Written by IICC
An anti-Israeli demonstration held on March 8 in Berlin by Palestinians and their supporters. The sign accuses Israel of perpetrating a holocaust against the Palestinians.
Comparison to Nazism. The title below reads:
“A Jewish holocaust against Gaza …” (March 4, Hamas's Felesteen newspaper and the Saudi Al-Madina newspaper)
1. During the latest escalation which took place in the Gaza Strip (February 27-March 3, 2008), the Palestinians launched an anti-Israeli propaganda campaign, incorporating anti-Semitic themes. Extensive use was made of the emotionally-charged term of “holocaust” and other expressions describing massive killing of civilians (such as “ethnic cleansing” and “massacre”). 1
2. The horrific propaganda against Israel gained extensive media coverage in the Palestinian Authority, among Israeli Arabs, and in the Arab and Muslim world, triggering emotional responses by television viewers exposed to the horrific scenes frequently shown on Al-Jazeera and Arab satellite TV channels. In Judea, Samaria , and East Jerusalem , that response manifested in the form of violent clashes between agitated Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli security forces.
Support rallies for the Palestinians were also held elsewhere in the Arab world (including Syria , Iran , and Lebanon ) and even in Europe ( Germany and, possibly, other countries). Furthermore, it is our assessment that the emotionally-charged reactions may increase the motivation for attacks and acts of terrorism against Israeli and Jewish targets worldwide, as revenge for the so-called “holocaust” supposedly perpetrated by Israel against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
3. The misleading, manipulative use of the term “holocaust” with regard to Israel's activity in the Gaza Strip has already been used to legitimize terrorism, following the murderous terrorist attack at the Merkaz Harav Yeshiva in Jerusalem (March 6). Thus, for example, the editorials of Egypt's official press portrayed the terrorist attack at Merkaz Harav as a natural reaction to the “holocaust” perpetrated by Israel in the Gaza Strip (March 9).
One of the editorials (March 8) in the Egyptian newspaper Al-Gomhuriyya even draws a parallel between the eradication of the Nazi regime and the eradication of Israel: “…The action in West Jerusalem has proven that every holocaust has an end, and just as the holocaust attributed to the Nazis ended with the eradication of Nazism, the holocaust in Gaza will end with the eradication of the occupation forces and raising the flag of freedom above the land of Palestine” (see Appendix for details).
The use of the term “Holocaust” in the Palestinian propaganda campaign
4. The “opening shot” of the misuse of the term “Holocaust” to refer to IDF's activity in the Gaza Strip can be found in a statement made by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on March 1, in the midst of the latest escalation in the Gaza Strip. Mahmoud Abbas claimed that Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai threatened a holocaust against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, adding that Israel began to deliberately implement it against children, women, and the elderly. That is a complete distortion of the statement made by Matan Vilnai, who used the Hebrew word “Shoa” to refer to a catastrophe that the Palestinians were bringing upon themselves by launching rocket attacks on Israeli civilians. 2
5. Mahmoud Abbas added, “What is actually going on [in Gaza ] is more than a holocaust.” To describe the happenings in the Gaza Strip, he used the Arabic term al-mahraqa, which refers to the holocaust of the Jewish people during World War II. To demonstrate the extent of the “holocaust” which is supposedly taking place in the Gaza Strip, Mahmoud Abbas noted that more than 62 “martyrs” were killed in the Gaza Strip, using a ridiculous, false comparison of the number of casualties in the Gaza Strip to the Jewish holocaust during World War II, in which 6 million Jews were killed (Mahmoud Abbas's speech, Palestinian Television, March 1).
6. In the media blitz that followed Mahmoud Abbas's statement, frequent use has been made, both by the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas movement, of the term “holocaust” to refer to Israel 's activity in the Gaza Strip. Thus, for example, Khaled Mash'al, the head of the Hamas political bureau, noted that what Israel was doing in Gaza was “the real holocaust”, part of the sixty-year ongoing holocaust against the Palestinian people (the term he used was “Holocaust” rather than the Arabic equivalent term). In the spirit of the Iranian holocaust denial campaign, Khaled Mash'al added that Israel was blowing the holocaust of the Jewish people out of proportion, portraying it as a “tragedy” to “financially blackmail the world”, and using the holocaust as a “cover-up” to be used as it pleases (Syrian satellite TV, March 1).
The front headline of Hamas Felesteen newspaper (in red letters): “The Israeli holocaust Continues…” (March 3)
7. The Palestinian Authority's Voice of Palestine radio station and Hamas's Al-Aqsa TV station joined the campaign, in which extensive use is made of the “holocaust” supposedly perpetrated by Israel in the Gaza Strip. Such expressions as “the massacre of infants” and “holocaust” have graced not only the screen of Hamas's TV channel, but also the official TV channel of the Palestinian Authority, which is engaged in peace talks with Israel. The Palestinian and Arab media have made frequent use of the term “holocaust” in various contexts: “the holocaust of Gaza”, “the Israeli holocaust” (as opposed to the “Jewish holocaust”), “the Zionist holocaust”, “the martyrs of the holocaust”, “Israel threatens holocaust against the Palestinians”, “casualties of the holocaust”, “the Palestinians are the victims of the holocaust”, and more. Of particular note is a statement released by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist organization, threatening Israel with “a holocaust for holocaust”.
Hamas's Palestine-info website (March 2): one article is titled “Hamas: urgent need to open the Rafah crossing to save the lives of those wounded in the Zionist holocaust” (Al-Mahraqa al-Sahyuniyya).
Hamas's Palestine-info website (March 2): “Hamas: the collective destruction and the Zionist holocaust (in Arabic transliteration) will never lead us away from our unwavering principles”
Top of photo: Al-Quds Brigades (the terrorist-operative wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad).
Bottom of photo: “Reaction for reaction, holocaust for holocaust …” (Paltoday, March 6, 2008 )
The meaning of the Arabic term Al-Mahraqa
8. During the escalation in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian and Arab press has made frequent use of the Arabic term Al-Mahraqa, used to refer to the holocaust of the Jewish people, to refer to Israel's actions in the Gaza Strip.
This term literally means “a place where things are set on fire”. In modern Arabic political terminology, the term refers to the incinerators where the holocaust of the Jewish people took place during World War II. It gradually became a general term referring to complete annihilation, similarly to the term “holocaust” used in the Western world to refer the destruction of European Jews by the Nazi regime during World War II. Even though “holocaust” was formerly in wider use than al-mahraqa, the latter term is also fairly common in the Arab world (that term, referring to the holocaust, also exists in the schoolbooks used in the education system of Israeli Arabs).
“Shifting” the term “holocaust” from the Jewish context to a Palestinian context
9. The intensive, blatant misuse made by the Palestinians of the term al-mahraqa to describe Israel 's actions in the Gaza Strip signifies a change in the perception of the term and in its common usage, as described earlier. During the latest escalation, the term's center of gravity was deliberately and manipulatively shifted by the Palestinians from the holocaust of the Jewish people to what they refer to as the “holocaust” of the Palestinian people. A term which basically signifies the killing of six million Jews by the Nazis has therefore turned into a term describing Palestinian suffering as a result of Israel 's counterterrorist fighting in the Gaza Strip. The meaning of the term “holocaust” was therefore shifted from its Jewish context to an anti-Israeli, pro-Palestinian context, thus completely distorting it.
10. The false, distorted use made by the Palestinians (followed by the Arab media, mainly the popular Al-Jazeera channel) of the term “holocaust” is ultimately designed to limit Israel's freedom of action in the Gaza Strip and form Arab (and, if possible, international) solidarity with the suffering of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, completely ignoring the suffering of the Israeli population which is being constantly attacked by rockets.
The method is tarnishing Israel and increasing hostility towards it, while deepening the sympathy with the Palestinian people, falsely portrayed as a victim of massive, deliberate killing of civilians, more extensive than what the Jews endured during the Nazi regime. That propaganda campaign, which combines holocaust denial (or trivialization) with other anti-Semitic themes, gained extensive media coverage in the Arab and Muslim world, mostly thanks to the significant influence of the Al-Jazeera channel. It even spread from the Arab world to Arab and Muslim communities in Europe, such as in Germany (see Appendix for details).
Accusing Israel of perpetrating a “holocaust” in the Gaza Strip, as well as other anti-Semitic themes which appeared in the Arab and Muslim media during the latest round of escalation in the Gaza Strip (February 27-March 3, 2008)
1. In its coverage of the recent escalation, the popular Al-Jazeera channel resolutely took the side of Hamas and tarnished Israel , using blatant anti-Semitic themes, comparing Israel to Nazism, and describing Israel 's actions in the Gaza Strip as a holocaust. A major (false) message emphasized in the coverage was that Israel , with its murderous character, deliberately targeted children, portrayed as the “victims of the Gaza holocaust”. Al-Jazeera channel ignored the fact that most of those killed or injured during IDF's activities were actually operatives belonging to the Hamas terrorist-operative wing, and that the IDF activity was triggered by the extensive, unceasing rocket fire perpetrated mostly by Hamas on Israeli population centers.
2. The blatant anti-Israeli incitement was accompanied by anti-Semitic themes, reflected on the Al-Jazeera website. During the confrontation, the website showed a presentation titled “The New Nazis”, with a Star of David turning into a swastika. The website even featured a cartoon of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert dressed in Nazi uniform and giving a Nazi salute.
A presentation titled “The New Nazis” on the Al-Jazeera website: a Star of David turning into a swastika
A title on the Al-Jazeera website reads: “Children… the victims of the Gaza holocaust”, followed by a photograph to “illustrate” the text.
Comparing Israel to the Nazis: Olmert in the image of Hitler (The Al-Jazeera homepage, March 4, 2008)
3. The Al-Jazeera broadcasts and the scenes of horror shown during the fighting did a good service to the Hamas propaganda machine, owing to the Al-Jazeera channel's considerable influence in the Arab and Muslim world. It is small wonder, therefore, that Hamas senior Mahmoud al-Zahar thanked al-Jazeera for its contribution to covering the events during a speech he gave in Gaza . Addressing the Arab media, Al-Zahar noted: “I wish to note the [Hamas] Al-Aqsa [channel and] Al-Jazeera and all the channels which covered the happenings on the Palestinian street, instead of broadcasting game shows, dancers, and TV series…” (Al-Aqsa channel, March 3, 2008).
Hamas senior activist Mahmoud al-Zahar thanks the Al-Jazeera channel (Al-Aqsa channel, March 3, 2008 )
4. Following the terrorist attack at the Merkaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem (March 6), the Egyptian press published articles justifying the terrorist attack, sometimes linking it to the “holocaust” supposedly perpetrated by Israel in the Gaza Strip. Such examples can be found in editorials published in official newspaper Al-Gomhuriyya and in an article in popular official newspaper Al-Ahram:
a. Al-Gomhuriyya (March 8), editorial titled “ Every holocaust has an end ”: “…The action in West Jerusalem has proven that every holocaust has an end, and just as the holocaust attributed to the Nazis ended with the eradication of Nazism, the holocaust in Gaza will end with the eradication of the occupation forces and raising the flag of freedom above the land of Palestine…”
b. Al-Gomhuriyya (March 9), editorial: “…The action carried out in Jerusalem was a natural, immediate reaction to the holocaust [ mahraqa in the original] perpetrated by Israel in the Gaza Strip. Such acts of self-sacrifice [i.e., terrorist attacks] cannot be prevented as long as the holocaust claims the lives of Palestinian women and children…”
c. Al-Ahram (March 6): in an article by Salameh Ahmed ‘Id, the author states that Israel has proven it is capable of utilizing the most advanced methods of mass destruction, which had formerly been used by the Nazis. According to the author, the indiscriminate Israeli air strikes on civilian areas in the Gaza Strip are no different from the holocaust . The author of the article calls Fatah and Hamas to unite in order to “bring an end to the crimes of the holocaust ” [perpetrated by Israel ] against the Palestinians.
5. On March 8, the opinions supplement in the Al-Gomhuriyya newspaper published an article by Dr. Lutfi Nasser. In the article, the author brings up the false allegation that Israel announced, through Matan Vilnai, that it was about to turn Gaza into a holocaust zone (reiterating the distortion of Matan Vilnai's statement). The author adds, “I have tried to do my best to avoid watching the shocking images of the bodies of the holocaust [ al-mahraqa ] victims on the satellite channels”. He goes on to add that “the best European impartial historians have proven that the holocaust [the word “holocaust” is transliterated in Arabic] is a myth which never took place in reality…”. He adds, “while the Nazi holocaust left no tangible traces confirming it, the Israeli holocaust in Gaza has left us traces in the form of hundreds of dead—men, women, and children…”
LEFT: Under the title “The Israeli holocaust [in Gaza]” is the lower hemisphere of the Earth, appearing as a cauldron over smoldering embers, with the Palestinians cooking inside and their blood filling the cauldron. The text on the cauldron reads: “International legitimacy”, meaning that the world remains silent, thus granting legitimacy to the holocaust supposedly perpetrated by Israel against the Palestinians (Syria News, Syria, March 6, 2008) RIGHT:The title above reads: “The Israeli holocaust” (Syria News, Syria, March 4, 2008)
6. The Syrian Foreign Minister expressed his astonishment over the statements made by Arab leaders, saying they would not participate in the Arab summit in Damascus (in late March) unless a president was elected in Lebanon . “The holocaust which is taking place in Gaza is a much more serious problem than the Lebanese issue”.
7. The Syrian propaganda has embraced the use of the term “holocaust” to refer to Israel 's activity in the Gaza Strip. Examples follow:
a. Teshreen (March 2). An article by Maha Sultan states, “ Holocaust—that is what Israel is doing in the Gaza Strip … Will the world treat the victims of the holocaust in Gaza as it treats the Jewish ‘holocaust'? …Perhaps the Arabs are not as good at blackmailing as Israel …”
b. Al-Thawra (March 2). An article by Haitham Saleh states, “It is more than a massacre, it is a holocaust… As if the ongoing massacre in the past decades is not enough to satisfy the Zionist bloodsuckers. What is strange, however, is that the world is silent, looking at this holocaust without blinking an eye. If Hitler were alive today, he would be amazed by the ferocity of the massacre perpetrated by those claiming to be the victims of the holocaust…”
c. Al-Watan (March 2). The editorial states, “A holocaust is raging in Gaza… while the American destroyer USS Cole is patrolling the Mediterranean and oversees it… eagerly waiting for the right time to begin its mission…”
d. On February 29, a promo broadcasted on Syrian television at the start of the news edition showed images of killed children. Shown at the end of the promo was a Star of David which turns into a swastika, in blue and white, with a Star of David inside. The promo was shown during the second Lebanon war and shown again during the IDF activity in the Gaza Strip.
UPPER LEFT:One of the Holocaust victims (with the inscription “the Jewish holocaust” on his grave) coming out of the grave to rebuke Olmert and Barak, with flames in the background which say “The holocaust of Gaza” (Ad-Dustour newspaper, Jordan, March 4, 2008).
UPPER RIGHT: The title is “The holocaust of Gaza”. An illustration of a shooting helicopter shown from above, with its propeller in the form of a swastika (Al-Ghadd, Jordan, March 3, 2008).
UPPER LEFT:President Bush saying: “The only democracy in the Middle East”, pointing to Israel as a bloodthirsty demon with a pitchfork decorated with a swastika ( Ad-Dustour , Jordan , March 5, 2008 ). UPPER RIGHT: Israeli soldiers raising the Nazi flag over the bodies of Palestinians in Gaza, inspired by the famous photograph of US soldiers raising the US flag on the island of Iwo Jima during World War II (Ad-Dustour, Jordan, March 4, 2008).
8. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on the second day of his visit to Iraq, gave a speech to several clerics in which he said, among other things: “The real holocaust is taking place in Palestine, but the international organizations do not react at all” (Iranian television, Channel 1, March 3).
9. Iranian government spokesman Gholam-Hossein Elham accused Israel of perpetrating another holocaust in Gaza , like the Nazi holocaust against the Jews. The spokesman condemned the international silence at “the crimes of Zionism”.
11. On March 1, Deputy Hezbollah Spokesman Sheikh Na'im Qassem announced: “The Nazi, barbaric Israeli aggression against the children, women, elderly and young of Gaza is more than a holocaust [expression used by Mahmoud Abbas]. It is part of the international scheme against Palestinian rights, under the auspices of the US …” (Lebanese News Agency, March 1).
12. Saudi Arabia published a statement condemning Israel 's activities in the Gaza Strip, saying, among other things, “ Saudi Arabia , which condemns the Israeli war crimes against the Palestinian people and the threats issued by Israeli leaders to bring a holocaust to Gaza , believes that Israel 's actions are similar to the Nazi war crimes…”
UPPER LEFT:The safety catch of the hand grenade attached to a pacifier. The title reads: “Deliberate targeting of Gaza children” (Al-Jazeera, Saudi Arabia, March 4, 2008).
UPPER RIGHT: A dead Palestinian lying in a puddle of blood with a swastika symbolizing Israel (Saudi newspaper Al-Iqtisadiyya, March 4, 2008)
13. The editorials of Qatari dailies Al-Watan and Al-Raya (March 2) condemned “ Israel 's barbaric crimes” in the Gaza Strip, describing them as “ mass destruction ” and “ mass annihilation ”. Daily Al-Raya wrote, “In its despicable, inhuman acts, the Zionist entity is perpetrating a new holocaust in Gaza …”
14. The newspaper Al-Khalij (March 2), published in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), wrote, “The holocaust which Israel promised to the Palestinian people has come to the Gaza Strip. It is a war of annihilation, with everything that it entails.” Also, that holocaust is taking place on the land of the Gaza Strip and is being perpetrated with the agreement of America and the West, while the Arab world is silent.
UPPER LEFT:The title reads: “Recycling history”. The Jewish/Israeli symbol is succeeded by the Nazi symbol (Al-Ayyam, Bahrain, March 4, 2008). UPPER RIGHT: The title reads: “The Zionist holocaust in Gaza” (Al-Khalij, UAE, March 2, 2008).
UPPER LEFT:A stereotypical Jew with skulls of Palestinians from Gaza inside his head (Al-Watan newspaper, Qatar, March 4, 2008). UPPER RIGHT: The title reads: “The Zionist holocaust in Gaza” (Al-Khalij, UAE, March 2, 2008).
15. On March 8, 2008 , an anti-Israeli demonstration in protest of the IDF activity in the Gaza Strip was held in Berlin . The demonstrators were mostly local Palestinians joined by German “peace activists”, Turkish Islamists, Lebanese, and radical left-wingers. The demonstrators numbered some 800-1200 people.
16. The signs held by the demonstrators accused Israel of perpetrating a holocaust against the Palestinians. The key message of the demonstrators was that Israel was deliberately killing Palestinian women and children in the Gaza Strip. The participants chanted “Death to the Jews!” and carried slogans in the likes of “the bloodsucking Israel ”. Following are photographs of a sign from the demonstration, accusing Israel of perpetrating a holocaust in Palestine .
1 In practice, some 120 Palestinians were killed during the latest escalation, most of them terrorists belonging to Hamas and the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades. The terrorist organizations' practice of using civilians as human shields, placing their bases, positions, and installations inside populated areas, resulted in the accidental killing of civilians.
2 Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai noted that as more rockets are fired, the Palestinians are bringing a greater disaster on themselves because Israel would use all possible force against them (Galey Tzahal, the IDF radio station, February 29, 2008).