So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them. (Genesis 1:27)

Six decades after the end of the Holocaust, the United Nations finally decided to designate an International Remembrance Day, in order to commemorate the victims of history’s most blatant genocide. After some backstage political wrangling, January 27 was chosen – the day the Soviet army reached Auschwitz-Birkenau.

However that decision was made, it’s still an opportunity to plunge our minds back in time and remember.

It all started after World War I, when an Austrian-born ex-corporal founded an extremist movement intent on exacting revenge for the humiliating conditions imposed on the defeated Germany.

By 1921, the movement had around 3,000 members and were usually dismissed as a fringe bunch of nutters. But, adept at using the freedoms granted by a democracy he profoundly despised, by 1928 Adolf Hitler – elected Supreme Leader/Führer of the movement by the 3,000 acolytes – had succeeded in getting himself elected to the Reichstag – Germany’s parliament. By the end of 1932, his National-Socialist (Nazi) party had become the largest in the country, winning the elections with 33% of the votes.

The rest is, of course, well known. Hitler wasted no time in getting rid of the very democracy which put him in power. It took him just a few years to plunge his country and the entire world into a huge conflagration. In parallel, the Nazis led a genocide against the ‘eternal scapegoats’ – the Jews. By the end of the war, two-thirds of Europe’s Jewry had been wiped out. Most were not killed in anger – they were butchered deliberately, systematically, with chilling industrial efficiency.

German Girls cheering for Hitler

German Girls cheering for Hitler

Now, I understand that a group of extremist nutters can come up with the craziest, most berserk ideas.  Nothing really unusual in that. But how did they manage to persuade – at the very least – one third of the German population? In fact, they did more than that: very few Germans opposed the Nazis; few tried to prevent the terrible crimes perpetrated against their Jewish neighbours; few even raised their voice in protest. Almost in its entirety, the German people were accomplices to the genocide – if not by active participation, then by silence and indifference.

Adulation: Germans welcoming Hitler

Adulation: Germans welcoming Hitler

How was that possible?? At the time, the Germans were one of the world’s most cultured, well-educated and – yes – liberal-minded nations. How could they perpetrate such an enormously horrific crime?

The answer is: de-humanisation. Had the Nazis talked about murdering 6 million people, ordinary Germans would have been horrified. But they had not; they talked about Jews – sub-human, demonic monsters.  Taking a human being’s life is murder; but if the Jews aren’t human, then they can be ‘exterminated’ – a term one uses for vermin.

So unusual was all that, that at the end of the war the British and American governments saw fit to institute a programme of mass re-education. The ‘de-Nazification’ (Entnazifizierung) programme was meant to teach Germans that Jews were, actually, human beings.

It seems to me that, if there is a lesson to be learned from the Holocaust, it is not just about the activity of extreme fringe groups – and how they can crawl into the mainstream; it is also how an entire people, however ‘civilised’, can be brainwashed into looking at people made in God’s image – and seeing monsters.


Fast forward a few decades.

Some 200 Jewish families inhabit the settlement of Itamar. Situated in West Bank’s Area C (which the Oslo Accords placed under Israeli control), the settlement was nonetheless left outside the Security Barrier.  Instead, it was surrounded with a less sophisticated security fence.

On a spring night in 2011, Amjad Mahmad Awad (18 years old), and Hakim Mazen Awad (17) – two boys from the nearby Palestinian village of Awarta – climbed over that fence and entered the home of one of Itamar families, the Fogels. They first found 11-year-old Yoav and slashed his throat. Four-year-old Elad was sleeping in his room when the two intruders strangled and stabbed him in the chest. Next, they came across  the two parents’ bedroom. The Fogels awoke and tried to fight them off, but were stabbed to death. The murderers were about to leave, when 3-months-old Hadas began crying in another room. They came back to slash her throat. Twelve-year-old Tamar, who had been out with friends, returned home an hour later and discovered the carnage.

So far, horrific. Ghastly. But… well, there are criminals in the world. Even criminals able to murder children.

But here comes the real shock: an opinion poll conducted one week later (by the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research) revealed that one third of the Palestinians in the West Bank, E. Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip… supported the murders!

How can that be? Palestinians are, by all accounts, one of the best educated branches of the Arab nation. How can hundreds of thousands of civilised people support the deliberate, cold-blooded slaughter of innocent children, asleep in their beds?

Palestinian girls rocket Gaza

Summer camp activity for Palestinian girls in Gaza (photo AP)

The answer is: de-humanisation. It is not the murder of human beings, made in God’s own image, that Palestinians support – but the ‘extermination’ of non-human monsters. The two boys did not kill the Fogels in anger; they’ve never met them before – it wasn’t personal. They were there to ‘exterminate’ Jews.

Monster cartoon Gaza

The Jew as monster Published in Filastin (Gaza), May 3, 2013

But how can mature, cogent people be persuaded that sleeping children are but the spawn of demons? Well, as the Holocaust proved, they can. Just exploit a ground fertilised by dark medieval prejudices and intensively plough-in the seeds of hatred.

In 2006, 45% of Palestinians in the West Bank, E. Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip voted for Hamas, an organisation whose constitutive document contains the Quranic injunction:

“The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.”

No, it’s not the fault of that holy book. There are plenty of things in the Quran; some seeming to promote violence, others compassion and kindness. No, it’s not the old book, or the 7th century prophet; it’s a bunch of late 20th century men (there were no women, of course, among the authors of that document) who’d selected that quote, appealing to dark impulses of another age – to justify murder here and now. Nor were those men acting instinctively, without thought.  No, they knew very well what they were doing. In fact, they describe the components of the brain-washing programme – in the very same document:

“In face of the Jews’ usurpation of Palestine, it is compulsory that the banner of Jihad be raised. To do this requires the diffusion of Islamic consciousness among the masses, both on the regional, Arab and Islamic levels. It is necessary to instil the spirit of Jihad in the heart of the nation so that they would confront the enemies and join the ranks of the fighters.

It is necessary that scientists, educators and teachers, information and media people, as well as the educated masses, especially the youth and sheikhs of the Islamic movements, should take part in the operation of awakening (the masses). It is important that basic changes be made in the school curriculum, to cleanse it of the traces of ideological invasion that affected it as a result of the orientalists and missionaries who infiltrated the region […]

It is necessary to instil in the minds of the Moslem generations that the Palestinian problem is a religious problem, and should be dealt with on this basis. […]

Woman in the home of the fighting family, whether she is a mother or a sister […] has to teach them to perform the religious duties in preparation for the role of fighting awaiting them. That is why it is necessary to pay great attention to schools and the curriculum followed in educating Moslem girls, so that they would grow up to be good mothers, aware of their role in the battle of liberation. […]

The book, the article, the bulletin, the sermon, the thesis, the popular poem, the poetic ode, the song, the play and others […] are among the requirements of ideological mobilization…”

The Jew as monster. Published in Al-Ahram (Egypt), March 12, 2013

The Jew as monster.
Published in Al-Ahram (Egypt), March 12, 2013

It is not just the Hamas, unfortunately. In the PLO-controlled West Bank, as well as in the wider Arab world, people are intensively brain-washed into de-humanising, demonising Jews.  Hamas’s programme is by no means original in this respect: the message of de-humanisation is indeed being diffused “among the masses, both on the regional, Arab and Islamic levels” The process starts with young children, whose minds are less able to question the message.

Jews as animals: shark. Al-Rai (Jordan), May 30, 2013

Jews as animals: shark.
Al-Rai (Jordan), May 30, 2013

In the words of Ayaan Hirsi Ali:

“In Saudi Arabia, everything bad was the fault of the Jews. When the air conditioner broke or suddenly the tap stopped running, the Saudi women next door used to say the Jews did it. The children next door were taught to pray for the health of their parents and the destruction of the Jews. Later, when we went to school, our teachers lamented at length all the evil things Jews had done and planned to do against Muslims. When they were gossiping, the women next door used to say, ‘She’s ugly, she’s disobedient, she’s a whore–she’s sleeping with a Jew.’ Jews were like djinns, I decided. I had never met a Jew. (Neither had these Saudis.)”

Jews as animals: snake Al-Ayyam (West Bank), February 13, 2013

Jews as animals: snake
Al-Ayyam (West Bank), February 13, 2013

But nowhere is the demonization as blatant and incessant as among Palestinian Arabs. On July 3, 2013, the ‘moderate’ Palestinian Authority showed, on its official TV channel, a 7-8 year-old girl, reciting the following poem:

“Jerusalem is my days and my wildest dreams.
Oh, you who murdered Allah’s pious prophets [i.e., Jews in Islamic tradition]
Oh, you who were brought up on spilling blood You have been condemned to humiliation and hardship.
Oh Sons of Zion, oh most evil among creations
Oh barbaric monkeys, wretched pigs…”

More monster... Ar-Raya (Qatar), June 2, 2013

More monster…
Ar-Raya (Qatar), June 2, 2013

Under the delighted eyes of the reporter, a second girl then chipped in: “Jerusalem is not your den
Jerusalem opposes your throngs
Jerusalem vomits from within it your impurity
Because Jerusalem, you impure ones, is pious, immaculate
And Jerusalem, you who are filth, is clean and pure”.

If people could be brain-washed by a fringe group under the Weimar Republic, how much easier it is for undemocratic regimes, in control of all the instruments of education and propaganda. The entire state apparatus – schools, universities, mosques, media, regimented ‘science’ and ‘art’ – is mobilised to the task.

Jews as animals: wolves Tishrin (Syria), January 29, 2013

Jews as animals: wolves
Tishrin (Syria), January 29, 2013

Egyptian poet Hesham El-Gakh was honoured by the Palestinian Authority Minister of Culture with a special plaque, after composing and reciting the following poem:

“When I was young I was taught that Arabness is my honor…
and that our lands extend from one end to the other,
and that our wars were for the Al-Aqsa Mosque,
and that our enemy, Zion, is Satan with a tail
and that our nation’s armies are outstanding.”

Jews as demons Al-Ittihad (UAE), January 23, 2013

Jews as demons
Al-Ittihad (UAE), January 23, 2013

On September 30, 2013, another Palestinian girl (this time, perhaps 12 years old), was shown on Palestinian Authority TV declaiming El-Gakh’s ‘Satan with a tail’ poem. Delighted, the programme’s host asked the audience for a loud round of applause… From pre-school day TV programmes to school textbooks, from mosque sermons to university courses, from the morning newspaper to the evening TV drama, Palestinians (and Arabs in general) are bombarded with the same mantra – albeit repeated in slightly different forms: Jews are not human beings – they are monsters, demons, “Satan with a tail”.

Rather than combating Arab de-humanisation propaganda, some Western 'useful idiots' ape it. Sunday Times (UK), January 27, 2013

Rather than combating Arab de-humanisation propaganda,
some Western ‘useful idiots’ ape it.
Sunday Times (UK), January 27, 2013

Worse, much of this is indirectly funded by European tax-payers, whose governments are keen to financially assist in the ‘education’ of young Palestinians.  Between 1994 and 2009, the EU donated €4.26 billion to the Palestinian Authority through various channels – and that’s not counting donations by individual EU member states, nor is it taking into account funds coming from non-governmental sources. As EU member and good ‘global citizen’ UK is, of course, among the major donors. So we are left to wonder how many of British taxpayers’ pounds have been used to fund programmes showing young girls reciting hate ‘poetry’?

Al-Quds Al-Arabi (Arabic newspaper published in London), May 13, 2013

Al-Quds Al-Arabi (Arabic newspaper published in London),
May 13, 2013

There are people who think that all this will ‘naturally’ disappear once a peace agreement is signed. But that’s stupidly putting the cart before the ox; the Holocaust started before the war did; and it was not ‘peace’, but de-Nazification that caused the Germans to once again view Jews as human beings. How can peace be signed, let alone ‘made’, before a massive reversal of the de-humanisation message?

For one can always make peace with even the bitterest enemies – provided they are human beings, created in God’s own image. But one does not make peace with demons – one slays demons. One ‘exterminates’ them…