...Israel wasn’t created because of the Holocaust, as often is claimed; and, pace Jenny Peto, Holocaust education shouldn’t be mistaken for Zionist propaganda. But the Holocaust did represent the flesh-and-fire manifestation of the murderous hatred that made a protective homeland a historical necessity. And none of it feels like ancient history: In Yad Vashem’s very first exhibit hall, one encounters Nazi propaganda posters whose imagery regularly has been copied by the anti-Semitic cartoons published in modern Arab newspapers. Even in the West, Nazi-style anti-Semitic tropes have made their way into public debate. Last week, for instance, UN human-rights rapporteur Richard Falk published a cartoon featuring a Jewish dog feasting on Palestinian blood.
Yad Vashem has almost become “too popular,” its chairman told me. Many Israeli teenagers, anxious to understand the experience of aging grandparents, have became fixated on the subject. During my own visit, I fought for space among the exhibits with hordes of both foreign and Israeli visitors. A massive conference that drew 1,200 school teachers was underway. All of them had come on their own dime. About 70,000 uniformed members of the Israeli military also come every year.
Israeli Jews’ effort to reconnect with their own history provides evidence that the international effort to delegitimize and intimidate Israel has backfired. On the other hand, in the shadow of my Ramallah interviews, it also served to demonstrate just how large is the gulf between Israeli and Palestinian expectations about the sort of Israeli state that will emerge from any peace process. For Jews, Israel is, and will remain, a homeland for their own kind, including those escaping hate and persecution. Most Palestinians, on the other hand — even those advocating peace — imagine that Israel’s basic historical and demographic identity is still up for grabs: something that can be manipulated with birth rates and activism, if not outright violence...Most Palestinians are out to lunch/die-hard Zion-loathers.