The head of Yad Vashem said Monday that the use of Nazi imagery at recent violent anti-Israel demonstrations across Europe have fanned the flames of anti-Semitism and incited violence against Jews. Protests against Israel's Gaza offensive included signs and slogans comparing Israeli soldiers to German troops, the Gaza Strip to the Auschwitz death camp and the Magen David to the swastika. Avner Shalev, chairman of the Yad Vashem museum and memorial, said the comparisons were "manipulative distortions of history" and called for the Holocaust to be left out of contemporary political discourse. "It is legitimate to constructively criticize the policies of any nation, including Israel. However, the baseless use of Holocaust imagery and terminology as a weapon against Israel has incited a tangible surge of anti-Semitism," he said. "That is the danger inherent when people cynically use the Holocaust to distort a present political conflict."