newsIsrael at War

Yad Vashem urges caution in Hamas-Nazi comparisons

“We must be careful until sufficient research is performed on the two ideologies,” the institution's chairman, Dani Dayan, told JNS.

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly visits Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Sept. 11, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly visits Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Sept. 11, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

Yad Vashem is urging caution in comparing this month’s murderous Hamas onslaught on Israel with the systematic mass murder of six million Jews during the Holocaust, in an effort not to belittle or marginalize both the past and the present events.

The remarks by the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem come as Israel is grappling with the deadliest one-day attack against the Jewish people since the Shoah, and as leaders and journalists have drawn unprecedented direct comparisons between the Islamic terrorist group and the Nazis.  

“While the evil and cruel actions perpetrated by Hamas terrorists are reminiscent of those we saw committed by the Nazis and their collaborators during the Holocaust, one must be careful not to jump to conclusions equating the two until sufficient research is done delving into the underlying aspects of these two ideologies,” Yad Vashem chairman Dani Dayan told JNS on Monday in a written statement. 

The academic-like response noted that it was only natural that such parallels are being drawn due to both personal and national emotional connections between this month’s event and the much larger calamity eight decades ago.

“Even now, nearly 80 years later, Jews worldwide walk around with an open wound that is the Holocaust,” the statement said. “This is one possible reason why there are so many comparisons circulating between the massacre of October 7 and the Holocaust. Both wounds are still fresh.”

In a country where the memory of the Holocaust is seared into the national consciousness, the scenes of hundreds of helpless women and children being butchered brought to the fore the images of the Holocaust.

Long seen as a catastrophe so horrific nothing should be compared to it, Israelis are now drawing direct parallels between the genocide perpetrated by the Germans and their helpers and their recent tragedy.

Danny Kushmaro, an anchor on Israel’s top-rated Channel 12 News, spoke for many when he constantly referred to the Hamas terrorists as “those Nazis.”  

Nor was it only Israelis.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called Hamas the new Nazis; and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken referred to his late father-in-law, a Holocaust survivor, during a visit to Israel and said the attacks had “harrowing echoes” of Nazi massacres.

The main difference

Yad Vashem stressed that a key difference between then and now was the existence of the State of Israel and the Israel Defense Forces.

“We are not in the 1930s of pre-World War II Europe because we have a strong State of Israel and a strong and moral army that is dedicated to protect and defend Jews in Israel and around the world,” the statement said.

“Comparisons to historic events must be addressed carefully not to belittle or marginalize both the past and present. If everything is a Holocaust, then what is a Holocaust; if nothing can be compared to a Holocaust, how can we learn to recognize certain trends and ensure that they never repeat themselves,” Yad Vashem said.

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