Linzee Zalta

Invoking inversion and its Soviet past

Since the October 7 Hamas massacre against Israel and its citizens, anti-Jewish insidious actors across the globe are once again invoking damaging rhetoric. One of the most popular accusations is the claim Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians. This assertion can be seen as inversing the Holocaust. 

When Israel is at war, people who thirst to see the demise of the Jewish state call Israel’s right to self-defense genocide. According to historians Norman J.W. Golda and Jeffery Herf, “drawing the comparison [of genocide] encourages Holocaust inversion.” John Kirby, White House Security Spokesperson, made a speech condemning anti-Israel activists’ use of the word genocide. United States doctors planned a “Genocide in Gaza” protest outside the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.

In 2014, American leftist groups accused Israel of performing genocidal attacks against Palestinians. As we can see, this trend is not new. Spiking hand in hand, allegations of genocide against Israel tend to increase antisemitic incidents. The accusation of genocide against the Jewish state intends to delegitimize and stigmatize Israel.

Any state or country can commit genocide, and Israel would not be immune if this claim were true.

After the Holocaust, the United Nations adopted Polish lawyer Raphäel Lemkin’s definition of genocide in 1946. The A/RES/96-I states that genocide is “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole, or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” Some of these acts include creating mental or bodily harm and forcibly transferring children of one group to another group. Actions that Israel has never proven to take.

As the global world adopted the definition of genocide, the success of political Zionism accelerated. With the fading of European colonialism in the Middle East and the promise of a Jewish state in our indigenous homeland, Arab nationalism was on the rise. Nothing could be more damaging to total Arab hegemony and economic power than a representative Jewish state in the Middle East. 

About 20 years later, when the Soviet-Arab alliance solidified its relationship with Russia in the 1960s during the Cold War, anti-Jewish anti-Zionist Soviet propaganda accelerated.

“The messaging emanating from today’s far-left anti-Zionist camp is strikingly similar to the messaging of the Soviet anti-Zionism campaigns. From claims of Zionist collaboration with the Nazis in the Holocaust to the idea of Zionism as an inherently racist and oppressive ideology, to the concept of Israel as a settler-colonialist state that engages in genocidal behavior,” shares Izabella Tabarovksy in her article discussing contemporary antisemitism and its Soviet roots. 

Holocaust inversion is distorted reality casting. Israelis are cast as the ‘new’ Nazis and the Palestinians as the ‘new’ Jews. Drawing the imagery of the Holocaust to a war that Hamas started deflects from the consequences of Hamas’s attack against Israel on October 7. 

The genocidal side of the war is Hamas, which explicitly states in its charter a vow to “obliterate [Israel].” Hamas “regards itself as the spearhead of struggle against World Zionism.” A Hamas official, Ghazi Hamad, stated in an interview, “We must teach Israel a lesson, and we will do it twice and three times.”

Israel has made its objectives in Gaza clear, in summation, to return the hostages and eradicate the existential threat of Hamas against Israelis and even the Western world, as Hamas is backed financially by Iran.

Calling Israel’s military actions genocide is an accusation to delegitimize the Jewish state. The Soviet stain on contemporary antisemitism is sticking with us, and we must be able to recognize it where we see it. 

About the Author
Linzee Zalta holds her bachelor's degree in Sociology with a focus on Criminology.
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