Nazi terminology is being rebranded as 'human rights' - opinion

Terms used by anti-Israel groups such as 'Jewish domination' echo antisemitic language used by the Third Reich, the Nazi Party and contemporary neo-Nazis.

Finnish neo-nazis start their Independence Day march with swastika flags in Helsinki, Finland December 6, 2018. (photo credit: MARTTI KAINULAINEN/LEHTIKUVA/VIA REUTERS)
Finnish neo-nazis start their Independence Day march with swastika flags in Helsinki, Finland December 6, 2018.
(photo credit: MARTTI KAINULAINEN/LEHTIKUVA/VIA REUTERS)

Over the last two years, tens of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) involved in anti-Israel advocacy have banded together in a campaign to accuse Israel of apartheid. This offensive term, used by international NGOs like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW), and Israeli NGOs like B’Tselem, is aimed at advancing a narrative of unparalleled Israeli immorality and calling for the dismantling of the Jewish state. Along the way, these NGOs hope to promote demonization of Israel through BDS and lawfare, including in the International Criminal Court (ICC).

While most scrutiny has detailed the offensiveness and inaccuracy of the terminology apartheid, many have overlooked an even more poisonous phrase that appears in publications from the three NGOs mentioned above. Amnesty, HRW, and B’Tselem use the terms Jewish supremacy and Jewish domination. These terms echo antisemitic language used by the Third Reich, the Nazi Party and contemporary neo-Nazis.

The trope of Jewish supremacy, an antisemitic term found in the title of B’Tselem’s apartheid report, gained prominence during the Third Reich. Books on the subject of Jewish power, Jewish imperialism and Jewish world domination were distributed in pre-World War II Germany, propagating the belief that Jewish supremacy would be defeated by a savior, Adolf Hitler. The phrase was often used to indoctrinate young Germans, as demonstrated in a slide from a Hitler Youth educational presentation proclaiming “Hitler breaks Jewish supremacy with his movement.”

In 1940, following the premiere of the preeminent antisemitic Nazi propaganda film The Eternal Jew, the Reich Security Service published a memo reviewing the movie, stating, “The cartographic and statistical representations about the spread of Judaism (the comparison with the rats was emphasized as particularly impressive) and about the expansion of its influence in all areas of life and in all countries of the world was noted. Particular attention was noted about the acceptance and reception of Jews in the USA. It is surprising how openly the Jewish influence and the Jewish supremacy in the USA are at display.”

In 2003, David Duke, America’s leading white supremacist, also adopted this theme. In Jewish Supremacism: My Awakening to the Jewish Question, Duke claimed, “The truth is that the Zionists not only seek Jewish supremacism over the hapless Palestinians; they seek supremacism over all of us no matter what our race or nationality. It’s not just America they want supremacy over, it’s Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and every other nation upon the earth.”

 The logo of Amnesty International is seen next to director of Mujeres En Linea Luisa Kislinger, during a news conference to announce the results of an investigation into humans rights abuses committed in Venezuela during protests against President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela February 20, 2 (credit: REUTERS/CARLOS JASSO) The logo of Amnesty International is seen next to director of Mujeres En Linea Luisa Kislinger, during a news conference to announce the results of an investigation into humans rights abuses committed in Venezuela during protests against President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela February 20, 2 (credit: REUTERS/CARLOS JASSO)

The commonalities between Nazi propaganda and NGO rhetoric are uncanny. When asked in an online survey conducted by the NGO Monitor, many participants had trouble determining whether David Duke or B’Tselem had claimed to examine and document elements of Jewish supremacism. Similarly, 80% of 800 respondents to a Twitter poll believed that a quote about Jewish domination from Hitler’s Mein Kampf actually originated in Amnesty’s apartheid report.

Indeed, the term Jewish domination, which appears numerous times in Amnesty International and HRW’s publications to describe Israeli policies, echoes infamous antisemitic screeds, such as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion: “This Protocol has, like the first, never been called in question by the Nation of Jewry. It reveals identically the same plans and purposes of the Jews for World domination and revenge which pervade them all.”

There is an irony here. If Jews are the victims of Nazi racism, now NGOs that employ the apartheid smear assume that the existence of a Jewish state is inherently racist.

Thankfully, there is a wide consensus that such an assertion is itself a form of antisemitism, as reflected in the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism. This definition states, “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor,” and is an expression of antisemitism. Adopted by nearly 30 countries and counting, the IHRA working definition has become a meaningful tool for distinguishing between legitimate criticism of Israel and antisemitism. Unsurprisingly, the NGOs that use apartheid terminology also strongly oppose the IHRA.

One would have thought that self-declared human rights NGOs would abjure rhetoric indistinguishable from Nazi propaganda, such as Jewish supremacy and Jewish domination, instead of embracing it. The NGO assumption to moral authority is no justification for the re-emergence and resurrection of horrific Nazi ideology that demonizes Israel.

The writer is research and online content manager for the NGO Monitor research institute.