Recently the website BuzzFeed decided to publish an explosive Russian dossier on Donald Trump detailing his kinky sexual and wild financial misconduct, as well as his malfeasant collusions with the Kremlin. Because there was not a shred of evidence to substantiate any of these accusatory documents the majority of news organizations refused to publish them.
Trump in his inimical Twitter style tweeted in response: “Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to ‘leak’ into the public. One last shot at me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?”
Invoking Nazi – American comparisons led to the expected avalanche of criticism, and calls for an apology from predominantly liberal Jewish organizations most notably the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). Its director, Jonathan Greenblatt, slammed Trump saying “No one should cavalierly draw analogies to Nazi Germany, especially the next leader of the free world. It is not only a ridiculous comparison on the merits, but it also coarsens our discourse and diminishes the horror of the Holocaust. It would be helpful for the president-elect to explain his intentions or apologize for the remark”.
This was a particularly rich statement coming from Jonathan Greenblatt who only recently while in Israel told legislators that “Anti-Semitism has wound its way into mainstream conversations in a manner that many Jews who lived through Nazi Germany find terrifying.” He then directly blamed this Nazi style atmosphere on supporters of President-elect Donald Trump.
What Greenblatt was saying is that invoking faux -Nazi analogies to emphasize a rhetorical point is good for me but not for thou. Of course both Trump and Greenblatt are dead wrong and should be equally chastised based on the ridiculousness of both their arguments and their ostensible lack of knowledge of the true horrors of the Holocaust.
But does Donald Trump have any rationale for conjuring up Nazi Germany when discussing the smear campaign used against him based on unsubstantiated ‘fake news’ and conspiracies? On what basis, as tangential as it is, did he politically align himself and instinctually identify with the persecuted Jews of Nazi Germany in this particular respect?
The smear tactics hurled against him with this Russian Dossier are not too dissimilar from the manner in which ‘Fake News’ has been successfully used to persecute Jews throughout the centuries. One of the earliest such examples are the ‘blood libels’ spread by word of mouth, which falsely accused Jews of kidnapping and murdering Christian children to use their blood for religious rituals of poisoning wells and of host desecration .
Published in Russia in 1903, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is perhaps one of the most pernicious and influential anti-Semitic ‘Fake News’ publications describing a Jewish plan for global domination. Despite having been proven to be a completely fake in 1921, it has been translated into multiple languages, disseminated internationally in print and on internet, and has made a profound impact on inciting vile Jew hatred. Most notably it was a major source of Nazi propaganda, and was used as a textbook after 1933 to educate German school children.
Trump was therefore historically correct that ‘fake news’ and conspiracy theories were tools of Nazi Germany. The Russian “Dossier” put to political use by Buzzfeed in his mind is the equivalent to the Russian “Protocols” put to genocidal use in Nazi Germany. But whereas ‘fake news’ when directed against Jews by Nazis resulted in murder and genocide, when directed against Trump by his political opponents, the intended result was his political, not physical death. There is no real martyrdom equivalence here. Trump’s Nazi analogy was nevertheless in a weird superficial and meandering way conceptually true, yet completely exaggerated and decontextualized thereby rendering his statement almost meaningless just like the countless of other Nazi analogies drawn by politicians of all stripes for the past seventy years, including Jonathan Greenblatt.
So should Trump apologize for his Nazi analogy tweet, in particular to Holocaust survivors? He should according to Steven Goldstein, executive director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect who said “It is a despicable insult to Holocaust survivors around the world, and to the nation he is about to lead, that Donald Trump compares America to Nazi Germany … He must retract his tweet and apologize to survivors and to our entire nation.”
Steven Goldstein despite his title is mistaken if he thinks he in any way represents the opinion of Holocaust survivors and/or their descendants. He is stating his personal opinion and is presuming that the entire Holocaust survivor population must feel the same. It is unlikely that he personally knows many Holocaust survivors, and probably less likely that he polled survivors to ask them their thoughts on the matter. It is certainly conceivable that some Holocaust survivors might agree with him, most notably George Soros (nee Schwartz).
The majority of Holocaust survivors are concerned more about concrete actions needed to address the existential threats facing the Jewish people today, and couldn’t care less about politically correct or incorrect Nazi analogies used by politicians , and hence would have no need for, nor demand any apologies.
I do not recall Jonathan Greenblatt or Steven Goldstein demanding apologies from President Obama for funneling billions of dollars to Iran which repeatedly states its genocidal intentions against Israel threatening another Holocaust, while denying that there ever was one to begin with. I don’t recall any of these individuals asking apologies from Black Lives Matter, an organization which they embrace, for falsely accusing Israel of apartheid and genocide. I do not recall many apology requests from any of the pro- BDS organizations whose goals are to economically and politically cripple Israel. There is a rather lengthy list of apologies that they could have but didn’t request from countless of politicians and organizations for actions and activities that have a far greater real -world impact on Jewish survival than the perceived grievous paltry words tweeted by Trump.
Most Holocaust survivors and their descendants would likewise not demand apologies for the policies mentioned above simply because it’s too late, and apologies are meaningless, and don’t make any previous malicious acts go away. They would have preferred that these actions wouldn’t have been executed in the first place. What they would request from Donald Trump are not apologies but concrete attempts at reversing the actions taken by the prior administration which have been inimical to Israel’s interests and survival. Holocaust survivors, and their descendants, know that beneficial actions speak louder than hollow words.