Garlasco-Gate: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

[I know there are a lot of "G"'s in the post title, but there are more "Gee"s to come in the post.]

In the wake of HRW senior analyst Marc Garlasco’s lame response to the publicizing of his Nazi fetish, more of his posts on Nazi memorabilia sites are being unearthed.

And as you will see, they make more of a mockery of his claims they were “a handful of juvenile and tasteless postings” made on “websites that study Second World War artifacts” which merely “reflect the enthusiasm of the collector.”

The UN Watch blog has posted some truly disturbing examples.

Posting under the username Flak88, Garlasco pastes this screenshot of Hitler receiving the Nazi salute, commenting on the badges: “an interesting combo!

August 2005, Garlasco: “Great photos starting in the Jungvolk – very sad album with the death notices for all the boys he was with. One album has a visit from Hitler!  MANY 88 pics in action. Just a great grouping!”

Garlasco, 2004: “VERY nice Hitler signature section comparing how it changed over the years.”

Garlasco, in a post dated Nov. 11, 2005: “My Christmas wish is for peace in the Nazi collecting field (odd, huh?) and to get those guys together to bring some kind of understanding.”

Garlasco, 2008: “My idiot nephew didn’t check the ‘nazi’ show schedule and is getting married on the 22nd. I will not be denied!”

You can see the screenshots of the comments in the UN Watch blog post.

In addition, the following disturbing examples have been brought to my attention, which shows that the forums on which Garlasco participates are not merely serious collector sites devoid of hate speech and Nazi sympathies:

  • Garlasco’s conversation on badges with someone called NEllis, whose signature is “A man does not die for something which he himself does not believe in. -Adolf Hitler (Mein Kampf).”
  • robertdmountfor saying: “It often saddens me to read that the families / descendants of former high ranking personsonages from the TR are in difficulty financially… it saddens me because in many cases, the estate of their former husband / father / grandfather had been ‘confiscated’ or stolen by the allied forces as ‘booty’…..Who agrees with me that Hermann Goerings Reichsmarshall’s baton should be rightfully returned to Edda Goering?”
  • MHall adding some sympathetic words for Goering and using scare quotes to refer to Goering’s “victims.”

Garlasco clearly feels right at home with these people, which is interesting for someone who claims to be troubled by the “intense suffering during the Second World War and the genocidal campaign against the Jewish people”…and whose HRW reports constantly bash Israel.

Update: Anti-Israel, Jewish cretin Richard Silverstein defends Garlasco and outright lies about the origins of the story.

(http://www.richardsilverstein.com/tikun_olam/2009/09/14/israeli-foreign-ministry-smears-human-rights-watch-analyst/)

In the past few days a tempest in a teacup has been brewing regarding charges of pro-Nazi sympathy, raised by Avigdor Lieberman’s foreign ministry and amplified by the ministry’s megaphone NGO Monitor, against Marc Garlasco, Human Rights Watch’s senior military analyst.  (The story was clearly broken in the blogosphere, not the Israeli government who had nothing to do with it -ed.) The rap against Garlasco is that he is an avid collector of “Nazi” memorabilia.

That’s the claim. Here’s the truth: Marc Garlasco’s grandfather served in a Wehrmacht anti-aircraft unit (another relative served in a U.S. B-17 crew), hence he has an interest in the insignias or badges worn by members of these units. As such, he’s written two books aimed at collectors regarding this subject and he participates in online forums devoted to World War II memorabilia. In one posting, he’s pictured wearing a sweatshirt displaying an Iron Cross. Gerald Steinberg and his ilk are trumpeting the fact that the Iron Cross is a Nazi symbol. Not only isn’t it, it is today part of the official logo of the German army, the Bundeswehr, as you can see from this graphic on its website.

Garlasco collects other World War II memorabilia including objects representing U.S. forces.  He has never uttered a word supportive of Nazism.  In fact, the opposite.  The introduction to one of his books notes that the Nazi movement was evil and brought nothing but horror upon the world.  But all that will be forgotten as the pro-Israel far-right smear industry goes to work doing a “Freeman” on Human Rights Watch’s senior munitions expert.

Why do they hate him so?  HRW recently published a scathing report criticizing Israel’s attack on Gaza and its human rights record in general (it also criticized Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli civilians in a separate report which you’ll hear nothing about from Steinberg).  Garlasco was a key participant in this effort.  As such it is imperative that the Israeli government impeach the reporting in any way possible.  One of the cheapest and easiest is to raise charges of sleazy associations by someone like Garlasco.  Make him look like a weirdo, pervert, neo-Nazi.  That cuts the report down to a manageable size out of which the Israelis can then make short work.

The truth of the matter is that the Israeli-Palestinian issue can be a confusing mess.  You can’t reduce it to a sound byte.  Human rights work on this issue is also incredibly complex.  Rather than addressing complicated issues or refuting claims which are rock-solid, Israel chooses to slime the messenger.  Then it doesn’t have to do any heavy lifting in addressing the substance of HRW’s claims.  This is a tried and true tactic of bigots and demagogues (including politicians like Lieberman himself).  This is the reason Marc Garlasco is being slimed.

They even have someone who is otherwise one of the most lucid of Middle East analysts, Helena Cobban, dazed in the headlights.  Helena read the NGO Monitor report on Garlasco and came away thinking he was a near neo-Nazi pervert.  I have nothing but admiration for Helena.  But on this I think she got it wrong and several of the commenters in her post thread on this subject correctly took her credulousness to task.  Clearly, as a Quaker, war and militarism disgust her.  And I respect that view.  This country and world would be much the poorer for not having the good sense of Quakerism in it.  But to penalize Marc Garlasco because he doesn’t share her pacifism or detestation of things military seems unfair.

Do I think that the Marc Garlasco affair will harm or damage HRW in its future work regarding the I-P conflict?  No.  Does Helena?  Yes.  She sits on the HRW board.  I don’t.  I’m afraid that if Helena and Gerald Steinberg have their way, HRW will part ways with Garlasco.  This will satisfy no one except perhaps Helena.  It certainly won’t satisfy Israel or the lobby.  Nor will it have much impact on the public at large for whom this will be an internal matter.

And let’s keep our eye on the ball.  The true slime is the Israeli Occupation and the mayhem inflicted by the IDF against Palestinains who resist (and also violence against innocent Israeli civilians).  Making Marc Garlasco the issue is helping the pro-Israel right do its work for it.

Let me be clear.  I don’t know Marc Garlasco or the reasons for his hobbies.  They’re certainly not hobbies I would choose.  Some of the statements he made online which Helena quotes make me wince.  But he comes out of a military background (and calls himself a “military geek”) and served in the Pentagon for eight years.  Do we wish to criminalize or even ostracize people for their personal hobbies?  Is that what it’s come to?  Let’s not be hoodwinked by this vicious smear.  Let’s consider the source.

The victim of this smear has written an explanation of his behavior that should be read by anyone who wishes to be fair (Steinberg & Lieberman: don’t bother, there isn’t any further ammunition with which to impeach him).

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About Aussie Dave

An Aussie immigrant to Israel, Aussie Dave is founder of Israellycool, one of the world's most popular pro-Israel blogs (and the one you are currently reading) He is a happy family man, and a lover of steak, Australian sports and girlie drinks