The Conspiracy

The Exploitative Power of Fear Or: How Bibi Defiled Yom Hashoah

In South Africa, there’s a conspiracy theory that has spread among the white population since the fall of Apartheid. It goes by many names: Uhuru, Operation Vula, Operation White Clean-up, and – in a nod to Nazi Germany - Night of the Long Knives (in Afrikaans, Die Nag van die Lang Messe).  What it says is that, upon Nelson Mandela’s death, the nation’s blacks will take to the streets and brutally murder their white countrymen.  (Never mind that South Africa’s leaders for the past fifteen years have been black, most of South Africa’s crime is within black and coloured communities, and popular anger of late has been focused largely on other black African immigrants.  Just disregard all that.)

Sarcasm aside, there’s a scary undercurrent in the country, perhaps best exemplified here and here.  Furthermore, I remember speaking to two white families–FAMILIES–whose patriarchs introduced me to the finer points of Operation Vula as their elementary school-aged children looked on silently: the nameless black leader’s alleged threatening statements, the master plan to block off Johannesburg’s city centre, even the weapons to be used (machetes, mainly).  Worse still, their beliefs were echoed by students at my own university, people I saw as intelligent and well-educated.

It’s true: there’s nothing like a good conspiracy theory.  And given the ANC’s continued reign in South Africa, with their menacing (though long stale) protest songs of ‘Kill the Boer’ and ‘Give Me My Machine Gun’ coupled with the recent murder of white supremacist Eugene Terreblanche, one can understand–in part, anyway–how people can believe such nonsense, especially when it concerns their own demise.

Which brings us to Israel, Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), and the objectionable–daresay despicable–exploitation of it by the country’s leadership.

In a presentation to our group, Gil Hoffman of the Jerusalem Post remarked that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sees himself as the protector of Israel against Iran and–for all intents and purposes–the guardian of all of Judaism against a second Shoah.  This explains his comments last night at Yad Vashem, which, instead of offering a suitable tribute to the people who endured the horrors of Auschwitz or Buchenwald, focused on the pseudothreat of a nuclear Iran and its raving lunatic of a leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Netanyahu’s speech, besides giving a drastic overestimation of Iran’s genocidal capabilities, was an affront to the memories of the six million dead Jews and a slap in the face to their peers who did come out of the camps alive.  What should have been a heartfelt eulogy became little more than a hawkish policy speech aimed specifically at exploiting the sad hearts and minds of contemporary Jewry.

Netanyahu at Yad Vashem.  April 11, 2010.

Netanyahu at Yad Vashem. April 11, 2010.

In Israel, through the government’s masterful manipulation of the media, Iran has become the Ultimate Threat.  So much so that, despite the myriad of problems Iran has faced in enriching uranium (via clandestine sabotage, insufficient supplies, etc.), the country remains a possible, even probable, target of an Israeli air attack–perhaps as soon as this year.

Though Iran is no doubt a more credible threat than Operation Vula, in the end, both achieve the same purpose: irrational terror in the minds of the populace.  In South Africa, it leads to racism; in Israel, to war.  And with Iran as Bogeyman, all other concerns lie on the back burner and Netanyahu gets his way.  Palestinians are marginalized even more, their holdings dwindle, and Israelis look past it all, to a song-and-dance man thousands of miles away and his empty threats of annihilation.

So this year, as Israel further subjugates its Palestinian neighbors,while preparing for an unnecessary war with Iran, Netanyahu smiles.  And as for the Holocaust victims, the ones he so flippantly disrespected Sunday evening: they, my friends, roll over in their graves.

Sam Melamed is a Masa particpant, participating in Career Israel, one of Masa Israel‘s 160 programs.Masa Israel logo

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2 Older Responses to “The Exploitative Power of Fear Or: How Bibi Defiled Yom Hashoah”

  1. Gentile
    April 12, 2010 at 3:22 pm #

    Thank you. Shalom

  2. AvidReader
    April 12, 2010 at 4:36 pm #

    While I find this entry introduces a fairly enlightening comparison, I can’t help but draw mixed messages between this piece and your prior article regarding eugenics.

    “Throughout history in fact, there seems to be a nasty tendency amongst victimized groups to react to their newfound liberation not with grace and humility, but rather with oppression, hostility, and often brutality.”

    I agree with your argument that Operation Vula is an overfeared conspiracy theory; however, you are too swift to brush aside the recent assassination of Eugene Terre’Blanche. As the founder of the Afrikaner Resistance Movement, Mr. Terre’Blanche (and believe me…I shudder at even offering this man the respect of “Mr.”) is viewed as the head of a body politic; therefore, why shouldn’t the whites live in fear. The victimized blacks have endured and, as you mentioned, now march to the tune of Julius Malema’s “Shoot the Boer, shoot the boer!” (as heard outside the trial of the two men accused of killing Terre’Blanche). While I never condoned the racist rhetoric of Mr. Terre’Blanche and always dreamt of an end to apartheid, I fear my beliefs will be trumped by the color of my skin and the raw emotion of a divided nation.

    Although my experience is limited to South Africa, I fear the same might be true in Israel. Rather than pay peaceful tribute to those affected by the Holocaust, Mr. Netanyahu has exhibited yet another knee-jerk reaction to a history littered with discrimination and persecution. Although I view Bibi’s speech as a result of political pressure from his hawkish constituency hoping to further alienate Palestinians, I fear that it is all too widely accepted (and therefore I commend you for drawing attention to the real focus of Yom Hashoah).

    I can only help but draw one, basic conclusion that is far from simple: that line which divides a state from learning from its past and repeating it is very thin, and often blurred.

    Feel free to respond if you choose and keep up the insightful work, Sam.

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