Benjamin Netanyahu has caused outrage by echoing Adolf Hitler in a tweet warning that the “weak are slaughtered” and the “strong survive”. Writing on the official Twitter account of the Prime Minister of Israel, Netanyahu said:
“The weak crumble, are slaughtered and are erased from history while the strong, for good or for ill, survive. The strong are respected, and alliances are made with the strong, and in the end peace is made with the strong.”
The weak crumble, are slaughtered and are erased from history while the strong, for good or for ill, survive. The strong are respected, and alliances are made with the strong, and in the end peace is made with the strong.
— Prime Minister of Israel (@IsraeliPM) August 29, 2018
The comments, derided as fascist, attracted wide attention on Twitter. Many pointed out that the remarks were reminiscent of Adolf Hitler who also held the weak with extreme disdain. Some quoted Hitler’s speech in Munich in 1923 at a time when he was gaining a following: “The whole of nature is a mighty struggle between strength and weakness, an eternal victory of the strong over the weak.”
Critics unpacked the comments which appeared to reflect Netanyahu’s creed in politics. “The suggestion that ‘the weak’ should be erased from history is a little disturbing coming from a leader of a country, especially one that possesses nuclear weapons”, said one commentator.
“If this is truly the voice of #Israel, it is an insult to the 8 million Jews murdered by ‘similar rhetoric’ in the #Holocaust,” said another incredulous social media user who added “we must not forget what #fascism sounds like”.
Netanyahu made the remarks on Twitter while threatening to use nuclear weapons to “wipe out” the country’s enemies. The threat, which was made while standing next to an atomic reactor last week, also attracted wide scale condemnation.
Netanyahu’s creed appeared in the eyes of many to be that of an ultra-nationalist, echoing the views of the most notorious ultra-nationalist in history. “I’m pretty sure this is what Hitler was thinking when he slaughtered millions of your people”, another incredulous commentator remarked, adding “I’m certain you’d be going bonkers if a Muslim said this.”
Prominent American Jewish Professor Norman Finkelstein observed that Netanyahu’s remarks highlight the deep problem with the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, which is now being embraced by political leaders and is responsible for the political storm within the British Labour Party. Finkelstein pointed out that drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis is taboo.
Does this mean that the obvious juxtaposition of Netanyahu’s and Hitler’s words is anti-Semitic? Put otherwise, whose fault is it if Netanyahu sounds like Hitler?
This is not the first time Netanyahu has made extremely controversial references to Hitler. In 2015 he was accused of whitewashing Hitler’s crimes against the Jewish people by insisting that the leader of the Nazi party had no intention of exterminating Europe’s Jews until a Palestinian persuaded him to do it.