Other People’s Crimes: The Politics of Holocaust Denial

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MPACUK Facebookby Lenna

Harry’s Place has published an article lambasting the Muslim Public Affairs Committee of the UK (MPACUK) for using Holocaust imagery to warn about the dangers of divisive “us vs. them” political propaganda. Apparently MPACUK believed “Never Again” was a universal message that applied to Muslims as well as Jews.

Aside from violating an apparent monopoly on Holcaust imagery, it seems Harry’s Place has cried foul in part because MPACUK’s Asghar Bukhari has in the past supported Holocaust revisionist David Irving, and apparently has called upon MPACUK supporters to do the same. Even if this is true, I don’t think this should permanently disqualify MPACUK from invoking the horrors of the Nazi Holocaust, but I do think “Holocaust Denial” is morally repugnant and strategically foolish.

For one thing, “denying” the Holocaust is still a means of keeping it in focus. I’m not a fan of historical grudge holding, nor of the concept of collective guilt and punishment. Most Germans today were not even born when the Nazis were in power. I don’t believe in blaming “the West” nor the whole of Christendom in general either. Unfortunately mine is a minority view. The prevailing “Clash of Civilizations” narrative pits “The West” against “Islam,” where historical events can and are routinely invoked to demonize the “other.”

Propagandists devoted to demonizing Islam have tried to shift the blame for the Holocaust to Muslims by pointing out the British-appointed Mufti of Jerusalem supported Nazi Germany. When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently tried to shift blame for the Holocaust to Palestinians in particular, and Muslims more generally, it was none other than German Chancellor Angela Merkel who publicly clarified that Germany was responsible for the Holocaust.

Netanyahu’s failed attempt at blame shifting is just another form of agenda-driven historical revisionism. It seems too many people want to manipulate the horrors of the Holocaust to serve their personal agendas.

Does it strike anyone else as odd there are a substantial number of Muslims who actively deny or diminish the Holocaust? In the game of collective guilt and punishment, the Holocaust was a Western affair. Strategically, as long as we’re playing the “Clash of Civilizations” game, wouldn’t it make more sense to say to the Westerners pointing fingers, “Yes, the Holocaust was really awful. You guys should be ashamed of yourselves. And by the way, you had no right to make the Palestinians pay for Western crimes with their patrimony.”

If the Holocaust had been a Muslim affair, do you think Western critics would deny or diminish its significance? I suspect in their campaign to demonize Islam, “critics” would use that historical event as an eternal bludgeon.

I realize that some Muslims want to deny or diminish the Holocaust because it generated sympathy for Jews that led to the “gifting” of Palestine as recompense. But denying the suffering of the Jewish people under the Nazis does nothing to advance the cause of Palestine.

I remember when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the Holocaust was a “myth” and that forbidding the questioning of this historical event was a demonstration of Western hypocrisy with regard to free speech. I got his point: We can all slaughter one another’s sacred cows and pretend it’s noble. But I thought it would have been much better if he would said we *could* question the Holocaust to prove a political point, *but* we won’t because that’s morally wrong, and thus we are going to set a better example. To me that would have been a powerful message, absent the pitfalls of his actual approach.

The Palestinian cause is a just cause. Moral high ground should never be sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. Especially when the political efficacy of that approach is questionable at best, and in my view, counterproductive. 

The Qur’an tells Muslims not to let our anger make us unjust. It’s possible to fully acknowledge the historical suffering of the Jewish people under the Nazis, and also to acknowledge the suffering of the Palestinians languishing under Zionist colonial oppression. The two are not mutually exclusive.

That said, I see nothing wrong with MPACUK invoking the image of the Holocaust to warn against turning Muslims into the Europe’s “New Jews.” The current trend of demonizing Muslims as a fifth column is dangerous, and Harry’s Place itself is among the worst offenders.

This post is part of the Talking Points initiative.


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