Category Archives: Holocausts

Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Getrank: Coke was it

Yep, Americans who arrived in Berlin for the 1936 Olympics were greeted by a familiar brand and a slogan that mixed the familiar with the unfamiliar.

The two words normally following ein Volk and ein Reich [one people and one empire] were ein Fuhrer, but the folks at Coca Cola substituted the German for one drink, followed by the familiar “Coke is it.”

BLOG Nazi coke

It wasn’t the first time Coke played with symbolism near and dear to Nazis, although their 1925 use of the swastika as a key fob in the U.S. may owe more to the sigil’s use as a traditional good luck charm rather than to the Nazi Party, still a German fringe movement at the time:

BLOG Nazi Coke II

When the war began, German bottlers couldn’t import the coca and cola nuts needed to produce the brown beverage, so the company’s chemists came up with a substitute.

Earlier this year, on Fanta’s 75th anniversary, German television featured a commemorative ad, celebrating those “good old times” when Germany’s innovators created such a marvelous beverage.

The ad didn’t sit too well with countless Germans and countless others who lost parents, grandparents, spouses, and siblings during those “good old times,” and the ad was pulled and the requisite apology issued.

Still, major American corporations [including GM and IBM] and banks [including the one which George H.W. Bush’s father helped set up and profited from] made lots of money off the Third Reich. Indeed, it was IBM’s mechanical computers that enabled to Nazis to keep track of Jews in Germany and lands the Nazis conquered and send them on their ways to death camps, where more records were compiled by IBM’s Hollerith machines.

Native Americans, genocide, and U.S. culture

The latest edition of Empire Files, Abby Martin’s new series for Telesur English, looks at the ongoing clash between Native American culture and the shifting patterns of intolerance and sometimes acceptance in mainstream culture.

Two national holidays epitomize the conflict. First, on 12 October comes Columbus Day, a celebration of colonialism carrying the implicit assumption that the Americas lacked any significant culture before the arrival of European imperialists.

The second holiday, is, of course, Thanksgiving, a symbolic recreation of a feast made possible for starving British colonialists by the intercession of Native Americans who had helped the hapless Puritans adapt to the land.

The troubled legacy continues to flare in the painful exploitation of Native American history by sports teams and the military, and in the ongoing contestation of Native American rights to control their own land and lives.

This episode features an extended conversation with historian and activist Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Professor Emerita of Ethnic Studies at California State University and an internationally scholar.

From Telesur English:

The Empire Files: Native American Genocide with Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

Program notes:

Each November, Americans celebrate a mythical version of U.S. history. Thanksgiving Day’s portrayal of the experience of Native Americans under the boot of settler-colonialism is one of the Empire’s most cherished falsehoods.

To hear about the true story of native peoples’ plight – from genocide to reeducation – Abby Martin interviews Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, renowned indigenous scholar and activist, about her most recent book “An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States.”

Israel threatens Palestinians with death by gas

An armored sound truck moves slowly down a village street, it’s speakers blaring a message: Stop resisting or we will gas you all to death. “The children, the youth, the old people, we won’t leave any of you alive.”

So where did it happen? And who was broadcasting the lethal warning?

If you guess that, perhaps, the message came from SS troops in a Russian shtetl in the summer of 1942 you would be wrong .

The warning came from the Israeli army on 29 October 2015, and the targets of the message were Palestinians in the Aida Refugee Camp, where youths had been throwing rocks at Israeli troops.

The stunning images are featured in the final seconds of the latest edition of Empire Files, Abby Martin’s show for Telesur English, featuring an interview with Max Blumenthal on the reason for rising Palestinian resistance in Israel and the lands under its occupation.

What is most chilling are the members of the rising Israeli neofascist Right, including a Minister of Justice who has openly called for genocide of Palestinians.

From Empire Files:

Max Blumenthal: Palestine’s Rebellion, Israel’s Fascism

Program notes:

Abby Martin interviews journalist and author Max Blumenthal on the current situation in Palestine and the Israeli occupation. This episode covers what is behind today’s rebellion, the rising dominance of far-right, ultra-racist ideology in Israel, eye-witness accounts of the aftermath of the Gaza war, and the Israeli government’s fear of Palestinian resistance.

Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and author of the New York Times Best Seller “Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel”, and the recently-published “The 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza.”

Suppressing academic dissent for a foreign power

Freedom of speech faces a massive assault by a foreign power and their domestic allies on America’s college campuses.

The war in the First Amendment is being waged on behalf of an increasingly  belligerent and isolated foreign power which has forged an alliance with the same forces of the radical right which had traditionally been dangerous foes of its inhabitants.

That foreign power is, of course Israel, a nation which has in the course of a few decades become the tail wagging the American dog.

And now an right wing Israeli politician is literally altering American foreign and domestic policy to comply with his imperial ambitions by redefining a social evil into a bludgeon to beat those who decry the Israeli imperial ambitions.

Forthwith, Natan Sharanksky‘s 3D definition of antisemitism:

I believe that we can apply a simple test – I call it the “3D” test – to help us distinguish legitimate criticism of Israel from anti-Semitism.

The first “D” is the test of demonization. When the Jewish state is being demonized; when Israel’s actions are blown out of all sensible proportion; when comparisons are made between Israelis and Nazis and between Palestinian refugee camps and Auschwitz – this is anti- Semitism, not legitimate criticism of Israel.

The second “D” is the test of double standards. When criticism of Israel is applied selectively; when Israel is singled out by the United Nations for human rights abuses while the behavior of known and major abusers, such as China, Iran, Cuba, and Syria, is ignored; when Israel’s Magen David Adom, alone among the world’s ambulance services, is denied admission to the International Red Cross – this is anti-Semitism.

The third “D” is the test of delegitimization: when Israel’s fundamental right to exist is denied – alone among all peoples in the world – this too is anti-Semitism.

That the standards are riddled with logical fallacies should be self evident, but let us give a few examples.

Comparison of Israeli policies to those of the Nazis can be perfectly legitimate, as in Hitler’s sequential gobbling up of territory, declaring each annexation the last, right up until. . . Likewise, comparison the inaction of Nazi troops to the lethal beatings of dozens of Jews by native antisemites in Kaunas, Lithuania, during the earliest days of Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union is 1941 to the 1982 massacre of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Palestinians and Shiites in Lebanese Sabra and Shatila refugee campaigns by Christian militiamen as Israeli troops stood by and watched. Likewise, both Nazi Germany and Israeli engaged in campaigns for Lebensraum [one state seeking a Großdeutschland, the other a Greater Israel], and both states were self-defined ultimate havens for those of an elect and exclusive identity. While, unlike the Nazis, the Israelis haven’t engaged in a campaign of unrelenting genocide, they have, like the Nazis, created a a state with dual class of citizens. So some comparisons are perfectly, just as are some notable events in the history of the United States, as many African Americans and Native Americans can testify.

As for double standards, consider the Israeli government’s ruthless pursuit of critics of its own policies while simultaneously adopting policies with Apartheid-era South Africa and the ruthlessly repressive Saudi regime. And consider America’s own double standard toward Israel, one that Sharansky and his political bedfellows don’t condemn: The refusal of the U.S. to demand that Israel comply with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

Equating deligitimation of Israel with antisemitism is to declare that Jews don’t exist apart from a geographical entity, a argument that, on its face, negates nearly two millennia of  Jewish history.

Real antisemitism is essentialism, the claim that Jews qua Jews are fundamentally different, and as such are to be excluded or annihilated, or barring those extremes, penalized simply for existing. Prior to the Enlightenment, antisemitism was more theological than essential, and while European Jews were reviled as accursed Christ-killers, confined to ghettos, and forced to wear distinguished garb, hats, or badges [the Nazis weren’t the first to mandate the wearing of stars], Jews could escape Christian antisemitism to a significant degree simply by converting. Racial antisemitism of the sort practiced by the Nazis allowed for no escape, and Germans whose Jewish parents had converted long before they were born were marked for death as surely as the most observant of the Orthodox.

Make no mistake: Real antisemitism is despicable. But Sharansky’s redefinition is simply a justification of ethnic imperialism.

Nonetheless, relentless pressure from Israel and its political machinery in the U.S., epitomized by not limited to AIPAC, has led to the adoption of Sharanky’s potted definition by the U.S. Department of State.

And now that definition msy be coming to the University of California, as Glenn Greenwald notes at The Intercept:

One of the most dangerous threats to campus free speech has been emerging at the highest levels of the University of California system, the sprawling collection of 10 campuses that includes UCLA and UC Berkeley. The university’s governing Board of Regents, with the support of University President Janet Napolitano and egged on by the state’s legislature, has been attempting to adopt new speech codes that — in the name of combating “anti-Semitism” — would formally ban various forms of Israel criticism and anti-Israel activism.

Under the most stringent such regulations, students found to be in violation of these codes would face suspension or expulsion. In July, it appeared that the Regents were poised to enact the most extreme version, but decided instead to push the decision off until September, when they instead would adopt non-binding guidelines to define “hate speech” and “intolerance.”

One of the Regents most vocally advocating for the most stringent version of the speech code is Richard Blum, the multi-millionaire defense contractor who is married to Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California. At a Regents meeting last week, reported the Los Angeles Times, Blum expressly threatened that Feinstein would publicly denounce the university if it failed to adopt far more stringent standards than the ones it appeared to be considering, and specifically demanded they be binding and contain punishments for students found to be in violation.

The University of California is merely the latest front in the battle for free speech on America’s college campuses in the face of an onslaught of pressure from Israel and its powerful allies, notes UC Berkeley’s Judith Butler, Maxine Elliot Professor of Comparative Literature in the Departments of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature, in a discussion with Dima Khalidi, Director of Palestinian Legal (formerly Palestine Solidarity Legal Support) and Cooperating Counsel with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), and Sharmini Peries of The Real News Network:

Reports Expose Zionists Stifling Dissent on US Campuses

From the transcript:

PERIES: Judith, the Stifling Dissent, the report done by Jewish Voices for Peace, what are the types of incidences or suppression here that are, you know, categorically that led you to issue such a report?

JUDITH BUTLER: Yes, well, first let me just say that I think Jewish Voices for Peace is enormously pleased to be publishing its report at the same time that Palestine Legal publishes its, its report. And I think these two reports should be read together, and they should–they should be understood as an indication of a, of a, of a growing indignation on the part of many people concerned with campus politics and academic freedom.

With these tactics of intimidation, and in my view and the view of the report, really, there are kind of four general areas of concern. One is intimidation, the intimidation of students, undergraduates, graduates. Intimidation of faculty, especially contingent faculty and nontenured faculty. Censorship of intervention into the curriculum we teach them, books we, we teach, and sometimes also not allowing faculty or activists to speak on campus when their views don’t coincide with mainstream Zionist understandings of the state of Israel and Palestine.

I think there’s also, in addition to intimidation and censorship, there is another way to limit debate, which is simply to say, as Hillel does, any speaker who doesn’t actually defend the same view of Zionism that they hold to is not welcome at Hillel. So those students, mainly Jewish students who come to Hillel to understand their world and to understand Jewish values, are not allowed to actually hear a variety of viewpoints about Zionism at, at Hillel itself. Why, why–why wouldn’t Hillel be a place that invites an open and robust debate? So what we’ve seen is the production of Open Hillel, a group of students who had to, to break off from Hillel because it limited debate so severely.

And lastly, of course, we’re also seeing forms of retaliation. Some of them are implicit. Young faculty members or graduate students who take certain kinds of critical positions on the state of Israel are being threatened with the loss of job, we did see that in the Steven Salaita case. They’re being threatened with, with, with professional devastation and limitation. And also some state assemblies are now under pressure trying to pass alws that retaliate against individuals or institutions that have supported the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. All of, all of these are, are issues of great concern.

And if all this sound like a familiar issue to your friendly neighborhood blogger, it is.

Hitler’s Furies: The women who enabled genocide

A fascinating look at a rarely seen side of the Third Reich: The Nazi woman as enabler of and sometimes participant in the killing fields of the Eastern Front and the death camps.

While many are familiar with the story of Ilse Koch — wife of concentration camp commandant Karl-Otto Koch and collector of tattooed inmate skins — thousands of other German women accompanied troops to the Eastern Front and did their part in the lethal ethnic cleansing commands that followed close on the heels of advancing and retreating troops.

Here’s a fascinating talk by a woman who looked at their role in infamy, Via University of California Television:

Hitler’s Furies: Women of the Third Reich Holocaust Living History — The Library Channel

Program notes:

Award-winning historian Wendy Lower discusses the lives and experience of German women in the Nazi killing fields. Her study chillingly debunks the age-old myth of the German woman as mother and breeder, removed from the big world of politics and war. The women Lower labels “furies” humiliated their victims, plundered their goods, and often killed them, and like many of their male counterparts, they got away with murder. Lower is the John K. Roth professor of history at Claremont McKenna College and has published widely on the Shoah in Eastern Europe. She is presented here as part of the Holocaust Living History Workshop at UC San Diego. Recorded on 11/13/2014.

IsraelSpin: How a Jew becomes an ‘antisemite’

We are all too aware of the way Ziocons deploy allegations of antisemitism to smear folks they see as potential impediments to what a reasonable outsider might see as the Great Israeli Land Grab.

Our last employment came as a reporter for the Berkeley Daily Planet, a now defunct newspaper done in in significant part by a campaign of intimidation directing against advertisers when the paper refused to stop running contributions from readers, many of them Jewish, who were critical of Israel’s unalloyed imperialism.

We conducted a detailed examination of the claimants and their claims and exposed them as either outright lies or as singular instances [notably one single letter to the editor which expressed some genuinely antisemitic tropes].

The Ziocons managed to cow hapless advertisers into withdrawing their ads, one local business telling us that she was left shaken and afraid and physical harm should she continue.

One of the campaigners even dug up a hoary trope usually employed by antisemites: Jews are rich and hold disproportionate economic power and were thus to be especially feared by stores struggling with the impact of the economic crash. The trope wasn’t raised so overtly, but rather by noting that the city’s Jewish population is concentrated in its wealthiest neighborhoods [leaving the obvious conclusion to the intimidated advertisers].

Sometimes te Ziocons were even more threatening, as when a Holocaust survivor who had written letters critical of Israeli policy found WE KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE scrawled on the sidewalk outside her front door.

Yep, in the distorted Weltanschauung of the Ziocon, even a Jew can be an antisemite.

And that was what American Jewish writer and Israel critic Max Blumenthal found on a trip to Germany, a discovery he relates to Abby Martin in this extended clip from RT America’s Breaking the Set:

How Germany is Using ‘Anti-Semitism’ to Shut Down Israel Criticism | Interview with Max Blumenthal

Program notes:

Abby Martin speaks with author and journalist Max Blumenthal about his recent trip to Germany and how he why he was treated like an anti-Semite for his criticism of the state of Israel.

One of the reason the antisemitism works so well is that publishers — and to a lesser extent journalists themselves — are all too easily intimated these days, when alternative media and hordes of unpaid bloggers claim the audiences once reserved for the corporate pillars of print and the airwaves, giving well-organized and zealous boycotters disproportionate power [a point the Left seems to have forgotten in an age of rampant consumerism].

One of the tropes constantly employed is this, drawn from a sarcastic comment by one of the Ziocons to one of our first posts here at esnl:

Many thanks for all of your thoughtful comments. We are comforted to learn that you are such a philosemite and that you are an equal opportunity America and Israel basher. We understand your “moral equivalency” argument about so-called terrorists. After all, one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s “terrorist.

But, even if it’s true that Zionism as a political movement (a state founded by “Jewish terrorists”) is just a mirror image of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the question still remains why you feel so much more motivated to castigate the ills of Israel, its manifold missteps and crimes, but never find the same moral imperative to excoriate Israel’s adversaries.

Surely, you cannot deny that point in good conscience? Insofar as Richard Brenneman takes an interest in foreign nations, your interest seems delimited to demonizing Zionism. Again, please direct us to one blog post or anything else you have written in fourty [sic] years as a distinguished and award winning journalist in which you have taken Israel’s adversaries to task for any of their violent tactics and actions.

What was truly remarkable about the comment was the utter lack of self-awareness revealed when he linked to a panel from a Ziocon Israel cartoonist:

BLOG Greater Israel
All the answers were there, but neither he nor the cartoonist realized it.

The difference between Israeli and the Palestinians is precisely the same as the difference between the European colonists and the Native American: One was an alien invader using brutality, endless wars, and ceaseless land grabs to steal what belong to the other, who was offered the stark choice of meeting the invader on his own bloody terms or surrender.

Religion was the claim used by both imperial powers, with the New World hailed as the New Jerusalem by its colonizers, while the Jewish invaders of Palestine waged a war of terror based on an equally dubious claim to hold a divine quit claim deed on land the others had inhabited for millennia.

When claims are based on such absurdities, they can only be enforced by brutality. It happened here, it’s happening there.

The Palestinians are fighting for precisely the same reasons Native Americans did. And just as a few voices were raised on this side of the Atlantic over the bloody land grab of territory inhabited by Native Americans, so too voices like Blumenthals are raised in opposition to bloodthirsty self-righteousness on the part of those who claim a Jewish identity.

And to be clear, both our daughters are Jewish by self-definition [and by Jewish law, since their mom is Jewish], as is our best friend and two of the three other women with whom we’ve shared a roof and bed.

Zionism is not Judaism and Judaism is not Zionism, but to simply say or write those words is sufficient to win the epithet of antisemite [and, hey, aren’t Arabs by definition Semitic people too?]

None of this is to say that antisemitism isn’t real. Germany history is testament to that. And the genuine antisemite is about as loathsome as a human can get.

Just remember what Socrates said: Wisdom begins with the definition of terms.

The anti-Blair, a man who really did save children

His name was Chinue Sugihara, and he saved more than 6,000 men, women, and children from Hitler’s Holocaust, far more than the 1,200 saved by the famous Oskar Schindler — yet Sugihara’s name is virtually unknown.

We knew his story only because we’ve been studying the Holocaust for the last half-century, accumulating a library of more than 900 books on the subject. We’ve also interviewed survivors and watched endless hours of documentaries driven by an imperative to understand how what had been regarded as the most civilized nation in Europe could descend into such barbarity.

And so we were delighted this afternoon to come across a brief documentary from Australia’s endangered SBS television focusing on Sugihara’s memorable accomplishments, and it serves as a refreshing anodyne for any bad taste left by thoughts of Tony Blair conjured up by our previous post.

Via Journeyman Pictures:

The “Japanese Schindler” Who Saved Thousands in WW2

Program notes:

The remarkable story of Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara has long been overshadowed by other heroes of WW2. Now, a new play is finally set to be memorialise his rescue of 6,000 Polish and Lithuanian Jews.

“Sugihara was an incredible person. He probably never saw a Jew before in his life and he saved so many families.”

91-year-old Holocaust survivor Lilly Singer was one of the thousands who would not be alive today without the intervention of Sugihara. She’s in the audience of a new play dramatizing his actions which saved thousands of lives. As the Nazi tanks rolled eastwards, Polish Jews began flooding into Lithuania – their only route of escape onward through Russia. Brian Liau is playing the part of Sugihara. “He asked the Japanese foreign office 3 times for permission to issue visas.” Despite being refused, Sugihara went on to issue over 6,000 visas for families trying to cross the border. Largely forgotten, for Lilly Singer he remains the hero of the conflict. “He saved me and that was the end of that”.

A final enigma. . .

In drafting this post we chanced upon an image at Sugihara’s Wikipedia page that leaves us hungry for more information. It is this Eastern Orthodox icon of the Japanese diplomatic, offered without further explanation:

BLOG Sugihara

Sugihara joined a politically connected Christian fraternity while in college in Japan, and we can only presume he took the Beatitudes in their purest sense.

But the question is the halo itself: Has he been declared a saint? We would love to know more. . .

Whatever the answer, it is people like Chinue Sugihara who are the real cause for hope and thanksgiving, and not loathesome, obsequious toadies like Tony Blair.