The other day I pointed out the Arab political divisions over the response to Gaza. It might be interesting to show how this plays out in one of the key interpretive struggles in the Arab public sphere (and not only Arab, of course): whether to define the current Israeli attack as against “Gaza” or “Hamas.” The stakes are clear. If the attack is defined as against “Gaza”, then what follows is solidarity with the Palestinians and demands to stop the killing. If the attack is defined as against “Hamas”, then what follows is the division of Arab opinion along sharply polarized lines defined by their views towards the Islamist movement. Who’s winning? Thus far, “Gaza” in a landslide… but just as in the 2006 Hezbollah war, the 2008 Iraqi Basra campaign, and all other such battles the interpretive struggle will continue long beyond the hostilities. The “Hamas” frame is being pushed by Israel, the United States, the Egyptian government, Fatah’s Mahmoud Abbas, parts of the Saudi media and generally the familiar quarters of the “official Arab order”. While they can’t ignore the destruction in Gaza, their focus is primarily on Hamas’s “irresponsibility” for breaking the cease-fire, and on its alleged alliances with a variety of enemies of this official order: Iran, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood. For example, here’s the lead story on the crisis on the Saudi al-Arabiya right now, showcasing Hamas missiles, not suffering Gazans: The competing frame focuses on the mass human suffering at the hands of Israeli military assault and the inaction on the part of Arab governments. Thus far, the “Hamas” frame has been absolutely swamped by the “Gaza” frame. The visuals in the Arab media show endless pain, sufffering, and trauma for Gazans of all stripes. Al-Jazeera has taken the lead in pushing the images and the frame, but it is far more pervasive than that — and extends far, far beyond the “pro-Iran” or “Islamist” forces to which the first camp prefers to assign it. Almost every newspaper features front page images of devastation in Gaza, imagery which overwhelms the carefully calculated political arguments of the official Arab camp. The language of choice throughout the media is “massacre”, “slaughter”, “assault”.
Previous posts have clearly shown the that global Muslim Brotherhood response has universally employed the language of “massacre” and therefore played a role in helping promote what Lynch calls the “Gaza frame.” It should also be noted that Al Jazeera English, a station whose management is tied to the Muslim Brotherhood, has been displaying a large graphic titled “War on Gaza” during their coverage of the crisis.
Over the last days, important global Brotherhood leaders have amplified the inflammatory rhetoric about a “War on Gaza” by choosing to employ comparisons between the Israelis and the Nazis during World War II. Tariq Ramadan, the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, and a global Brotherhood leader in his own right who is often described as a “moderate”, invoked the Holocaust and accused the Israelis of massacres and of “murdering” hundreds of Palestinian civilians
Startling—and stomach turning : where Palestinians are involved, memory and sense of proportion fail us. The Jewish conscience, justifiably, has long called upon the world’s powers and upon their citizens to remain vigilant, never to forget in the name of “the duty of memory” the atrocities, massacres and genocides of the past….the Palestinian population has been the victim of inhuman treatment, for weeks, months and years now. Are we to ignore these realities in order to justify the massacres now unfolding before our eyes ? Are the Palestinians responsible for their own misfortune because rockets were launched from Gaza ? The failure of memory is compounded by a loss of all sense of proportion : the number of Israeli victims is now multiplied by a factor of one hundred, two hundred, three hundred Palestinian civilians murdered by Israeli government fiat.
In an article posted on the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood website, “journalist” Khalid Amayreh went to even further extremes calling Israel a “sick and cannibalistic society that is as bestial as Nazi Germany was during the holocaust”
The genocidal Israeli onslaught against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip is strikingly similar to the German blitz in the initial stage of the Second World War. The pretexts are nearly the same and the behaviors of both Nazi and Israeli political and military leadership are nearly identical. And as the German Nazis sought to justify their blitz against their neighbors to the east, using a plethora of carefully concocted lies and pretexts, Israel is doing virtually the same thing. However, unlike the Nazis whose naked aggression was widely condemned around the world, the ongoing Israeli onslaught against the Gaza Strip is being condoned, even celebrated, by a huge media network throughout the western world from Sydney to Los Angeles…..In short, the Israeli onslaught against a people who don’t possess the means to defend themselves and can’t protect their children from Israeli brutality is an act of sheer cowardice. It can be compared with the Nazi SS strafing Jewish protesters with machine gunfire. Israel and her mouthpieces in the West claim that Israeli army, a Jewish Wehrmacht by any standard of objective analysis, is merely reacting to Palestinian projectiles fired from Gaza onto Israeli settlements outside Gaza. Well, this is only a pretext for two many reasons: The so-called Qassam projectiles are symbolic and nearly innocuous weapons that make more noise than damage….I have seen Jews dancing and celebrating rather joyfully the carnage in Gaza. Indeed, a fleeting glance at the Israeli media these days reveals a sick and cannibalistic society that is as bestial as Nazi Germany was during the holocaust. Perhaps I am doing some injustice to the Germans. After all, the Germans were living under a hateful and tyrannical dictatorship that would have brutally crushed any protests by conscientious citizens. But, unlike Nazi Germany, Israel claims to be “a light upon the nations,” “the only democracy in the Middle East” and a civilized western nation. Well, if such is the behavior of “democratic” Israel, just imagine how the Jewish state would behave once the terrorist entity fell in the hands of manifestly fascist forces and parties. I have repeatedly warned in my writings that Israel is capable of committing a genocide or a holocaust against the Palestinian people and other peoples of the Middle East. My warnings are not empty propaganda aimed at besmirching Israel’s image. Likewise, they are not motivated by anti-Semitism or hatred for the Jewish people, many of whom I respect and admire. But the shocking pornographic slaughter in Gaza should be viewed as a clarion vindication of my warnings. Israel simply represents the Nazis of our time.
The Union of Islamic Organizations in Italy, the largest Muslim Brotherhood group in Italy also invoked memories of the Holocaust, accused the Israelis of planning a “final solution for Gaza”: (note: translated source)
“A poisonous media campaign aimed at total misrepresentation of what had happened has prepared a public opinion distracted by the holidays on what Israel was planning for some time: the final solution for Gaza.” This was a note of the Union of Islamic Organizations in Italy…UCOII chairman, Mohamed Nour Dachan … says the Islamic community in Italy Islamic is astonished and saddened about the massacre and called loudly on the Italian government to intervene directly against Israel and international bodies should demand the immediate cessation of actions against the population and the territory of Gaza. “
At a press conference announcing a humanitarian aid campaign for Gaza, U.S. Muslim Brotherhood leaders again alluded to Nazi themes by speaking about a “massacre of Palestinians” and of “savage collective punishment”:
“Targeting civilians on either side is unacceptable. Israel’s war machine is executing an operation that is totally unacceptable by all standards,” said Dr. Maher Hathout, MPAC Senior Advisor. “Our elected officials have a responsibility to stop the massacre of Palestinians, which is taking place using weapons supplied by American taxpayer dollars.” Hussam Ayloush, CAIR-LA Executive Director, added: “We demand that our government take immediate steps to end the immoral and illegal Israeli bombardment of Gaza. We also demand the Bush administration join with the international community in seeking the end to the savage collective punishment of the people of Gaza.”