“German citizens were disarmed by their government in the late 1930s, and by the mid-1940s Hitler’s regime had mercilessly slaughtered six million Jews and numerous others whom they considered inferior … Through a combination of removing guns and disseminating deceitful propaganda, the Nazis were able to carry out their evil intentions with relatively little resistance.”
Israeli political reporter and blogger Tal Schneider recently directed me to this article about Ben Carson’s rude opinions connecting the Jewish holocaust to the current US debate on weapons control, as published in Carson’s new book.
In recent years, for diverse reasons, the Republican Party has made tremendous efforts to brand itself as a pro-Israel body and as the biggest supporter of the Israeli government. Even without getting into the reasons that drove the GOP in that direction, and without proper critical discussion regarding the true purpose of that support, its motives and how it really affects Israeli politics, suffice it to say it is a game changing process.
Carson is arguing that without Nazi gun control, there was a chance that the Holocaust could have been prevented. I believe that the millions of dead American and Soviet soldiers who fought bravely against the Nazi war machine would see the absurdity of this discussion. It seems that the Republicans are blind to the weakness of their arguments in the “guns for all” agenda, because clearly they missed this one. Carson may very well be a good surgeon, but the stitching of his argument is poor, and it unravels through every historical prism.
There was no chance that a few more guns in the late 1930’s Germany would have changed the course of history, and everyone who studies the topic would come to this simple conclusion. If Carson had addressed this subject seriously, he would have learned about the Jewish resistance during the Holocaust and the brave attempts to rebel. But maybe the most important lesson that Carson should have learned was about the magnitude of Nazi power, which was defeated only by a combination of the strongest world powers of that time. The mere suggestion that the Jewish communities needed only to have a few more guns in order to prevent the Holocaust is, plain and simple, an insult to our disaster.
The discussion, however, should not only center on historic debates. The discussion should focus on politics, and this is maybe the most important issue of all in the Carson fiasco. The Republicans are trying to complete their branding as being pro-Israel, and by that describing the Democrats and specifically the Obama administration as the opposite. This incident has shown us the true face of the GOP, as we see one of the leading candidates, who is receiving massive Republican support, cynically using the most tragic event in modern Jewish history for his own rhetorical purposes.
I am not an American citizen, and therefore I do not try to take a side on the gun control dilemma. As an Israeli, a nation which still bears the scars of David Ben-Gurion’s decision to sink the Altalena, a ship carrying weapons, medical supplies and Jewish immigrants, because the weapon was shipped to a civic Zionist armed organization (The Irgun) and not to the newly formed IDF, my position is clear. Although Ben-Gurion’s decision had a horrible price of 19 lives, the message was explicit. The government, and only it, should have the monopoly on armed force. In Israel, only a few specific people carry personal weapons if they are not part of the IDF or the Israeli Police, and this is despite the fact that we are under constant security threats.
My father, who had passed away two years ago, was a survivor. He was born in Poland in 1936, and together with his family they survived the horrors of the Nazi occupation. Ben Carson took my personal and national history and used it in a way which should only be regarded with contempt. Twisting the truth in such a hideous way should not be a part of any political procedure, and in no way should the extreme right-wing agenda of the Republicans get its support on the back of our own disaster.
As a member of the Jewish people, I call on the American Jewish community to hold the Republican Party, and Carson specifically, accountable for this cynical act. The GOP leadership had a choice to make — they could have confronted the NRA and their supporters by denouncing Carson, but did no such thing.
The Republicans are trying to tell us that they are our biggest supporters. Those sayings, and the fact that no one from the Republican leadership confronted Carson and fellow weapon supporters on this issue, just shows their cynical view of supporting Israel — not as a cause by itself, but as a tool to use in order to address their true extreme agendas. A true friend of Israel would never agree to these kinds of statements, just as a true friend would not blindly support all of Netanyahu’s agenda, which often has nothing to do with the true interests of the state of Israel. The current Republican leadership supports the agenda of Sheldon Adelson and the strong evangelical lobby, which in many times contradict true Israeli interests. The Carson case is just a harsh example.
This article originally appeared at Huffingtonpost.com, October 10, 2015.