The word “Nazis” is a favorite curse among haredi protestors. Its various conjugations are a regular pillar in the soundtrack of repeated clashes between the ultra-Orthodox and the police. Anyone who dares touch ancient graves is dubbed with the nickname “Hitler,” “Eichmann,” or just a regular “Nazi” in Jerusalem’s Mea Shearim neighborhood.
“These are SS soldiers with smiles on their faces,” a protestor in Ashkelon yelled out at the row of police officers securing the operation of removing the ancient bones at Barzilai Hospital. The policemen did not bat an eyelid.
This despicable comparison had become so overused and ridiculous that it no longer manages to insult anyone. The last person to get emotional over it was a senior Justice Ministry official three years ago, when a haredi Knesset member told him that he is “worse than the Germans.” The official responded with a slap to the MK’s face and this brought his public service career to an end.
Of course, the haredim are not the exclusive owners of this kind of terminology. They may hold the record in terms of using it, but they are most certainly not the only ones. To some extent or another, it is also being used by settlers towards soldiers, or by leftists towards settlers.
When Knesset Member Yaakov Katz recommended two months ago setting up a mass detention camp for infiltrators from Sudan, an angry leftist thinker slammed him at the Channel Two studios, arguing that “you are a German infiltrator who entered this country.” This is precisely the same as telling the police officers in Ashkelon that they’re Nazis.
Depths of ignoranceSo where does this imagery come from? From the depths of hatred, no doubt, yet mostly it comes from the depths of ignorance and poor expression ability. When a person is angry at someone else, and immediately proceeds to utter the worst curses, it means such person possesses a limited vocabulary and finds it difficult to describe his anger more moderately. The range of his angry expressions starts with “Nazi” and ends with “Hitler”
It means that at school this person was not taught that the Hebrew language provides one with a few more options for saying something negative about someone else, without turning him into the essence of evil on earth.
Regrettably, the core curriculum may not resolve this problem. The Nazi curses at the haredi protests in Ashkelon are to some extent the equivalent of the “amazing,” “shocking” and “huge” we see used on Facebook and in talkbacks; it’s the same case of wild verbal exaggerations that serve us to express our feelings.
But what will be left for us to say when something truly amazing, shocking, or huge will take place here? What can the haredim in Mea Shearim today say about Hitler himself, if the Israel Police are Nazis and Border Guard officers are members of the SS?