by Daniel Greenfield
The Nazi propaganda rag Der Sturmer may have gone out of publication around the time that the Fuhrer’s ashes were smoldering in his bunker beneath the Wilhelmstrasse, but its motto is present today in almost every liberal newspaper in the Western world.
Der Sturmer’s daily invocation of “Die Juden sind unser Unglück!” or “The Jews are our misfortune!” is omnipresent in the media coverage of almost anything involving the Middle East or Islamic terrorism.
The theme is much the same now as it was then, the Jews are responsible for all our problems. The presentation is of course much more subtle, but then Der Sturmer was considered vulgar even by much of the Nazi hierarchy, which preferred the more staid Völkisch Observer. Today’s papers prefer to be in the Observer mode, the Storming they leave to the “plausible deniability” blogs of an Andrew Sullivan or a Glenn Greenwald, material that they pay for, but like a lot of the Nazi hierarchy and Der Sturmer, don’t necessarily want to be too closely associated with.
The ideas, however, are not particularly original. The Jews are to blame both for the wars and for losing them, a propaganda paradox put to good use by the Nazis. The idea that the Jews were physically responsible for 9/11 is an area that the media leaves to the fringe, but the suggestion that the Jews provoked Bin Laden’s anger against America shows up in countless columns and op-ed’s. One is a radical conspiracy theory, while the other is a mainstream media talking point, but in terms of consciously stoking hate, what exactly is the difference. Only that the latter is vague enough to be defensible, especially when bolstered by a few selectively chosen quotes from the man himself.
Linking Islamic terrorism to some form of Israeli provocation, and from there to the support for Israel by American Jews
By linking Islamic terrorism to some form of Israeli provocation, and from there to the support for Israel by American Jews—the same media which would commit seppuku rather than blame Muslims for Islamic terrorism, instead blames Jews for Islamic terrorism. The steady drumbeat of such rhetoric, which exonerates Muslims but indicts Jews, for the actions of Muslims, is brilliantly perverse. And it also puts the lie to the media’s defense that it avoids attributing terrorism to Islam because it does not want to stoke bigotry. In reality, the media has no problem with using Islamic terrorism to stoke bigotry. It just has a different target in mind.
Behind the media’s long ugly history of misreporting terrorism against Israel, has been that one fundamental narrative, that it is not Muslims who are responsible for Muslim terrorism, but the Jews. When a Muslim terrorist attack happens in Tel Aviv, Madrid or New York—it turns out that the Jews are the ones to blame. It really doesn’t matter whether an Israeli soldier kills a Muslim terrorist, or a Muslim terrorist kills a Jewish father of four driving home from work, it is never the Muslim that is at fault. Always the Jew. Forget about even splitting the difference. There is never any difference to split. It is always Israel’s “humiliation” of Arab Muslims that is at fault for provoking their righteously murderous anger. A familiar theme that recalls Hitler’s constant invocation of “German humiliation” at the hands of the Jews.
But all the talk of the Jews “humiliating” other peoples hinges on the topic of the Jews as a “Chosen Master Race”. A superior people. A role that Nazis and Arab Nationalists both reserved for themselves. The theme is taken up in numerous outlets, Jonathan Cook who appears in The Guardian writes: “Israel’s apartheid system is there to maintain Jewish privilege in a Jewish state”. In a Hitlerian formulation, Philip Weiss who appears at the Huffington Post claims that Jeff Greene’s criticism of the Ground Zero Mosque, “how privilege and power have transformed Jewish identity”. Not that Jeff Greene opposes the mosque because he is following the polls as so many other politicians have done, but because he is a Jew. The Guardian charges that Israel is an “an enclave of Israeli Jewish privilege”. That kind of rhetoric should be familiar. It is what Hitler described as “The Antisemitism of reason” which “must lead to the systematic combating and elimination of Jewish privileges”.
The Issue is Rarely the Issue
That is why the issue is rarely the issue. The media began with the narrative that Israel had attacked a flotilla full of human rights activists trying to deliver food and medicine to starving children in Gaza. After demonstrating conclusively that the human rights activists were actually violent Turkish Islamists calling openly for the murder of Jews. That Israeli soldiers had only fired in self-defense. That the medicines were expired, a useless sham by a ship that was actually coming to support Hamas. And finally that no one is starving among Gaza’s well stocked supermarkets and shopping malls. But did that conclusively put the issue to bed? Not at all, because the issue was never the issue.
The media responded that, yes the flotilla was not there to ferry supplies, but run the blockade. And that was entirely justified, because look at how Israel is humiliating the people of Gaza. And yes, the activists may have attacked first, but that was because… look at how Israel is humiliating the people of Gaza. And yes there may be a shopping mall in Gaza, but it isn’t nearly as good as Target, and look at how Israel is humiliating the people of Gaza. The goalposts always get moved until they wind up back in the same place—justifying violence against the Jews, because some people that fancied themselves the master race are feeling bad over their failed attempt to kill Jews.
When most of the Arab countries of the Middle East invaded Israel, and Israel beat them back, the Jews were accused of humiliating the Arabs. In 1970, when Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser died, the AP ran a wire story which explained that Israel had made peace with Nasser impossible by twice defeating him on the battlefield, both times after Nasser had committed acts of war. Nasser is quoted as saying; “Israel is a country of two million people, and we are a country of 30 million people. For Israel to be able to fly its warplanes over Cairo any time it wants is as humiliating to me, as it would be to you if the Cubans were able to fly over Washington and your armed forces were powerless to stop them.”
Nasser, leader of a country that was 20 times the size of Israel, and had 15 times the population, had 300,000 troops, nearly 2,000 tanks, over 500 aircraft and combat helicopters, felt humiliated by Israel. And rather than feeling sorry for the country that he had attacked, a country that you could drop into the Sinai desert without anyone being the wiser, the media felt sorry for Nasser’s “humiliation”. That despite his huge military, massive population and territory—he was the victim. Because the Chosen People had once again humiliated a man whom the French and British governments had described as a New Hitler.
All the media’s talk about Israeli disproportionate force in relation to Muslim terrorists in Gaza and the West Bank has nothing to do with it. Back when Israel was fighting wars for survival against enemies that vastly outnumbered it, the Jews were still to blame for humiliating their enemies by refusing to die. That is “Jewish Privilege”. To go on living, even when people who fancy themselves nobler and better, who have wonderful ideas about a Third Reich or a Pan-Arab or Pan-Islamic union want them dead.
Back in 1973 during the Yom Kippur War, while Israel was desperately fighting for its survival, the Deseret News was worried that an Israeli victory would lead the “humiliated Arab world” to refuse peace negotiations. The Wall Street Journal editorialized, “the Arabs may be more willing to talk peace when they can look proudly across a bargaining table, rather than after a humiliating defeat”. The Nevada Daily Mail warned that “humiliation can only lead to more fanatical dreams of revenge”. Israel might be allowed to survive. It might even be allowed to fight to a draw. But not to win. Winning decisively would humiliate the Arab Muslims. It would undermine their sense of superiority in relation to the people who had formerly been second-class citizens under their dominion.
It is a common phenomenon, a short hop and skip, from the Nazi press ranting about the humiliating professional successes of Jews in Germany, to the Liberal press ranting about the humiliating military successes of the Jews in Israel. The underlying narrative is not so much that Jews came by their success unfairly, as that they have no right to it because they are foreigners, outsiders and interlopers. And that too is a fundamental part of the media’s Anti-Israel narrative. That despite a history dating back thousands of years, Jews are outsiders in the region. That they have no right to “Arab land”, just as they had no right to “Aryan jobs”. And who decided that all the land belongs to the Arabs and all the jobs belong to the Aryans?
That is where Der Sturmer or Der Guardian comes in, to demonize millions of people as greedy usurpers bent on seizing what belongs to others. And so a complex regional history is reduced to, “Die Juden sind unser Unglück!” To a narrative in which arrogant Jews displace their betters, subjugate and abuse them. One that is more ancient than Rome, when Cicero echoed it, that rolls back to the ancient Pharaohs, one of whom proclaimed that the Jews must be enslaved because they had become too prosperous and numerous, and will otherwise take over all of Egypt. Over 3000 years later, Antisemitism has not changed very much.
The dirty little secret is that it is an upper class bigotry with populist overtones. Rulers and would be rulers, employ it with the people to legitimize their tyranny. Hitler’s Third Reich and Stalin’s USSR, like Nasser’s Pan-Arabist dreams, Iran’s Shiite expansion or the Muslim Brotherhood’s Caliphate all require a defeatable enemy close at hand. Pharaoh had his construction projects, Hitler had Albert Speer’s fortresses and Islam has the skyscrapers of Saudi Arabia and Dubai. Their visions are grandiose, but inhuman. They are bent on a united world under their authority. And somehow the Jews always prove to be in the way. The foreign element that spoils their plan for a homogeneous empire.
The media’s liberalism has made it notoriously sympathetic to dreamers of that sort. It is not sympathetic to ethnic or religious separatists. Just ask the Kurds or the Basque. Even the Tibetans for all their non-violence have hardly gotten more than a casual shrug. If the issue of Muslim terrorism in Israel were really a matter of another Middle Eastern minority looking for rights or a state of its own, the media could not be paid enough to care. But the issue is not separatism, but unity. To the left, it is not the Arab Muslims in Israel who are separatists, but the the Jews living in the Middle East who are the real separatists. Who insist on their own state, their own laws and their own identity. The Jews who obstructed socialism with their separatism in Europe and Russia, are now obstructing those who would regionally unite Arabs and Muslims, as a prelude to global unity.
That is the issue. That has always been the issue. That will always be the issue. It is why Jews are hated. It is why Israel is hated.
The Media Hate Machine Grinds On
And so the media hate machine grinds on. With a touch of paint and the whisk of a brush, Der Sturmer’s cartoons of greedy murdering Jews defined by the Star of David, have been reborn in the pages of the Guardian, the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times. Except now they’re greedy murderous Israelis, who often seem to have the same hooked noses and fat necks that they did in the pages of Der Sturmer, and are back to their old tricks again. When they’re not menacing innocent women and children, they’re corrupting politicians and arrogantly shoving their weight around—all favorite themes that would have been met with a knowing smirk from Julius Streicher himself.
The modern professional cartoonist has generally studied enough to be familiar with the work of Fips and Seppla and knows exactly what he is doing. Associating Nazi imagery with Jews serves not only as a vicious smear, but as his best defense against accusations that he is recycling Nazi imagery. Even when he’s caught doing it, his defense is that he’s doing it to indict Jews for their Nazi-like behavior. It is not a defense that a Nazi cartoonist like Fips could have used, but it is an easy defense for a post-Nazi cartoonist like Pat Oliphant or Dick Locher. The obsessive use of Nazi themes allows them to project their own use of Nazi ideas onto Israel. The more they associate Israel with the Nazis, the less anyone will notice whose pencil they borrowed to draw those cartoons with.
And so the Jews become the “Real Nazis”, just as they are the real “Religious Terrorists”. The crimes committed against Jews, become the crimes of the Jews themselves. Because the guilty never want to take responsibility for what they have done. And so when Muslims set off a bomb in Jerusalem, their clerics announce that Islam abhors violence, and that Israel is the real terrorists—while Jewish clerics rush to the scene of the bombing to scrub fragments of skin and bone, pull fingers out of trees, in order to bury what’s left of the dead in the same place. And the media in all its studied liberalism nods its head and agrees. The Jews indeed are the ones responsible. After all by thwarting the dreams of Arab Nationalists and Islamists to build a superstate, by refusing to make enough concessions at the negotiating table to insure their own destruction—the Jews bring terror on themselves.
The media has not gotten better, it has gotten better at packaging its bigotry. It has learned that using Jewish pundits allows it to serve as a platform for ideas on the same level of discourse as Streicher, without being vulnerable to accusations of bigotry. After all Greenwald, Klein and Blumenthal are Jewish names, aren’t they? It’s not a new idea. The Soviet Union routinely used press conferences by Jewish writers and artists to legitimize the persecution of Jews. These were the “Good Jews”, loyal Communists and devoted to the Soviet Union, who were here to condemn the Judaism, Zionism and Cosmopolitanism of the “Bad Jews”. The “Good Jews” worked at magazines like Krokodil, drawing Soviet versions of Der Sturmer’s cartoons of greedy murdering Jews wearing the Star of David. The “Bad Jews” died. Tens of thousands in Holodomor. Hundreds of thousands in the Gulag. Millions of more might have died, had Stalin’s plan for a Soviet Holocaust come to fruition. But the Soviet Union had, what Nazi Germany did not have, but the modern day left wing hate machine does, men and women with Jewish last names, up in front to defend its bigotry.
The constant drumbeat of the media hate machine against Israel has the same effect on Europeans and some Americans that Der Sturmer’s hate sheets did on ordinary Germans. Bias, hate and bigotry free some to be Nazis, and teach others that it is best to go along with the crowd. Max von der Grün wrote about his childhood growing up in Nazi Germany. The title of his book was Howl Like the Wolves. When the wolves are howling you had better join them, or be prepared to take on the entire pack. And eventually most people begin to howl too. Some howl quieter than others. Some howl just for show. But others get into it all the way. Some who were once lambs become the worst of the wolves, because they find strength in being a wolf.
What the Nazis knew is that weak people are drawn to identities that give them strength. So many timid people looking for a way to express their anger. A chance to be wolves rather than sheep. A chance to hurt someone, rather than be hurt. To release all their decades of grievances and grudges on a deserving target. To whine like a mosquito while drinking their fill of blood. The ecstasy of crowds at Hitler’s speeches, was the pathetic and disgusting sight of weak-minded people eagerly transfigured with a feeling of strength. The Jihadist who kills himself among a crowd of the innocent feels that same ecstasy. The savage joy of a manipulated sheep who thinks that participating in violence somehow makes him a wolf.
Allah Akbar or Heil Hitler, it makes no real difference. Both mean the same thing. It means that I am strong because I am the tool of those who are stronger than me. Who are more ruthless than me. Who give me orders that I will follow, because I lack the initiative to make my own decisions. Tell me what to do, and I will kill, a single man, or a million. It makes no difference. What matters is that sense of strength that comes through unity. A billion bodies and one mind. One will. One Fuhrer. One Reich. One dream. And in the middle of that dream is the Jew.
The Bad Jew who stands in the way of that overpowering unity. A foreign element. An interloper. The one thing standing in the way of all those people feeling their strength for the first time. All those strong people suddenly make weak by his very presence. Humiliated. And humiliation is the one thing that cowards and the weak-minded can never forgive. It is why they become Nazis and Islamists. To feel strong. To overcome their personal humiliations in a mass identity. When their mass identity cries “Kill the Jew”, and the Jew survives, then they feel even more humiliated. Then they feel weak and the only thing that will make them feel strong again, is revenge.
Think about it. Think about Marc Garlasco talking about how an SS jacket is so cool, “makes my blood go cold”. Or the Chairman Of Finnish Amnesty International calling Israel a “scum state”. Helen Thomas telling Jews to go back to Poland and Germany. Oliver Stone discoursing on how Jewish influence caused Hitler to be misunderstood. The Daily Mail shrieks, “Israel Accuses UK of Antisemitism”, a headline that echoes, The Daily Express’ famous 1933 headline, “Judea Declares War on Germany”. Jewish stores and companies are boycotted. Papers from Jewish researchers from Israel are rejected. Wolves must howl. And howl they will. Some are true wolves, eager to spill blood. Some are only weak-minded people looking for an enemy to give them strength. And some only go along out of conformity, echoing the opinions of those around them, clinging to them for comfort. And the drumbeat goes on.
The media’s Antisemitic hate machine does for the far left, what Der Sturmer once did for the far right. It makes their hatred and bigotry mainstream. It feeds the wolves. It teaches people to be Nazis. To find strength in an age-old hatred for age-old reasons. To howl at the Jew, while the Muslim slits their throat.
Daniel Greenfield is a New York City based writer and freelance commentator. “Daniel comments on political affairs with a special focus on the War on Terror and the rising threat to Western Civilization.