11 thoughts on “Israeli Minister: We Will Bring ‘Holocaust’ on Palestinians – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. “whether the term “Never Again” was only meant to refer to Jews.” Sad to say, yes. Russians, Poles, French, Dutch, Belgian victims, shot in villages in revenge for one German killed in the ratio of 100:1, or shipped like cattle as slave workers to make V2 and other weapons for Germany; they simply do not count.

    Political expediency trumps all. In simpler English, self-interest trumps all.

    Look at the case of Turkey and the Armenian Genocide. Did Israel ever condemn Turkey as it should on moral grounds, on Shoah grounds?

    No, because Turkey is an ally, and a very important one at that.

    Even better – Israel was a chief ally of South Africa during its apartheid years in the 1980’s. Technology transfer and trading, exchange of information on atomic weapons manufacture and raw materials all took place. You would have thought that a government of a country that (at least in America) justifies its actions with the Shoah (WW2 Jewish Genocide), that is still being paid by many nations “reparations money” for it…. perhaps one would have thought that a racist, despicable apartheid regime would be condemned.

    Political expediency trumps all.
    Even the use of Shoah money earmarked for survivors.
    In pretty much everything, Israel does the necessary evil.
    Even screwing Holocaust survivors out of their money.

    The excuse?
    Israel is surrounded by enemies, and we must protect it. We, the Jewish diaspora around the world. We must support it. No matter what. A small necessary evil is OK if it helps Israel. Sometimes even a big evil.

    Political expediency trumps all.

  2. I am in disbelief that this was not reported. (/Sarcasm) I believe it was in a Guardian post that put it best:

    “If it was a Palestinian that said this, what would the reaction be?” Or something along those lines. And it’s true: if it were a Palestinian, a Syrian, an Egyptian, an Afghani, an Iraqi or even an Iranian (who is mistranslated over and over again), the press has a field day. Not for Vilnai: he seems to be on easy street even though some of his colleagues are doing major damage control.

    And what I won’t like is the fact that even with this rhetoric, who is going to stop Israel from doing such a thing? The EU? The UN? Russia? The US? Right now we’re on the verge of a full scale escalation of violence between Israel and Hamas (and Islamic Jihad), and Israel could very well have a blank cheque to destroy the tiny Strip like they did to Lebanon back in 2006. Rice won’t stop it: she wants this to be another “birthpang of a new Middle East”. Bush can’t do anything and Obama is still not even the Democratic candidate yet.

    What’s a Palestinian to do now?

  3. Possible mistranslation?

    Melanie Philips and you are definitely on different end of the political spectrum. Nevertheless, her post is worth considering.

    The mother of all mistranslations
    By Melanie PHILLIPS
    The Spectator
    29th February 2008


    Ye gods. The BBC has put out this story:

    Israel warns of Gaza ‘holocaust’

    Israeli leaders are warning of an imminent conflagration in Gaza after Palestinian militants aimed rockets at the southern city of Ashkelon. The deputy defence minister said the stepped-up rocket fire would trigger what he called a ‘bigger holocaust’ in the Hamas-controlled coastal strip.

    This reported remark by deputy defence minister Matan Vilnai caused widespread shock and absolute horror. For an Israeli minister to use the word ‘holocaust’ to describe a limited war of Israeli self-defence, when for Jews of all people the ‘Holocaust’ means one thing: genocide — and this at a time when the calumny of the ‘Jews as Nazis’ is rampant around the world, putting Israel and the Jewish people at risk — was simply beyond belief.

    It was indeed without any credibility — because Vilnai never said it. It was an appalling mistranslation by Reuters, the source of the BBC story. Vilnai said:

    ‘The more Qassam (rocket) fire intensifies and the rockets reach a longer range, they (the Palestinians) will bring upon themselves a bigger “shoah” because we will use all our might to defend ourselves’.

    Reuters translated the Hebrew word ‘shoah’ as ‘holocaust’. But ‘shoah’ merely means disaster. In Hebrew, the word ‘shoah’ is never used to mean ‘holocaust’ or ‘genocide’ because of the acute historical resonance. The word ‘Hashoah’ alone means ‘the Holocaust’ and ‘retzach am’ means ‘genocide’. The well-known Hebrew construction used by Vilnai used merely means ‘bringing disaster on themselves’.

    As a subsequent Reuter’s story reported,

    Vilnai’s spokesman said: ‘Mr. Vilnai was meaning “disaster”. He did not mean to make any allusion to the genocide.’ Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Arye Mekel, added: ‘Deputy Defence Minister Matan Vilnai used the Hebrew phrase that included the term ‘shoah’ in Hebrew in the sense of a disaster or a catastrophe, and not in the sense of a holocaust.’

    But this grotesque mistranslation has given Hamas a propaganda gift which they lost no time exploiting:

    Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri said of Vilnai’s comments: ‘We are facing new Nazis who want to kill and burn the Palestinian people.’

    At a time when the rockets continue to rain down on the southern Negev and Israel is being forced to contemplate stepping up its incursions into Gaza because of the truly genocidal assault upon its citizens by Hamas, such a mistranslation is more than an unfortunate slip. In the present explosive atmosphere, it can lead directly to an enormous escalation of violence by the Palestinians.

    It is not enough for Reuters to try to cover its backside in subsequent stories. It must issue an explicit retraction, and so must the BBC. Instantly.

  4. Aston: Omigod. I can’t believe you’ve quoted Melanie Phillips in this blog. I still like you anyway. But my real point is that Phillips is dead wrong as I note in the “Note” I appended to this post a few minutes ago. The fact is the the word shoah has definite and very strong links to the Holocaust. It is hardly ever used in other contexts much like the English world “holocaust” itself. I cannot know what was going on in Vilnai’s mind when he uttered this horrendous word. Perhaps the allusion to the Holocaust was unintended. But the words a politician chooses mean something. And the fact that he chose shoah as opposed to ason or katastropha, means something. At the least, it means that Israel intends to rain down destruction & devastation on Gaza in the coming invasion much like what it brought down on the heads of Lebanese in 2006. At the worst, it means that Vilnai had The Holocaust in mind when he predicted what might happen to Gaza. Either way it’s a tragedy of the worst kind.

    BTW, I have a graduate degree in Hebrew literature. How much Hebrew does Melanie Phillips & the rest of the hasbara crowd have?

  5. Fair point I guess, especially if you mention that you have a graduate degree in Hebrew.
    Well, guess what, I might post your response to Melanie Philips’ blog.

    The amount of grandstanding in this conflict disgust me. It certainly put some of the more disgusting comments coming from Hamas into context, and that context is a poisonous one. Both sides of this conflict are utterly insane, and are adopting pride, political survival and ideology over the interests of their people.

  6. Hi Anton. I’m Israeli and I can verify that although it does mean disaster, you very rarely hear it being used in any other connotation than the Holocaust. No matter what the guy meant, it was a poor word choice. Comparing his words to those of other Muslim leaders as some are wont to do, IMO is erroneous because while Vilnai immediately clarified that he did not mean the Holocaust, and did indeed mean disaster (somehow, that doesn’t really put him any higher in my esteem) Achmadinejad did not clarify his statements and continued to make threats. Same with some Hamas leaders. I don’t know how seriously to take these kinds of statements from both sides, everyone likes to rabblerouse. The media made more of a circus of Vilnai’s first statement and not his clarification. Sensationalism just adds to the problem.

    From the AP:

    The Associated Press
    Sunday, March 2, 2008; 1:32 PM

    JERUSALEM — An Israeli official who sparked an uproar by using the word for “holocaust” to describe what Israel might do to the Gaza Strip said Sunday his comment had been manipulated by the media but acknowledged he could have chosen another term.

    In a radio interview Friday discussing Palestinian rocket fire at Israel and Israel’s military response, Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai said, “As the rocket fire grows, and the range increases … they are bringing upon themselves a greater ‘shoah’ because we will use all our strength in every way we deem appropriate.”

    The Hebrew word “shoah” refers to the Nazi Holocaust, but also means “disaster,” and a spokesman for Vilnai immediately clarified he meant the latter.

    Nonetheless, many international media outlets translated it as “holocaust” and the statement was taken by many in the Arab world to mean that Israel was threatening the Palestinians with genocide.

    On Saturday, Palestinian leaders from both Hamas and Fatah called Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip, which has killed dozens of people, a “holocaust” and “genocide.”

    In Syria, exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal described Israeli killings of civilians in Gaza as “the real Holocaust.”

    “It’s clear to everyone that I used it to mean ‘disaster’ or ‘catastrophe,'” Vilnai said Sunday in an interview with Army Radio, charging the media with “manipulating” his words.

    “You can use other words, absolutely,” Vilnai acknowledged, “but that shouldn’t divert us from the main point, which is that they are bringing a disaster on their people because of their actions.”

  7. Regarding Vilnai’s comment-I must remind you that he is an ex-General….
    which reminds me of a comment Harry Truman made. He said:

    “People ask me why I saced Douglas MacArthur (during the Korean War). The reaon was that he was insubordinate. It wasn’t because he was stupid, because if that was the case, I would have to fire ALL of the generals”.

  8. Re. Melanie Phillips – British Jewish Activist “Jeffrey Cohen” ran a “Make Melanie Smile” campaign a couple of years ago. Don’t look unless you have a sense of humour.
    Further, she’s more often than not opposed by members of the Jewish community in Britain:
    The danger of Melanie Phillips
    Is our beth din the model for sharia courts?
    Her line of thought is more compatible with Pipes and other anti-Arab/Muslim American commentators – honestly, if any of the rabid anti-Islam crowd on your side of the pond wants her, we’ll find a way to raise her airfare/relocation costs!

  9. I am aware that she has a huge axe to grind. Who doesn’t have an axe to grind?
    Regardless, it was more the substance of people’s arguments that I am interested in. People’s inherent bias does not automatically disqualify them.
    Well said, Bar Kochba.

  10. Hi, I just found your article, and I’m amazed to find conclusions I had come to while researching more closely to understand the conflict after the 2014 Gaza bombing. Thank you for daring to say out loud what many goyim like me are thinking but too often rebuked for daring to suggest. I have been called antisemitic and worse for the thoughts I was sharing.

    But tonight I’m listening to Max Blumenthal, and now reading your post, and I feel a bit more validated. I’m aware there are two sides in a stalemate, a resistance and a resistance to the resistance, which Israel could be tempted to solve by doing the unthinkable. The rhetoric in right-wing Israeli papers comments sections, and even by politicians seeking reelection, is indeed horrifying, a situation that has deteriorated even more 11 years later where nothing has changed, only worsened.

    Tonight, as the fresh cease-fire brokered by Egypt between Gaza and Israel is holding, I seek to understand even more how we can help awaken those around us or on social media to the dark side of the occupation and elicit some needed empathy. We’re living in a time where there is increased genuine antisemitism, as well as false accusations of antisemitism just for talking about it and not taking Israel’s side almost unreservedly. But when human lives and generations are at stake, the true holocaust could be one of the Israeli Jewish soul.

    I know many of them do resist their own government and military actions and denounce the cruelty exercised toward the Palestinians, but those voices don’t seem to resound very loudly in the West. I try to share them as much as I can. There are beautiful people who risk the wrath of their own people for suggesting the way of peace and mutual respect, but I believe these are the ones that endure.

    Thank you again,


    Alberta, Canada

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