I can call someone Hitler or a Nazi, but you can’t.

Fresh from witnessing a neoconservative Hudson Institute-sponsored Alan Dershowitz/Jon Voight et al tirade smearing everyone from Hamas and Hezbollah to Ahmadinejad and, well, most Palestinians, as Nazis and Hitlers, it should come as no surprise that a {Jewish] professor is now actually being investigated by the Anti-Defamation League and his employers for suggesting a comparison between Gaza and the Warsaw Ghetto. With breath-taking hypocrisy, the Hudson Institute’s Ron Radosh even goes for the jugular, because, well, it’s not OK when the other side does it.

I can’t even keep track anymore of the number of people- Netanyahu, Hageee, Horowitz, who else?- who have compared Ahmadinejad to Hitler. Signs at pro-Israeli rallies regularly invoke Nazis (one sign in Geneva= UNazi). Glenn Greenwald wrote at length about the frequent, and un-challenged use of Nazi epithets against liberals on right-wing Fox TV. But if someone critical of Israel dares to invoke Nazis or Hitler, the thought police arrive in seconds. It’s an appalling double-standard, illustrating how selective outrage about the Holocaust is used for purely cynical purposes. This is a phenomenon that all of us, especially Jews, should oppose vehemently. If it were up to me, Holocaust comparisons would not be declared off limits, nor would they be used so casually.

According to Simon Wiesenthal Center’s video called “Jewish Students [are] Under Siege from Professor at UC Santa Barbara.” [Editor's Note: likely in response to complaints, they just changed the title to "Jewish Students Shocked by UCSB Professor's Demonizing Email"]

Yes, Sociology professor William I. Robinson, who is Jewish, is apparently the new front line for the all out attack on Jewish students on campuses.

His crime? Sending an email to students in his sociology and globalization class:

The e-mail contained more than two dozen photographs of Jewish victims of the Nazis, including those of dead children, juxtaposed with nearly identical images from the Gaza Strip. It also included an article critical of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and a note from Robinson.

“Gaza is Israel’s Warsaw — a vast concentration camp that confined and blockaded Palestinians,” the professor wrote. “We are witness

I remember a version of that viral email well from January-it did not originate with Robinson, but traveled around the net during the height of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead. While inflammatory, and not something I would forward myself, the strikingly parallel images were enough to give anyone pause. I also remember telling my father at the time that the emails I was getting from a friend in Gaza during the bombing were nauseatingly reminiscent of the letters I keep from my great grandmother sent from inside the Warsaw Ghetto. I said I had no idea if my friend would be alive the next day. Even my 82-year-old father, who is mentioned in one of those letters signed “mama”, acknowledged with a sigh, “I see what you mean.”

I recently finished reading the book, “Who will write our history? Emanuel Ringelblum, the Warsaw Ghetto, and the Oyneg Shabes archives.” While the Warsaw Ghetto, with 400,000 packed into a tiny little area at one point, ended with the murder of all of its inhabitants in extermination camps-including members of my own family- the nearly 1.5 million people packed into a walled-off Gaza will never face such an unspeakable fate.

Nonetheless, it is impossible to read about day to day life in the Warsaw Ghetto and not be haunted by Gaza- people forcibly crowded into a small space and unable to leave; rampant health problems and slow starvation/malnourishment; a massive black market for goods and food;  rampant corruption and collaboration; routine dehumanization by the occupying army; the desperate sense that if only the world knew they would come and save them. For any Jew who is aware of what’s happening in Gaza, this or any book about the Ghetto makes for very, very, very hard reading. It forces one to pause in self-reflection about how the unspeakable horror of what was done to us changed us, at least some of us, and became a kind of sickness.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, in the video above, defines anti-Semitism to include: “The demonization of Israel, or vilification of Israeli leaders, sometimes through comparisons with Nazi leaders, and through the use of Nazi symbols to caricature them, indicates an anti-Semitic bias.”

So did I just commit an act of anti-Semitism by writing those words? Should survivors Hajo Meyer or Annette Herskovits, among others, who have also looked at their own experiences and those of Gazans, be hauled off to the ADL’s re-education camp?

In Enough with campus inquisitions!, Alan Wolfe wrote a terrific defense of Robinson, saying,”the idea of investigating him is appalling and the ADL should be ashamed of itself. Precedents are being set in this case that could have serious ramifications for everyone teaching in public universities–and perhaps even private ones.

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