Something labeled "Subject: Fwd: Some Differences Between Hamas and the Nazi Party" showed up in my inbox Monday night. The forwarded e-mail came from a loved one who'd skimmed its contents and thought it might prove useful if I decided to write about Israel's offensive in Gaza.
"Some Differences Between Hamas and the Nazi Party" turned out to be a recent blog post by Ron Rosenbaum, the author of Explaining Hitler and other books. Here's the first of the curious differences Rosenbaum detailed in his post:
"The Hamas founding covenant explicitly calls for the extermination of all Jews. Hitler never made total extermination an official plank of the the Nazi party platform. (see Holocaust scholar Omar Bartov's article in the February 2, 2004 issue of The New Republic. He points to the extermiationist [sic] 7th article of the founding Hamas covenanat [sic] which cites the Hadith (saying of the prophet). Here is a translation of the Hadith in a deeply disturbing summary of Hamas' exterminationist anti-semitism by the Brown University scholar Andrew Bostom:
"'The Prophet, Allah's prayer and peace be upon him, says: "The hour of judgment shall not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them, so that the Jews hide behind trees and stones, and each tree and stone will say: 'Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him,' except for the Gharqad tree, for it is the tree of the Jews." (Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Number 6985)'
"In other words, Hamas is not committed merely to the political goal of expelling Jews from the land of Israel but to what they believe is a sacred religious goal of exterminating all Jews everywhere behind every tree in creation. (I'm not pinning any hopes on "the Gharqad tree"). I'd suggest those who deceive themselves into believing Hamas is just another Palestinian rights group, maybe a little on the extreme side, read the whole Bostom article. The exterminationist anti-semitism of Hamas is more excessive than Hitler's.
"So that's one difference."
Rosenbaum's piece made me bristle.
Maybe the quickest way to sum that up is just for me to cut and paste, to share with you how I responded to the forwarded e-mail that brought Rosenbaum and his analysis into my Monday evening ...
Thanks for forwarding that to me. It's certainly thought-provoking. It cements my sense that I do not know nearly enough about the ongoing mess to pick sides. There's such a shrillness to so much of what gets said and written that I don't begin to know how to sort it out.
That was certainly the case with this analysis by Ron Rosenbaum. His whole "Differences Between Hamas and the Nazi Party" angle struck me as a gimmick. The piece amounts to a coy invitation to conclude that Hamas is worse than Hitler. But Rosenbaum never really says as much himself. He just refers to these "differences" -- all of which are stacked to show Hamas as more extreme than the Nazis.
For me, Rosenbaum deliberately misses the point.
Bottom line: I want Rosenbaum to take a moment to think of some terrified, innocent Jewish mom being herded into a Nazi gas chamber. Could Rosenbaum possibly claim that that mom would have consoled herself with the thought that things could be worse, that she could have the even greater misfortune to live in a vibrant, industrialized Jewish homeland that's afflicted by a toxic, bellicose, backward neighbor which sometimes lobs rudimentary rockets across the border?
Rosenbaum seems like too smart a guy to believe that genocidal ideology somehow trumps genocidal wherewithal. At least I hope he's too smart for that. Because if not, heaven help the guy who's worse than Hamas. That guy exists. Bet on it.
Somewhere, maybe in some flophouse in Tuscaloosa, there's some drooling, penniless quadriplegic who's so anti-semitic that he even advocates the slaughter of Jewish people who manage to hide behind those Gharqad trees that apparently work like Kryptonite against Hamas. Is that guy -- in all his blustering, impotent Holocaust lust -- worse than Hamas? As such, is he worse than Hitler? Should we nuke him? Should we kill the lady from Meals on Wheels who knowingly brings nourishment to his hate-filled ass? Are his neighbors acceptable collateral damage?
Sorry to be so gruff.
Unable to make sense of this on any geopolitical level, I revert to empathy. What little I know is that Israel's strikes are making orphans and widows and parents who suddenly aren't parents anymore because their kids have just been killed. The Hamas rockets aim to do the same. The whole thing is a pathetic mess and a blot on humankind. I'm distressed by Americans' willingness/eagerness to take sides.
Thanks for doing your best to make sure I was informed if I chose to blog about this. I doubt I will. If I do, my blog post will probably just be a plea for everyone as ignorant as me to refrain from taking sides. So few of us would be able to face the ghosts of the dead and justify why we cheered on Israel or why we made excuses for Hamas. We should shut up.
One man's opinion.
Huffington Post blogger David Quigg lives in Seattle. Click here to visit the blog where he's gradually posting his entire first novel. Click here for an archive of his previous HuffPost work. And finally, as now required by law, his Twitter feed.