Recently in England, four Muslim-staffed committees appointed to advise Prime Minister Blair on issues related to Islam proposed that the Holocaust commemoration be folded into a ”Genocide Memorial Day” that will also include such crimes as the slaughter of the Tutsis in Rwanda and the massacres of Bosnian Muslims by the Milosevic regime. The other ”genocides” for which British Muslims want recognition include the Israeli killings of Palestinians.
Unfortunately, even against the bloody backdrop of the 20th century, there are strong reasons to regard the Nazi extermination of the Jews as a unique atrocity. It was the first and so far the only time that, as Cornell University historian Stephen Katz put it in his 1994 book The Holocaust in Historical Context, ”a state set out, as a matter of intentional principle and actualized policy, to annihilate physically every man, woman, and child belonging to a specific people.”
Over 4,000 Palestinians have been killed since the renewal of violence five years ago. Some were completely innocent victims; others were fighters, violent protesters, or suicide bombers. (Nearly 1,000 Israelis have died as well.) This death toll is tragic; but to call it ”genocide” is to cheapen the word. Any equation between the Holocaust and Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians is absurd. The effect of such a parallel is not to promote ”inclusiveness” – it is to erase and minimize the tragedy of the Jews as past victims of genocide by slanderously assigning them an equal role as its present-day perpetrators.
The infection of anti-Jewish bigotry is alarmingly widespread in the Muslim community today, not only in predominantly Muslim and Arab countries but in Western democracies as well. Is it plausible to believe that a state of Israel within its 1948 borders would be less hated by those who believe all of its land rightfully belongs to Muslims?