What a month it’s been.
On May 4, Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), Deputy Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan said:
It’s scary to see horrifying develop-ments that took place in Europe begin to unfold here. If there is one thing that is scary in remembering the Holocaust, it is noticing horrific processes which developed in Europe — particularly in Germany — 70, 80, and 90 years ago, and finding remnants of that here among us in the year 2016.
Today, when I googled “Yair Golan Nazi Germany,” I got 91,000 results. For example, the heavily trafficked International Business Times blared at the time: “Top IDF officer Yair Golan compares modern Israel to 1930s Germany in bombshell speech.” The popular, virulently antisemitic Veterans Today had: “Israeli General Yair Golan: Israel Is Acting Like Nazis.” The Washington Post highlighted: “The Israeli general who compared the Jewish state to Nazi-era Germany.”
Some sites reported Golan’s later retraction of the statement, such as the Guardian: “Israeli military chief backtracks from 1930s Germany comparison,” and Yahoo: “Top IDF officer Yair Golan backtracks after appearing to compare Israel to Nazi Germany.”
It’s cold comfort when so much damage was already done — and the comparison still stares out at readers.
On May 20, resigning defense minister Moshe Yaalon said, “[E]xtremist and dangerous forces have taken over Israel and the Likud movement.”
A couple of days later, googling “Moshe Yaalon extremist and dangerous forces” yields 176,000 results. Examples of headlines from heavily trafficked sites — The Telegraph: “Extremists have taken over in Israel, says departing defence minister”; Washington Post: “Israeli defense minister quits, warns of ‘extremist takeover’”; Today USA: “Leaving politics, Yaalon warns of ‘extremist, dangerous’ forces who ‘took over’ Likud, Israel”; Reuters: “Israeli defense chief quits, warns of ‘extremist’ rise under Netanyahu.”
Also on May 20, asked for his views on the latest developments, former prime minister and defense minister Ehud Barak said the Israeli government had “been infected by seeds of fascism…. Life-affirming Zionism and seeds of fascism cannot live together.”
A couple of days later, googling “Ehud Barak fascism” calls up 122,000 results. Examples: RT: “Israel ‘infected by seeds of fascism’ – ex-PM after Netanyahu’s rightward shift”; Salon: “Israel is ‘infected by the seeds of fascism’ and has been taken over by ‘extremists,’ warn ex-prime minister and defense ministers”; Today USA: “Netanyahu-Liberman government shows signs of fascism, Ehud Barak says.”
So there you have it, folks. Nazi Germany, an extremist takeover, fascism — that’s our Israel.
Yair Golan, Moshe Yaalon, and Ehud Barak might seemingly be worldly-wise and sophisticated enough to know that there is a major endeavor out there to delegitimize the Jewish state. In fact, the BDS movement has been getting some play in the Israeli media lately. Polls find that about 40% of Europeans already think Israel is “committing genocide against the Palestinians and behaving like the Nazis.” A Pew survey this year found declining support for Israel among young Americans, Democrats, and especially liberal Democrats, most of whom now favor the Palestinians over Israel. Young American Jews are also drifting away from Israel and some are joining rabidly anti-Israel groups.
Meanwhile some of are still out there trying to defend Israel against slander and spread the truth about a country that is democratic and decent against great odds. But when the likes of Yair Golan, Moshe Yaalon, and Ehud Barak — not exactly fringe leftists writing columns for Haaretz — feed the chorus of severe defamation, our work is just about impossible.