January 7, 2009

Holocaust and Nazi Imagery Abound at Anti-Israel Rallies in U.S.

New York, NY, January 5, 2009 … Of all of the recriminations aimed at Israel at scores of demonstrations held across the country in response to its military operation against Hamas, none has been more consistently or emphatically employed than comparisons of Israel to the Nazis, or the situation in Gaza to a "Holocaust."

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said that in-your-face comparisons of Israel's actions to those of Hitler, or signs altering the Jewish Star of David into a swastika, have been a recurring feature at many rallies across the country, including protests held over the past weekend in several major U.S. cities.

Some demonstrations have included expressions of support for Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, or for terrorism against Israel in general, according to ADL. And some protesters at rallies have spewed inflammatory anti-Israel and anti-Semitic rhetoric.

"Freedom of speech is not just a right, it is also a responsibility," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director and a Holocaust survivor. "Comparisons of Israel to the Nazis are a deeply cynical perversion of history, an attempt to turn the tragedy that befell the Jewish people into a bludgeon against Israel.

"While we have come to expect to see such and hear this type of inflammatory rhetoric in Arab and Muslim capitals overseas, it is deeply disturbing that it is appearing in anti-Israel demonstrations at home," said Mr. Foxman. "Offensive Holocaust comparisons and the use of Nazi imagery are deeply offensive and have no place in a civil society such as ours."

ADL is monitoring anti-Israel rallies across the country and is posting updates and visuals to a dedicated Web page.

Examples from the more recent rallies include:

• In New York City's Times Square, six city blocks were filled with anti-Israel demonstrators holding signs that read "Israel: The Fourth Reich;" "Holocaust by Holocaust Survivors;" "Stop Israel's Holocaust;" "Holocaust in Gaza;" and "Stop the Zionist Genocide in Gaza." One sign juxtaposed gruesome images of Holocaust victims and Gazans and read, "Nazi Genocide, Israeli Genocide." The January 3 rally was endorsed by Al-Awda, the Muslim American Society, the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) and several other organizations.

• More than 2,000 individuals demonstrated at Tribune Plaza in Chicago on January 2 before marching across the Michigan Avenue Bridge to the Israeli Consulate. Protesters held mock coffins draped with Palestinian flags and waved signs that included "Stop Israel's Genocide in Gaza" and "Palestinian Holocaust in Gaza Now."

• Demonstrators gathered at the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles waving Palestinian flags and holding signs, including ones that read, "Every Israeli committing the genocide in Gaza is a 'Hitler'." One sign depicted an image of the Israeli flag with the Star of David replaced by a swastika and above the flag, the words, "Upgrade to Holocaust Version 2.0." The December 30 protest was sponsored by the ANSWER Coalition, Al-Awda and several local Muslim organizations.

• Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Tampa, FL, on December 30 carrying signs that compared Israel to Nazi Germany and calling for the dissolution of Israel. One sign declared, "Zionism is Cancer; Radiate it," and other signs featured the word "Nazi" written over an Israeli flag with a swastika.

• Approximately 200 demonstrators gathered at the federal building in San Diego, CA, with signs that read: "Stop the Israeli Third Reich;" "Israel is a Terrorist State;" "Israeli Zionism = Nazism;" "Stop the Israeli Holocaust on Gaza;" "Israel is the old South Africa" and "Stop the Massacre in Gaza." The rally was co-sponsored by Al-Awda, American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the Muslim American Society, the ANSWER Coalition, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and others.

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

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