Sunday, January 10, 2010

Analogies between Zionism and Apartheid/anti-Zionism and Nazis

I often use the situation in Southern Africa in, say, the 1970s to illustrate points regarding Israel today. Israel is not a mirror image of Apartheid South Africa. There were important tactical differences between how in the late 1940s Jewish people in Israel engineered a political majority on territory that until that time had a non-Jewish demographic majority and how the whites of South Africa engineered a political majority for themselves. But the existence of differences does not invalidate analogies. However complaints that analogies are invalid can be the impetus for taking a closer look, which I'll do now.

I am often amazed though, that people who claim analogies between Apartheid South Africa and Zionist Israel are a priori misleading or propaganda are extremely comfortable analogizing any rival or threat to Israel as Nazis. This is an important point because various examples of these analogies between current parties that threaten Israel and Nazis can be instructive as to the uses and limits of analogies in explaining present phenomena.

Here is Israel's prime minister comparing Iran to the Nazis:
"It's 1938 and Iran is Germany. And Iran is racing to arm itself with atomic bombs," Netanyahu told delegates to the annual United Jewish Communities General Assembly, repeating the line several times, like a chorus, during his address. "Believe him and stop him," the opposition leader said of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. "This is what we must do. Everything else pales before this."
Netanyahu's analogy is an appeal to the emotion of his audience. Iran is not racing towards atomic bombs but is building a capacity that it could use build one in theory if it was to leave the NPT. This is a threat to Israel because Israel's survival depends on Israel being able to issue threats against its neighbors of catastrophic losses while an Iranian ability, even after the fact, to retaliate for such a catastrophe weakens Israel's threat.

But Nazi Germany did not have nuclear weapons or a capability to make nuclear weapons. Ahmadinejad has never said or implied that Jewish people are defective in any way as individuals or as a group, and he often specifically distinguishes between Zionism, which he says is a political philosophy that he considers evil and Jewish people. While Nazis did clearly believe in ethnic differences between Jewish people and Aryan people, Ahmadinejad does not.

As far as I can tell, the analogy is that the Nazis threatened the interests of Jewish people through a program of liquidating their population while Ahmadinejad and Iran, in Netanyahu's opinion, threaten the interests of Jewish people in two ways: First by advocating that Palestinians be able to participate in a referendum that could determine that there should not be a majority Jewish state; and second by overcoming the current situation in which Israel can credibly threaten nuclear attacks on other states in its region without a credible possibility of response.

Netanyahu is drawing a parallel between death camps and a situation where 5 million Jewish people choose to either live in Palestine without a Jewish majority or leave the territory. How the analogy works in this case is that the parallel is drawn but not examined openly enough that the audience asks if these are really parallel situations. Which means, fortunately for Netanyahu, that he gets to avoid making a case that death camps are in some way comparable to a referendum. That would be an extremely difficult argument for him to make if he was to try.

I find myself drawing the parallel between Israel and South Africa to make one of four points. The first is that it is possible for the people of a region, even if they are reasonable and not in any way bigots, to reject a state that is accepted by the United States or by the United Nations. The second is that a state that is rejected by the people of its region has unusual security requirements that stem from that regional rejection. The third is that meeting the unusual security requirements of a rejected state imposes heavy costs on the state itself, on the region that rejects it and potentially on its supporters. The fourth is that it is possible to construct arrangements that protect individual rights and interests without imposing or guaranteeing an ethnic majority in some territory.

These are all points that I could make without South Africa, but when my argument is that something is not impossible, an actual example can lend that argument a very strong element of support.

None of these points requires that South Africa be exactly like Israel. However Apartheid's supporters did plan to offer multiple states to Black people, each to be dominated by the White state which, for security reasons, would withhold aspects of normal state sovereignty to the non-White states. Apartheid's supporters had even found leaders of some of these states who were Black people and who expressed support for the plan. Maybe a fifth point is that rejection of a multiple state plan can be reasonable and admirable, as Africans, led by the Nelson Mandela's ANC, rejected any partition plan for South Africa.

As far as the emotional content of the analogy, Black South Africans in their struggle against Apartheid are nearly universally seen in the West as in line with Western values (even as the West was their primary enemy for the entire conflict) and morally upright. An argument that rejection of two states in Palestine is inherently depraved can be validly neutralized by the example of the Black South African rejection of multiple states.

I'm not inordinately threatened by Netanyahu's analogy of Iran to the Nazis. Hiding behind that analogy is an argument that I don't think he'd even attempt to make directly. There is a degree of intimidation and manipulation, as Netanyahu is attempting, without argument, to smear the idea of anti-Semitism around and create an environment in the West where it is not polite to disagree with him. Netanyahu and his country have done a lot worse things than that though.

Supporters of Israel do not like analogies of Zionism to Apartheid. Each analogy stands on its own argument. Maybe the arguments are flawed, I think they are not. Superficial differences between Israel and Apartheid South Africa do not, in reasonable discourse, invalidate the arguments or the analogies.


N. Friedman said...


This is among your more reasoned arguments - notwithstanding my view that your thoughts about apartheid fundamentally misunderstand its nature.

Taking that aside, you misunderstand Netanyahu. He is the child of world famous historian Benzion Netanyahu. His famous father - a, if not the, leading scholar of the Spanish Inquisition - almost surely impressed on the PM, if you read the father's writings, a view of the world which you do not share or, most likely, understand. That view concerns how Jews fit in with other societies. It is that which drives the PM's interpretation of Iran's behavior.

Going by the elder's viewpoint, the reasonable interpretation for any Jew to make of what the Iranians are up to is one that assumes Iran intends to try to destroy Israel. Whether the elder's way of thinking is correct, I do not know; but that such is what his viewpoint would naturally lead his son to think seems highly likely to me.

I might suggest that you read the father's masterful history of the origins of the Spanish Inquisition, The Origins of the Inquisition in Fifteenth-Century Spain. It is a fascinating book.

N. Friedman said...


One, of a number of points you overlook. Ahmadinejad has expressed great amounts of pure Antisemitism, less disguised than even the Nazis did. That is a characteristic pattern of Islmamist Antisemitism. It is pretty open and blunt. Your view that he has not spoken ill of Jews as Jews is simply false.

Arnold Evans said...

Oh my goodness.

Pure anti-Semitism? Less disguised than the Nazis? Open and blunt?

If you want to play, then how this game works is I ask you for a definition of anti-Semitism and a link that shows that Ahmadinejad has expressed anti-Semitism according to your definition.

You point to a link that shows Ahmadinejad speaking negatively about Zionists, probably in the same statement distinguishing Zionism as a political movement from Jews as a religion or ethnic group.

Here's the fun part. In your link, he's not saying anything at all about Jewish people, much less is he blunt or less disguised than the Nazis.

You say, when he says Zionist, he really secretly means Jewish people. Even though that is expressly not what he means.

But then what happened to open and blunt? What happened to less disguised?

At that point I laugh and move on.

If you want to play, it's your move. Give me a definition of anti-Semitism or else we'll go with the common-sense default: bigotry against Jewish people; the belief that Jewish people are as a religion, ethnic group or individually defective or inferior in some way.

Then after you give your definition, show me your "open" statement by Ahmadinejad that is consistent with your definition.

N. Friedman said...


Holocaust denial is a position ONLY held by Antisemites.

The position that Israel is can be described in terms of a biological disease is a position ONLY held by Antisemites.

Ahmadinejad's statements about Jews - of which there are quite a number - being a vile race are all Antisemitic.

Antisemitism, to be clear, is a political position.

I am willing to play your game on this. I think you will embarrass yourself.

To start with, Juan Cole thinks Ahmadinejad is a Antisemite. Read this. As Cole notes, it is not just Zionists who are the targets of Ahmadinejad's mouth. It is all Jews. Cole writes:

In other words, he is saying, all of modern history (possibly from the Portuguese conquest of Goa) and certainly the British conquests during WW I, the Nazi persecution of Jews, and last year's American presidential race, has been the unfolding of a secret Jewish plot, wherein "Zionists" control everything that happens.

You wonder why he holds out any hope of Palestinians prevailing in the face of such a long-lived and all-powerful conspiracy! It is sort of like The Highlander meets the Protocols of the Elders of Zion!

Here is the speech, as translated by Cole, that caught his attention:

'Before the First World War, certain noises were made in order to organize an evil current to dominate the entire world. Using their colonial experiences, they [the imperial European states] plotted to dominate all nations and the world's material and intellectual properties. After the First World War, they abused the ignorance of the nations and Muslims of the region, and they put Palestine under the trusteeship of the old colonialist, Britain. They provided an opportunity for the organized criminal Zionists and the[se] rushed into Palestine. Under the cover of buying farms, gardens, and lands, they occupied a major part of the land by the use of weapons and carrying out massacres and assassinations. By the help of the British government and relying on her force, they displaced the people.

Before the Second World War, the noises and activities were intensified. In European countries, a complicated show started which was called anti-Semitism. Of course, some governments and their people have always abhorred the Jews because of indecent behavior by some of the Jews and they were willing to evict the Jews out of Europe. However, some European governments and statesmen and the Zionist network did the main plot of anti-Semitism. They produced hundreds of films. They wrote hundreds of books and circulated rumors. They started a psychological war in order to make them (the Jews) escape to Palestine.'

In fact, contrary to what you think, Ahmadinejad is speaking about Jews, not only Zionists.

This is only one speech. There are a lot of them, evidently more than you know of.

N. Friedman said...

I want to post a bit more of what Cole writes, above referenced, so that this is clear as day. If you do not think this is all Antisemitism, then you do not have any idea what Antisemitism is, since this is classic in its expression, akin to material used by the Nazis. I quoting Cole now:

I read the Persian phrase, which the government translators dropped, about dastandarkaran (masters, proprietors) and their protectors and patrons (hamiyan) to be a reference to Zionists and imperialists. He then says "all of them" (hamih-'i ishan) are responsible for colonizing and plundering the world for the past half-millennium. I've gone back and forth on this, since Ahmadinejad's speaking style is syntactically sloppy and his referents are not always clear, but I am leaning to thinking that he sees a Jewish/ imperial partnership as having stretched into the distant past.

In other words, he is saying, all of modern history (possibly from the Portuguese conquest of Goa) and certainly the British conquests during WW I, the Nazi persecution of Jews, and last year's American presidential race, has been the unfolding of a secret Jewish plot, wherein "Zionists" control everything that happens.

Arnold Evans said...

I remember Cole's post. Cole goes out of his way to find anti-Semitism in that speech. I commented there, but in the comments of that post a Farsi speaker points out exactly where Cole stretches what can only be reasonably read as a reference to Zionism into a reference to Jewish people.

In that speech, Ahmadinejad actually says, specifically, that he Zionism separate from Judaism.

You're saying "open and blunt". "Less disguised than the Nazis". I ask for a link and you point another person accusing him of anti-Semitism.

A lot of his speeches and interviews have been translated to English. Look at the link you've found more closely or provide another.

So far, this is going exactly as I said it would.

Arnold Evans said...


N. Friedman said...

One more speech, for now. This is a classic and it was before the entire world, at the UN. His words:

The dignity, integrity and rights of the American and European people are being played with by a small but deceitful number of people called Zionists. Although they are a miniscule minority, they have been dominating an important portion of the financial and monetary centers as well as the political decision making centers of some European countries and the US in a deceitful, complex and furtive manner. It is deeply disastrous to witness that some presidential or premiere nominees in some big countries have to visit these people, take part in their gathers, swear their allegiance and commitment to their interests in order to attain financial or media support

So, a tiny minority controls world finance and politics. This is nearly a quote from Hitler's numerous speeches on the same topic. The use of the word "Zionist" does not make this any less Antisemitic, unless your position is that when Hitler said the same sorts of things about "Jews" that he was saying something with a substantive difference from what Ahmadinejad is saying.

Antisemitism is not merely a question of etiquette, meaning that if something is said about Jews is Antisemitic, substituting the word "Zionist" for "Jews" does not change the character of the statement into fair comment. What is quoted above has always been considered Antisemitic. I might add: when Hitler said the same thing, he also said it, at times, with reference to Palestine, saying that Jews aimed to establish a state in order to further control of world finance and politics.

N. Friedman said...

I also note: people, before WWII, defended Hitler's speeches about Jewish control on the same grounds that you defend Ahmadinejad. The argument was that Hitler meant some, not all, and that he such manner of talk is not Antisemitic.

The world all changed its mind, having seen that such speech was as Antisemitic as Voltaire's writings, as the Anti-Dreyfus movement, etc.

Arnold Evans said...

From Farsi speaker "Navid" rebutting Cole's claim:
Even though he has clearly distinguished the Jewish people from Zionists, and has deplored the latter for betraying the principles of Judaism, you accuse him of hinting at the unfolding of "a Jewish plot" ?My understanding is that "classical anti-semitism" is the idea that there is a quintessential element in every real Jew, whereby they all aspire to collectively dominate the world. He says a renegade band of corrupt politicians who have betrayed the Jewish culture are responsible for some atrocities ( which doesn't include the Portuguese conquest of Goa and the British conquests during WW I even according to him) and you still call him a classical anti-semite?

From me, earlier:
You say, when he says Zionist, he really secretly means Jewish people. Even though that is expressly not what he means.

But then what happened to open and blunt? What happened to less disguised?

At that point I laugh and move on.

I think that's about where we stand.

N. Friedman said...


The above speech is open and blunt. In that 95% of Jews are Zionists, he is speaking about Jews in the manner that all Antisemites speak.

You claim he says nice things about Judaism. So did Hitler.

N. Friedman said...


Why do you think that stating something about Zionists being evil in this or that way - using the very same tropes used traditionally about Jews - makes something other than Antisemitic?

His comments are as open and blunt as anything said by the Nazis. Changing the word "Jew" to "Zionist" is a meaningless change - again, 95% of Jews are Zionists -, perhaps designed to make obvious hatred more appealing to people who know nothing about Antisemitism.

N. Friedman said...


My last post for the night.

I really would like to understand - please explain it to me - your theory of how, when Ahmadinejad gives a speech that, were he to use the word "Jew," would be understood by all to be Antisemitic, is not Antisemitic because he uses the word "Zionist" instead of "Jew."

I do not believe that any rational person could claim that his comment about Zionists controlling world finance or politics is anything but classical Antisemitism. And, I do not believe that any rational person could see it as anything but crude, overt Antisemitism.

Arnold Evans said...

If you give a speech about "Communists", that would be bigotry if the word "Russians" was replaced, it is not bigotry. Saying Russians is evil is an attack on an ethnicity. Saying Communists are evil is an attack on a philosophy that any of its adherents is free to abandon.

Almost all European imperialists were white. Almost White people agreed with the aims of imperialism while it was an extant movement.

To say "imperialism" was evil is not to say "whites" were evil. Especially if the speaker specifically distinguishes the two.

Who do you think he is afraid of? If he means Jews, why say "Zionists"? Why do you think he's careful not to say Jews, if you think he means Jews?

Zionism is an organized, resourceful political movement. Describing an organized political movement as organized is different from describing an ethnic group as organized.

Ahmadinejad clearly believes that the Western imperialism and its remnants are evil. He believes Zionism is evil. He believes that lies have been told by Zionists to advance the cause of Zionism. He believes the causes of Zionism and imperialism are intertwined.

Does he believe that to be born Jewish is to commit a crime for which one deserves punishment? Hitler did. Ahmadinejad does not. If you think Ahmadinejad does, what makes you think so? He's never said anything like that.

Does he believe there is any essential characteristic of Judaism, or Jewishness? He's never expressed it if he does.

You've said he's open and blunt. He's clearly not open and blunt in expressing any antipathy towards Jewish people. He was supposed to be less disguised than Nazis. Less. Now you say he says the same thing the Nazis said, but disguises it.

I say he does not believe what the Nazis believed.

Can one be anti-Semitic without having any belief at all about Jews as people or as an ethnic group?

It is very difficult for me to say yes to that.

@N. Friedman said...

"You claim he says nice things about Judaism. So did Hitler."

Can you please provide a source (about Hitler saying nice things about Jews). I just don't believe it.

masoud said...


You must be the most tempered, even headed blogger in the english speaking hemisphere. How do you suffer these people? You never seem to loose your cool. I think if I tried to run a blog like yours, the only thing I would accomplish is sending my blood pressure through the roof.



Anonymous said...

Ah the infamous Ahmadinejad speeches,although the only infamous thing about them is the degree of deliberate mistranslation,lies and outrageous claims to which they have been subjected,you know the ones destroy israel blah blah holocaust never happened blah blah.I imagine that by now N has no trouble finding antisemitism anywhere and everywhere[wether it exists or not]I`m sure that by this point he automatically translates zionist to equal jew,after all isn`t every good jew a zionist?[except for the self hating jews that is]If you try and point out that thats not what was said then you run the risk of being accused of siding with a holocaust denier,sadly the threat of that still scares some people,but not as many as it used to and I imagine that scares the zionists.All in all an excellent post Arnold,the comparison between modern day zionist israel and apartheid sth africa of the 70`s/80`s is a valid and chilling one,still just as the apartheid regime eventually collapsed under the weight of internal and external pressures so I think theres an excellent chance that zionist israel will go the same way

Anonymous said...

Ahmadinejad in New York being warmly received in New York by orthodox Jews:

It should be pointed out that this group of New York's Jewish community reject Zionism.

The interaction between Ahmadinejad and this particular aspect of New York's Jewish community illustrates Ahmadinejad's warm relations with Jewish people that do not accept a Zionist regime that promotes racism, war, inequality and apartheid rule in the Middle East.

N. Friedman said...


You write: "I say he does not believe what the Nazis believed."

Answer: If he believes that Zionists control or are attempting to control world finance and politics, he believes exactly what the Nazis believed.

The reason that he does not use the word "Jews" is that, in Europe and the US, to speak directly about Jews is to risk being called an Antisemite, which would undermine his politics. After all, people like you would call him an Antsemite. So, he changes a word and, presto, you think he has said something acceptable.

And, that he does not really distinguish the two, in reality, is plainly obvious. Or, do you think, as he asserts, that Zionists have been controlling finance and politics in the US?

Again, Arnold, his statement to the UN - which was condemned by much of Europe and the US for being specifically Antisemitic:

The dignity, integrity and rights of the American and European people are being played with by a small but deceitful number of people called Zionists. Although they are a miniscule minority, they have been dominating an important portion of the financial and monetary centers as well as the political decision making centers of some European countries and the US in a deceitful, complex and furtive manner. It is deeply disastrous to witness that some presidential or premiere nominees in some big countries have to visit these people, take part in their gathers, swear their allegiance and commitment to their interests in order to attain financial or media support

I note: Ahmadinejad did not issue, so far as I know, a statement clarifying that he did not mean "Jews." He left it as it was. Why, given that he was condemned?

In fact, in his part of the world, "Jews" and "Zionists" can be - and often are - used interchangeably.

Arnold Evans said...

Friedman is good at digging up quotes. He may well find a quote where Hitler says something favorable about Jewish people in some sense.

But there are clear quotes from before Hitler entered politics expressing antipathy against Jewish people because they are Jewish.

He will not find the same from Ahmadinejad. The most reasonable explanation is that Ahmadinejad, unlike Hitler, does not believe there is any negative characteristic of being Jewish. Which also happens to be what he says whenever the subject is raised.

Arnold Evans said...

Ahmadinejad is not from this part of the world. Jews and Zionists cannot used interchangeably by people who specifically say they are different. Ahmadinejad says they are different.

Zionism is an organized political movement that has participants who advance its aims. Even to exaggerate the influence or capabilities of a political movement is not ethnic bigotry.

So instead of open, blunt and less disguised; now the claim is that he failed to clarify that by Zionists he did not mean "Jews" when, especially from his point of view, there was never any rational argument that he ever meant anything different from what he actually said.

This is where I said this would go.

N. Friedman said...


With due respect, the word Zionists is used in the Arab and Muslim world as a synonym for Jews. That is not always the case but it is rather common.

That Ahmadinejad distinguishes in a number of comments between Jews and Zionists does not mean that he always uses them to mean different things. That is a logical fallacy. In the US, sometimes people used the word "Russians" as a synonym for "Soviets" and vice versa. In other circumstances, the same people would use the word "Russians" only to mean "Russians."

One cannot say that, in one instance, the person wrote A is different than B such that in all circumstances the person distinguishes A from B. That is simply not the way people act.

In the quote I picked - which was condemned throughout the world as being gutter Antisemitism - he ascribed to Zionists the very same thing that Hitler ascribed to Jews. Again: Ahmadinejad stated to the entire world, at the UN:

The dignity, integrity and rights of the American and European people are being played with by a small but deceitful number of people called Zionists. Although they are a miniscule minority, they have been dominating an important portion of the financial and monetary centers as well as the political decision making centers of some European countries and the US in a deceitful, complex and furtive manner. It is deeply disastrous to witness that some presidential or premiere nominees in some big countries have to visit these people, take part in their gathers, swear their allegiance and commitment to their interests in order to attain financial or media support

In this usage, he spoke of "Zionists" in a manner that, to anyone who knows anything about how Antisemites talk, meant "Jews." What he stated is precisely what the Nazis said about Jews.

Is it any less Antisemitic when the word "Zionist" is substituted for "Jew"? And, if he meant only Zionists - i.e. only 95% of the world's Jews -, is it any less bigoted? In fact, even if he meant only Zionists, is it any less bigoted?

I can't wait to hear your explanation.

Now, to repeat: Ahmadinejad is a political leader. His cause requires him to have friends, most particularly in Europe. In Europe, to be called an Antisemite is among the worst things you can be called. As such, he has more than ample reason, if he wants to advance his cause, to couch his hatred of Jews in a manner that does not so clearly upset Europeans. In the above speech, however, he got caught. He was condemned even by people who hate Israel, who thought he said something that any traditional Antisemite would state.

Again, Arnold, you have not answered my question directly. That is your right. But, your silence presents itself as your admission.

Arnold Evans said...

You can't be serious.

Nowhere in the world is Zionism used as a synonym for Jews by people who say specifically, as you know Ahmadinejad has, that Zionism is different from Judaism.

You're the one saying "open and blunt" "less disguised than the Nazis."

Why has he not clarified this particular speech? Because he's stated many times that he does not consider Zionism equivalent to Judaism. Your replacement of one for the other isn't a fair or reasonable interpretation of his speech.

But this is not the only, or most important, unfair or unreasonable interpretation of something he's said. His words are constantly twisted to put him in the most negative possible light.

Here's the thing. He really does not believe there should be an Israel. People who vehemently disagree with him on that are going to present him as objectionably as possible. This is not a pure misunderstanding, there is a tactical reason to present him as anti-Semitic even if he is not. This is not something he can clarify away.

You and Netanyahu have a real disagreement with him that makes you both want to believe and convince others that he is as hostile to Jewish people as possible.

Of course there will never be enough clarification for you. On the other hand, what does it mean that your best link needs to be recast away from his actual words to be presented as anti-Semitic?

A person goes through life never saying anything negative about Jewish people is not presumptively anti-Semitic unless he clarifies that when he deliberately didn't use the word "Jew" that he didn't mean "Jew".

The request is nonsensical.

You claim someone who hates communism is an anti-Russian ethnic bigot, but you cannot find a single statement that is anti-Russian. When you find a statement that is openly and clearly anti-Communist, you don't get to say "communist means Russian sometimes". You're the one claiming beyond anti-Communist, he's openly anti-Russian. Openly, you say.

Provide a link. Is this your best? I thought there were a lot. More than I know about.

Open anti-Semite, not one link that says anything negative about Jews? Really that's less disguised than the Nazis? Really you think you wouldn't be able to find one instance of Hitler saying something negative about Jewish people?

What happened to open and blunt? What happened to less disguised?

At this point I laugh and move on.

N. Friedman said...


You write: "Zionism is different from Judaism."

That is certainly correct. I do not accuse Ahmadinejad of mixing those two words up. The issue is not "Zionism" vs "Judaism." The issue is "Zionist" vs. "Jew." That is a very different thing.

I do not need to give a quote for everything I say. I also was not comparing "Communism" to "Russian." I was comparing "Soviet" to "Russian." The two have often been used interchangeably. Here is an example, back from when the USSR existed.

With due respect, most of the world's Antisemites care not about Judaism but about what Jews do. The Nazis spent their time fussing about what Jews do. The Anti-Dreyfus faction in France fussed about what Jews do. Modern Antisemites by and large fuss primarily about what Jews do.

Nowadays, to fuss about Jews using the word "Jews" is to get one called a name that gets in the way, politically speaking. So, they claim to be anti-Zionist. When an anti-Zionist asserts that Zionists - not Zionism - control world finance and politics, you know for a fact that you are dealing with an Antisemite.

Stop being disingenuous. And, since his entire audience knew what Ahmadinejad meant by his speech and since he issued no clarification or correction, you too know that he was speaking the language of Antisemitism.

N. Friedman said...

One last comment.

You have not answered my question by substituting Zionism for Zionist and Judaism for Jew. Will you answer my actual question?

And, you did not answer my other questions either. Will you answer them? If not, I can assume your silence - and effort to change what I said - speaks for itself.

Arnold Evans said...

I drew the parallel between Russian/Communist and Jewish/Zionist in my response at 12:57.

What you saw at 9:56 was just your argument following a straightforward replacement using the parallel I mentioned earlier.

That probably was confusing because since I did make a replacement, I should not have put it into your voice without explaining what was going on.

I've written more than enough that a reasonable reader can determine my position without believing that you can assert what I really know, or reading anything into my not answering your questions more than that I don't find some of your questions interesting enough to answer.

N. Friedman said...

The Russian/Communist analogy does not follow, since that is not how those words are used. One does not substitute Communist for Russian, at least not typically, the way one substitutes Russian and Soviet.

Here is the point I am making - and I am, in this instance - borrowing from German scholar Matthias Küntzel:

Up until the revolution of 1979, Khomeini was entirely open in his choice of words. “The Jews … wish to establish Jewish domination throughout the world,” he wrote in 1970 in his major work, Islamic Government. “Since they are a cunning and resourceful group of people, I fear that … they may one day achieve their goal.” In September 1977, Khomeini declared: “The Jews have grasped the world with both hands and are devouring it with an insatiable appetite, they are devouring America and have now turned their attention to Iran and still they are not satisfied.” The quotation comes from an official compilation of Khomeini’s works published in Tehran in 1995.

Starting in 1979, however, Khomeini substituted the word “Zionist” for “Jew,” while leaving the fundamental anti-Semitism unchanged. The mullahs’ regime disseminated the Protocols of the Elders of Zion throughout the world. In 2005, an English edition of the Protocols was displayed by Iranian booksellers at the Frankfurt Book Fair—the very year Khomeini’s fervent admirer Ahmadinejad was elected president.

I suggest to you that what you claim to think is about Zionism is about Jews. I should add, as Küntzel further notes:

In 1921, the future Nazi ideology chief Alfred Rosenberg published a book entitled Zionism, Enemy of the State. In 1925, Hitler likewise attacked Zionism in Mein Kampf, warning that “a Jewish state in Palestine” would only serve as an “organization centre for their international world-swindling, … place of refuge for convicted scoundrels and a university for up-and-coming swindlers.”

These are the sorts of things that Antisemites have said through the years. Ahmadinejad is no exception. It is you who are attempting to whitewash overt Antisemitic statements as being harmless.

And one last time, Arnold, is it any less bigoted to claim that Zionists control world finance and politics than to claim that Jews control it? I would like an answer to that.

Anonymous said...

Arnold said:
Open anti-Semite, not one link that says anything negative about Jews? Really that's less disguised than the Nazis? Really you think you wouldn't be able to find one instance of Hitler saying something negative about Jewish people?

I'd like to add to this. People, like netenyahu and friedmen, who liken present day Iran to 1940's germany should be called out for what they are:Holocaust Deniers.


N. Friedman said...


I would not liken present day Iran to 1940's Germany. That comparison has serious shortcoming. Instead, I liken the reaction by many in the West to Iran to the reaction of many in the West to Nazi Germany - mainly before September, 1939, when opinions all over the world changed about the Nazis.

The actual comparison between Iran and Germany would be undermined primarily by the comparative military and technological backwardness of today's Iran, vis a vis the rest of the world, and post 1935 Nazi Germany, vis a vis the rest of the world.

On the other hand, ideologically speaking, both regimes have adopted similar rhetoric, aimed at Jews and others, that is not accidental and that is not benign.

I am interested in the ideological similarities of the reaction in the West to pre-war Nazi Germany and, now, to the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is eerily similar. Exhibit A - and no offense to our kind, no doubt well intentioned, host Arnold - is our own Arnold, who sees nothing odd that Ahmadinejad uses the same language previously used by Nazis to describe Jews - with Ahmadinejad substituting the word "Zionist" for "Jew." He will not even state that he finds such statements offensive. Note to Arnold: all over the West, including at places like Harvard and Columbia - including leaders of the schools -, Nazi Antisemitism was said to be exaggerated or misinterpreted.

I am also concerned that the ideology that drives Iran - which borrows substantially from the Nazis including, most conspicuously, its revolting Antisemitism - will drive Iran, a country of fabulous beauty, culture and accomplishment, off an abyss in the same way that Antisemitic ideologies have driven previously great countries - leading countries of their time - off the deep end.

Consider: Antisemitic conspiracy theories overwhelmed 15th Century Spain and 20th Century Germany, to name but two countries. And the victims ended up being everyone because Antisemitism causes people to do truly terrible, insane things. With leaders like Ahmadinejad - a shameless Antisemite -, and Ali Khamenei, Iran and the rest of us are asking for it. The same for the radical Islamist agenda, which is heavily influenced, from long before Israel existed, by the Nazis and funded by them.

So, I do not think that Iran is the same as Nazi Germany. I think it is suffering from an ideological disease similar to the one that infected Nazi Germany. It is not pushing a noble cause. It is pushing a violent Antisemitic agenda. And, given the history of what happens when a country is consumed by Antisemitism, I can predict, rather safely, that there is no good outcome to what is afoot.

One last point. I did quote statements about Jews, since talk about Zionists is talk about Jews.

Arnold Evans said...


So further up you said you have quite a number of statements by Ahmadinejad about Jews being a vile race. You haven't presented any.

Do you really have more, or after looking again have you decided that your entire argument now (as I said at the beginning) is that when Ahmadinejad says Zionists, he secretly means Jews? (An idea Ahmadinejad has specifically disclaimed)

I'm not arguing about whether or not Zionists means Jews, but wondering if that's really the extent of your case. Early posts in this thread promised a broader and more direct indictment.

N. Friedman said...

Here is one of his comments about the vileness of Jews: "The world powers established this filthy bacteria, the Zionist regime, which is lashing out at the nations in the region like a wild beast."

Again: you have not answered my question. I do not distinguish - nor do most people - comments that employ traditional Antisemitic comments with the only difference being that they are supposedly directed at Zionists, not Jews.

You, given your various comments, do not like Israel. Surely, though, you recognize that the source of the above quoted comments is Nazi Germany. If you do not or will not, perhaps a few of your readers will recognize it. Here is an examples:

"If I can send the flower of the German nation into the hell of war without the smallest pity for the spilling of precious German blood, then surely I have the right to remove millions of an inferior race that breeds like vermin." From: Adolf Hitler quoted in Hermann Rauschning's "The Voice of Destruction: Hitler Speaks."

Arnold Evans said...

OK. I'm finding this somewhat entertaining.

Let's look at the statement that started this.

One, of a number of points you overlook. Ahmadinejad has expressed great amounts of pure Antisemitism, less disguised than even the Nazis did. That is a characteristic pattern of Islmamist Antisemitism. It is pretty open and blunt. Your view that he has not spoken ill of Jews as Jews is simply false.

Now. You've put several quotes from Nazis here. Those quotes express by far, vastly, immeasurably more bigotry against Jewish people than the quotes you've produced by Ahmadinejad.

You have to agree that "less disguised than the Nazis did" was just wrong. Maybe you got excited, and lost control of your ability not to exaggerate, but one way or another you made a statement that is flat-out false. Correct?

"Open and blunt" was also wrong. Now you say he has to hide the fact that he really means Jews by saying Zionist. That's not open and blunt though. Correct?

Third you insist that by Zionist he means Jews. If that was true, you still have not found a quote of "Ahmadinejad speaking "ill of Jews as Jews". You said I was wrong. Turns out you were wrong. Correct?

Essentially every part of that statement that could be true or false turned out to be false. I'm going to one day examine why I think your view is so distorted on this issue.

Basically though, you perceive a state in the region that reflects its populations' belief that Israel is not legitimate as such a threat that it overrides rationality.

It is very convenient that Ahmadinejad is a raging anti-Semite, a second coming of Hitler. His open and blunt anti-Semitic statements are so useful, that if they didn't exist, you'd have to invent them.

But, just maybe .... you did ....

I disagree about what how most people distinguish statements. A statement aimed at a political philosophy can be unbigoted even if it would be bigoted aimed at a race.

Nearly every statement liberals make about conservatives in the West - nearly every single one, would be bigoted if aimed at an ethnic group. Many statements anarchists level at corporations would be bigoted if aimed at an ethnic group.

I can say conservatives are murderers. I cannot say Mexicans are murderers. This actually could not be more straight forward.

I actually can say Zionists are murderers and I cannot say Jewish people are murderers. Yes. There is a difference between Zionists and Jewish people.

Even if I'm wrong about Zionists being murderers, that statement is not bigotry against Jewish people.

Now this last example, the statement from Hitler is nothing at all like the statement from Ahmadinejad. Not one of the words matches.

And since you seem to have a library of everything Hitler has ever said, you could probably match every statement you read anywhere to something that vaguely resembles something Hitler or some other Nazi said at some time.

I think you're being serious but it's hard for me to figure out how.

But last. No, the Zionist regime is lashing out at the region like a wild beast is not a statement that the Jewish race is vile.

You said you have some statements about Jews being a vile race. You obviously don't have any statements by Ahmadinejad about Jews as a race at all. But I'm going to keep asking just because it makes your responses more entertaining.

Do you have even one statement where Ahmadinejad says anything negative about Jewish people, the Jewish race or the Jewish religion?

Even one? From this supposed open and blunt anti-Semite who is less disguised than the Nazis? Even one?

N. Friedman said...

By open, I mean that Islamists say more clearly what they intend than Nazis generally did. Nazis would normally say that if harm came to Jews, it would be due to this or that - normally something that Jews might do. Islamists, by contrast, claim openly that they mean to eliminate Israel and some, like Nasrallah, say that he means to kill all Jews, their gathering in Israel merely simplifying his task - his words, by the way.

The rest of what your write deserves no reply. It is, and I do not say this easily, Arnold, stupid. You are - or at I least I thought - a bright guy but your "theory" on this is beyond nonsense. It is bigoted.

Any rational person knows that language does not contain the precision - one that renders different your assertions that Ahmadinejad distinguishes Jews from Nazis whenever he refers to Zionists. You can state that in some statements, he made the distinction. You do not know - and the evidence suggests that he does not, given his choice of words, really make the distinction in earnest - mean that distinction at all time, most particularly when he ascribes bacteriological attributes to Zionists - a theory so vile, not to mention stupid, as to repulse anyone but a true Antisemite - and when he claims that Zionists control finance and politics. That is all the stuff of Antisemites.

Think about it. You have gone into the zone of bigotry when you defend a classic Antisemitem. If you do not understand that such is what you are defending, then that is ignorance. If you do understand the matter, then you knowingly stand with a gutter bigot.

That is it for me posting on your website. I am disgusted. You should be ashamed of yourself.

Arnold Evans said...

Your statement is not salvageable.

You said Ahmadinejad has made statements less disguised in their anti-Semitism than the Nazis. You didn't say Nasrallah, who is not the subject of discussion here.

You were wrong. Flat out wrong about that.

There is no reasonable definition of bigot under which I've expressed bigotry against Jews or anyone else in this post or in this blog.

I absolutely have no animosity against Jewish people, or think they are defective or substandard or less deserving of any right or privilege or have more or any negative characteristic because of their ethnic, religious or any other aspect of their identity than anyone else.

Pretty much, you call me a bigot when you lose the argument. Fine. You made a statement that was just purely false. I couldn't believe it when I read it and as soon as I read it, I knew immediately how the rest of the exchange would go, except I could have ignored you earlier.

I wish you well in your future.

Anonymous said...

Wow!,what a surprise you blow holes in his argument and he calls you a jew hater,thats the thing about zionists if you`re not with them then you`re a jew hating nazi.I imagine for him the worst thing is being shown the proof of how wrong and erroneus his statements and arguments were he resorts to the old political correctness gambit screaming "jew hater,nazi,antisemite" but its no doubt very hard if not immpossible for him to question let alone give up the beliefs of a lifetime,his world is a simple one of black and white of zionists and jew haters.Anyway great set of posts Arnold,you really kicked his ass,but then he did drop his drawers and bend over so he only has himself to blame for that one

Peter said...

Arnold, I admire your stamina.

N. Friedman keeps telling us that when Ahmadinejad says "Zionists", he means "Jews". But most Zionists are not Jews!

Arnold pointed us to a comment by an Iranian called Navid on Juan Cole's blog:
"based on his actual words, he is not suggesting that the Zionists where behind the mandatory takeover of Palestine by Britain. In fact there exists a popular old conspiracy theory in the middle east about the foundation of israel, which suggests the exact opposite of what you accuse ahmadinejad of saying. It suggests that the jewish people were "manipulated" by Britain rather than manipulated Britain, for the purpose of establishing a proxy state which would protect the interests of the colonial powers in the Suez canal and elsewhere in the middle east (which by the way, given the actual history that you mentioned, does indeed seem to have been a smart decision on the part of the Brits).Anyway, It's not at all like the anti-semitic conspiracy theories in the west."
I wish N. Friedman would respond to this. Maybe N. thinks Navid is telling a big lie, and there is no such alternative conspiracy theory as outlined here; if so, then I wish N. would say so. From N.'s comments, it appears that N. won't even consider this other possible background to what Ahmadinejad was saying. Ahmadinejad's comments do make a lot of sense with this background!

And N. Friedman also says this:
"The reason that he does not use the word "Jews" is that, in Europe and the US, to speak directly about Jews is to risk being called an Antisemite, which would undermine his politics."
So it's all about what people in Europe and the US will think? Remember, the speeches of Ahmadinejad that we're analyzing are not only the speeches he gives to UN conferences. We're also paying close attention to everything he says in public in his own country. And the fact that there are 25,000 Jews who are Iranian citizens living in Iran would be a totally understandable motivation for him not to denounce "the Jews" as such. But N. Friedman talks as if it's only because of the sensitivities of "Europe and the US" that Ahmadinejad doesn't do this!

Anonymous said...

This was a really amusing thread. I have to admit, though, I mostly skipped Friedman's comments, only because I've pretty much read the same sort of hasbara-type efforts over and over again at other blogs that are not pro-Zionist.

Arnold, you did a good job. And in the process, I learned a thing a two. Thanks.