is:
“Once in power, the Nazis eliminated the "marketplace of ideas" through terror and media manipulation and mobilized propaganda as a weapon to unite the German people around a "leader" and to facilitate aggression, mass murder, and genocide.”
The exhibit also points to the roots of Nazi propaganda as being born out of World War I, where British, American and French publicists portrayed Germans as barbaric. In turn, it had the effect of dissuading their population and troops to commit to the war effort.
Learning from that humiliating defeat, was a young Adolf Hitler who wrote, “Propaganda, is a truly terrible weapon in the hands of an expert.”
Hitler and the Nazi propagandists learned the power of words and images and drew upon them to win hearts and minds, paint the Jews in a negative light and ultimately wage war.
Having worked in the advertising and communications industry for over twenty years, I’m familiar with the power of propaganda. I’ve seen it used to sell practically everything - both good and bad.
With that knowledge and understanding, I recognize the current, unrelenting dangers and targeted defamation that exist today as it relates to Israel. As Alan Dershowitz has described, Israel is perceived as, “The Jew among nations.” From Europe to the United Nations, to the countless Muslim countries and numerous halls of higher learning at universities – Israel is through words and images, being maligned, discredited and abused in the same way Jews had been for 2,000 years.
As Mr. Dershowitz’s prose points out, Israel is targeted as, “racist, militant, xenophobic, uncompromising and authoritarian.”
Alongside the force held in those words are powerful, negative images resembling the very same ones Nazi propaganda used, only now they are associated with Israel. The main difference today is they’re carried over a multiplicity of airwaves at the speed of light. Ominously, they are propagating a palpable sense of danger for the Jewish State.
The words and images of the Nazi era housed in the exhibit at the USHM spawned the act of the Shoah.
If you have any doubts regarding the lineage that resulted in violence toward Israel, I urge you to read A New Shoah, The Untold Story of Israel’s Victims of Terrorism.
In his book, Giulio Meotti asserts that the continued violence against Israel and the vitriol that spews out of the mouths of its detractors are part of an unbroken, continuing line leading back to Nazi Europe. He writes, “Israel is a country that has become all too accustomed to digging graves for its children. Is the Holocaust really over?”
His book is devoted to telling the story of Israeli terror victims many of who are survivors of the Shoah. He begins his painful, well-documented and fact-filled book at Israel’s museum dedicated to the Shoah, Yad Vashem. It is there where visitors can gaze on the enormous archive that houses the names of the Holocaust victims. Intimately and personally, he tells the sad, amazing story of the many who were blown up on busses, at the Sbarro Restaurant and continue to be killed up until today all because they are Jews. He writes,
“This is why, when a Holocaust survivor is killed by a suicide bomber or loses a relative in a terrorist attack, the entire country (Israel) reads the story with anguish. It is a perfect murder—the conclusion of a project begun sixty years earlier in Europe.”
It’s as if the film never stopped. Or perhaps this is only a sequel. For like film, it may seem that each frame is separate, but as the philosopher Henri Bergson saw and who used film as a metaphor - time is flow. For Bergson (who was Jewish) the key to reality was that all change should be treated as indivisible.
Looking to the future, as we approach the retelling of the Passover story, again passing it down to a new generation, like all of our history, it should not be treated as a story that has ended, but as a story that continues.
We should again be reminded, not only of the message, but how the story is told - the medium. We are a people who have vowed to remember the past in whatever medium exists in the current time. We’re a people who tell stories. Who erect museums to our fallen loved ones. Who house books that are constant reminders of our history. Who make movies and stream them across the world.
Each story was their story and is our story and our children’s story.