Support Global Voices

To stay independent, free, and sustainable, our community needs the help of friends and readers like you.

Donate now »

Syria: Silence Over the “Bigger Holocaust”

On February 29th, Israel's Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai warned of “a bigger Holocaust” for the Palestinians. Syrian blogger Ayman, from the Damascene Blog, compares between the world's silence to that comment and the fuss made over Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's alleged call to “wipe Israel off the map.”

Ayman (Ar) explains:

تقوم الدنيا ولا تقعد عندما يتحدث أحمدي نجاد عن إفناء إسرائيل. يعلّق على الموضوع رؤساء الدول والصحف والمجلات بل حتى الأمين العام للأمم المتحدة، ويستدعى سفراء إيران في عواصم العالم لتبليغهم الاحتجاجات. أما عندما يهدد مسؤول في الحكومة الإسرائيلية بإقامة هولوكوست جديدة في غزة، يتم تجاهل الموضوع كأن شيئاً لم يكن.
حكومة تدعي أنها تمثل الشعب الذي عانى ويلات الهولوكوست تهدد شعباً آخر بـ”هولوكوست أكبر”، كما جاء في تصريح الوزير الإسرائيلي، والأمر -مع ذلك- لا يستحق الشجب أو الإدانة أو التعليق، حتى عندما تشرع إسرائيل بتنفيذ التهديد.
ما تعرض له الفلسطينيون من تطهير عرقي وجرائم حرب (بدءاً بالمذابح والترحيل الجماعي في 1948) وما يتعرضون له اليوم من حصار وعقوبات جماعية وقتل للمدنيين، يشبه -بلا شك- ما تعرض له اليهود خلال الحرب العالمية الثانية. وقد جرت العادة على أن يتعرض كل من يرسم هذه المقارنة للاتهام بمعاداة السامية.

The world stands and doesn't sit, when Ahmadinejad talks about wiping Israel off the map. All the heads of states, newspapers, magazines and even the head of the United Nations comment on it and the Iranian Ambassadors in all capitals are called to hear protests. However, when an official in the Israeli government threatens of a new Holocaust in Gaza, the issue is ignored as if it were nothing.
A government which claims it represents the people who suffered the agonies of the Holocaust is now threatening another nation of a “Bigger Holocaust” – as announced by an Israeli minister. Despite that, it is an issue which doesn't raise a condemnation, or even a reaction, even when Israel moves on to implement its threats.
What the Palestinians are being subjected to is ethnic cleansing and war crimes, starting with the massacres and group exiles of 1948. What they are being subjected to today in terms of border closures, sanctions and the killing of civilians, is without doubt, similar to what the Jews suffered during the Second World War. And it has become usual for anyone drawing that comparison to be referred to as anti-Semitic.


  • This is what happens when things are taken out of context. Matan vilnay was not careful with his words, which were translated literally. In Israeli slang, one can use the word ‘holocaust’ to mention a bad day at the stock exchange, or defeat in a basketball game (yoav Karni makes some good points in his post here (hebrew) – However, he should have been careful not to use slang, especially not when giving a message to journalists. Believe me, it was not received well in Israel.
    But I *strongly* oppose to the argument stated in the translated text. What is happening in Gaza is absolutely NOT comparable to the holocaust. In no way! It is a civilian population supporting a terrorist government, and furthermore, letting its terror-fighters act from within population. Many agree (or simply do not realize) that by supporting these activities from within their civilian communities they are essentially human shields. In no way am I justifying killing on either sides. Both commit war crimes. But it is not acceptable to compare this conflict to ethnic cleansing or to a holocaust.

  • excellent pick as always, Amira.

  • パレスチナのホロコースト,世界の沈黙…

     イスラエルのビルナイ国防副大臣による「ショアー」発言については,以前Apeman氏の記事でBBCの“Israel warns of invasion of Gaza”を教えられて読み,大きな衝撃を受けたものでした。

    Matan …

  • One thing that a lost of people may not be aware of is that if Iran, were to nuke Israel, most of the Palestinians will also be killed. I do not believe Syria,or any of the Arab or Iranian religious leaders give a bleep about the palestians. They are just using the Palestians to attack Israel. Their goal is to drive out all Jews from the region or kill all Jews. All of the Arab nations and Iranian religious leaders (Govenment)are not telling the truth when they claim they are fighting for the Palestian people. No they are not! Dale A. Wilhite – Telluride, Colorado

  • Great pick, Amira. Most of the mainstream media only sees the Jewish side. Far from being anti-semitic, trying to see things in a balanced way (hearing to the two sides) is a matter of justice. It’s clear that many Israelis are being victimized by the Palestinian response — dubbed as terrorism. But why did all this mess come to be? It’s too simplistic to say that the Palestinians are shielding terrorists, without thinking about the History of the place and the conflict. Ayman speaks about group exiles and massacre. Who shot the first shot in this war? Who will take responsibility to re-balance things? The impoverished and dislodged people from Gaza, or the Israeli? Can we simply say that the Palestinians are terrorists while the Israeli are just defending themselves? Am I missing something?

  • Yes, Daniel Duende, you have missed a lot.

    Iran is a theocracy that is ruled by fanatic mullahs. Iran is also a state that will soon have nuclear weapons. The fanatic mullahs who rule Iran believe that by creating a state of chaos – e.g., nuclear war and destruction – they will bring the messianic era, led by the Hidden Imam. That is why Ahmadenijad’s threat to wipe Israel off the map must be taken seriously: because the mullahs are not afraid of mutual assured destruction caused by nuclear war.

    Israel is a secular state ruled by elected officials. No Israeli official has ever declared either the desire or the intention to wipe Gaza off the map.

    The word “shoah” means “disaster” in Hebrew. Tim Butcher, the foreign correspondent who wrote the Daily Telegraph article to which Amira links in this post, was told by his translator that Matan Vilnai was not referring to THE Holocaust (with a capital “h”), and that he meant “disaster” rather than holocaust, but Tim and all the other foreign correspondents simply chose to ignore the facts and go with the attention-grabbing, mendacious headline. Matan Vilnai should have resigned for using outrageous language, but what Amira is doing is worse: she is perpetuating the lie with this unabashedly biased, agenda-driven post.

    Furthermore, while the killings in Gaza were a huge tragedy that aroused a great deal of regret and controversy in Israel,they were not a genocide or a holocaust – with either a lower case “h” or an upper case “h.”

    The men, women and children of Gaza were not marched out of their homes to an open field, forced at gun point to dig a huge open grave, then forced to strip naked, lined up at the edge of the open grave and then shot methodically with machine guns, so that their bodies fell on top of each other in the thousands.

    The men, women and children of Gaza were not herded into camps surrounded by electrified barbed wire, stripped naked, shaved bald, dressed in striped prison clothes, housed in unheated barracks, fed 800 calories per day, forced to do hard physical labor 12 hours per day and then gassed when they were too exhausted to work any more.

    The murdered Jews of Europe did not have elected representatives, militants armed by Iran, radio stations and television stations. They did not receive millions of dollars in foreign aid every year.

    Anyone who compares the suffering of the Palestinians with Nazi Holocaust of 1939-1945 is either a liar or woefully ignorant of the facts. Either way, the fact that that comparison is highlighted on a Global Voices post is a disgrace to GV.

    I call upon Global Voices to be an honest reporter of world affairs, and to stop posting links that are meant to further personal agendas. I shall save this comment separately, and send it to Reuters if it is not posted within 24 hours.

  • Thank you all for sharing your views and thoughts on this issue – both in subjective and objective ways.

  • Only the Zionists argue their point with a lower case ‘h’ and an upper case ‘h’ as an excuse, left with nothing else to argue… This is insulting really, Lisa, you have insulted everyone that happened to read your elementary comment. Whether a ‘disaster’ or the word ‘Holocaust’ was said or implied, look at the actions of the Israeli military to figure out what the specific translation of the word turned out to be? How many Palestinians were killed, how many children died? How many wounded? How many lost their homes? How many survived with no food, electricity or water? call it by any name Lisa, argue that until tomorrow, but the fact is, the Israel’s initiated a racist massacre, A HOLOCAUST… you targeted the Palestinians, because you are Jewish, because you ask that they leave their lands, because they are Palestinians… that my dear, is ethnic cleansing, and that Lisa, is what a Holocaust stands for… and as Amira was pointing out in the post, the international world did nothing about it. Israel built a nation upon its tears over the Holocaust, and then it goes ahead and does it to the Palestinians. Hypocrisy and I will leave you now Lisa, to argue my misplacement of a full stop, or a spelling mistake maybe? Because that will distract us from thinking of the number of Palestinians murdered by Israel, in order to build a new settlement, or confiscate more land. Beyond Chutzpah.

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.

Love reading Global Voices?

Help us understand our readers by completing a quick survey »