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Friday, May 17, 2002

coming around

"Call me a simple soul, but it could surprise me. The Jews that I see gathered in Times Square are howling at Nazis in Mel Brooks's kick lines. Hentoff's fantasy is grotesque: There is nothing, nothing, in the politics, the society, or the culture of the United States that can support such a ghastly premonition. His insecurity is purely recreational. But the conflation of the Palestinians with the Nazis is only slightly less grotesque. The murder of 28 Jews in Netanya was a crime that fully warranted the Israeli destruction of the terrorist base in the refugee camp at Jenin, but it was not in any deep way like Kristallnacht. Solidarity must not come at the cost of clarity. Only a fool could believe that the Passover massacre was a prelude to the extermination of the Jews of Israel; a fool, or a person with a particular point of view about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If you think that the Passover massacre was like Kristallnacht, then you must also think that there cannot be a political solution to the conflict, and that the Palestinians have no legitimate rights or legitimate claims upon any part of the land, and that there must never be a Palestinian state, and that force is all that will ever avail Israel. You might also think that Jordan is the Palestinian state and that the Palestinians should find their wretched way there. After all, a "peace process" with the Third Reich was impossible. (Even if Chaim Weizmann once declared, about his willingness to enter into negotiations with Nazi officials, that he would negotiate with the devil if it would save Jews.) So the analogy between the Passover massacre and Kristallnacht is not really a historical argument. It is a political argument disguised as a historical argument. It is designed to paralyze thought and to paralyze diplomacy."