There were warning signs. We all knew he was a little off, but I never thought it would get this bad.
I have heard him call Palestinians a “demographic threat.” Of course, labeling indigenous people a “demographic threat” to a colonizing enterprise is pure nonsense. So, I knew he was a little bizarre, but even I never thought it would get this bad.
I have heard him call Israel the “one and only” Jewish state. Of course, as far as I know, no other person or entity, not even the Upper East Side of Manhattan, has made a claim. So, I knew he was a little out of touch, but even I never thought it would get this bad.
I have heard him speak in front of the United Nations many times. This is where his delusion has made special appearances. Just this year, he spent 44 seconds staring at the audience. It was awkward. In 2013, while talking about Iran at the United Nations, I heard him say, “The last century has taught us that when a radical regime with global ambitions gets awesome power, sooner or later its appetite for aggression knows no bounds.” Tell me about it. In fact, in that 2013 speech, he spent 2535 of his 3015 words talking about Iran. I counted. That’s 84%. Iranian president Hassan Rouhani didn’t even spend 84% of his time talking about Iran.
In 2012, I even saw him stand up in front of all of the distinguished delegations of the world and say, “I brought a diagram.” Then, as we all warmly recall, he pointed to a circle with a wavy line coming out of it and said, “This is a bomb. This is a fuse.” Now, we all know that’s not what a bomb looks like. As Ahmed Mohamed showed us in Texas, a bomb looks like an alarm clock being carried by a 14-year-old Muslim kid.
So, I knew he was a little deviant, but even I, a Palestinian who has been repeatedly racially profiled upon entry to my homeland, who has observed Israeli checkpoints that utterly dehumanize us, who has even witnessed the audacious theft of hummus, even I never thought it would get this bad.
A couple days ago, at the 37th World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, referring to Haj Amin El-Husseini, the once-grand mufti of Jerusalem, said:
He flew to Berlin. Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time. He wanted to expel the Jews. And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, “If you expel them, they’ll all come here.” “So what should I do with them?” he asked. He said, “Burn them.”
When I woke up this morning, I saw this quote all over my newsfeed. At first, I giggled. “Netanyahu blaming us for the Holocaust is really funny,” I thought. As a comedian, I always welcome lighthearted satire in times of distress. It can lift spirits. Actually, I was even a little threatened. “That’s really a creative story. I wish I would have thought of it first.”
But then, the story appeared on Haaretz. Then the Guardian. Then CNN. NBC. Reuters. BBC. As it turns out, it wasn’t “creative” at all. It wasn’t a comedian lampooning Netanyahu. It was Netanyahu lampooning the Holocaust.
It should be noted here that no audio recordings, video evidence, or transcripts detailing anything close to the conversation Netanyahu recounted exist. Al-Husseini may not have been a peace-loving saint, but he was no inspiration for Hitler. Hitler was the inspiration for Hitler. Unsurprisingly, the prime minister got some basic facts wrong. He declared that El-Husseini was the grand mufti of Jerusalem during this alleged conversation with Hitler. El-Husseini’s tenure in that position ended in 1937. He didn’t meet Hitler until 1941. Netanyahu also claimed that El-Husseini died in Cairo. He died in Beirut. But then again, how important are a couple tiny inaccuracies when you’re telling really big lie?
Incidentally, Netanyahu is the son of an academic historian. So, while rabbis will tell you that being Jewish is genetic, being a historian is obviously not.
So, basically, it seems that Bibi made the whole thing up. And while making outrageous claims is something we have come to expect from him, this brings it all to a whole new (low) level. It’s evidence of a borderline psychotic disorder. Maybe not so borderline.
Luckily, his ridiculousness did not go unchecked. Chancellor Angela Merkel immediately clarified that Germany was responsible for the Holocaust. Israeli Labor opposition leader Isaac Herzog commented that Netanyahu “trivialized” the Holocaust and called on him to “correct himself immediately.” They weren’t the only ones to comment. Upon hearing of the fiasco, other voices emerged:
Bernie Madoff: “I have never heard a lie like that. I’m jealous.”
Dick Cheney: “When I was co-president, I could have used that type of talent.”
George W Bush: “I’m gonna have him help me write my autobiography. And read it to me.”
Bill Clinton: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”
Benjamin Netanyahu needs an intervention. And his own people need to undertake it. Hating Palestinians is one thing. Giving Hitler a pass is quite another. It’s living in an alternate universe. It’s seeing the world in a way no one else sees it. And not in a good Einstein-like way, but in a terrible, destructive, Hitler-like way.
As a Palestinian, I am quite accustomed to seeing Israel and its leaders invoke the Holocaust to somehow justify terrible actions against my people. That is strange and uncomfortable enough. But in Netanyahu’s twilight zone, policies of extrajudicial killing, house demolitions, massacres, land confiscations, and essentially everything Israel has done since 1948, are recast as some sort of “revenge” for the Holocaust. That’s now how he is making it all okay. And I have to admit, even I never thought it would get this bad.
Then again, I guess I should have seen it coming.