Give Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad credit. He makes no bones about his hatred of Israel. In his latest attack, reported in YNET, he warned: "Just as (Israel) was created, it can be dismantled."
Denying Israel's legitimacy, he charged that "for 60 years, they have told lies and tried to defraud nations in order to create the germ called the Zionist regime" and added, "Zionism contributes nothing other than aggression, mass murder, terror and threats."
At the Durban 2009 anti-racism UN Conference in Geneva, Ahmadinejad's threats and denigration of the Holocaust led to a walkout and/or boycott of most European nations, the US and Canada. But that did not top some of his 180-strong entourage from also publicly castigating Israel as a Nazi, apartheid regime, with even Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Lauraete Elie Wiesel verbally attacked as a "Zionazi."
Never mind the mental gymnastics needed for Iranian Holocaust deniers to accuse Israel of being Nazis -- casting victims as victimizers is a powerful, emotive and effective propaganda tool.
The "Israel as Nazi" canard was first introduced by the Soviet Union's propaganda machine four decades ago to curry favor with Arab states who were trying to do away with Israel long before the question of a Palestinian state was ever raised. In 2009, it has gained new traction and believers far beyond the Mullah-controlled Iran. It was the mantra of pro-Hamas demonstrators from London to Los Angeles, and was delivered to thousands of emails near you ever since the Israeli incursion into Gaza last winter.
Now, two students at UC Santa Barbara have raised their voices in protest after their Sociology Professor sent them an unsolicited digital visual hate spam comparing Israelis to Nazis.
Many critics, myself among them, have labeled that email anti-Semitic.
But when exactly does critique morph into hate?
Human rights icon Natan Sharansky points to 3 "D"s to help identify when legitimate criticism crosses over to anti-Semitism: Double Standard, Deligitimization and Demonization. The cut and paste visual hit job characterizing Israel and Israelis as Nazi-like not only denigrates the 6 million Jewish victims of the Nazi genocide, but also clearly meets the standards of each of the 3 "D"s.
All this has led Sol Lieber, an 85 year old survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising and the Majdanek and Auschwitz Death Camps to offer to pay for this professor to travel with him to Auschwitz to (re)learn the differences between the Holocaust Kingdom and the Palestinian/Israel conflict.
For the rest us, this much should be clear: There is nothing wrong with criticizing Israeli policies; quite the contrary, as the Middle East's only democracy, Israel's actions generate healthy debate and even denunciation every day from within and without its borders.
But those who knowingly choose to mis-characterize Israel's self-defense as "Nazi" are factually and historically wrong and morally repugnant.