Nazism in Palestinian society and the use of Nazi symbols

  • On August 14, 2021, Palestinians from the village of Bayta held a demonstration near the outpost of Eviatar in Samaria. The outpost was evacuated in July 2021, but as part of the agreement with the Israeli government, the land is still controlled by the IDF, an issue which is currently being examined by the Civilian Authority. During they demonstration they ignited rags soaked in kerosene forming a swastika inside a Magen David.
  • It was a display planed in advance by the Palestinians, who prepared it, brought it to the location of the demonstration and set it on fire, part of the night harassment units’ activities to protest the establishment of the outpost. The Palestinian Authority (PA) and Fatah support such demonstrations and always deliberately ignored such displays. Videos of the display and the demonstrators, including children, holding torches, were uploaded to the social networks and broadcast by Hamas’ al-Quds TV.
  • On September 25, 2021, Israeli soldiers uploaded a video to the social networks showing a Nazi flag hanging from the power lines on the outskirts of the Palestinian village of Bayt Umar, near Hebron. Several hours later an IDF force arrived and shot the flag down. A Nazi flag was also flown in Bayt Umar in July 2014.
Nazi swastika flag on the outskirts of Bayt Umar (picture by Avraham Weiss for Tazpit News Agency, July 6, 2014).    Nazi swastika flag in Bayt Umar (social networks, September 25, 2021).
Right: Nazi swastika flag in Bayt Umar (social networks, September 25, 2021). Left: Nazi swastika flag on the outskirts of Bayt Umar (picture by Avraham Weiss for Tazpit News Agency, July 6, 2014).
  •  On October 22, 2021, swastikas were painted on a roadblock on the Hawwara road, south of Nablus (Twitter account of Zvi Sukkot, October 22, 2021).
Swastikas spray-painted on a the concrete blocks of the roadblock (Twitter account of Zvi Sukkot, October 22, 2021).
Swastikas spray-painted on a the concrete blocks of the roadblock
(Twitter account of Zvi Sukkot, October 22, 2021).
  • On June 29, 2021, a Palestinian child attending a Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) military training camp (the Palestinian version of summer camp) in the Gaza Strip was interviewed for the organization’s al-Quds al-Yawm TV station. To the Jews he said, “We asked Hitler why he left some of you alive. He did it to show how wicked you are. We will come for you from under the ground to spread terror in your hearts and above the ground we will mangle your bodies with our rockets. Go run to your shelters, you mice, you sons of Jewish women.”
Camper at a PIJ training camp (MEMRI, June 29, 2021).      Camper at a PIJ training camp (MEMRI, June 29, 2021).
Camper at a PIJ training camp (MEMRI, June 29, 2021).

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  • Such events reflect the Palestinian attitude, including the government’s official attitude, towards Nazism and its link to Jews and Zionism. Generally speaking, it has five aspects:
    • Defaming the Jews: It is possible to understand Hitler and the Nazis, because the [Ashkenazi] Jews [in Europe] were so detestable and loathsome the Europeans tried to get rid of them. Hitler did not kill all the Jews so that people who came after him, such as the Palestinians, could see for themselves that the Jews were inherently evil, understand and perhaps justify the Nazis’ actions. On occasion Mahmoud Abbas uses Nazi themes in his speeches without specifically referring to Nazis.[1] Over the past decade Nazi themes such as the glorification of Hitler have appeared in children’s books published in the PA and on the official Fatah Facebook page. In some instances, as happened recently in the Gaza Strip, the themes are used as a call to the Palestinians to finish what Hitler started. The message is plainly sent to the Palestinian target audience but downplayed and glossed over for foreign consumption.
    • The claim that Israel acts like Nazi Germany: Israel is accused of treating the Palestinians exactly or almost exactly as the Nazis treated the Jews. Zionism is the new Nazism (and the new apartheid), and the Palestinians are the new victims. The victims of Nazi racism have become Nazi racists themselves. That is the message sent by senior Palestinian figures, the Palestinian media and the many demonstrations, including the one held near the evacuated outpost of Eviatar. Senior Fatah figure Jibril Rajoub, who is a possible replacement for Mahmoud Abbas, repeatedly calls the Jews “the new Nazis.” The message is aimed at people overseas who are unaware of the actual facts, and resonates with the left, including its anti-Semites, around the world. The claims have two objectives, one to delegitimize the existence of Israel as a Jewish state, and the other to represent the Palestinians as the new victims of contemporary Nazism in order to enlist international support.
    • The claim that the Zionists were Nazi collaborators: The Palestinians accuse the Zionists of collaborating with the Nazis, helping them establish their regime and even kill Jews, in the belief that it would cause the Jews of Europe to emigrate to Israel [sic] to escape the fate awaiting them.[2] That twisted claim was the basis for Mahmoud Abbas’ PhD thesis, “The ties between Nazism and Zionism, 1935-1942,” and his book, The Other Face: the Secret Relation between the Nazis and the Zionist Movement, a reworking of his doctoral dissertation. Its main theme is “Zionism, the beginning and the end.” According to Mahmoud Abbas, the many attempts made by Zionists to utilize and manipulate Nazism to increase the willingness of the Ashkenazi Jews in Europe to emigrate to Israel, i.e., Mandatory Palestine, had little success. The source of the theme was apparently Russian communist propaganda from the 1950s and ’60s.
    • Accusations that Israel cynically exploits the Holocaust: Israel’s objective, according to the Palestinians, is to justify its positions and policies, and enlist international support. The Holocaust was admittedly terrible but Israel exaggerates it, and in any case the Palestinians and Arabs had no part in it. Therefore they should not have to suffer at the hands of the Zionists because the Jews suffered at the hands of the Nazis.
    • The adoption of Nazi symbols to show Palestinian hatred of the Jews: The Palestinians have adopted the swastika and the Nazi salute, and examples of such practices surface from time to time. Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem at the time and an ardent opponent of Zionism, collaborated with the Nazis and met with Hitler, a fact rarely mentioned in the Palestinian narrative, but neither criticized nor expressed with remorse.
  • It is difficult to assess how widespread or deeply ingrained such ideas are within Palestinian society or in Palestinian political circles. Even the most limited and mild attempts to challenge them are met with sharp criticism. For example, the vehicle of Professor Muhammad Dajani Daoudi, who visited Auschwitz in 2014, was torched, he received death threats, the university he taught at, the al-Quds University in the PA, shirked all responsibility and he was forced to flee to the United States. No Palestinian politician came to his defense. The five aspects noted above are part and parcel of the policy of indoctrination and incitement to hatred of Zionists implemented by the PA and most of the Palestinian organizations, and all fit the definition of anti-Semitism of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).

[1] At the Palestinian National Council meeting on April 30, 2018, Mahmoud Abbas gave a long speech he called a "history lesson," in which he claimed that the European Jews' social activities, banking and high-interest money-lending were why they were hated. He used similar themes at a meeting of the PLO's Central Council on January 14, 2018, claiming the State of Israel was a Western colonial settlement project backed by Christian countries that hated Jews and wanted to get rid of them, and the desire of the colonial powers to spread fear throughout the Arab world.
[2] The Nazis rose to power in the 1930s, the State of Israel was declared in 1948.