Geopolitics

Why Netanyahu’s Holocaust Theory Sounds So Ugly In Germany

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has sparked outrage with his thesis that a Palestinian gave Adolf Hitler the idea to annihilate the Jews. It is, of course, utter nonsense. But from a German perspective, there is another problem.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem in May
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem in May
Alan Posener

BERLIN â€" It is the most narcissistic insult possible to receive for Germany, a country so stained by its history.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated this week that it was not Adolf Hitler and his willing aides who had conceived of the plans for the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question,” but rather some Arab. But not just any old Arab: The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini himself was supposed to have offered the idea for the mass slaughter of the Jews.

We, in Germany, have become accustomed to the fact that Chinese and Russian historians have divested the Führer of the rank of biggest mass murderer of all time by suggesting Mao Zedong and Joseph Stalin (in that order) for the top place instead. But the Holocaust was a singular event because of its factory-like efficiency, suggested former President of the Republic of Germany, Richard von Weizsäcker. “Advancement through technology ..."

Now, of all people, a Jew has come along to divest the Aryans of their copyright, if you like, and pass it on to another Semite. “Hitler did not want to exterminate the Jews, he wanted to banish them,” according to Netanyahu, speaking at the World Zionist congress in Jerusalem. But in November 1941, the Grand Mufti came to Berlin. “If you banish the Jews,” al-Husseini is supposed to have told Hitler, “they will all come to Palestine.” But what was he supposed to do with them, asked a helpless Hitler, to which the Grand Mufti reportedly replied: “Burn them all!”

Thankfully, this conversation is nothing but a figment of someone's imagination. German troops had already started to systematically exterminate Jews in Poland and the Ukraine as early as August 1941. It is true nevertheless that not only was the Grand Mufti eager to hear of the idea of the extermination of the Jews, but was delighted by the arrival of Erwin Rommel’s troops in Palestine, where the local Arabs â€" Muslims, Christians, Socialists and Nationalists â€" were ready to lend a hand in the German’s dirty work.

As a German you are still highly regarded to this day in some Arab countries due to the Holocaust, which can further the diplomacy of “traditionally good” relationships. But when it comes to anti-Semitism, and even terrorism, Arabs have proven themselves to be copycats rather than innovators.

Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini and Adolf Hitler in 1941 â€" Photo: German Federal Archives

Anti-Semitism has taken and still takes many forms. The Poles wanted to get rid of their Jews in the 1930s and, preferably, ship them to Palestine â€" which is why they were pro-Zionist and even secretly trained Zionist fighters. But the Arabs wanted to get rid of their Jews, too, and organised pogroms. The British on the other hand thought that the Zionists did not have any oil, as opposed to the Arabs, and gave into anti-Semitism, despite the fact that they had promised Palestine to the Jews. The Americans wanted to take as few Jewish refugees as possible, as did the French. All of these people pursued constricted, nationalistic interest, which, at times, were contradicting one another but which led to the Jews being handed over to the German butchers.

Because Hitler’s anti-Semitism was actually not limited by the borders of his own home nations, it was global and “ecological,” according to Timothy Snyder’s new book Black Earth.

In his book Mein Kampf, written shortly after World War I, Hitler already proclaimed the Jews to be a “pestilence,” a “bacillus,” worse than the Black Death, they were the embodiment of “abnormality” that infects other nations and “killed the future.” The world would only be safe if they were banished form the face of the Earth. It is the holy mission of the Aryan race to do just that: “By fighting the Jews, I fulfill the work of the Lord.” Not a single Muslim had such radical thoughts back then.

But what about Hitler’s plans of “emigration?” Hitler indeed thought up to the end of 1941 that the Jewish Question could be solved by simply banishing the Jews â€" to Siberia to be precise, where the Jews were to die of malnutrition and cold. The infamous Wansee conference still assumed that the Jews were to be transported further and further East by having them build roads in that direction. But the survivors of that trek were to receive “special treatment,” namely that they were to be murdered.

But what convinced Hitler to give up on this plan was the ever more apparent defeat in the East, after the failure of taking Moscow, rather than any supposed suggestions uttered by the Grand Mufti. He wanted to at least win the more important war before Germany fell, the war against the Jews, if he could not win against the Allies.

Netanyahu’s interpretation of history is shaped by the opportunism that defines his every action. Through exculpation of the German nation, and by accusing a Muslim, he hoped to win friends among Europe’s Islamophobes. Even if you understand his motivation, his action is so utterly wrong. Every racist is, in the end, also an anti-Semite. To love Israel because it is attacked by Muslims would be the worst reason to do so. Netanyahu's narcissistic insult is made worse because he thinks we are stupid enough to fall for his trap.

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Art installation "Greetings From Giza" by French artist and photographer JR faces the pyramids of Giza in Egypt

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 你好*

Welcome to Tuesday, where violence erupts after Sudan's military coup, Australia finally gets onboard with climate change goals, and Harrison Ford stars in Raiders of the Lost Credit Card. From Bogota, we also see what the capture of drug kingpin Otoniel means for Colombia, a country long stained by cocaine trafficking.

[*Nĭhǎo - Mandarin Chinese]

💡  SPOTLIGHT

Saving the planet is really a question of dopamine

The elite of the ecologically minded are set to descend on Glasgow next week for the Cop 26 conference on climate change. But beyond debating policy prescriptions, French daily Les Echos explores the role our own brains have on making the right choices for the planet:

Almost every week, a new scientific study alerts us to the degradation of the environment. And yet, we continue not to change anything fundamental in our systems of production and habits of consumption. Are we all suffering from blindness, or poisoned by denial?

In his popular books Le Bug humain (The Human Bug) and Où est le sens? (Where is the Sense?), Sébastien Bohler, a journalist in neuroscience and psychology, provides a much more rational explanation: The mechanism responsible for our propensity to destroy our natural environment is in fact a small, very deep and very primitive structure of our brain called the striatum.

This regulator of human motivation seems to have been programmed to favor behaviors that ensure the survival of the species.

Since the dawn of humanity, gathering information about our environment, feeding ourselves, ensuring the transmission of our genes through sexual intercourse and asserting our social status have all been rewarded with a shot of dopamine, the "pleasure hormone."

Nothing has changed since then; except that, in our society of excess, there is no limit to the satisfaction of these needs. This leads to the overconsumption of food and addictions to everything from sex to social media — which together account for much of the world's destructive agricultural and energy practices.

No matter how much we realize that this is leading to our downfall, we can't help but relapse because we are prisoners of the dopamine pump in the striatum, which cannot be switched off.

According to Bohler, the only way out is to encourage the emergence of new values of sobriety, altruism and slowness. If adopted, these more sustainable notions could be recognized by the striatum as new sources of dopamine reward. But there's the challenge of promoting inspiring stories that infuse them with value.

Take the photo-collage exhibition "J'agis ici... et je m'y colle" ("I'm taking action here... and I'm sticking to it"), a collection of life-size portraits of residents committed to the energy transition, displayed on the walls of the French coastal city of La Rochelle.

Backed by the French National Center for Street Arts, photographer Martin Charpentier may be employing artistic techniques, but he's also tinkering with neuroscience in the process.

Stefano Lupieri / Les Echos

🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• Sudan in chaos following military coup: After Sudan's military seized power from the transitional government, defiant anti-coup protesters have returned to the streets of the capital city Khartoum, for a second consecutive day. At least seven people have been killed and 140 injured. Coup leader General Al-Burhan has announced a state of emergency across the country, while the military cut off access to the internet and closed roads, bridges, and Khartoum's airport. Washington condemned the coup and suspended aid, and the U.N. Security Council was expected to discuss Sudan behind closed doors later today.

• Egypt lifts state of emergency in force since 2017: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, announced the end of a four-year-old state of emergency, undoing powers that had given the government sweeping authority to quash protests, make arrests, search people's homes without warrants, and control everyday life in the most populous Arab country.

• Platforms take down Bolsonaro video linking vaccine and AIDS: Facebook, Instagram and YouTube have removed an anti-vaccine video from their respective platforms posted by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Beyond blocking the video, in which Bolsonaro falsely linked the COVID-19 vaccine with developing AIDS, YouTube went further and suspended the far-right leader for a week.

• COVID update: The U.S. will launch a new travel system on November 8, imposing new vaccine requirements for most foreign national travellers and lifting severe travel restrictions over China, India and much of Europe. Meanwhile, authorities in northern China are reimposing lockdown, and other emergency measures as COVID-19 infections spread to 11 provinces.

• Australia pledges net zero emissions by 2050: As one of the world's largest emitters of greenhouse gases per capita and a major exporter of fossil fuels such as coal, Australia has finally committed to becoming carbon-neutral by 2050. This is a target already adopted by most nations heading to next week's COP26 international climate conference, but that Australia had so far refused to pledge.

• Japanese princess loses royal status over wedding: Japan's Princess Mako married her boyfriend Kei Komuro, giving up her royal status. Under Japanese law, female imperial family members lose their status upon marriage to a "commoner" although male members do not.

Raiders of the Lost Credit Card: A tourist returned the credit card of American actor Harrison Ford, who had lost it in Sicily while shooting scenes for the latest Indiana Jones movie.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

"Out of control," titles German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, reporting on the release of a series of articles by a consortium of 17 U.S. news outlets, called the "Facebook Papers," that reinforce whistleblower Frances Haugen's claims that the social media giant is prioritizing profits over the well being of its users and society.

#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

$1.01 trillion

After striking a deal to sell 100,000 electric vehicles to car rental firm Hertz, Elon Musk's Tesla has joined Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Google's Alphabet in the club of companies that have reached a $1 trillion valuation.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

What the capture of a drug kingpin means for Colombia

While the capture of Otoniel, Colombia's most wanted drug trafficker, made global headlines, Bogotá daily El Espectador writes about the significance of the news for a country that has battled narcotrafficking for decades.

👮 The arrest of the Colombian mobster Dairo Antonio Úsuga David, a.k.a. "Otoniel," is a victory for Colombian intelligence, law-and-order forces and the broader fight against crime. Details of the eight-year-long pursuit of the head of the Gulf Clan, of the tireless and meticulous work, testify to the capabilities that the police and army have managed to develop in the fight against the narco-trafficking that has long been a stain on Colombia.

🇨🇴🇲🇽 Otoniel is responsible for a criminal organization with more than 3,800 members and influence on 12 departments and 128 districts in Colombia (though data from the Bogotá-based Peace and Reconciliation Foundation counts 211 districts). The Gulf Clan sends half the drugs going out of Colombia, and is the main exporter to Mexico. Its ties to the Mexican cartel chief Joaquín "el Chapo" Guzmán are well-documented — and Otoniel had aspired to fill the power vacuum left by Guzmán's capture.

⚖️ Some have observed that the ensuing power vacuum will engender more violence, which is true. But we are, in any case, far from eliminating drug trafficking in Colombia or cutting its tentacles across public life. That shows the limitations of the hard-line response to drugs, when we have seen it is not enough. Still, it is essential in any fight against crime for the state to show its operational capabilities. The message is clear: not even drug overlords are above the law in Colombia.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

"I love Mako. I would like to spend my one life with the person I love."

— Kei Komuro said during a news conference after his wedding with Japan's Princess Mako, the niece of the current emperor and the sister of the likely future sovereign. The princess lost her royal status as a result of her marriage with Komuro, a "commoner."

📸  PHOTO DU JOUR

An art installation "Greetings From Giza" by French artist and photographer JR faces the pyramids of Giza in Egypt, as part of the 2021 exhibition "'Forever Is Now," the first international art exhibition to take place there — Photo: Balkis Press/Abaca/ZUMA

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

Send all commoner and royal well wishes to Mako and Kei — and let us know what the news looks like from your corner of the world! info@worldcrunch.com

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