Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Top Israeli General Faces Criticism for Comparing Israel to Nazis

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Top Israeli General Faces Criticism for Comparing Israel to Nazis

Article excerpt

A top Israeli general faces criticism after apparently comparing aspects of Israeli society to Nazi-era Germany during a Wednesday speech about the Holocaust.

Speaking at the Tel Yitzhak kibbutz on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, Major-General Yair Golan, the Israel Defense Forces's second-highest-ranking officer, implied there was Nazi- like behavior in Israeli society.

"If there is one thing that is scary in remembering the Holocaust, it is noticing horrific processes which developed in Europe - particularly in Germany - 70, 80, and 90 years ago, and finding remnants of that here among us in the year 2016," he said.

Golan had reportedly referenced Israeli Sgt. Elor Azaria's alleged shooting of a Palestinian attacker who was subdued and on the ground. Sgt. Azaria was charged with manslaughter, a decision criticized by some nationalist Israelis who believe the soldier acted properly.

In his speech, Golan condemned "the aberrant use of weapons" and said the military was committed to "investigate difficult issues impartially," according to Reuters.

"[The Israel Defense Forces] should be proud that it has probed problematic behavior with courage and that it has taken responsibility not just for good, but also for the bad and the inappropriate," Golan said, according to The Jerusalem Post.

Although Golan and the IDF released a statement hours later saying Golan "had no intention" to compare Israel and its army to Nazi Germany, his words reignite a debate that has simmered in the 71 years after the liberation of Auschwitz: Is there ever such a thing as a constructive comparison to the Third Reich?

"Some would say it defames the memories of those who perished," Rutgers University sociologist Judith Gerson, the co-author of "Sociology Confronts the Holocaust," tells The Christian Science Monitor in an interview Thursday. …

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