A warning from history

The Nazis: A Warning from History

The Nazis: A Warning from History

My wife is away for a week and I’ve been taking the opportunity to watch videos that she wouldn’t enjoy. No, not what you are thinking! Rather, historical documentaries, war movies, Clint Eastwood films, etc.

Now I’m watching a BBC documentary called “The Nazis: A Warning from History”. It’s quite interesting, loaded with period footage that I’d never seen and including many interviews with former Nazis (they always are listed as becoming ‘former’ in 1945).

An early episode describes the persecution of the German Jews before the war, of which Kristallnacht was the culmination (and the beginning of the Final Solution). What is interesting — not that there is anything new in this — was the way in which the antisemitic predilections of ordinary Germans were nurtured for years, while at the same time the Jews were gradually excluded from every aspect of German society: the professions, the arts, political life, education, business, even the right to marry non-Jews (by the 1935 Nuremberg laws).

With every succeeding year, new indignities were heaped on the Jews which would have been unthinkable the year before. But like the proverbial frog placed in water which is slowly raised to the boiling point, the German people (even many Jews) didn’t perceive the horror of the situation until it was too late. The combination of the continuous antisemitic input from the German media and political establishment, the step by step promulgation of exclusionary laws and the gradually increasing paramilitary violence against individual Jews made the later recruitment of soldiers and police for einsatzgruppen [extermination squads] possible.

One of the former Nazis said something like this: “In 1933, who could have imagined what would be in 1945?  Only 12 years — but it was unimaginable beforehand.”

So why do I mention this?

Because a precisely parallel process is underway today. It is not aimed at individual Jews, but at the Jewish state. It is not limited to a single country, but is taking place worldwide. The anti-Israel rhetoric continues to reach new heights and every day things are said which would never have been said before. What was unimaginable last year — like the Aftonbladet accusations — becomes standard fare this year. Just like Nazi propagandists, there are writers and media that specialize in Israel-hatred. I can imagine Max Blumenthal (see here and here) looking in the mirror every morning and asking himself “how can I stick it to them today?”

The parallel is not exact, because unlike most German Jews the state of Israel is capable of defending herself. But the process of isolation — the product boycotts and divestments, the UN resolutions, the attempts to restrict Israeli participation in international sporting events, the academic boycotts, the anti-Israel conferences, and the escalating vilification in the media — are all intended to disconnect Israel from the world, to ensure that she will have no friends to stand by her when her enemies feel ready to challenge her directly.

The response has to be to not allow the temperature to be raised imperceptibly, to not get used to the anti-Israel rhetoric as, for example, “just what one expects from NPR, the Guardian, the LA Times, etc.,” but to push back vigorously against each attack, each lie, each fake ‘investigation’ and every ‘pro-Israel’ group that is actually the opposite.

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5 Responses to “A warning from history”

  1. Robman says:

    You are right on the mark. A couple of observations/suggestions.

    First, I have been involved in Israel advocacy for about a dozen years now, starting with writing letters to the editor of the main newspaper in our area. What motivated me to begin this activity at that time was that it was then – circa 1997 – that I began to notice a deliberate pattern of anti-Israel bias in said newspaper, a paper which I had carried as a boy in my home town, back in the 1970s. That was my very first paying job.

    By 1997, I was living completely outside of my local Jewish community. Unobservant, secular, “assimilated” to the core. I had always been pro-Israel, but I hadn’t felt the need to become involved up to that time.

    Now, a dozen years later, I’ve been published over three dozen times. So many in the Jewish community took notice, that one thing led to another, and I am now the local Chair of our regional Jewish Community Relations Council. I went to Israel for the first time two years ago, and it was a revelation, one of the most positive experiences of my life. Subsequent to that, also for the first time in my life, I am now affiliated with a temple (Reform). Obviously, I am highly motivated, but I am also more alarmed today than I have ever been. (And by the way, I am in a mixed marriage: so those of you similarly situated readers who think this is an excuse to sit on the sidelines, IT ISN’T.)

    In many respects, matters have indeed become worse. For example, I am no longer published in my local paper. A long-time anti-Semite on the editorial staff was promoted to the head of the staff, and now it is exceedingly difficult for any pro-Israeli viewpoint to find it’s way to the editorial page by any means. We are being “muzzled”.

    You rightly exhort readers to “push back vigorously against every attack”..but what if we can’t even get published??!! When this began to happen, I tried to convince other community leaders to call for a boycott of the paper in question, but I was rebuffed as an alarmist. But I told them what I still believe today: this behavior on the part of my local paper is the entrance ramp to the road that leads to the pogrom.

    Recently, however, on a positive note, our local UJC has inaugerated a special “Israel Advocacy Committee”, and response was massive. I would like to think that my past efforts were partially responsible for inspiring others to participate in this. I just hope it isn’t too little, too late. Indeed, objectively, I can say that this is the case in one respect: Many on this committee supported Obama, most privately regret this (probably part of the reason they are now serving on the committee), and even one deluded member – the sweetest little old lady – still maintains that we are “very fortunate” to have Obama as president, that he will be “good for Israel”, etc. Ugh.

    Unfortunately, I too am guilty in many instances of saying things like “that’s what you’d expect from NPR”, etc. The deluge is becoming so massive anymore, it seems there isn’t enough time to even respond to a fraction of this filth, and it seems like most of the time, we are just ignored anyway. It often seems like there are just too damned many of “them”, and not enough of “us”. It sure doesn’t help morale when “them” includes a lot of Jews (but I’m with you, I don’t really consider such cowards to be “Jews” in any genuine sense).

    However, there does seem to be one shortcut idendified earlier on this blog – among other places – that does hold out some promise of helping to shore up our ability to defend ourselves. This is the Saudi connection.

    For years, I have pretty much assumed that the Saudis & Co. have been orchestrating a very sophisticated “active measures” campaign aimed at achieving what you describe. The fertile soil for this exists in the form of ambient anti-Semitism, of course – this is especially true in Europe – but consider how far things have come, how fast. Twenty five years ago, on college campuses here, Israeli paratrooper shoulder bags were positively “chic” attire; today, one can be literally beaten up on a campus if found wearing one of these. This is not indigenous anti-Semitism at work.

    The efforts of Arab-funded – and now probably also Iranian funded – anti-Israel agitation on Western college campuses are well-documented. Saudi corruption of our national government is also well-documented (see Robert Baer, “Sleeping with the Devil”). The missing piece is the media…which makes sure the above barely ever sees the light of day.

    We now know that ostensibly “objective” human rights groups solicit the Saudis for money, advertising themselves as opponents of Israel. Sure beats browbeating the local bleeding hearts for nickels and dimes, doesn’t it?

    So, doesn’t it follow that cash-strapped news outlets would do the very same thing to fatten a starving bottom line? After all, what is really in it for them to continue to beat up on Israel so mercilessly? The “where’s Waldo” that is always there to be found! The same one buying up “Chairs of Middle Eastern Studies” at your local university! The same one retaining James Baker III as a lobbyist for their vile “cause” (…and Colin Powell, and now NSC Chair Jim Jones, ad nauseum…).

    The sooner this is exposed (the media angle, I mean), the easier our task becomes. No one would go to jail over this (which is why they do this; it is low risk)…but the credibility of such outlets would be dealt a mortal body blow. Legitimate sponsors would back off in a hurry. Who, really, wants to be openly asssociated with an outlet that is nothing but a whore for the folks that brought us 9-11?

    Yes, we have to fight back. Yes, we have to answer attacks with logic, reason, facts…but how futile this all seems when the deck is soooo stacked against us! When the gag is around our mouth anyway no matter what we can muster! And even when we get in, the editorial slant doesn’t budge one iota, as if we’d said nothing, as though a whole journalistic class -acting as one organism – seems completely devoid of any critical faculties whatever, repeating the same canned slogans and lies over and over again!

    We need a “smoking gun”, documentary proof, of what is going on in this regard in the media, and we need to get this out. Until they are exposed, we are going to be fighting at a severe disadvantage indefinitely.

  2. Vic Rosenthal says:

    Robman’s comment is interesting. I should add that often the anti-Israel forces do not even need to keep secret their ‘encouragement’ of their point of view in the media. It is not only legal, but open and aboveboard.

    For example, our local Islamic Center is a ‘corporate partner’ of the public radio station, KVPR. This means that they buy several 10-second spots a day, every day. I am not sure how much this costs, but it is certainly significant in their fund-raising scheme. Does this affect their behavior? How could it not?

  3. Grandma says:

    Interesting article and interesting comments. Both of you might be interested in this article from the Canada Free Press (a media outlet that is definitely pro-Israel and pro-U.S.) Robman, I am certain you could get published there.
    There is another article at the CFP on that ship, the MV Arctic Sea. The title of the article is: “Russia planning a nuclear apocolypse?” The author is proposing the ship was on an anti-Israeli, anti-American mission.
    Perhaps it will be the Christians of this world that Israel will most depend on as it seems the Jewish community is divided. You know what they say about a house divided.

  4. Robman says:


    What you write about your local NPR station is part of what I am talking about, but I am describing a wider and deeper phenomenon. I think we are not just talking about local radio stations, we are talking about the NYT, the LA Times, CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, etc., etc. In addition, what is needed is the “smoking gun” of a quid pro quo, as was revealed in the case of HRW (i.e., HRW to the Saudis: “We’ll beat up on Israel, now give us a stack of cash”).

    I’m sure there are a variety of reasons why various media outlets beat up on Israel so consistently and relentlessly, and I’m not saying they are ALL doing it just because some Gulf Arab bribed them to do so. But I’m equally sure this is happening to a significant degree…again I ask: What interest do so many venues have in pursuing the very same anti-Israel agenda, all the time? Is it just some kind of crazy coincidence that so many editors, etc., just happen to hate Israel? Why are they all so utterly unresponsive to arguments brought up by people like you and me? Do their fundamental critical faculties, their ability to evaluate basic facts, history, logic, etc., on their own merits, mysteriously “freeze up” when it comes to Israel?


    I’ll check out the venue you suggest. But my point is that we have to be heard in places that have very wide circulation, and if this proves to be well nigh impossible for some reason, we need to find out just what that reason is. If that reason turns out to be outright corruption – as I believe it is in many cases – exposing this becomes the only means by which we can fight them effectively – and “outflank” the efforts of those who are manipulating them. Kind of like shining a light on cockroaches (that’s an insult to cockroaches, I know).

  5. Grandma says:

    I don’t know if you have ever visited this site, but I would highly recommend it. You can find a lot of answers to your questions there as I do.
    Awesome site you might want to hook up to Vic.