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Distorting The Holocaust

Anti-semitic caricatures in left-wing media compare Israeli politics with Nazi ideologies.

In the caricature, which is most representative of the trend of the left-wing press upon resurgence of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Israel’s interests are compared with Nazi crimes and Israeli citizens with neo-Nazis. The Gaza Strip is portrayed as a concentration camp surrounded by barbed wire. Since the Gaza Strip is populated solely by Palestinians, the imprisoned person in the caricature can be assumed to be  a Palestinian. At the same time, the striped uniform directly compares the situation of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to the situation of the Jews during the Holocaust. In other words, this caricature is a case-study of a mixture of antisemitic rhetoric, combining Israel-related antisemitism and Holocaust distortion/trivialization, which is endemic in parts of the Greek press.

More Information

Recently, and closely related to the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, the phenomenon of antisemitic rhetoric in many parts of the Greek press, especially the leftist media, intensified. What are the reasons for this?

First of all we should take into consideration the traditional alliances of postwar Greece with the Arab world, mostly due to the interests of the Diaspora Greeks who, until the 1960s, dwelled in Arab countries, primarily in Egypt.

Another reason is that many Greeks, when confronted with dire socio-economic situations, tend to consider themselves as victims of powerful western-originated world-conspiracies which involve “the powerful international Jewish lobby”. According to a research conducted in 2019, 71% of the Greeks surveyed believed that the Jews hold “power” either as citizens, or as a state or as businessmen.

These people tend to create “imagined communities” with other victims, such as the Palestinians. In periods of crisis, dissemination of antisemitic stereotypes becomes comme il faut (socially acceptable), making space for antisemitic jokes, anti-Israeli discourse and trivialization of the Holocaust. This corroborates the conclusion drawn from the aforementioned research, which suggests that 65% of Greeks believe that Israel treats the Palestinians in the same way the Nazis treated the Jews.

This kind of antisemitism has often provoked the immediate reaction of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, which flagged it as a distortion of the Holocaust. Not only do such pictures offend the memory of six million Jews who were murdered by the Nazis but they also hurt the survivors and their relatives, who bear the transgenerational trauma of the Shoah.

Interestingly enough, left-wing intellectuals themselves have openely condemned such antisemitic rhetoric and tried to cut a clear line between sober criticism of Israeli politics and antisemitic narratives. Notwithstanding the various voices of protest, it is only in the light of the recent political “honey-moon” between the Greek and the Israeli governments that such phenomena have relented and antisemitic rhetoric has abated, thus underlining the importance of politics for social peace, cultural tolerance and democracy, and demonstrated the influence which official governmental politics can exert upon dangerous social phenomena, such as antisemitism.

References

Andoniou, G., Kosmidis, S., Dinas I., Saltiel, L., (2019), Antisimitismos stin Ellada: Ekfansis, etia ke andimetopisi tou fenomenou. Thessaloniki, Heinrich Böll Stiftung.

Ο Μιχαλολιάκος ηττήθηκε και απειλεί πως η Χρυσή Αυγή «θα επιστρέψει στους δρόμους» (article “Michaloliakos was defeated and threatens that Golden Dawn “will return to the streets” published on July 8, 2019, in magazine LFO)

https://bit.ly/3AxysrI Στοχοποίηση σκιτσογράφου για δήθεν αντισημιτισμό (article “Targeting a cartoonist for alleged antisemitism” published on April 20, 2018, on the website www.kar.org.gr)

Visuals

Debunking response