In a January 27 Holocaust Memorial Day interview with RT, a Russian TV network funded by the Russian government, Columbia University's Joseph Massad used Holocaust inversion – the depiction of Jews and Israelis as contemporary Nazis – to turn the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's (IHRA) working definition of the historic hatred against its victims.
Using convoluted sentences embellished by dubious factoids to make his case, at 2:02 in the video, embedded below, Massad launches his distortions: "My understanding, also, from the Israeli press is that Netanyahu is seeking to impose on world leaders the adoption of the new definition by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, which has recently, in its definition of antisemitism, included any criticism of the state of Israel or Zionism."
In fact, the IHRA definition explicitly contradicts Massad's vicious claim, stating plainly that "criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic."
A little later we reach the nadir of his comments: "So to use this occasion today to try to impose, sort of, Israel's will, to whitewash its crimes, rather than seeing this occasion as the instance that should remind us all that criminals, those who commit war crimes, those who commit wars of aggression, should be opposed, should be brought to justice, is quite ironic [emphasis added]."
Given that the "occasion" to which he referred is Holocaust Memorial Day, Massad is clearly comparing Israel with Nazi Germany. What does the IHRA say about that?
One form of antisemitism, according to the IHRA, is "Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis." I.e., Holocaust inversion.
In a morally ordered world, Massad's rank antisemitism would embarrass both his employer and his colleagues in Middle East studies. But since both left behind decency and truth years ago in their quest for power, it's past time to recognize them for what they are: academic charlatans and purveyors of bigotry and hate.
David Gerstman is managing editor of Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum.