There was a provocative psychological assertion once made that the Germans will never forgive the Jews for the Holocaust. After watching so many different people link the Holocaust with Gaza, this needs to be modified for our times, to cover a stream of thinking amongst the Western Left.
The logic appears to resent the Jewish experience of the Holocaust, and needs to find a way to show that Jews are perpetrating an equivalent evil against others in order to achieve some kind of parity or balance.
George Orwell noted in his London letters that the British middle classes, when saying antisemitic things, tended to preface their statements with phrases like “Of course I don’t want you to think I’m anti-Semitic, but [XYZ].”
We still hear it nowadays, such as in the video posted a few days ago at a Gaza protest in London, where a middle-class student type says of Israel:
“I’m not condoning Hitler’s actions at all, but I think it’s even worse perhaps.”
Speaking of Hitler, I sometimes sense a complacency amongst the middle classes here, that because Britain fought the Nazis in World War Two, and opposed the most genocidal antisemitic regime in history, then Britain is somehow immune from antisemitism.
The other people in the video here compare Israel unfavourably even with Hitler, suggesting that the Jewish state is committing the worst kind of evil possible. This obviously is not a rational conclusion, and there is no logical reason for someone to conflate the Holocaust and the recent Gaza operation, other than to make a rhetorical point about Jews.
We hear that Jews haven’t learned their “lesson” of the Holocaust – yet as Howard Jacobson remarked in The Independent:
The new strategy is to depict the Holocaust in all its horror in order that Jews can be charged (“You, of all people”) with failing to live up to it. By this logic the Holocaust becomes an educational experience from which Jews were ethically obliged to graduate summa cum laude, Israel being the proof that they didn’t. “Jews know more than anyone that killing civilians is wrong,” resounds an unmistakably authorial voice in The Promise. Thus are Jews doubly damned: to the Holocaust itself and to the moral wasteland of having found no humanising redemption in its horrors.
In 2009, Jacobson wrote that “berating Jews with their own history, disinheriting them of pity, as though pity is negotiable or has a sell-by date, is the latest species of Holocaust denial.”
Talking about the Holocaust in such a way clearly reveals a resentment of its true significance: that murderous antisemitism led to the horrific genocide of six million people. It suggests that some people will never forgive the Jews for the Holocaust.
But an opposite logic is at work, when we hear people comparing casualty figures in Israel in Gaza in order to suggest that Israel’s acting in self-defence in Gaza, was less valid because not enough Israelis had died in the process. As Hilik Bar commented in The Guardian:
The coldhearted subtext is that Israelis must die in order for their military campaign to gain any sympathy.
Putting the two together, there seems to be simultaneously resentment against Jews for having died in greater numbers than other people, and resentment against Jews for having died in fewer numbers than other people.