Against Israel and US Misuse of Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombing to justify Gaza Genocide

Protest in Solidarity with Palestine: Against JCRC Gala in San Francisco on 3/10/24. Photo courtesy of Tomomi Kinukawa.

Israeli politicians, including Benjamin Netanyahu, have made references to air bombings of Germany and Japan during WWII as well as the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to justify their genocide of Palestinian people. In response to global outrage against the continued “unconditional” US military aide to Israel, US law makers have also legitimized US support for Israeli genocide of Palestinians and US blocking of humanitarian aides by reproducing similar references to WWII. For example, according to the New York Times, Tim Walberg, a member of the House of Representative (R-Michigan), “openly mused during a town hall meeting on March 25 about wiping out Gaza,” telling his constituents “Get it over quick” and that “it should be like Nagasaki and Hiroshima.”

Bryan Mark Rigg, a pro-Israel researcher who claims to be a Holocaust expert,  has alleged that Palestinians are ruled by Hamas like Germans were by Nazis and as such, atomic bombs must be used to stop Hamas in the same manner that Japan and Nazi Germany were. In his recent book, Japan’s Holocaust: History of Imperial Japan’s Mass Murder and Rape During World War II, Riggs further argued: 

This book explores how a nation founded on freedom of religion responded to religious fanaticism and destroyed Imperial Japan, thereby preventing its protracted and continued mass murder throughout the world. When looking at WWII, we get high marks in these areas: We destroyed Hirohito’s religious fanatics; we saved millions of additional Asians from being added to the list of Japan’s Holocaust victims; we adhered to the laws of war; and we re-built Japan’s country in a massive, postwar humanitarian effort and actually gave the territory back to them once transformed into a democracy so that they could rule themselves again! We fought the good fight, but we still have more to do. 

Rigg argues that Japanese were different from and more evil than Germans for their “religious fanaticism” and lack of remorse for their “Holocaust,” which he contends was worse than the Nazi Holocaust.

The increasing references to the firebombing of Japan as well as the dropping of atomic bombs on two of its largest cities during WWII, is a dangerous development irrespective of which side of the isle US policy makers belong. Overt Republican statements, reflect and legitimize the US President’s Joe Biden (#GenocideJoe) refusal to stop arming Israel’s genocide, despite his hollow expressions of remorse over Palestinian deaths. As the Washington Post (3/30/24) puts it, “The Biden administration in recent days quietly authorized the transfer of billions of dollars in bombs and fighter jets to Israel despite Washington’s concerns about an anticipated military offensive in southern Gaza that could threaten the lives of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians.” 

We condemn and reject the false conflation propagated by Zionists and white supremacists that equate Japanese imperialism and Palestinian anti-colonial liberation movement to legitimize Israel’s indiscriminate mass genocide of Palestinian people and its use of weapons of mass destruction.

International law grants Palestinian people the right to resist, including armed resistance to achieve their goals of self-determination, not unlike other colonized people, such as the Vietnamese, South Africans, Puerto Ricans, to name a few. 

While it is appropriate to compare Imperial Japan’s legitimization of its use of both religion and “scientific” racism, i.e. social Darwinism, to Israel’s, US, Germany’s, and other imperialist and settler colonial regimes, the comparison to anti-colonial resistance movement is erroneous at best and cynical and manipulative at worst. The South African legal team, at the ICJ, for example, cited Netanyahu’s genocidal invocation of Amalek, a biblical reference to total and indiscriminate annihilation of a people, “Remember what Amalek has done to you,” was understood by the Israeli military and society as well as international analysts (55:40) that it justifies genocide. From manifest destiny to “Kill the Indian and Save the man,” US Christian fundamentalism has also driven US settler colonialism from its inception to our current day. As well, it is not inappropriate to compare the worship of Japan’s emperor, and national Shintoism that justified Japan’s colonial aggression to Israeli and US religious fundamentalism. 

Zionists and white supremacists have applied colonial rapist myth in their attempt to suppress global Palestinian solidarity movements. Through repeating imperialist, orientalist, and Islamophobic white savior ideology, Zionists and white supremacists erroneously label Palestinian anti-colonial liberation movement as “religious fanaticism” in their attempt to build consensus for genocide. Simultaneously, by siding with victims of Japanese imperialism, Zionists attempt to cement their cynical misuse of the Holocaust to deny Palestinian victimhood. 

By falsely claiming to support victims of Japanese imperialism as well as those of white supremacy, Zionists have attempted to abuse the Holocaust tragedy by misusing Jewish victimhood status in global racial politics to legitimize Israeli settler colonialism and genocide of Palestinian people. As I showed elsewhere, this “support” for the colonized and oppressed has been hollow, to say the least, and has always been driven by an Islamophobic, orientalist, anti-Arab, and anti-Palestine racism. In fact, when  the denialist Abe administration increased trade with Israel and amplified the Zionists’ version of denialism, Zionists quickly  forgave Japanese denialists for their denial of Japan’s colonial and war-time crimes. Through the series of several references to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, however, Zionists are quick to retract the short-lived forgiveness to Japanese imperialism and to restate their support for victims of Japanese imperialism, simply because it is useful for legitimizing ongoing genocide of Palestinians.  

Photo uploaded on Instagram by Hiroshima Palestine vigil.

People in the world understand that imperial Japan was an aggressor and a colonizer of people in Asia and the Pacific from the nineteenth century till the end of WWII, while it continues its settler colonial domination against Okinawans, Ainus, Zainichi Koreans and Chinese, and Buraku communities to this day. They were not the victims. People in Japan must confront and end its Japanese supremacist colonial aggression, apologize to victims, and enact reparations. For people in Japan, standing in solidarity with Palestine means confronting its own past and present settler colonialism and condemning its collusion with Israel and the US. Japanese imperialism does not dismantle western imperialism, but on the contrary it reinforces its racist ideology. Master’s tools never dismantle the master’s house. 

To stop Israel’s ongoing attack on Gaza, and the rest of Palestine that attempt to erase Palestinian people and their resistance, it is most urgent for all of us to stand in solidarity with and learn from Palestinian liberation movement. Condemning conflation between Japanese imperialism and Hamas’ anticolonial liberation resistance is most urgent to stop Israel, US, and their colluders like Japan from escalating already the most brutal genocide of our time. From our /their own painful struggles, the communities fighting imperial Japan and current denialism understand that there is only one side to genocide. It is in the best interests of victims of imperial Japan and US racism and militarism to dismantle the US-led imperial establishment that has granted impunity to Israel, US, and Japan for their colonial and war-time crimes, gave them permission to break and ignore the international law, and to attack, criminalize, and silence fierce anti-colonial liberation movements led by the colonized. The same establishment has also granted impunity to other Western imperial states for their colonial and war-time crimes, including Germany’s crimes against Namibia and other African, Asian and Pacific countries. It is only by following the leadership of Palestinian resistance and all Indigenous and oppressed people, including those who have been colonized by Japan, we would be able to decolonize the bloody imperial genocidal establishment.

Tomomi Kinukawa (they/them/theirs) is a queer scholar-activist with Zainichi Korean and Japanese ancestors. They are currently teaching in the Department of Women and Gender Studies at San Francisco State University. They have a Ph.D. in the history of science from the University of Wisconsin Madison and BA from the University of Tokyo. 

A. Yoshida (she/her/her): A community member who strongly believes that everyone has the equal human rights.