Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Nazification of Israel: Guardian op-ed by prominent European philosopher inverts Nazi terminology against Jewish state


Attempts in Europe to portray Israel as the modern incarnation of Nazi Germany were once the preserve of the extremists. Islamists, fascists and communists — each acting for reasons of their own — have employed the technique to portray the Jewish state as the epitome of political evil with which no compromise can be made and for whom total eradication is the only acceptable outcome.

It is a sign of the times, however, that the Nazification of Israel as a technique of denigration has begun to invade the mainstream.

In my forthcoming book — A State Beyond the Pale: Europe’s Problem with Israel — I provide an entire section on the Nazi analogy as well as some opinion poll evidence on just how widespread its usage has become. A commentary in today’s Guardian by the prominent Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek offers a perfect illustration of how the technique is now employed.

Zizek, who has near iconic status among Europe’s liberal-Left, begins his piece with some familiar distortions about the eviction earlier this month of two Palestinian families from their homes in the east Jerusalem district of Sheikh Jarrah.

Zizek presents what was in fact an eviction due to non-payment of rent as merely one instance of a broader policy of ethnic cleansing — a policy which is reminiscent, he infers, of the way the Nazis treated the Jews.

“The state of Israel is clearly engaged in a slow, invisible process, ignored by the media,” he says. “One day, the world will awake and discover that there is no more Palestinian West Bank, that the land is Palestinian-frei, and that we must accept the fact.” (My itallics)

There is plenty to be said about Israeli settlement policy and much that can be criticised. But what possessed Zizek to use, and the Guardian to allow, the term “Palestinian-frei”?

It is obviously an inversion of the Nazi term Judenfrei, literally meaning free of Jews. (Linguists suggest that it is not as strong as the term Judenrein (cleansed of Jews) but its purpose and etymology is clear.)

There is no repetition of the term. It is not dwelt upon. There is no great fanfare. It is just slipped casually into the narrative in a manner which suggests that its usage is considered by both author and newspaper as normal.

And that, of course, goes to the heart of the problem. The denigration of the Jewish state in modern Europe has now become part of such an edifice of hatred and bigotry that there are no longer any taboos. It is now possible to say anything, literally anything, about Israel, however grotesque and defamatory, and to feel no shame, to invite no censure.

No other state in the world is talked about in such a manner. And yes, it is anti-Semitism. And yes, it’s back.

To read the full article, click here:

Source: Robyn Shepherd

Slavoj Zizek
The Guardian
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