conflict & communication online, Vol. 16, No. 1, 2017
ISSN 1618-0747




Wilhelm Kempf
On the meaning of NS comparisons in Israel-critical discourse

Apart from Holocaust denial, probably nothing outrages Israelis and Jews around the world more than comparisons of Israeli Palestinian policy with National Socialist Jewish policy. Particularly, if Germans make such comparisons, the obvious suspicion is that they are an expression of secondary anti-Semitism. On the other hand, in Western democracies it is virtually part of political culture to fall back on NS comparisons whenever one wants to dramatize precarious human rights situations and justify the need for action to change them.

Based on new analyses of survey data published in Kempf (2015), this study shows that NS comparisons can constitute not only anti-Semitic demonization of Jews but also anti-Zionist dramatization of the Palestinian human rights situation. People who work consequently and without reservation for human rights, however, indeed see a strong need for action to change Israeli policy, but strictly refuse to equate it with NS policy.


  englischer Volltext  

The author:
Wilhelm Kempf is Professor emeritus of Psychological Methodology and Peace Research at the University of Konstanz, Germany. Since 2002 he is the editor of conflict & communication online ( His fields of research include quantitative and qualitative research methodology, nonviolent conflict resolution, peace journalism and the construction of social reality by the mass media. He currently works on a research project on “Criticizing Israel, coming to terms with German history and differentiating aspects of modern anti-Semitism”.

eMail:, Website: