12 January '16..
The UK Channel 4’s Paul Mason has penned an opinion piece in The Guardian titled “As Mein Kampf returns to Germany, the world is again awash with hatred.” As Hitler’s Mein Kampf is republished in Germany following its copyright expiration (albeit annotated with critical context), it appears eminently reasonable on the part of Mason to look back in history how in a short period of time from penning his racist screed, Hitler went from a fringe extremist to the Nazi leader who unleashed war and genocide on the world.
It is also perfectly legitimate to relate this to current events. Mason writes:
Since 1945, every generation in the educated world has been taught “the lessons” of the rise of Nazism. But surveying the world at the start of 2016 it seems as if we have been learning the wrong lessons. The world is awash with hatred. And since around a quarter of its inhabitants have mobile social media accounts we are leaving a very detailed evidential trail about its spread.
But then comes the nasty surprise:
Israeli social media, for example, has been, since the 2014 Gaza conflict, gripped with narratives of race hate towards Arabs. This, in turn, has fuelled a growing attack on Israeli Jewish human rights organisations; the government is forcing them to declare their “foreign funding”. Now, amid the rising hate speech, the Jerusalem offices of prominent human rights group B’Tselem have gone up in flames – the result, says the group, of an arson attack.
Is it a coincidence that Mason has singled out Israel as the first example of what he believes to be rising hatred and racism? It is a commonly used rhetorical weapon employed by Israel-haters to single out the Jewish people as having failed to learn the lessons of the Holocaust by treating Palestinians in the same way or worse than the Nazis treated the Jews.
Whether consciously or subconsciously, Mason is expressing the view that Jewish Israelis have not learned the lessons of the rise of Nazism.
Despite a situation where Palestinians are constantly incited towards hatred of Jews and terrorism, both on social media and by their own leadership in the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, in Mason’s eyes it is the Israelis who are promoting hatred and racism. And while there may be many who disagree with Israeli government policies, is legislating on the foreign funding of non-governmental organizations really comparable to the excesses of the Nazi regime?
As for the example of the fire at B’Tselem’s offices, had Mason not jumped the gun, he would have known that the blaze appears to have been caused not by a politically motivated arsonist but by an electrical fault in the building.
Mason then goes on to cite genuine human rights abuses in Turkey and Saudi Arabia, including multiple executions and government crackdowns on moderate opposition parties. These are two countries that democratic Israel should not be placed in the same company.
Mason is right to lament the hatred that is spreading on social media platforms and the consequences of hate speech as evidenced by Mein Kampf. By falsely singling out Israel as the most prominent example of this, Mason has revealed where the real hatred lies.
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