Why Hamas can rightly be compared to the Nazis

For years I have denounced the proliferation of Nazi analogies in our public discourse.

From right to left, reckless politicians and overheated pundits have invoked Hitler, the Nazis, or the Holocaust to score rhetorical points, and historians like me have condemned them for doing so.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was wrong to call US border facilities “concentration camps,” and Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene was equally wrong when she labeled Covid vaccine advocates “medical brownshirts,” in reference to to the uniforms of Nazi storm troopers. Abortion is not another Holocaust.

The reason such comparisons are erroneous is that they grossly distort the facts, implicitly minimizing Nazi atrocities and grossly exaggerating the actions of whoever the targets of the current insults are.

But when a comparison is valid – when a contemporary villain does something that actually reaches the levels of Nazi barbarism – then it needs to be acknowledged.

And that’s why this time is different.

The October 7 Hamas pogrom in southern Israel has changed everything, including aspects of our public discourse.

A destroyed building in the southern Israeli village of Kfar Aza, which was devastated by Hamas on October 7.
fake images

Obviously, Hamas’ attack on Israel was not identical to the Nazi Holocaust.

Historical events are rarely the same.

However, the points of similarity are undeniable.

Let’s consider the mentality of the murderers.

Of the 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators, more than 1 million were shot to death at point-blank range.

And Jews were also shot to death for being Jews on kibbutzim throughout southern Israel.

Scholars emphasize the role of “eliminationist” anti-Semitic ideology, the type of genocidal thinking prevalent in the media and schools of Nazi Germany, and in the media and schools run by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority in our time.

Hamas militants revealed a level of savagery and ferocity during their massacre in Israel that matched Nazi atrocities in its cruelty.
AFP via Getty Images

Dehumanizing Nazi propaganda portrayed Jews as rats, spiders or lice.

The only solution to this “Jewish problem,” according to the Nazis, was the “final solution”: death. The Palestinian Authority’s ruling faction, Fatah, celebrated the October 7 pogrom by releasing a video showing a boot in the colors of the Palestinian flag crushing a rat on an Israeli flag.

Depictions of Jews as rodents, insects, and various predatory creatures that need to be eradicated are staples of Palestinian Arab popular culture.

The Hamas killers echoed the Nazis in another significant way: by photographing their atrocities.

Nazi stormtroopers had fun posing for photographs while cutting off the beards of their Jewish captives or forcing them to humiliate themselves.

Extermination camp commanders delighted in assembling photo albums that included scenes of Jewish men, women, and children selected for the gas chambers.

Treblinka commander Kurt Franz’s album was titled “The Good Old Days.”

Today’s technology is new, but the mentality is not.

Hamas pogromists used social media platforms to broadcast themselves kidnapping, torturing and sexually assaulting their Israeli victims.

Some uploaded their gruesome “trophy videos” to social media to torment their distraught families. These contents were even broadcast live on Facebook.

The use of sexual violence as a weapon on October 7 had its antecedents both in previous Arab pogroms and during the Holocaust.

Queen Rania of Jordan recently told CNN that “it has not been independently verified” when discussing Hamas attacks on Israeli children.

Rape and mutilation were a notorious part of Palestinian Arab atrocities against Jews in Hebron in 1929, according to survivors’ accounts.

According to numerous traditional historians, Arab soldiers and Palestinian Arab terrorist forces beheaded and sexually mutilated Jews during the 1948 Arab War against the newborn State of Israel.

Also in the Crystal NightIn Germany in 1938, and during the years following the Holocaust, there were numerous cases of Nazis raping Jewish women.

The Shoah Foundation’s oral history archive contains more than 1,700 survivor testimonies detailing sexual violence.

Similarities between then and now can also be detected in other aspects.

Again, they are not identical, but they are worth noting.

Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene was wrong when she labeled COVID vaccine advocates “medical brownshirts.”

Consider the prevailing attitudes at many American universities.

In the 1930s, universities such as Harvard and Columbia established friendly relations with Nazi Germany, inviting Nazi representatives to their campuses, and organizing student exchanges with Nazi-controlled German schools.

Today, many universities look the other way as Hamas supporters intimidate Jewish students; American schools such as Bard College, George Washington University, and William Paterson University have even participated in joint programs with Palestinian Arab universities where Hamas student branches operate freely.

Or consider the phenomenon of Holocaust denial.

Today’s equivalent, October 7 denial, is already emerging.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez once called US border facilities “concentration camps.”
AFP via Getty Images

Queen Rania of Jordan recently told CNN that “it has not been independently verified. . . that Israeli children [were] found massacred in an Israeli kibbutz.” Officials at the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a leading Muslim advocacy group, have claimed that reports of beheadings are “unverified” and “war propaganda.”

Fortunately, the Jewish people of today are not in the same position of helplessness and vulnerability as the European Jews of the 1940s.

Today there is a sovereign Jewish State and a powerful Jewish army.

But when it comes to the behavior of the enemies of the Jews, has the mentality or tactics changed much?

The discovery of an Arabic copy of Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” in a Gaza apartment last week helps provide the answer.

A copy of Hitler’s infamous tome Mein Kampf was found inside a Hamas bunker in Gaza.
AFP/Getty Images

The children’s room where the book was found had been occupied by Hamas as a base of operations.

The margins of the copy contained notes written by the terrorist who had been studying it.

Nearly a century after its publication, Hitler’s manifesto of anti-Semitism and violence is still used to kill Jews as effectively as ever.

Rafael Medoff is founding director of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies. His last book, “America and the Holocaust: A Documentary History,” was published by the Jewish Publications Society and the University of Nebraska Press.

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