Prime Minister Netanyahu’s address to the thirty-seventh Zionist Congress effectively shifting the blame for the Shoah from the Nazis to the people of Palestine has merely brought to the world’s attention a trend that has been developing over decades within Israel. As Israel’s far-right ultra-nationalists have continued to employ its memory to legitimise the illegal occupation of Palestine, a reaction against the narrative has gained ground around the world. Outside of Israel people are growing tired of this holocaust. This is not to say that the history of Jewish suffering under the Nazis is being denied, rather it means that the use of the holocaust as an excuse is being rejected.

Aware of this devaluation of memory Israel’s right has re-worked a revision of the narrative so as to convince Israel and Israelis not so much of Nazi wrong-doing, but of the Palestinians’ culpability. Outside of Israel, other than with rightist supporters of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, this new and distorted narrative holds no water. Yet it remains a powerful tool at the disposal of Netanyahu’s régime with which to galvanise internal support for the complete ethnic cleansing of the Occupied Territories and their eventual annexation by the State of Israel.

None of this is supported by the historical facts. Palestine – Israel and the Occupied Territories – is a land of contested histories and aggressively competing ideologies. It is perfectly right that both sides should have differing versions of the recent past, but these versions simply cannot be built on distortions or fabrications – and this is exactly what Netanyahu has done.

The very real genocide perpetrated against innocent Jews in Europe had nothing whatsoever to do with the people of Palestine, then or now. Yet very real and historically verifiable ethnic cleansing is part of the creation of Israel. Jewish Israeli militias and military units entered Palestinian towns and villages in 1948 to torture, rape, and massacre innocent Palestinians as part of the process of cleansing the population to make way for the State of Israel. Al-Nakba was a real genocide, and the only crime against humanity involving Palestine in the history of Israel. By blaming this victim people for the Nazi genocide, Netanyahu is not only lying, he is denying the suffering his nation inflicted on another people, and – in so doing – he is denying them the right to their own historical grievance against a state that continues to deny their existence and their right to exist.

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