Why the Holocaust Was More Than a Genocide

Dec. 29 2017

The Shoah is generally thought of as the archetypal genocide, but to Dan Michman that term is inadequate for describing the plans and actions of the Nazis. Genocide—as defined by Raphael Lemkin, who coined the term—constitutes “a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves.” In an interview with Manfred Gerstenfeld, Michman says:

Hitler and an enormous number of his associates . . . believed . . . that the world was poisoned by the “Jewish” idea of human equality, which was carried over the ages by the Jews all over, and thus had penetrated into Christianity, liberalism, socialism and Communism, capitalism, democracy, etc. Through these political and religious systems, the pollution had also penetrated into other domains, such as the arts, science, and medicine.

[Thus the] Nazi goal went far beyond the physical murder of Jews. It aimed also at a Sisyphean struggle against all expressions of assumed Jewishness. In the Nazi worldview, that meant all ideas and political systems that are based on equality. In the Nazis’ fantasies Jews were the only group whose members were—or had an influence—everywhere in the world, and who were thus the binding element of all enemies of National Socialism.

Hitler indeed had a grand vision of restructuring the world along racial lines, as scholarship has demonstrated very well, but also of healing it—an aspect [of his thought that is] often neglected. In this context, the war against the Jews was a long-term central obsession. Already in 1919 he coined the expression Entfernung der Juden überhaupt, the total removal of the Jews. . . . Hitler’s view was shared by many lower-echelon functionaries [in the Nazi party]. . . .

[Thus] the Holocaust is much more than the murder of six million Jews. The mass murder (the Final Solution policy) was an essential part—yet only a part—of the much larger anti-Jewish campaign.

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Read more at Israel National News

More about: Adolf Hitler, Anti-Semitism, Genocide, History & Ideas, Holocaust, Raphael Lemkin

Jerusalem’s Economic Crisis, Its Arabs, and Its Future

Oct. 18 2018

The population of Israel’s capital city is 38-percent Arab, making Arab eastern Jerusalem the largest Arab community in the country. Connected to this fact is Jerusalem’s 46-percent poverty rate—the highest of any Israeli municipality. The city’s economic condition stems in part from its large ultra-Orthodox population, but there is also rampant poverty among its Arab residents, whose legal status is different from that of both Arab Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank. Haviv Rettig Gur explains:

Jerusalem’s Arab inhabitants are not Israeli citizens—in part because Palestinian society views acceptance of Israeli citizenship, [available to any Arab Jerusalemite who desires it], as acceptance of Israeli claims of sovereignty over the city, and in part because Israel is not eager to accept them, even as it formally views itself as having annexed the area. Nevertheless, they have a form of permanent residency that, unlike West Bank Palestinians, allows them unimpeded access to the rest of Israel. . . .

There are good reasons for this poverty among eastern Jerusalem’s Arabs, rooted in the political trap that has ensnared the Arab half of the city and with it the rest of the city as well. Right-wing Israeli political leaders have avoided investing in Arab eastern Jerusalem, fearing that such investments would increase the flow of Palestinians into the city. Left-wing leaders have done the same on the grounds that the Arab half would be given away in a future peace deal.

Meanwhile, eastern Jerusalem’s complicated situation, suspended between the Israeli and Palestinian worlds, means residents cannot take full advantage of their access to the Israeli economy. For example, while most Arab women elsewhere in Israel learn usable Hebrew in school, most Arab schools in eastern Jerusalem teach from the Palestinian curriculum, which does not offer students the Hebrew they will need to find work in the western half of the city. . . .

It is not unreasonable to argue that Jerusalem cannot really be divided, not for political reasons but for economic ones. If Jerusalem remains a solely Israeli capital, it will have to integrate better its disparate parts and massively develop its weaker communities if it hopes ever to become solvent and prosperous. Arabs must be able to find more and better work in Jewish Jerusalem—and in Arab Jerusalem, too. Conversely, if the city is divided into two capitals, that of a Jewish state and that of a Palestinian one, that won’t change the underlying economic reality that its prosperity, its capacity to accommodate tourism and develop efficient infrastructure, and its ability to ensure access for all religions to their many holy sites, will still require a unified urban space.

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More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli Arabs, Israeli economy, Jerusalem