In a bombshell speech in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day on Wednesday evening, IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen.Yair Golan likened recent developments in Israeli society to processes that unfolded in Europe before the Holocaust.
“If there’s something that frightens me about Holocaust remembrance it’s the recognition of the revolting processes that occurred in Europe in general, and particularly in Germany, back then – 70, 80 and 90 years ago – and finding signs of them here among us today in 2016.”
Golan said that the Holocaust “must make us think deeply about the responsibility of leadership, the quality of society, and it must lead us to fundamental thinking about how we, here and now, treat the stranger, the orphan and the widow, and all who are like them.”
“There is nothing easier than hating the stranger, nothing easier than to stir fears and intimidate. There is nothing easier than to behave like an animal and to act sanctimoniously,” he added.
“On Holocaust Remembrance Day we ought to discuss our ability to uproot the seeds of intolerance, violence, self-destruction and moral deterioration,” Golan said.
Just as Yom Kippur is a day for personal atonement, Golan said, “it ought to be and in fact it’s actually essential” for Holocaust Remembrance Day to be a national day of atonement.
Sadly, the right-wing propaganda and spin machine leaped into action, inflating his words, taking them out of context, blowing them up to diabolical proportions.
Rather than challenging Golan’s assertion that disturbing trends in Israeli society evoke associations to Germany and Europe in the 1930s, which is what he actually said, his words were twisted to suggest that he had compared the IDF to the Wehrmacht, Israel to the Nazis and Palestinians, by logical extension, to persecuted Jews about to be carted off to concentration camps.
I support General Golans’ assessment because I am troubled by the ideological blindness of Israeli right-wing politicians to cast Israeli society as an eternal victim but ignoring the increasing intolerance within Israeli society that could turn it into a potential perpetrator as well.