Israel is up against the spiritual heirs of Nazism

By Dr. Efraim Zuroff

It appears that the events of last week have finally convinced the Israeli government that hope of a solution for peace begins with the elimination of Hamas and replacing the leaders of the PA.

As a historian who has devoted many decades to studying the Holocaust and has spent more than 40 years trying to facilitate the prosecution of its perpetrators, I am very careful about comparing the Shoah (Holocaust) to other tragedies and causes. 

While I find the false comparisons by organizations such as PETA (animal rights) and opponents of abortion to be baseless and far more wishful thinking than historically factual, there are incidents which do deserve to be compared to antisemitic crimes committed by the Nazis.

One such tragedy took place on October 7, when Hamas, the Islamic terror organization which rules the Gaza Strip, invaded Israel and murdered more than 1,400, mostly Israeli civilians, and raped, tortured, and took hostage Israeli women whose fate was filmed and screened on YouTube. 

They also tortured and killed children, who were forced to witness the murder of their parents before being murdered themselves, or abducted to Gaza as hostages. 

They burned many of the victims’ bodies beyond recognition. This pogrom, which claimed more Israeli lives than any other attack on Jews since the Holocaust, was reminiscent of Nazi atrocities committed during the Shoah. And the fact that it was carried out on Israeli territory added to the shock and horror. 

After all, Israel was primarily established to be a safe haven for Jews, a secure home for a people who had suffered so terribly in the Diaspora.

Yet the large number of victims and the exceptional cruelty of the terrorists should not have come as a surprise.

Shared Visions. Palestinian Arab nationalism and Nazism find common ground at this meeting in Germany in 1941 between the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini (left) and Adolf Hitler where the Mufti expressed his hope that the Nazis would conquer the Middle East and implement the “Final Solution” in Eretz Yisrael (Land of Israel).  Hamas is committed to fulfilling this shared vision.

Hamas: The spiritual successors to Hitler’s Arab allies

The history of Hamas, the Islamic resistance movement, is one of staunch opposition to the existence of the State of Israel, and continued armed resistance to end the Israeli “occupation”. It was established in 1987, shortly after the outbreak of the First Intifada led by Hamas founder sheikh Ahmed Yassin, and from the start was connected to the Islamic fundamentalist and virulently antisemitic Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.

Thus Hamas has in principle – both religious and political – opposed any compromise which would recognize the legitimacy of the State of Israel in its current territory. 

They are, in that respect, the spiritual heirs of Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem, who hoped that the Nazis would implement the Final Solution in Palestine and spent most of World War II in Berlin, spreading Nazi propaganda in Arabic, and helping recruit Bosnian Moslems to join the Waffen-S.S.

Bloodied and Butchered.  Bloodstained body bags on the lawns of kibbutz Be’eri near Gaza after the Hamas massacre. (PHOTO: AFP)

Needless to say, they refused to accept the Oslo Accords, which were signed by their secular rival Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat’s Fatah, which officially recognized Israel, and renounced “terrorism and other acts of violence.” Arafat never abided by this renunciation of terrorism.

In 2006, Hamas won the Palestinian legislative election, and a year later took control of the Gaza Strip from the Fatah. Even before gaining control of Gaza, Hamas carried out countless terrorist attacks against Israel, killing and wounding hundreds of Jews in suicide bombings, shootings, stabbings, and car rammings, as well as shooting tens of thousands of rockets into Israel.

As Palestinian journalist Khaled Abu Toameh explained in a recent article on, Hamas leaders have never, ever hid their goal of destroying Israel by jihad, or “holy war”. In fact, several days before their latest attack on Israel, Hamas urged all Muslims to “continue the legitimate struggle in all forms” until Israel is defeated and expelled from “our historical land.”

Savage Sinwar. Only months before the Hamas massacres in Israel,  Hamas Gaza leader Yahya Sinwar fires up his followers against the Jews at a rally marking Quds Day (Jerusalem Day) in Gaza.(photo: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA/REUTERS)

YET DESPITE the numerous acts of terror carried out against Israel by Hamas, Israel decided in 2005, to evacuate its army bases, 20 settlements, and 9,000 settlers in a move ostensibly designed to strengthen the peace process, and reduce the number of Palestinians under Israeli control. 

A year later, however, Hamas defeated Fatah in the Palestinian elections and took over control of the Gaza Strip.

But instead of treating Hamas like the religiously fundamentalist terror organization that it was, Israel preferred to foster good relations with Hamas at the expense of Arafat’s Fatah, ignoring Hamas’ charter and ideological support for jihad. 

Many of those supporting the two-state solution, indeed harbored optimistic predictions about the future of Gaza, and supported the government’s efforts to achieve practical agreements with Hamas, but in practice, Hamas never changed its ideology.

Instead of turning the Gaza Strip into a version of Singapore, Hamas diverted its resources into acquiring weapons, building tunnels to help invade Israel, and turned Gaza into a version of Afghanistan.

Twice during the past two decades, Israel was forced to invade Gaza, but in each case, we only gained a temporary respite, because we did not want to recapture Gaza, and assume full responsibility for its rapidly growing population (which is currently over two million inhabitants). In fact, apropos the Holocaust, I often had the feeling that we were primarily appeasing Hamas, rather than destroying them, for lack of a practical solution.

From Gaza with Hate. Having murdered an unharmed family,  blood stains the floor of a house in Israel’s Be’eri kibbutz. (PHOTO: AFP)

In that context, I was reminded of some advice Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal imparted to me several decades ago. He related that when he was a student in Prague in the latter half of the 1930s, he and his friends would often make fun of Hitler, an attitude which he later very much regretted. “When fundamentalist extremists threaten you, don’t laugh them off. Take them seriously, and be ready to fight against them.”

It appears that the events of last week have finally convinced the Israeli government that if there is to be any hope of a solution for peace with the Palestinians, it begins with the elimination of Hamas, and the replacement of the leaders of the Palestinian Authority. 

In the meantime, we can only hope that the IDF is successful in doing so as effectively and quickly as possible.

About the writer:

Dr. Efraim Zuroff is the chief Nazi-hunter of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and director of its Israel Office and Eastern European Affairs.

While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO).


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