That Damned Fourth Reich – does ‘Israel’ qualify? ~ by @docjazzmusic

21 April 2013 | by Dr. Tariq Shadid aka Doc Jazz

Tariq Shadid’s music video Hungry is a great political rap song, reiterating and expanding the notion of hunger and the first to rhyme people with sheeple. It is marred by a refrain ’never charged, never tried by the damned fourth reich’. Israel is not comparable to the Third Reich. The Third Reich was powered by an annihilatory drive that began with the political activists of the left, proceeded through the mentally ill and disabled, gypsies, Slavs and finally and most comprehensively, all Jewish people.

These were the comments of the postings editor on the website Jews for Justice for Palestinians (JFJFP), placed under my English translation of an Arabic newscast about the worsening condition of Samer Issawi. At the top of the page, my Samer Issawi poster is shown. There are two news articles on the page, combined in one post: an article from Ma’an News, and the translation that I mentioned, which was reblogged from Occupied Palestine, below it.

The postings editor’s comments apparently aim to replace the video of my song Hungry, which was embedded below the original Occupied Palestine post. With his subscript, It seems that the editor wishes to clarify why he has not included the music video in his own post. In his comment, he has spelled my name wrongly, as well as the name of the song. For clarity, I have corrected this in the quote at the beginning of this article.

Doc Jazz’s song Hungry: the music video

Calling ‘Israel’ the ‘Fourth Reich’ in my song Hungry apparently does not go down well with the editor, even though his comments also compliment the song as a whole. However, his reasoning contains a number of flaws that I wish to cordially address here.

First of all, an artist has some degree of poetic license, I am sure we all agree on that. On top of this, there is no hard science involved in determining which ‘Reich’ can legitimately be called number one, two, three or four. Let us first examine where the term ‘Third Reich’ comes from: it was coined in 1922 by the German nationalist writer Arthur Moeller van den Bruck. In his publication Das Dritte Reich (The Third Reich), Moeller envisioned the rise of an anti-liberal, anti-Marxist Germanic Empire in which all social class divisions would be reconciled in national unity under a charismatic “Führer” (leader). Moeller’s “Third Reich” referred to two previous Germanic Empires: Charlemagne’s medieval Frankish Empire and the German Empire under the Prussian Hohenzollern dynasty (1871-1918).

If we were to remain true to the basis of Moeller’s terminology, any ‘Fourth Reich’ should therefore by definition be a Germanic one. The JFJFP critic however clearly understands that ‘Fourth Reich’ in ‘Hungry’ refers to ‘Israel’ being compared to the infamous ‘Third Reich’ of the Nazis. Although he strongly disagrees, his opposition does not appear to be motivated by the argument that this ‘Fourth Reich’ is not Germanic.

Instead, he stipulates in which aspects he believes that ‘Israel’ differs from the Third Reich. However, this is where he misses the point. The ‘Fourth Reich’ is a poetic allusion to a Zionist empire that shares quite a few characteristics with the Third Reich of the Nazis. Just like Hitler’s Germany, ‘Israel’ has expansionist and imperialist aims, albeit in the Middle East instead of in Europe. The German Empire was fashioned upon an ideology with racist foundations at its very core, namely Nazism. The settler colony ‘Israel’ has a similarly racist ideology as its very raison d’être, namely Zionism. As for ‘annihilatory drive’, perhaps this critic should ask the inhabitants of 518 Palestinian villages that were annihilated after the expulsion of their inhabitants, whether they believe ‘Israel’ has an ‘annihilatory drive’ towards Palestine and its inhabitants, or not.

Cartoon by @CarlosLatuff

Cartoon by @CarlosLatuff


This brings us to another shared trait between Third and Fourth Reich, namely their affinity with genocidal and ethnic cleansing practices. While it could be argued that the policy of ‘Israel’ is not as explicitly genocidal as that of Hitler’s Germany, in that no rapid mass extermination of Palestinians is taking place continuously, its ongoing policy of ethnic cleansing and ‘Judaization’ of Palestine from the year of the Nakba until today, is indisputable. Just like in the German example given by the JFJFP critic, its oppression does not exclusively target Palestinians, but also black people, as recent examples of the treatment of Ethiopian Jews and other Africans have clearly demonstrated.

That having been said, there is no need to prove that ‘Israel’ is in any way a carbon copy of Nazi Germany, in order to use a derogatory term for our aggressors and call their ‘annihilatory’ state the ‘Fourth Reich’. No events in history are ever carbon copies of one another. Examining similarities can be interesting, but it kind of ends there. Every suffering of a population has its own unique aspects, as does every aggression undertaken by a violent racist state. The hypersensitivity that appears to exist among some Jews about not allowing comparisons does not necessarily have to be respected. They can’t dictate terminology, nor can they limit artistic expression. They can of course try, but no one can be placed under any obligation to comply.

No people should monopolize their own suffering. We must always approach humanity as equal across the entire spectrum of ethnicities. I believe that it is wrong to say that atrocities committed by one people against another are worse than others. My use of the term ‘Fourth Reich’ should be understood as a clear acknowledgement of Jewish suffering from the horrendous atrocities of the Nazi regime, not the opposite. For example, if other injustices in the world would be compared to those committed by ‘Israel’ to underline their cruelty, I as a Palestinian would not respond to these by criticizing the difference in the details. Rather, I for instance see strong similarities between the atrocities committed by the Zionist settler colony and the settler colonies of the Americas, in their ruthless ethnic cleansing and genocide upon Native Americans over the past centuries.

Therefore, my message remains unchanged. Samer Issawi was never charged, never tried, by that damned Fourth Reich. It rhymes perfectly with ‘hunger strike’, and it expresses exactly what I wish to say with the song. If Jews who are active for justice for Palestinians are serious about their opposition to the Zionist state, and believe that no exclusivist Jewish state should impose its presence upon Palestine, then I believe that this expression should be quite easy for them to digest. If, however, they are adamant about protecting the integrity and reputation of the Zionist state against comparisons with other cruel and highly comparable regimes, I must conclude that their struggle – unfortunately – is not the same as ours.

We will continue to call for the liberation of Palestine, and an end to exclusivism and racism, and continue to work towards the return of the Palestinian people to their homeland. It is up to whoever believes in the justice of this cause, to choose to support it, but never up to anyone but the Palestinians to decide upon its methods, goals or terminology.

Tariq Shadid

aka Doc Jazz

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: