The Spin Cycle / You, too, can deny the Holocaust
There is something that gives Jews and Muslims alike a perverse thrill in calling the other a Nazi. Maybe that's why we can't seem to stop.
Both sides ought to know better. Particularly ours. Whenever the Nazis are invoked to condemn an enemy - no matter how brutal - the enormity, the singularity, the very fact of the Holocaust, is diminished.
Leveraging the Holocaust to condemn a foe ultimately plays into the hands of Holocaust deniers. If enough leaders are compared to Adolf Hitler, and if the range is wide enough to include George Bush and Yasser Arafat, we could be excused for concluding that Hitler was just one of the gang, no different than the rest, no worse.
Knowing this doesn't stop us, though. The ink had hardly dried on the Palestinian election figures when a campaigning Benjamin Netanyahu compared the triumph of Hamas with the rise of Hitler and Nazism in the 1930s.
Never before have there been so many ways to deny the Holocaust. Nor more people so keen on taking part.
We know why Muslims call us Nazis. Because it works. When Palestinians, Iranians, or, for that matter, residents of Detroit, call Israelis Nazis, people listen.
Europeans love hearing it, because it gets them off the hook. If the Jews are Nazis, they note, then we're all even. Europeans, hearing this, no longer have to feel guilty about having looked the other way, or having pitched right in, when the actual Nazis turned the world's strongest community of Jews into ash.
Western leftists who suffer from the Lawrence of Arabia Complex are especially fond of the image of the Israel Defense Forces soldier as SS man, an analogy that jibes well both with omniscient, oversimplified abused-to-abuser socio-babble, and with many academic leftists' multisyllabic cartoon vision of world events and foreign peoples.
The Nazified Israeli soldier chestnut also frees Muslims from whatever guilt they might otherwise feel when terrorism cuts down innocent people. When defending oneself against ultimate evil, our Muslim cousins assure us, all means are entirely legitimate.
There remains, however, an element of such perversity in calling Israelis Nazis that the lies begin to unravel of their own weight.
The perversity is especially evident when radical settlers cast themselves in the role of Holocaust victims, wearing Star of David patches and calling Israeli troops Nazis to their faces.
Far more insidious, in some ways, is the collective amnesia of the Internet, which is uniquely suited to Holocaust denial through over-analogization. In the era of the e-news junkie, paranoia is the new pornography. And nothing says My Enemy is a Nazi like paranoia.
To be fair, if we Jews can't keep ourselves from comparing our enemies to the Nazis, we have, if nothing else, two good excuses.
One is our tradition. The many sections of our liturgy that inform us that They're Out to Get Us. We drink it in, if not with mothers' milk, then with Passover wine.
"For not one man only has risen up against us to destroy us, but in every generation do men rise up against us to destroy us," we intone, warming up for the Ten Plagues.
And if not with Passover wine, then with Purim schnapps, as we toast the failure of an ancient, aborted genocide plan for Persian Jewry. The second reason, of course, is that there actually are men who rise up against us, generation after generation, in order to destroy us. And the generation time is growing shorter and shorter.
Only 15 years separate Saddam Hussein's declared Gulf War goal of incinerating Israel and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's recent suggestion that the Jewish state be wiped off the map. All the while, the holy men of Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad have been preaching our elimination.
Yet, the Jewish People owe it to the victims of the Holocaust and the survivors still with us to resist the impulse to liken current threats - as dangerous as they may be - to an event of biblical magnitude in the long history of the Jews.
All we can offer the victims and the survivors is to honor their memory by reminding ourselves and others of the incomparable uniqueness of their unknowable hell.
Enough comparisons. Enough cynicism. Let it stop with us.