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Douglas Murray & Co are no allies of Jews

Extreme-right figures are parasitising the Gaza war — some masquerading as pro-Palestinian, some as pro-Israeli. Don't let them. 

November 10 2023, 15.31pm
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As if Palestinians and Israelis didn’t have enough of the usual conflict parasites to contend with, this week we were leeched onto by a new one: Douglas Murray. Clad in a kevlar vest and helmet, Murray materialised on the Israel-Gaza border to cosplay as war correspondent and defend collective punishment in practice, even if demurring he wasn’t endorsing it “per se.” By Friday, he was back in a podcast studio, calling Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf “the First Minister for Gaza” who “infiltrated our system” and is married to a “Palestinian… nasty piece of work”. 

In the same week, Murray also found time to pen a piece for the Jewish Chronicle (of all places), where he mused wistfully about the Waffen SS—who, at least, didn’t call their parents on WhatsApp to brag about massacring Jews, like one Hamas killer infamously did on October 7. In fact, we’re told, they were “rarely proud of their average day’s work.”

“Very few felt that shooting Jews in the back of the head all day and kicking their bodies into pits was where their own lives had meant to end up,” Murray commiserates - presumably, to the background tune of Winterreise playing on a lisping gramophone. “Many spent their evenings getting blind drunk to try to forget. Nazi commanders had to worry about staff ‘morale.’ When the war ended, the Nazis tried to pretend that Treblinka and other death camps never existed.”

Sorry to cut the Schubert, but this is neither especially true nor relevant. Firstly, there is ample evidence that your average Third Reich German, never mind highly ideological SS troopers, cheered, abated and participated in the various strands and stages of the Holocaust. The classic study of this participation, Hitler’s Willing Executioners, was written in part to dispel the myth that while the Waffen SS were indisputably committed genocidal murderers, most German people of the time didn’t even know the Holocaust was happening. That Murray goes directly for bringing out the other side of the Waffen SS itself does credit to his ambition, if not to his priorities. 

Secondly, yes, it takes considerable strain to turn even bigoted men into actual killing machines and to keep them like that for extended periods of time; this is very much why the gas chambers were invented, to distance the killers as far as possible from the physical experience of killing. What of it? The SS were far from unique in that: many people who killed civilians report feeling bad before, after and sometimes during. Many SS members reveled in the genocide, others turned away in disgust. Some wrote self-pitying and self-doubting diaries and letters; others posed for pictures in death camps. 

Every group of perpetrators is likely to display the full emotional spectrum of reaction to the act of killing; among the Hamas members who participated in the attacks some actively chose not to harm children, while others engaged in unspeakable sadism. This doesn't make what Hamas did any less a war crime, even if it does present some fringe activists who cheer for them with even less reservations in an even less flattering light.

And, of course, Holocaust denial after the war is not proof of restless Aryan conscience; it is entirely consistent with Nazi behaviour during the war, and the behaviour of official genocidaires, almost everywhere. That Murray is grasping at such straws to depict the SS as squeamish in this regard leaves one with rather an uncomfortable feeling that downplaying Nazism was at least as central to his argument as denigrating antiwar marchers.

What’s truly worrying here is not Douglas Murray being Douglas Murray. It’s the ease with which he and other far-right figures are ingratiating themselves with communities who have the most to fear from them: whether they be white supremacists decrying Hamas atrocities, or, well, other white supremacists piggybacking on the killing of Palestinian civilians by the fighter jets of the Jewish state.

In times of terror and trauma, it is understandable a minority might embrace anyone who offers full-throated solidarity and comfort; but surely, some caution needs to be maintained.  Mega-MAGA disinformation edgelord Jackson Hinkle is no friend of the Palestinian cause, no matter how many lies about Israel he spreads to his 2 million followers. Douglas Murray and his fellow travellers are no friends to Jews.

The best guarantee for the well-being and safety of Jews and Muslims isn’t to be found in the embrace of some blowhards like Murray. Rather it to be found in the unequivocal rejection of reactionary populists  however much they profess affection for you personally. Because once you’ve outlived your usefulness, you are always going to be the next in the firing line. 

 

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