The Huffington Post’s Holocaust Inversion

The Huffington Post does not exactly have a reputation as a fair voice on Israel. A blog post last week, however, “Fascism Rising, Israel And America” by Dana Beyer, crosses the line.
“Fascism” is a word that has an actual definition. It involves rule by a dictator, and not by a democratically elected leader, such as the current and all previous leaders of Israel. The first sentence in the second paragraph reads, “Israel has a fascist government today.” The assertion is irresponsible and, obviously, false. Beyer writes it because, evidently, anything can be written and published at the Huffington Post regardless of factual merit.

Fascism is commonly associated with Nazism. While the Nazis were not the only fascist party that came to power in Europe in the first half of the 20th century, it is the party that left the most potent impression on Jewish and American memory. This particular deception, therefore, has overtones of Holocaust inversion – what one commentator has called, turning “the memory of the Holocaust [into] a stick to beat its victims and their descendants.”
Beyer goes so far as to compare Israelis and Palestinians to “Germans, Poles and Ukrainians who were not part of the machinery of genocide [who] went about their lives even while they themselves suffered under a brutal occupation.” Her implication is that Israel is committing genocide and its population is a group of bystanders. Of course, there is no genocide occurring in Israel, the West Bank, or Gaza. The comparison is false and outrageous.

It should not be lost on most readers that Beyer, who bills herself here as the Executive Director of Gender Rights Maryland, is taking aim at a country that is a regional leader in LGBTQ rights. Israel’s Prime Minister, whom Beyer calls fascist, stands up for LGBTQ rights, and the IDF surpasses the US in promoting equality for lesbian, gay and transgender soldiers.

Beyer is also on the Advisory Board of A Wider Bridge, the organization that connects American Jewish and Israeli LGBTQ people. At last winter’s Creating Change Conference (a conference for LGBTQ activists), A Wider Bridge’s event was subjected to a protest described by one participant as follows: “I was reminded of the stories I’ve heard and read about the European ghettos being stormed by torch-wielding anti-Semites, blaming our ancestors for countless horrors.” Yet, Beyer evidently sees no irony in smearing Israeli Jews.

Beyer’s post is also marred by distortions of fact.
Her complaint about the “hassle” of the checkpoints ignores that those checkpoints save lives. Her comment that most Palestinian young people just want to go to school ignores the full facts about those schools — the incitement in Palestinian textbooks and the intimidation and suppression of free speech by anti-Israel groups in Palestinian universities. The net effect of the skewed commentary is that all the fault rests with the Israelis, and the Palestinians are innocent.

Beyer’s assertion that a “large majority” of the Palestinian Arabs would support a peace plan similar to the ones that have been rejected by their leaders three times is, again, seriously misleading. While a recent poll showed that 51% of Palestinians – a bare majority – would accept two states in principle, when the terms discussed in previous negotiations were incorporated into the question, the percentage who supported it dropped to 39%. For Israelis, while 59% supported two states in principle, when the terms discussed in previous negotiations were introduced, support fell to 46%.

Likewise, the columnist ignores the fact that it was the Palestinians who rejected all the peace offers, instead referring to “an agreement similar to the ones that have already been negotiated.”  
Finally, indicative of the generally hysterical tenor of Beyer’s piece was the comparison of the incoming American administration’s designated appointees to “Himmler, Heydrich and Goebbels” — an observation far afield from rational political discourse. One need not support the President-elect to wince at the analogies to the Hitler era. Her portrayal of American Jewish leaders – many of whom have voiced opposition to some of Trump’s appointments – as collaborators with a fascist takeover is yet further evidence of the incoherence and extremism on display. Even by the dismal standards of the Huffington Post, Beyer’s piece was unhinged.

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