The thesis was straightforward: The German people were in on the Holocaust; German culture and history harbored and nurtured an "exterminationist" version of anti-Semitism that simply awaited ignition from Nazism's torch.People now want to look at the votes of the Palestinians for Hamas as an expression of their victimhood, not an expression of their support for terrorism against Israel.
Goldhagen's thesis was overstated but fundamentally accurate. There was something unique to Germany that made fascism genocidal. Around the globe there have been dozens of self-declared fascist movements (and a good deal more that go by different labels), and few of them embraced Nazi-style genocide. Indeed, fascist Spain was a haven for Jews during the Holocaust.
Goldhagen's book was immensely controversial in Germany, where an odd cult of victimhood had settled in. According to this view, Germany was in effect "occupied" by the Nazis, and the German people were victims, too. Obviously, this is a very convenient interpretation for a country understandably desperate to distance itself from the Holocaust and various brutal military adventures.
The overnight nostalgia for Fatah is, of course, laughable. It hardly governed as a party of peace, democracy and secularism. But looked at through the eyes of many Palestinians, it probably looked a lot like the Weimar government did to many Germans: institutionally corrupt, ineffective and tainted by humiliating concessions to foreign powers and occupiers. (People forget how much the League of Nations carved up Germany - and how much it rankled Germans).Mrs. Farahat is a Palestinian woman who is quite proud of her three children who died in suicide bombings against Isreaelis and who is exhorting her three remaining sons to follow that same path. She was just elected to the Palestinian parliament as a member of Hamas. How is that for a campaign platform?
There are serious differences between German or Italian fascism and Hamas' Islamism. But these are largely intellectual and academic distinctions. As a social phenomenon, the Palestinians voted for politicians such as Mrs. Farahat. She belongs to a brutal, terroristic, irredentist, militant organization dedicated to restoring national pride at the expense of exterminating millions of people, who just happen to be Jews. This was no secret, and it is a form of condescension bordering on infantilism to assert that the Palestinians didn't know what they were voting for. If the new government had the means, it would be Palestine's willing executioners.
Recognizing this fact doesn't automatically mean we should treat the Palestinians like cartoon villains who can never change. That's as foolish as assuming they didn't know what they were getting when they cast a ballot for Mrs. Farahat.
But Goldberg is exactly right. The Palestinian voters knew what they were getting when they voted for Hamas and that was just fine with them. We shouldn't try to explain their vote away by saying they were just voting against the blatant corruption and incompetence of the Fatah party. Does anyone doubt that, if they had the military power of Nazi Germany, that they would act much differently towards the Jews of Israel?