(JTA) — Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said that Islamic State terrorists are worse than the Nazis, spurring criticism from a top Australian Jewish leader.
“The Nazis did terrible evil, but they had a sufficient sense of shame to try to hide it,” Abbott said Thursday in a radio interview with the Fairfax station 2GB, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. “These people boast about their evil, this is the extraordinary thing. They act in the way that medieval barbarians acted, only they broadcast it to the world with an effrontery which is hard to credit.”
Abbott later said that he stood by his words, and “not by the interpretation that other people might want to put on it.” He also said he is “not in the business of trying to rank evil.”
Robert Goot, president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, called the comparison “injudicious and unfortunate.”
Goot said there is a “fundamental difference between organized acts of terrorism and a genocide systematically implemented by a state as essential policy.”
“The crimes of Islamic State are indeed horrific, but cannot be compared to the systematic roundup of millions of people and their dispatch to purpose-built death camps for mass murder,” he said.
Abbott made a similar comparison a year ago on the same radio program, according to the Herald, when he said that “the atrocities that were committed by the Nazis, by the communists and others, they were ashamed of them, they tried to cover them up. This mob, by contrast, as soon as they’ve done something gruesome and ghastly and unspeakable, they’re advertising it on the Internet for all to see, which makes them, in my mind, nothing but a death cult.”
Lawmaker Malcolm Turnbull, by contrast, said in July that the Islamic State was “not Hitler’s Germany, Tojo’s Japan or Stalin’s Russia” and that “we should be careful not to say or do things which can be seen to add credibility to those delusions.”