Stop comparing Oct. 7th to the Holocaust
Wreaths at the memorial wall of the Nazi concentration camp Sachsenhausen after a ceremony marking the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day in Oranienburg, Germany, April 18, 2023. | Markus Schreiber / AP

The State of Israel and its allies have a long history of using the memory of the Holocaust to deflect criticism and justify Israel’s worst crimes against the Palestinian people. The oft-repeated claim is that without a strong Jewish army and a strong Jewish state, there is nothing to stop another Holocaust from happening. Many of us raised in Zionist educational institutions were taught this lesson repeatedly since elementary school.

Continuing this pattern, immediately after the Hamas attacks on Oct. 7th, Israel and its advocates began invoking the Holocaust in order to shield the Israeli military from any criticism, no matter how responded to those attacks.

Eylon Levy, an Israeli government spokesperson and former media advisor for the Israeli president, wrote on X (Twitter) on Oct. 8th, “It’s no exaggeration to say yesterday was the darkest day in Jewish history since the end of the Holocaust.”

Variations of this claim were repeated thousands of times over across the internet and by prominent figures around the world in the days that followed. All tried to draw a comparison between the gruesome violence of Hamas’ attack and the mass genocide committed by the Nazis.

Equating the two tragedies is not only preposterous; it is also an insult to the memory of the six million Jews slaughtered by the Nazis. It is no exaggeration to say that this behavior is an act of historical revisionism of the most dangerous kind.

The Hamas attacks were an instance of violent and bloody terror, carried out by an Islamist paramilitary group that uses arms to resist a military occupation imposed on the Palestinian people by one of the most well-funded and modern militaries in the world.

The Holocaust, by contrast, was a mechanized genocide carried out by the then-superpower Nazi Germany. Its aim was to physically eradicate all Jews from existence. The Hamas attacks lasted a few days and led to the deaths of around 1,300 people. The Nazis’ persecution of the Jews lasted 12 years, with the majority of the deaths coming in the four years of 1941-45. Over 6,000,000 Jews perished in Hitler’s factories of death. People were murdered every single day by the thousands, non-stop, year after year.

The two events are both awful, obviously, but they are not comparable.

The Nazis specifically targeted Jews. They went out of their way to find people with any “Jewish blood” and marked them for destruction. Though Hamas’ attack claimed mostly Jewish lives, it was not specifically targeted at Jews because they were Jews. In fact, many of the victims on Oct. 7th were not Jewish. Some were from Nepal, Thailand, and many other countries, and from various religious and ethnic backgrounds.

Besides the historic inaccuracy of equating the two events, this false comparison of the Holocaust and Oct. 7th is dangerous because Israel, the Biden administration, and other Israeli allies are linking them as a means of justifying the actual war crimes and genocidal acts being carried out by the Netanyahu government against the Palestinian people of Gaza.

There is actually a different comparison that could be made.

Just like Nazi Germany dehumanized its Jewish victims, Israeli governmental officials have done likewise, labeling the people of Gaza “animals” and declaring their intention “to empty the Gaza Strip.” Just like in Germany, a powerful modern military is being used to kill civilians on a mass scale. In just two weeks, the Israeli military has killed over 5,000 Palestinians, the majority being women and children.

The Netanyahu government and its allies must not be allowed to continue misusing the history of the Holocaust to garner support for war crimes. The Palestinian people have suffered for too long. The world needs to wake up and work to end the actual genocide happening to the Palestinian people and not the fake genocide that exists only in the minds the proponents of Israeli occupation.

As with all op-eds published by People’s World, this article reflects the opinions of its author.

We hope you appreciated this article. At People’s World, we believe news and information should be free and accessible to all, but we need your help. Our journalism is free of corporate influence and paywalls because we are totally reader-supported. Only you, our readers and supporters, make this possible. If you enjoy reading People’s World and the stories we bring you, please support our work by donating or becoming a monthly sustainer today. Thank you!


J.E. Rosenberg
J.E. Rosenberg

J.E. Rosenberg grew up in an extremist, religious Zionist household in the U.S. After moving to Israel as a young adult, he changed his world views. He left Israel and is now a member of the Communist Party.