Avraham Burg’s book Hitler’s Victory, published last year in Hebrew, has now been released in English with a more neutral title – The Holocaust Is Over: We Must Rise from the Ashes. Some of the most offensive remarks appearing in the Israeli edition were also toned down.
Paradoxically, the Hebrew version of Burg’s book caused barely a ripple, for the simple reason that most Israelis simply wrote him off. His tirades against his country and nation were so primitive and offensive that Haaretz journalist Ari Shavit roasted him, alleging that his book reeked of “loathing of Israeliness.” Even Burg’s leftist allies like Yossi Beilin dissociated themselves from him.
However, this English edition will doubtlessly embolden Diaspora Jews already engaged in anti-Israel campaigns. And it is significant that in contrast to their Israeli counterparts, radical American Jewish critics of Israel like J Street proudly identify themselves with Burg. It is also disconcerting to observe the favorable coverage Burg’s book is receiving in some trendy Jewish media publications, which treat his defamatory musings as serious contributions worthy of discussion.
FOES OF Israel seeking a Jewish imprimatur to demonize and delegitimize the Jewish state will be able to find what they are looking for in this diatribe. More importantly, they will not just be quoting another post-Zionist hack. Burg is the scion of one of Israel’s most renowned religious Zionist families, a son of the late revered Dr. Yosef Burg, who headed the National Religious Party for many years. His mother’s family was butchered during the 1929 pogrom in Hebron. More importantly, Burg was a former speaker of the Knesset, as well as former chairman of the Jewish Agency and World Zionist Organization.
Throughout the course of his tempestuous career in politics, Burg strove to portray himself as a courageous rebel. Yet he also frequently boasted that that he was destined to become prime minister. His ambition was thwarted in 2001 after his unseemly defeat by Binyamin Ben-Eliezer for the leadership of the Labor Party. Initially Burg appeared to have won, but his election was annulled after it was discovered that his majority had been attained by obtaining more votes from Druse Labor Party members than were actually enrolled in the party, and he retired from politics in disgrace. After a failed business venture with questionable partners in an armaments company, he returned to the public limelight by assuming the role of a provocative post-Zionist polemicist which inspired him to write Hitler’s Victory.
Burg’s technique is to make vague generalizations about “universal” Jewish values and apply them to undermine the moral foundations of Israel, which he regards as a failed state. Thus, he says “Israel’s policy in the land of our patriarchs desecrates the heritage of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” and then goes on to accuse us of denying human rights to Arabs and applying the same racist techniques against them that the Nazis implemented against the German Jews in the 1930s. According to Burg, “Israel’s Arabs are like the German Jews of the Second Reich.”
He alleges that the Holocaust has become the most pervasive and dominant factor poisoning the mind of the entire nation and “because of the Shoah, Israel has become the voice of the dead.” It has transformed Israelis into psychotics, programmed to exploit Holocaust memory as “a tool for the service of the Jewish people” now representing “a ghetto of belligerent colonialism.” He calls for the dismantlement of Yad Vashem and its substitution by a new headquarters for the International Criminal Court.
BURG CONCLUDES that “a state that lives by the sword and worships its dead is bound to live in a constant state of emergency, because everyone is a Nazi, everyone is an Arab, everyone hates us, the entire world is against us.” He makes absolutely no effort to provide readers with the context of the genuine existential threats facing Israel, or of the ongoing cruel terror war being waged against its people.
This former head of the World Zionist Organization proclaims that as a humanitarian he believes the time has now come to dismantle Zionism. In the original Hebrew version, Burg described the Law of Return as “a mirror image of Hitler,” a revival of the Nazi Nuremburg racial laws. It was as though he was endorsing the infamous United Nations “Zionism is racism” resolution passed in 1975 (and rescinded in 1991). He also predicted that the Knesset would in time endorse legislation prohibiting sexual relations between Jews and Arabs. To top it off, Burg alleges that on the basis of first-hand knowledge, he is aware that racism is rampant in Israeli schools where children, consumed by a lust for revenge, become transformed into psychotic racists and “thugs,” ranting continuously about the need to expel and kill Arabs.
Burg also asserts that the two-state solution may already be dead because both Jews and Arabs have been hijacked by fundamentalists. “We are abducted by the settlers; they are abducted by Hamas.”
Almost naturally, Burg slams Natan Sharansky, who “could have changed Israel’s soul” but instead “deserted the universal humanistic responsibility that had set him free” and became “a typical faithful speaker for nationalist, chauvinist Israel.”
Burg also resurrects the outdated anti-Semitic argument about “dual loyalties.” He accuses the Jewish state of exploiting organizations like AIPAC to promote the foreign policy objectives of Israel, even if it conflicts with the US national interest, thus undermining the civic status and patriotism of American Jews. Not surprisingly John Mearsheimer, co-author of the notoriously anti-Israel tract The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, heads the list of commendations on the book’s jacket and praises Burg for courageously expressing views that are denied to American mainstream discourse.
Virtually every generation in Jewish history has endured renegade Jews who disseminate hatred against their own kinsmen. In the 20th century alone, many talented Jews, Israelis among them, were lured to communism and transformed into apologists for Stalin’s murderous policies and Soviet anti-Semitism. Burg’s book is a contemporary example of this trend, and certainly provides grist for the propaganda mills of those whose objective is to undermine the Jewish state. It will probably become a treasure trove for those seeking to utilize outlandish quotations demonizing the Jewish state articulated by a former member of the Israeli establishment. This is already borne out by anti-Semitic Islamic and Nazi Web sites approvingly quoting Burg’s defamation of his country.
WITH CONSTRUCTIVE self criticism regarded as one of the more attractive Jewish traits, one must employ caution when utilizing the descriptive term “self hatred” even against Jews displaying a masochistic inclination to be overcritical of their own people. But by any benchmark, Burg’s book does provide ample justification to employ the term to explain his slanderous depiction of his country.
In the English version of his book, Burg fails to incorporate his earlier bizarre call to fellow Israelis to follow his example and obtain foreign passports. The truth is that if Burg were to emigrate, few Israelis would shed a tear.