Matan Vilnai and the ‘shoah’ reference

Matan Vilnai said “The more Qassam fire intensifies and the rockets reach a longer range, [the Palestinians] will bring upon themselves a bigger shoah because we will use all our might to defend ourselves” and unleashed a storm of controversy.

The kitsch anti-Zionists, and nobody else, pretended he was threatening a holocaust against Gazans. Some Israelis said that he was telling Gazans to get their shit together or, what with Israel’s impossible position under fire from long-range missiles, face a disaster of epic proportions.  Others said that it was fine to use ‘shoah’, which only means disaster, as opposed to Ha Shoah – The Shoah – the Holocaust. People left campaigners against antisemitism condemned him for using a word with Holocaust connotations in vain, and playing into the hands of the kitsch anti-Zionists who like to compare Gaza to the Warsaw Ghetto and describe its steadily increasing population as a genocide. When the incursion was underway, Hamas leader Khaled Meshal started parrotting that what was going on was an actual holocaust. Pity each and every non-combatant who met their death, and their families and friends, but that number of casualties, 125 last count, in the most populous place in the world, is evidence that Israel’s incursion was targetted at combatants and calculated to avoid civilian death.

First I wanted to know what ‘shoah’ really meant. I don’t trust the media – why did they translate every word except shoah? Then I had a conversation with somebody who really thought Vilnai shouldn’t have said it, and that it was very wrong to talk like that – in terms which evoke the Holocaust – about a beseiged population on the eve of a threatened military strike from which there is no refuge, and it is at the same time undermining for those of us who are fighting the current proliferation of bad holocaust analogies.  In the end, I think I’m with him on this.


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