Holocaust Comparisons in Arab Media Examination of the Horrifying Death of a Palestinian Child

  • August 19, 2015

There has been intense focus on the reactions within Israeli society following the horrific attack on two houses in the West Bank village of Duma, resulting in the death of toddler Ali Dawabsheh, the subsequent death of his father, Saed and the wounding of his brother and mother.  The apparent price tag attack, perpetrated by extremist Israeli Jews, has led to much soul searching among public Israeli political and religious figures, and among the population at large.

The Arab world also paid close attention to this heinous incident.  And, not surprisingly, many characterized the incident as merely part of Israel’s long history of crimes against the Palestinians (such as the burning of Mohammed Abu Khdeir by Jews in July of 2014), or have claimed that PM Netanyahu is personally responsible for the toddler’s death, and this attack reflected Israel's culture of hate.

Some in the Arab world used Nazi imagery and Holocaust comparisons, including equating PM Netanyahu to Hitler and the burning of the infant to the Holocaust; and claimed that Israel has not only adopted Nazi practices, but it has focused them on Palestinian children.

One cartoon, for example, appearing both in Gaza’s Filastin newspaper (Aug. 2) and circulated on Twitter, shows Israeli PM Netanyahu performing a Nazi Salute with the burning baby in the backdrop, framing the attack as no less than a “Holocaust”.

Another, published in Saudi Arabia’s Al-Watan newspaper (Aug. 3) shows the arm of an ultra-orthodox Jew forming a swastika while holding a Molotov cocktail.

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The cartoon’s headline: “The crime of burning the Palestinian infant.”

The use of such comparisons similarly appears in opinion pieces in the Arab press. “No one can deny that the Nazis are murderers and that they perpetrated the crime of the Holocaust, which innocent Jews, some say millions, fell victim to.”, said one article in Jordan’s Ar-Rai newspaper (August 2), which went on to parallel the attack with those perpetrated by the Nazis, even drawing on the Torah. “But more criminal than them is the victim who imitated the murderer and who didn’t learn the lessons of history: instead of reacting to what Hitler and his gang did by treating with tolerance and peaceful coexistence the people whose land it forcefully occupied – it resorted to the same Nazi methods. Therefore, this criminal who killed the Palestinian infant, burned his family’s home and gravely wounded them, considers himself to be a Torah “hero”…”.

The cartoon’s headline: “After the burning of the Palestinian infant Ali Dawabsheh to death”.

The cartoon’s headline: “After the burning of the Palestinian infant Ali Dawabsheh to death”.

Other such articles charged that Israel not only uses Nazi methods, but it specifically focuses on Palestinian children in applying them. An Egyptian daily (Al-Yawm As-Sabi, August 1) argued this is common for Israel,  writing:  "The crime of burning a Palestinian infant at the hand of Israeli settlers yesterday, Friday, in southern Nablus in the occupied West Bank – wasn’t the first against Palestine. Surely it won’t be the last, since official documents and statistics indicate that Israel is an entity which has made a habit of targeting children in every form, including the use of fire. This brings back to mind the Nazi party’s crimes known as the Holocaust."

Another article simply refers to a "Holocaust of the children of Palestine": "On Friday, at exactly 2:30 am, took place in Duma village south of Nablus the most loathsome crime since the burning of the martyr Mohammed Abu Khdeir ..… the village insisted on bidding farewell to another martyr, the village’s martyr, 18 month old Ai Saad Dawabsheh. He was burned by settlers in cold blood, before the eyes and ears of the world, who stood silently in the face of the Holocaust of the children of Palestine…” (August 3, Filastin, Gaza).

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