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Posted By Irmin Vinson On June 9, 2011 @ 2:25 pm In North American New Right | Comments Disabled
Lessons in Tolerance
Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List concludes with a sentimental epigraph, labeled as a quotation from the Talmud: “Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire.” This declaration of humane universalism is appealing to many, and it became part of the publicity campaign for the film, but it is not genuinely Jewish. As historian Peter Novick reports, in his informative The Holocaust in American Life, “the traditional version, the one taught in all Orthodox yeshivot, speaks of ‘whoever saves one life of Israel.’” The traditional Talmudic text thus stands in stark contrast to Spielberg’s epigraph. To save one Jewish life (“one life of Israel”) is to save the entire world, because in Jehovah’s eyes Jewish lives are infinitely precious and non-Jewish lives are not. Far from teaching the brotherhood of man, the Talmud teaches a Jewish supremacy so absolute that a single Jewish life is deemed as valuable as the totality of all other lives. 
The Talmud, Judaism’s most sacred document, exists in two major recensions. The apparently universalist text that Schindler’s List quotes appears in the Jerusalem Talmud, the strikingly ethnocentric text in the authoritative Babylonian Talmud. The latter, the real Talmud, contains the definitive text taught in all Orthodox religious schools and memorized by generations of studious young Jews, but less than a moment’s reflection will disclose the practical impossibility of including, in a film addressed to a non-Jewish audience, a Talmudic aphorism that so markedly depreciates non-Jewish lives. Spielberg prudently chose instead to present Judaism as a universalist faith with an extravagant notion of the value of each individual life, a Semitic brand of Christianity. He was not teaching a Jewish moral lesson but rather an exaggerated piece of Christian humanism, Talmudic tribal wisdom turned on its head for the educational benefit of non-Jews, reflecting their religious traditions, not his own. 
The chasm between genuine Talmudic ethnocentrism and Spielberg’s bogus Talmudic universalism reveals some significant issues in the marketing of the Jewish Holocaust. In the Diaspora, where Jews form small minorities among their host populations, public commemoration of Jewish deaths during World War II cannot explicitly privilege Jewish lives over other lives, however much Jewish propagandists wish that it could. It must instead teach universalist lessons filled with attractive humanitarian ideals, lessons that offer the promise of moral improvement to anyone who successfully internalizes them. We become better by watching Schindler’s List, learning the infinite value of all human life and the moral obligation to respect minority differences, just as we become better by visiting Holocaust museums, where the same lessons are taught. Yet moral improvement effected by commemorating Jewish deaths is only a more subtle form of the same tribal ethnocentrism that Spielberg sought to conceal. In contemporary America and throughout much of the West an acknowledged legacy of victimization in the past is a source of political power in the present, and incessant commemoration of the Jewish Holocaust is, as Novick puts it, the reward for winning a “gold medal in the Victimization Olympics,” an official recognition of preeminent victimhood that makes Jews more politically powerful even while we and they jointly remember their wartime powerlessness. Commemorating Jewish weakness sixty years ago is tantamount to celebrating Jewish strength today. Holocaust commemoration tells us, moreover, that Jewish deaths in World War II were much more significant than other deaths, since collectively they constitute a unique archive of invaluable universal truths, although during their lives most of the Holocaust’s nonsurvivors were themselves perfectly indifferent to the universal truths that their deaths would later be made to teach. The public discourse of the Holocaust can therefore only be tortuously deceptive, since its underlying motive is, as Norman Finkelstein argues, “Jewish aggrandizement,” while its overt message is human brotherhood, a universal truth that Judaism, history’s most radically ethnocentric religion, has wisely never acknowledged. 
“American Jews,” says Rabbi Michael Berenbaum, a former director of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM), “reinforce their commitment to pluralism by recalling the atrocities that sprang from intolerance.”  The claim that institutionalized recollection of German intolerance and German atrocities will foster American pluralism takes us beyond pious sentiments about human brotherhood. Speaking in code, a code not yet deciphered by most Whites, Berenbaum was cautiously stating American Jewry’s longstanding commitment to racial balkanization (“pluralism”) through multiculturalism and non-White immigration, both of which, because they dissolve Euro-America’s race-cultural cohesiveness, are in the perceived group interests of American Jewry. The Jewish Holocaust serves as multiracialism’s reigning mythology. Since racial balkanization plainly does not benefit the Euro-American majority, our evolving multiracial anti-nation requires some overarching myth that inhibits the expression of majority group interests. A political regime whose survival depends on White passivity must discredit White self-assertion, and the Holocaust helps achieve that objective by teaching Whites to fear their own interests while deferring to the interests of others. The Jewish aggrandizement implicit in Holocaust commemoration must, however, remain concealed beneath the opaque language of tolerance, since systematic deception is the price Jews pay to maintain the improbable fiction of their selfless commitment to pluralism.
The glaring flaw in the Holocaust’s discourse of tolerance, the point at which Jewish self-interest becomes most apparent, is Israel, the world’s only openly racialist nation, an ethnostate dedicated not to tolerance and pluralism and scrupulous avoidance of atrocities, but to the preservation and advancement of a single Volk, the Jewish people. Israel won its very existence through a violent assertion of racial will inconsistent with the racial passivity that Holocaust lessons mandate. Most Israeli towns once had Arab names, as Moshe Dayan candidly acknowledged. At now Arab-rein Samariah, a former Palestinian town whose indigenous population was expelled during Israel’s War of Independence, Jews have brazenly erected a Holocaust museum dedicated to anti-Nazi ghetto fighters, a commemoration of old Jewish weakness that sanctifies the effects of new Jewish strength. “The heart of every authentic response to the Holocaust,” writes philosopher Emil Fackenheim, “… is a commitment to the autonomy and security of the State of Israel.” Schindler’s List accordingly ends in Jewry’s Mideast refuge from European hatred, indicating that all the preceding trials and travails of the film’s Jewish survivors teach a specifically Zionist lesson. In the West the lessons of the Jewish Holocaust prescribe multiculturalism and Third World immigration; for Israel, the Jewish state, they prescribe the exact opposite, teaching the right of Jews to live among other Jews within their own autonomous nation, protected from contaminating pluralism by a Jews-only immigration policy. “The world,” Alan Dershowitz believes, “owes Jews, and the Jewish state, which was built on the ashes of the Holocaust, a special understanding.”  Jewish nationalism is sanctioned by the Holocaust and merits our special understanding; other nationalisms, especially White nationalisms, are morally prohibited.
Blu Greenberg, wife of Rabbi Irving Greenberg, an influential advocate of American Holocaust commemoration, once believed that Jewish wartime suffering should remain an internal group memory, sacred to Jews alone, but quickly changed her opinion after attending an interfaith Holocaust service, where she found it “moving and comforting to see Christians share tears with us, acknowledge Christian guilt, and commit themselves to the security of Israel.” Christian tears and Christian guilt equal Jewish power, as Blu Greenberg recognized, yet tears of guilt yield more valuable political benefits than do mere tears of commiseration. Our willingness to accept guilt and American Jewry’s eagerness to assign it jointly form the precondition of all the Holocaust’s meanings and the glue that holds them together in a largely uncontested set of often contradictory lessons. The public discourse of the Jewish Holocaust is incoherent: it speaks in the universalist language of tolerance and inclusion, while justifying Jewish particularism in Israel; it claims to find in stories of Jewish wartime suffering distinctively Jewish humanitarian lessons, applicable to everyone everywhere, while borrowing them from the historical religion of the West; it teaches human brotherhood, while elevating the suffering of Jews far above all other suffering; it commemorates Jewish powerlessness, while demonstrating Jewish power. But beneath all its deceptions and contradictions lies the message of broad Western responsibility for German mistreatment of Jews, a special culpability which Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits, a self-styled Holocaust theologian, has called “the measureless Christian guilt toward the Jewish people.”
Institutionalized Holocaust commemoration in the United States presupposes that White Americans are notably deficient in the various moral qualities that Holocaust remembering purportedly inculcates, whereas Jews, owing to their group experience of Nazi persecution, are the appropriate teachers of necessary lessons in racial tolerance. Those peculiar meanings did not, needless to say, arise unaided from stories of German atrocities against European Jewry. The truth of our collective guilt required an aggressive reinterpretation of the Second World War, an assault on the moral legitimacy of the Western nations that fought and won it. Through a remarkable transformation, the Allied victors have become co-agents in the crimes and alleged crimes of the regime they defeated, and the war itself has been reimagined as a Judeocentric moral test, which all of us conspicuously failed. Our measureless guilt, together with the entire edifice of Holocaust commemoration erected upon it, is a doctrine of moral equivalence projected back into the past in order to shape the present.
An Early Holocaust Lesson
In 1944, as the war in Europe was drawing to a close, Jewish playwright Arthur Miller, then in his late twenties, sat down to write Focus, his first and only novel. It would be a critical moral fable about his fellow Americans, for Miller did not share the heroic self-image and traditional patriotism that characterized most other Americans during the war years. Focus, published in 1945, would be an imaginative elaboration of a very simple thesis: being a Jew in Roosevelt’s America was like being a Jew in Hitler’s Germany. In their irrational hatred of the Jewish Other, White Americans, the same White Americans who were then fighting fascism in Europe and the Far East, were no different from Nazis.
Lawrence Newman, the novel’s WASP protagonist, is a corporate personnel manager whose quiet bourgeois world is permanently disrupted after he begins to wear eyeglasses, which strangely make him look Jewish, a dangerous liability in the America of Miller’s fertile imagination. Without glasses Newman is a gray-flanneled Episcopalian, a normal White American, despite his ethnically ambiguous surname; with glasses he is perceived and treated as a despised Jew, persecuted and even attacked by other normal White Americans, all of whom are racist and anti-Semitic, as Newman had been before he gained his factitious Jewishness. The novel’s organizing narrative conceit, that eyeglasses can turn an anti-Semitic Gentile into a Jew, conveys an obvious Judeocentric meaning: Lawrence Newman, in his culpable blindness to the intolerance that surrounds him, must first be seen as a Jew in order to see clearly. Thus in his new role as a reluctant Jew, now seeing and experiencing the world through the Jewish lenses conferred by his racial marginalization, Newman gradually discovers that his homogeneous New York neighborhood, which had once seemed a benign social environment of communal amity, is in reality, beneath its placid surface, a seething cauldron of xenophobia and hate, at least for anyone with the misfortune to be different, or in his case merely to appear different. “Behind these snug, flat-roofed houses,” Newman now perceives, “a sharp-tipped and murderous monster was nightly being formed, and its eyes were upon him.”
The novel’s historical context is central to its subject. In Focus the European war, depicted in our propaganda as a titanic struggle of good against evil, seems little more than a distant contest between two rival groups of pogromists, each nurturing its own “murderous monster” of racial hatred. In Europe German Nazis conduct mass hangings of Jews, while at home angry anti-Semites, organized into the Christian Front, part of a large network of patriotic organizations spread across the country, beat Jews and rape Puerto Ricans as they await the return of the American military, who will then assume the lethal role of storm troops in driving Jews from America, beginning first in New York, the center of Jew-hatred. White America’s cleansing war against Jewry will begin, as an activist neighbor informs Newman, “when the boys come home,” since American combatants in the European war are at one with their German enemies in their implacable anti-Semitism.
In the political environment we now all inhabit, nothing in Focus is startling, nothing would be out of place in a sensitivity workshop or an anti-racialist educational exercise. The novel’s vision of a virulently racist America would have appeared radical in 1945; now it is commonplace, especially for young Whites immersed in a rigorous program of multicultural miseducation. Miller, alarmed by the failure of non-Jews to comprehend “the threatening existence of Nazism,” and unimpressed by the fact that many men of his age cohort were then dying in Europe fighting Germans, took it upon himself to teach an early version of what would eventually become the most insidious of the Jewish Holocaust’s numerous lessons, namely that pathological (“Nazi”) hatreds lurk behind the West’s superficially civilized exterior. Whereas American wartime propaganda had, naturally enough, presented NS Germany as the moral antonym of the United States in particular and of the democratic West in general, Miller substituted a much different contrastive structure, placing innocent Jews on one side and lethally malevolent Whites on the other, with racial minorities like Blacks and Puerto Ricans in ancillary roles as occasional victims of White intolerance. This structure, which Miller may have been the first to discover, conflated Germans and their enemies in order to Nazify White Gentiles as a whole. Focus was a thorough defamation of Euro-America for its endemic anti-Semitism and racial hatred, the purpose of which was to efface any significant moral distinction between ourselves and the propaganda image of the Nazi. Miller’s nazification required the Nazi as the acknowledged representation of evil, but his concrete targets were White Americans, who had not yet seen their own visible racial pathologies.
Gratitude has never been a Jewish character trait. “The threatening existence of Nazism,” anyone unfamiliar with Jewish idiosyncrasies might think, should have encouraged Arthur Miller to reflect upon the very significant differences that distinguished Hitler’s Germany from Roosevelt’s America, and to count his blessings. NS Germany, committed to the elimination of Jewish influence from German society, was a systematically anti-Semitic regime; the United States was not. American anti-Semitism, despite Miller’s wildly paranoid fears, had never become a serious political force, and any reasonable litany of Jewish complaints against Euro-Americans would have been brief: country clubs that excluded Jews; one prominent lynching, of convicted child killer Leo Frank; a general irritation at Jewish vulgarity; a well-justified suspicion of Jewish business practices; occasional complaints about the Jewish affection for Marxism and political subversion, also well-justified.  No pogroms, no organized violence, none of the systematic anti-Semitism that Jewish group behavior has often produced. The remarkable ease with which organized Jewry successfully pilloried Charles Lindbergh, over his mild criticism of Jewish agitation for American entry into the European Civil War, is a telling case in point: in a contest between the power of the label “anti-Semite” and the prestige of America’s most admired national hero, the national hero came out the loser. The United States was, as Adolf Hitler observed, the Jews’ “new hunting grounds,” a tolerant environment surprisingly conducive to Jewish interests; but Miller refused to acknowledge his good fortune, since that would have required a tacit compliment for the White American nation he so passionately hated.
Focus, with its often cartoonish didacticism, is no literary landmark. It was, however, a profoundly prophetic novel, and it helpfully illustrates how the ideological destination of the Jewish Holocaust, the Judeocentric anti-racialism that Holocaust commemoration would later teach, was already implicit in the ethnic discontents and cultural estrangement of American Jewry. An imaginative Jew writing before the liberation of the German concentration camps could arrive at Nazifying Holocaust propaganda without the Holocaust, which suggests that the Holocaust does not represent events during the Second World War but rather reveals Jewish attitudes toward their benefactors. The Holocaust, as an idea, was latent Jewish racial aggression awaiting both a symbol and an opportunity to express itself.
The Nazi Camps
In April of 1945 Dwight Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander in Western Europe, ordered troops under his command to tour Ohrdruf, a sub-camp of Buchenwald and the first concentration camp on German soil to be liberated. He had an educational purpose in mind: “We are told that the American soldier does not know what he is fighting for. Now, at least, he will know what he is fighting against.” General Eisenhower was not alone in believing that the camps lent moral clarity to the war in Europe. Anti-Nazi propaganda had ascribed to Germans a panoply of malevolent qualities distinguishing them from us: arrogance, cruelty, blind obedience to criminal orders, unprovoked violence against the defenseless. Like most modern war propaganda, it had externalized evil in the enemy, thereby bestowing heroic goodness on all the enemy’s enemies, the Western democracies and their gallant Soviet ally. The liberated camps, with their legions of emaciated corpses and often skeletal inmates, were vivid confirmation of German darkness and Allied light. The Nazi concentration camp retroactively provided, as Novick remarks, “the symbol that defined the meaning of the war.” American soldiers could now see with their own eyes solid evidence of the evil they had been fighting against.
Sixty years after the event we now generally assume that American and British liberators of German concentration camps were witnesses to the “Holocaust” and that the inmates whom they liberated were its Jewish “survivors.” That assumption, as Novick points out, is a mistake, our own retrospective interpretation of the evidence, a misinterpretation shaped by the centrality that the Holocaust, a term none of the liberators would have understood, has acquired in our collective consciousness. In photographs of camp survivors we now see Jews, but in the spring of 1945 Allied soldiers did not see Jews in the flesh-and-blood inmates they liberated. They saw political prisoners and resistance fighters, “the men of all nations that Hitler’s agents had picked out as prime opponents of Nazism,” as a reporter for Life described the inmates in Dachau. Most journalistic accounts of the liberation of the camps spoke in similar language; “Jew” did not appear anywhere in Edward R. Murrow’s famous radio broadcast from Buchenwald. “There was nothing,” Novick writes, “about the reporting on the liberation of the camps that treated Jews as more than among the victims of the Nazis; nothing that suggested the camps were emblematic of anything other than Nazi barbarism in general; nothing, that is, that associated them with what is now designated ‘the Holocaust.’” The horror camps, as Eisenhower called them, were not evidence of Nazi “racism” nor were their inmates “survivors” of a genocidal Final Solution against Jews. The camps were instead the results of Nazi dictatorship, evidence of political crimes against anti-Nazis that served by contrast to confirm Anglo-American traditions of political liberty. Godless German fascists were visibly capable of such crimes against political opponents, whereas we, in the democratic West, were not.
In one important respect their interpretation then was much closer to the truth than ours now: only about a fifth of the prisoners liberated by Americans were Jews. The majority by far were non-Jews, some of them real resistance fighters, many apolitical criminals, many others Communists interned for the duration of the war as political enemies of the anti-Marxist NS Reich. Although our eyes have been trained to see, in photographs and old newsreels of Dachau and Buchenwald, Jews targeted for racial destruction, our eyes deceive. Jews formed the majority of internees in German concentration camps in the East, notably at Auschwitz, but not in the camps on German soil and thus not in the camps that Americans liberated. For Americans in 1945, the human face of the Nazi concentration camp was expressed, for the most part, in photographs of European Gentiles, not dead Jews. The prevailing political view of the camps, which saw their inmates as brave co-belligerents in our crusade against Nazi tyranny, was perfectly convincing.
It should be superfluous to mention that none of the American liberators felt culpable, none felt that they were somehow complicit in the carnage before them, none felt that they should shed tears of contrition for the victims. Some humanitarians warned of publicizing photographic evidence of Nazi atrocities for fear that it might inflame a spirit of vengeance against prostrate Germany; no one worried that Nazi atrocities would induce feelings of guilt among the victors for having failed to prevent them or for having been part of the cultural system that perpetrated them. Our side, the democratic West, had just defeated them, the fascist dictatorships. Dachau and Buchenwald testified to our goodness and their evil. Liberty had defeated tyranny. It was a polarizing and triumphalist interpretation, befitting the victors of history’s most destructive conflict.
The world would be a better place today if Germany and her allies had won the war in Europe; it would be an immensely better place if the war had never been fought in the first place. Yet given the war’s unrecoverable finality in 1945, the triumphalist victors’ narrative was a reasonable interpretation of an unnecessary bloodletting, at least if you belonged to any of the nations that had fought on the winning side of Europe’s Civil War. If you were a German, our perception of your evil was a terrible libel against you and your descendants. A war’s losers, however, seldom write the history of their defeat. History is usually written by the victors, and our victors’ history served our parochial interests. It said something good about ourselves, and it dignified the many Allied lives that the fratricidal European war had needlessly cost.
Eisenhower, after his visit to Ohrdruf, wrote a letter to General George Marshall: “The things I saw beggar description. . . . The visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty and bestiality were so overpowering. . . . I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in a position to give first hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to propaganda.”
Eisenhower’s words are chiseled into the stone of the USHMM’s exterior wall, providing Gentile validation of the Judeocentrism enshrined within. The words are true — that is, General Eisenhower actually wrote them — but they have now been appropriated into a much different discourse, Jewish Holocaust discourse, so that in their new context, as part of a monument on American soil commemorating Jewish wartime suffering in Europe, Eisenhower is made to speak of the Holocaust, the industrially planned extermination of six million Jews, a racial rather than a political crime. The difference is substantial, not simply a new label attached to old events. For the Jewish Holocaust is the attenuation and even the displacement of the heroic version of the Second World War — the version that, rightly or not, the Allied soldiers who fought and died winning it believed — in favor of another version, a Jewish version that imputes to the victors the same sins as the vanquished. Whereas the men who liberated the camps thought that they had, like St. George killing the dragon, brought an end to an evil, in the Holocaust discourse that would emerge twenty years later they had merely uncovered their own moral failure, whose source still must be eradicated.
European Jews were killed not only by Germans but also by “apathy” and “silence” in the United States and Great Britain, the apathy and silence being products of a pervasive anti-Semitism that the Anglo-American world shared with its German enemies. This staple of Holocaust discourse, repeated in many forms by many Jewish authors, is a transparently ad hoc attempt to surmount a large, inconvenient obstacle: the Western Allies did not themselves kill European Jews. The allegation that Hitler attempted genocide, the physical extermination of all Jews, might have remained politically inert, useful for extracting reparations from Germany but providing no special advantages in the United States, unless it could be framed so inclusively that our racial intolerance, an ocean away from Auschwitz, could be numbered among its causes. Thus in addition to polemical studies situating the Holocaust as the culmination of a long history of European anti-Semitism, there has emerged in recent decades a growing body of equally polemical scholarship, with titles like The Jews Were Expendable and The Abandonment of the Jews, inculpating the Allies, and in particular the United States, for their failure to prevent the Holocaust. With the outbreak of the European war, the fate of six million Jews fell into the hands of the American government, and the American government, reflecting the anti-alien bigotry of the American people, deliberately allowed them to die.
In their failure to rescue Jews, USHMM spokesman Helen Fagin charged a decade ago, Americans were “just as guilty” as Jew-killing Germans. Fagin was summarizing, more bluntly than most official Holocaust propagandists, an ideological revolution that had transformed the German concentration camp from specific evidence of Nazi tyranny into a symbol of generalized White guilt. She was also stating the implicit justification for her museum. White schoolchildren visit the USHMM, along with dozens of similar institutions, not to honor American wartime heroism or to recapture the moral certainty that the camps once evoked, but to learn the lessons of their ancestral culpability, discovering how our old selective (“racist”) immigration laws and our willful failure to save Jews caused the Holocaust, both claims being important elements in the museum’s educational mission. Many of the same photographs that Americans saw in 1945 are reproduced, and the physical form of the camps therefore remains similar, but their moral content has been dramatically altered. We have become complicit in the events that “Holocaust” designates.
“If you are brought up a Jew,” the anthropologist Ashley Montagu (Israel Ehrenberg) once opined, “you know that all non-Jews are anti-Semitic.” Accordingly at the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, which teaches “the dynamics of racism and prejudice in America and the history of the Holocaust,” visitors must enter the various educational exhibits by passing through a door marked “Prejudiced” in red-neon lights. Although another door is marked “Not-Prejudiced,” for those who imagine they should be allowed to tour the museum without accepting racial guilt, that second door cannot in fact be opened. It is locked, a fraudulent object lesson encapsulating the Holocaust’s core anti-racialist meaning. Our moral deficiencies — our “racism” and our “prejudices” — are central to the Holocaust’s subject matter, and we cannot learn tolerance, and cannot even tour the Tolerance Museum, without first acknowledging them. Since prejudice against others is often roughly equivalent to a preference for one’s own, Holocaust education Nazifies the politically dangerous White racial cohesion it threatens. “Prejudice,” we must learn, is an especially wicked condition, and all of us, our Jewish instructors excepted, are afflicted with it.
In the Tolerance Museum, run by militantly Zionist Orthodox Jews, Columbus and the Pilgrim Fathers keep company, as examples of genocidal intolerance, with Hitler, Saddam Hussein and Pol Pot, which is a good indication of the scale of the museum’s political ambitions. Not only our present deficiencies but even our pre-national origins must be reinterpreted in the Holocaust’s massive shadow, our old offenses against the canons of tolerance serving as harbingers of the infinitely greater crime to follow. Within this Holocaust-centered historiography the lives and the prejudices of our ancestors become prefigurations of Nazi crimes against Jews, a model of history that can accommodate the commemoration of any number of crimes against various racial minorities, provided that the Jewish Holocaust remains the ultimate crime that all of them unambiguously portend, much as scriptural antetypes anticipate their fulfillment. Intolerant Pilgrims killed Pequod Indians, a visitor to the Tolerance Museum will learn, and intolerant Germans would later kill Jews. The earlier crime was a portent of the definitive crime, since the Holocaust is the moral terminus toward which all of Western history was directed, the defining event which orientates everything that preceded it and everything that followed. The Tolerance Museum — its Hebrew name is Beit Hashoah, House of the Shoah — teaches explicit Holocaust lessons that derive their power from the institutionalized elevation of Jewish wartime suffering into history’s most horrible crime and from the concomitant moral obligation, now embedded in the educational system, to ensure that it never recurs, an obligation that requires continual instruction and continual self-inspection, as well as a systematic reevaluation of our history. All of us, Germans and non-Germans alike, must, if we follow the advice of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, self-police and combat our inner Nazi, lest our racial prejudices metastasize into another Holocaust.
The USHMM on the Mall in Washington and the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, along with all the other Holocaust memorials that litter the terrain between them, are physical embodiments of American Jewry’s reinterpretation of the war, as well as public acknowledgments of its political triumph. The Jewish Holocaust is not a collection of German atrocities, real and fabricated; it is a racially aggressive broadening of culpability, a Nazification of Western civilization relying on the normally unstated premise that the Allies were “just as guilty” as the Germans. It domesticates what was formerly an alien evil, ascribing to us the same pathology that we falsely ascribed to our enemy sixty years ago. The purgative confrontation with a criminal past that we once imposed on defeated Germans we now allow Jews to impose on ourselves.
Shoah and Holocaust
In its current Judeocentric meaning uncapitalized “holocaust” first tentatively entered English during the 1961 Eichmann trial in Jerusalem as a translation of Hebrew Shoah (“Disaster, Catastrophe”). Eichmann was accused of organizing this Shoah, the extermination of European Jewry, and American media coverage of the trial used “holocaust” as a rough English equivalent, following an existing Israeli practice. Shoah, as a term designating the disaster that had befallen the Jews of Europe, had been in currency among Palestinian Jews even before the war, dating specifically to 1933, the year of Hitler’s electoral victory in Germany, which was perceived as a disaster for Jews; and in 1942 enterprising Zionists in the yishuv had already begun plans for a memorial, later to become the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, to commemorate the Shoah, well before most of the deaths that the memorial would eventually memorialize had actually occurred. But outside of Israel Jewish deaths during World War II could not until the Eichmann trial be easily differentiated from the more than fifty million non-Jews who perished, and a “holocaust” remained a sacrificial burnt offering in its original biblical context, and a term denoting any destructive conflagration in everyday speech. In that latter sense “holocaust” had been used to describe various acts of destruction inflicted on the Allies by the Axis, with no implication that Jews were notable among the victims. Before the dissemination throughout the West of the Holocaust, an exclusively Jewish holocaust categorically separate from other conflagrations, the suffering of European Jewry during the Second World War lacked a name and a distinct identity; it was just suffering, terminologically indistinguishable from other wartime suffering. The suffering of an American crippled on D-Day and the suffering of a Jew starved at Bergen-Belsen belonged to the same broad generic category of wartime suffering and wartime deaths. Both were violence inflicted on us by our common Nazi enemy during the course of a terrible war which we had won.
The Holocaust, capitalized to illuminate its earth-shaking import, was the deliberate disaggregation of Jewish dead from other Allied dead, with Jewish deaths receiving a special name and a special moral significance, forming a qualitatively distinctive wartime event, different in kind from all other wartime events and unprecedented in its world-historical implications. Hence the need for countless memorials to preserve its memory. Hence the need for educational prophylactic measures to prevent its recurrence. Hence the steadily declining significance of the war in which it occurred. World War II has now become, as Rabbi Berenbaum once boasted, a mere “background story” to the Jewish Holocaust. Yet the Holocaust, as it entered our vocabulary and our conceptual landscape in the 1960s and 1970s, was not simply Jewry’s declaration of independence from the Allied victors; it also carried a judgment. With the arrival of the Holocaust, the Nazi concentration camp, which had formerly testified to our comparative goodness, became the visible revelation of the vast moral failure of our entire civilization. “The guilt of Germany,” Eliezer Berkovits proclaimed in 1973, “is the guilt of the West. The fall of Germany is the fall of the West. Not only six million Jews perished in the Holocaust. In it Western civilization lost its claim to dignity and respect.”
“The uniqueness of the Holocaust,” the Zionist writer Gershon Mamlak explains, “was manifested in a dual form: the way the victims experienced it, and the way the Gentile world performed and/or witnessed it.” Mamlak offers a succinct statement of some important Holocaust dogmas. “Uniqueness” is crucial, providing a historiographic counterpart to the religious doctrine of Jehovah’s selection of Israel as his preferred people. Jewish suffering during the Second World War was different in kind from all other suffering, so unique that even comparing the Jewish Holocaust to lesser holocausts can be considered a form of blasphemy. Uniquely evil victimization should of course entail the unique evil of a specific set of victimizers, but in Holocaust discourse the Jewish victims of history’s most unique crime stand in opposition to the whole Gentile world, which is conceptualized, in terms of its relation to the Holocaust, as a single category subsuming perpetrators and bystanders, each sharing a common guilt. “The [non-Jewish] world,” Rabbi Shlomo Riskin informed a group of Jewish tourists visiting Auschwitz, “is divided into two parts: those who actively participated with the Nazis and those who passively collaborated with them.” German Nazis and their allies murdered Jews; the entire Gentile world, comprised of active Nazi participants and their passive collaborators, was culpable. Judaism’s intense ethnocentrism has traditionally divided mankind into Jews and the “nations of the world,” obliterating the differences that distinguish each non-Jewish nation from others, the defining feature of our various nations being, in Jewish eyes, their non-Jewishness and hence their inherent uncleanness. Holocaust discourse replicates that ancient division, not only tracing a line that divides Jews from everyone else but also erecting a moral barrier along the line, with all of us on the wrong side of it. “Over long centuries,” according to Eliezer Berkovits, “especially in the Western world, the [Gentile] nations reacted to the existence of the Jewish people with a form of sadistic cruelty which to call beastly would be an insult to the animal world.”
Jerzy Kosinski’s Painted Bird, published in 1965 and set in wartime Poland, was among the earliest representations of the Jewish Holocaust’s revelation of ubiquitous Gentile savagery, and it should be regarded as Diaspora Jewry’s first significant literary expression of its emerging Holocaust consciousness. Kosinski’s imaginative treatment of wartime horrors reflected a deliberate decision, like Miller’s decision twenty years earlier, to define, with complete indifference to actual history, the generic White Other as the malevolent source of Jewish suffering, the modern Amalek. Kosinski (Lewinkopf) and his family were, as a matter of biographical fact, protected by Polish peasants during the brutal German occupation, but he nevertheless chose, when he came to pen his fictional Holocaust memoirs, to Nazify his Catholic benefactors, transforming Poles into hate-filled pogromists who subject the novel’s six-year-old protagonist to a series of fanciful sadistic cruelties, none of which ever occurred. Kosinski’s real-world experience in occupied Poland, a life of comparative comfort among the Poles he would later vilify, should have led him to endorse the victors’ interpretation of the war: on one side evil Germans, on the other us, the evil Germans’ enemies, in this case Poles and Jews. Nothing in that structure detracted from the uniqueness of the Jewish Holocaust; nothing in it would have limited Kosinski’s artistic license. He was free to invent as many grotesque atrocities as his muse could inspire, so long as he attributed them to Germans, not Poles. Yet Kosinski chose instead, in a conscious act of racial aggression, to Nazify the war’s first anti-Nazis, at the price of radically distorting his own experience.
One purpose of the Eichmann trial had been, as Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion announced, to make the nations of the world feel ashamed. The trial was an exercise in mild Nazification designed to suggest Allied co-responsibility for the Shoah while advertising the new Israeli refuge from eliminationist anti-Semitism abroad. Zionist instrumentalizing of Nazi persecution sought to encourage those Jews who only admired Israel from afar to enact Zionism, to dissolve the Diaspora by taking up residence in the Jewish state. Israel was an unassimilable people compelled for centuries to dwell apart as powerless exiles inside unappreciative nations; with the rebirth of territorial Israel Jews could return to their homeland, where they once again possessed the sovereign power to protect their apartness from its enemies. Kosinski’s fabricated account of the nightmarish wanderings of an innocent refugee, threatened by Germans and tortured by psychopathic Poles, was ideologically congruent with Zionist political assumptions, which themselves expressed a common belief in the omnipresence of irrational Jew-hatred. But Zionism has always been halfway between a delusion and a lie: it is based on a sincere faith in Gentile malevolence, yet a faith not quite sincere enough to impel its adherents to remove themselves from the physical threat that Gentile malevolence theoretically poses. Kosinski himself left Poland for the United States in 1957, exchanging one exile (galut) for another, unwilling to avail himself of the refuge from further torments that reborn Israel offered.
Zionism proposed a resolution of the Jewish problem, which it frankly acknowledged, through the normalization of Jews within their own nation state. But when the Jewish ethnostate was finally achieved, most Jews felt no inclination, as Hitler had predicted in Mein Kampf, to ingather themselves en masse in Palestine, however much they cultivated a plaintive yearning to do so. The central Zionist message that motivated Israel’s publicizing of the Shoah was irrelevant, almost a rebuke, to any Jew who chose to continue his now voluntary exile among the goyim, and the Shoah, as it incrementally took shape on American soil as the Holocaust, acquired a different purpose, at odds with the intentions of its Israeli promoters. The Jewish problem, our perception of an alien race-nation existing within Western nations, could only be interpreted by immobile Diaspora Jewry as a symptom of the White problem — “racism,” our desire to preserve our race-cultural integrity, a desire that could now be defined as a precondition for genocide. The resolution of the White problem has therefore been the principal objective of the Holocaust, which became an integral part of a campaign to eliminate the Jewish problem by declaring any perception of its existence pathological. The Holocaust was absorbed into anti-racism, instrumentalized as its foremost political weapon for combating Eurocentrism and White racial cohesion. Sadistic Nazi cruelties, far from demonstrating the need to end Jewish dispersion, instead supplied a new moral pretext for fragmenting Western nations in order to normalize Jewish self-selected otherness as one otherness in a sea of racial diversity. Contemporary Holocaust commemoration is in that respect a repudiation of Zionism, since it assumes the permanence of Jewish exile: Jews build Holocaust museums in the United States because they have no intention of leaving.
Diaspora Jews today remember their Holocaust and have convinced us that we should remember it as well, but in the years immediately after the war, when memory should have been most acute, they rarely spoke about Nazi persecution and apparently forgot the indignities of European Jewry’s wartime internment. Holocaust forgetting preceded Holocaust remembering. The extermination of European Jews, the sociologist Nathan Glazer reported in 1957, “had remarkably slight effects on the inner life of American Jewry.” For about two decades after the liberation of the camps wartime suffering played an insignificant role in Jewish group thinking in the West, and the victors’ interpretation of the war remained stable, largely unchallenged by the Jewish revisionism that would eventually dethrone it. In recent years various explanations for this phenomenon of Holocaust forgetting have been put forward, the most common being the psychoanalytic view that memories of attempted Nazi genocide were far too painful to contemplate and were therefore repressed, just as survivors of child molestation are presumed to repress memories of their abuse. Whatever the reason, the fact remains, a fact conceded by everyone who has seriously examined the subject, that American Jews in the 1950s and early 1960s did not consider Nazi persecution a central part of their group heritage. The Holocaust did not then exist as a discrete historical event and as a source of anti-racialist lessons, because Jews had not yet remembered it.
No new discoveries of old Nazi evil prompted the collective decision of American Jews to shape their recovered memory of the camps into an indictment of the nations that liberated them. On the contrary: the Allies themselves were willing to believe, in the aftermath of the war, that Nazis made lampshades from human skin, turned Jewish fat into soap, electrocuted Jews on conveyor belts, cultivated cabbages with Jewish fertilizer, and burned Jews alive in gas ovens. The Allies were willing, in other words, to attribute a much more lurid evil to their defeated German enemy than does contemporary Holocaust discourse, at least in its more scholarly forms. Yet postwar belief in unique, truly spectacular Nazi evil did not generate the Jewish Holocaust.
The old heroic, pre-Holocaust view of World War II was valuable for Jews, and they had no legitimate reason to object to its particular set of lessons. In the postwar years anti-Semitism was driven safely to the periphery of American society. In a 1946 poll eighteen percent of Gentiles identified Jews as “a threat to America,” which was myopically charitable; by 1954 the number had plummeted to one percent. Anti-Semitism, through its association with the defeated Nazi enemy, had been delegitimized. “The fifteen or twenty years after the war,” Novick writes, “saw the repudiation of anti-Semitic discourse and its virtual disappearance from the public realm.” In the wake of NS Germany’s defeat America became, in pronouncements by public figures, a “Judeo-Christian nation,” since a national definition that failed to include our small Jewish minority implied Nazi-like cultural homogeneity; in 1945 Bess Myerson became the first Jewish Miss America, breaking an old pageant rule that excluded non-Whites; in 1947 Hollywood’s first treatment of anti-Semitism appeared, the overtly didactic Gentleman’s Agreement, which Darryl Zanuck, the only major White film executive, campaigned hard to bring to the screen; and by the late 1950s the hagiographic treatments of Anne Frank — featuring (as novelist Cynthia Ozick has angrily complained) a deracinated, “all-American” Anne — had propelled her Diary into the canonical status it still enjoys today. Jews, in short, were mainstream in postwar America, and anti-Semitism was not. The Holocaust was belatedly recollected in the near absence of the force its lessons were ostensibly intended to combat.
Postwar Holocaust forgetting is analytically significant. It allows us to see clearly that the Jewish Holocaust, regardless of the truth or falsity of its various factual claims, is an ideological construction dependent for its existence not on historical events in Europe but on contemporary political forces in America. A recovered memory that steadily grows more vivid and more impassioned as it becomes more distant is obviously much different from normal recollection. The idea of the Holocaust, apart from the facts and fictions that provide its raw material, has little to do with history, nor was it, as we have seen, an inevitable interpretation of the camps. The source of the Holocaust as an idea is located not in German concentration camps but in events within the United States in the 1960s, when American Jews first began, during the era of civil rights and counterculture, to vocally recollect memories of Nazi persecution in Europe.
Jewish wartime suffering became the Holocaust, a discrete event to which uniqueness could be ascribed and for which Western civilization could be held responsible, at the very historical moment when racial victimization in the past began to confer political power in the present. The victors’ interpretation of the war had provided important advantages in the 1950s, immunizing Jews from criticism and mainstreaming them within Euro-America; it provided fewer advantages in the 1960s, when a legacy of victimization became a moral bludgeon with which to extort political privileges from an increasingly besieged Euro-American majority. The Holocaust was the Jewish brand of anti-White identity politics, an aggressive declaration of a distinctive Jewish identity based on our collective guilt for their unique suffering. The old view of the war had externalized evil in the Nazi enemy; the Holocaust turned Jews into victims of unprecedented White violence, making the West itself the evil’s source and rewarding Jews with their own special form of negritude. To number yourself among the wretched of the earth was a source of political power during the Black civil rights revolution, and it would be an even greater source of power in the decades that followed. Jews had played an instrumental role in fomenting the revolution, providing as much as three quarters of the funding for civil rights organizations, and by tactically remembering the Holocaust they enlisted themselves among the minority groups eligible to profit from racial claims, while relieving themselves of membership, largely nominal in any case, in the White oppressor race, against which the revolution was and still is directed. Through the Holocaust the most successful ethnic group in American history not only joined the various aggrieved minorities staking out racial claims against White America, but also pushed itself to the front of the line.
Jewish identity politics is, however, more than simple political calculation. There can be no doubt that the Holocaust is now genuinely central to Jewish group consciousness, as poll after poll reveals. “It’s a sad fact,” says Samuel Belzberg, a major financial supporter of the Tolerance Museum, “that Israel and Jewish education and all the other familiar buzzwords no longer seem to rally Jews behind the community. The Holocaust, though, works every time.” Most Jews believe their own propaganda and they are often profoundly affected by it. “The Holocaust,” the ADL’s Abraham Foxman foolishly wrote in 1994, “. . . is not simply one example of genocide but a nearly successful attempt on the life of God’s chosen children and, thus, on God himself.” Since such breathtaking ethnocentrism endangers the necessary public fiction of the Holocaust’s broad humanitarian meanings, it is safe to conclude that Foxman, the head of an activist Jewish organization teaching racial equality and human brotherhood, was allowing his real emotions to overcome his political judgment, an indication of an authentic psychological investment in unpluralist Holocaust lessons.
Peter Novick describes American Jewry’s undeniable absorption in the Holocaust as a collective memory, a group perception of the past distinct from objective historical knowledge. A collective memory is formed in response to contemporary political and social needs, and it makes the implicit claim that the past, rather than being separated from us by the unbridgeable differences between now and then, remains a present reality expressing enduring truths about a group and its place in the world. A collective memory “suffuse[s] group consciousness,” representing a group’s identity both for itself and for others through a morally simplified construction that strips away distracting details and ambiguities in order to align history with contemporary group concerns. The Holocaust, according to Novick, is a Jewish collective memory, a reshaping of the past brought into present consciousness as a collective social mechanism for defining group identity.
Put simply, the Jewish Holocaust is a racially self-interested belief about the past that tells Jews something about us and something about themselves that most deeply believe to be true. The Holocaust martyrology that we experience as propaganda, and must analyze as such, Jews have internalized as the central component of their racial identity. Neal Sher, former nazi-hunter for the Office of Special Investigations, believes that “every Jew alive today is a Holocaust survivor,” and each year on Yom Hashoah (“Shoah Day”) Jewish students wear yellow stars to demonstrate their survivorship, a statement of racial identity that distinguishes them from us. A group identity modeled on the Holocaust survivor sanctions Jewish racial hostility by denying Jewish loyalty to anyone but themselves. The resistance fighter, celebrated in the old victors’ narrative, was an active figure participating in a pan-European struggle of free men against fascist tyranny; the Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel being the most prominent example, is a passive object of cataclysmic violence at the hands of European civilization, a tragic victim whose unique experience of the literal hell that once took shape on earth makes him the bearer of ahistorical lessons about man’s perennial inhumanity to Jews. The Holocaust survivor, abandoned to his fate and filled with a direct knowledge of metaphysical evil imparted by his incomparable suffering, stands as an indictment not only of Western civilization but often of a cruelly indifferent universe as well, and he has become the preeminent expression of Jewish collective memory, personifying a covertly belligerent restatement of Jewish apartness. Never, unfortunately, have Jews been more openly welcomed by the Euro-American mainstream, yet never has their self-representation been more closely bound up in an embittered recollection of racial victimization. “The world wants to wipe out the Jews,” Cynthia Ozick once claimed, “. . . the world has always wanted to wipe out the Jews.”
Collective memory is a useful metaphor from a racialist perspective, since it highlights the real strangeness of American Holocaustomania, a guilt-ridden obsession with Jewish deaths that has gripped most of the Western world as well. If the Holocaust is, as Novick argues, the Jewish collective memory of World War II, then we who are not Jews are in effect thinking about our past with someone else’s memory, seeing both the past and its implications for the present through Jewish eyes rather than through our own. The Holocaust did not begin as our collective memory of the war. We have not shaped and simplified history into the Holocaust; Jews have, and their memory has become ours. Thus we now think we see Jewish Holocaust survivors, rather than anti-Nazi dissidents and European resistance fighters, in photographs of Buchenwald and Dachau, our old political interpretation of the camps having been displaced and forgotten. And thus, much more importantly, we now think we were responsible for the Holocaust and have allowed Jews to erect permanent monuments wherein, under their direction, the guilt many of us readily acknowledge is publicly commemorated.
There can be no mystery how the Jewish Holocaust became our collective memory, the retrospective propaganda with which we also envision the Second World War. Our Holocaust memory is the result of Jewish power, especially media power. In the Jewish-owned New York Times, as Finkelstein notes, the only subject that receives more coverage than the Holocaust is the weather. Jews have dominated Hollywood from its inception, and by the 1960s, the decade of the Holocaust’s invention, they were substantially overrepresented in all the various professions that disseminate culture. Jews, that is, create many of the thoughts with which we think. Jews also control the American mass media, and have done so for at least forty years, so they wield the crucial propaganda instruments, enabled by low levels of anti-Semitism, that can transform their thoughts into our public opinion. In 1965 they could turn Kosinski’s Nazification of the Poles into an instant classic; in 1945 they did not yet possess either the power or the confidence to so elevate Miller’s Focus. On this general issue of Jewish power Novick is frank: “We [Jews] are not only ‘the people of the book,’ but the people of the Hollywood film and the television miniseries, of the magazine article and the newspaper column, of the comic book and the academic symposium. When a high level of concern with the Holocaust became widespread in American Jewry, it was, given the important role that Jews play in American media and opinion-making elites, not only natural, but virtually inevitable that it would spread through the culture at large.”
A Fragile Victory
The Holocaust must be numbered among Jewry’s most impressive victories in their new hunting grounds, second only to the 1965 liberalization of immigration law, which opened American borders to the Third World. There are now Holocaust memorials in most major American cities, as there are in almost all Western capitals, and we are in the midst of a deluge of Holocaust remembering in films and books and on television that shows no signs of subsiding. There are numerous Holocaust Studies programs in universities, staffed by professional Holocaustologists who owe their livelihoods to the further propagation of Holocaust lore, and Holocaust education flourishes in the public schools, drawing us ever closer to the full integration of anti-racialist Holocaust instruction into school systems across the country, the stated ambition the President’s Holocaust Commission, the USHMM’s forerunner. All these various forms of Holocaust commemoration teach political lessons that Jews want us to learn. A well-indoctrinated Euro-American who has internalized the lessons of the Jewish Holocaust will not object to non-European immigration into the United States; a Jew who has internalized the same shared collective memory will acquire a more emotional commitment to his racially exclusive Heimat in Palestine. Therein lies, of course, the danger of thinking with someone else’s thoughts. Holocaust commemoration racializes Jews and deracializes Whites; it strengthens them and weakens us.
But we can question whether this victory will persist. Holocaust memory, because it took shape in the virtual absence of anti-Semitism, projects deep Jewish hostility that otherwise would have remained better concealed. It is compelled, by both the political purposes and the group psychology that brought it into existence, to disparage non-Jews: the world owes Jews only if the world as a whole is guilty of grievous offenses against Jews. A view of history that of necessity says something good about Jews but bad about almost everyone else is inherently fragile and liable to provoke resentment. Henry Kissinger opposed the construction of the USHMM, fearing that aggressive Holocaust commemoration would provoke anti-Semitism, and he might have been correct. The victors’ narrative exiled Germany from civilized humanity while celebrating the heroics of White fratricide; the Holocaust Nazifies any assertion of White national consciousness, even in nations with distinguished anti-Nazi credentials, thus constructing and potentially unifying its own opposition. National patriotism and belief in the Jewish narrative of horrific persecution are increasingly incompatible, and the descendants of both the winners and the losers of the Second World War have a common interest in repudiating the old mythology of Nazi evil, since it has become an ideological weapon against all of us, providing anti-national justification for a host of globalist policies ranging from Third World immigration to NATO’s “humanitarian bombing” of the now Nazified Serbs, whose wartime heroism we once rightly applauded.
The Holocaust also suffers from dangerous contradictions. Jews have the power to transform their preferred ideas into our public opinion, but they cannot control the direction in which the ideas subsequently migrate. Alongside the hard Holocaust lessons of White guilt are the soft Holocaust lessons of human brotherhood, which are indispensable to the Holocaust’s marketing strategy in the Diaspora as well as formal elements in its multicultural agenda. The survival of the Jewish ethnostate evidently requires daily violation of these humanitarian ideals of tolerance and racial pacificism, which their promoters in the Diaspora never had any intention of imposing on their far-flung brethren but now increasingly find arrayed against the only nation for which they feel any genuine loyalty. Contemporary anti-Zionism is a species of anti-racism, and anti-racialist Holocaust lessons therefore hand anti-Zionism new weapons. Palestinian collective memory tactically calls Arab dispossession in 1948 the Naqba (“Disaster”), a name and an idea clearly modeled on the Zionist Shoah. The competing postcolonial narrative of Palestinian racial victimization, with its calculated Nazification of Israel’s origins, dominated the 2001 UN Conference on Racism at Durban, where Third World delegates relabeled Zionism as racism and angrily denounced Israeli genocide. For Israel the universalist lessons of the Holocaust are poor camouflage, only revealing Zionism’s systematic rejection of the anti-racialism that Jews so aggressively promote everywhere else. The militant Left in the United States and the bulk of liberal opinion in Europe have now abandoned the Jewish state, condemning it as a colonialist project founded on ethnic cleansing and sustained by apartheid. In Israel’s ongoing war against brown-skinned Arabs there can be no doubt which side more closely resembles the potent propaganda image of the Nazi. Anti-racialist ideas that effectively serve Jewish interests in the Diaspora become toxic when applied to Israel, and no number of additional Holocaust museums will alter that fact.
Jewish success in propagating such an unstable ideological construction, thereby provoking opposition from nationalists on the Right while strengthening anti-Zionism on the Left, may yet prove a Pyrrhic victory. Holocaust commemoration winnows out friends until only enemies remain, and Jews risk finding themselves alone against the world.
1. Peter Novick, The Holocaust in American Life (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1999), 182–83. The Talmudic aphorism is from the Mishnah, Sanhedrin 4.5. In a standard scholarly translation — The Mishnah, trans. Herbert Danby (Oxford, 1933) — it reads: “If any man has caused a single soul to perish from Israel Scripture imputes it to him as though he had caused a whole world to perish; and if any man saves alive a single soul from Israel Scripture imputes it to him as though he had saved alive a whole world.” On the subject of Jewish ethnocentrism, the comments of the Talmudic scholar Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburgh, a former American citizen now living in Israel, are worth noting: “If every single cell in a Jewish body entails divinity, and is thus part of God, then every strand of DNA is a part of God. Therefore, something is special about Jewish DNA. . . . If a Jew needs a liver, can he take the liver of an innocent non-Jew to save him? The Torah would probably permit that. Jewish life has an infinite value. There is something more holy and unique about Jewish life than about non-Jewish life.” Quoted in Israel Shahak and Norton Mezvinsky, Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel (London: Pluto Press, 1999), 43.
2. For a religious Jew the two different versions of the Talmudic aphorism that Spielberg quotes would be identical in meaning, since the scriptural exegesis of classical Judaism regularly interprets superficially universal moral principles in exclusivist terms, with apparently generic language like “neighbor” and “thy fellow (man)” referring only to Jews. Traditional Jewish moral teachings assign great value to saving Jewish lives, but actually prohibit Jews from saving the lives of Gentiles, except in circumstances where inaction might provoke hostility. See Israel Shahak, Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years (London: Pluto Press, 1994), 36–37, 80–81. The Babylonian Talmud is, in any case, the authoritative recension of the rabbinical writings that constitute Judaism’s central religious text. See Solomon Grayzel, A History of the Jews (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1947), 214–15, 231ff. For Christian universalism versus Jewish particularism, see Acts 10.1–35 (“a Jew is contaminated if he consorts with one of another race, or visits him”; Knox) and Acts 15.7–11. For Old Testament fantasies of conquest and domination, see Exodus 17.14-16 and 1 Samuel 15.2–3 (Amalek, Israel’s generic Gentile enemy); Deuteronomy 12.2–3 and 20.15–18 (Israel’s fanaticism); and Isaiah 49.22–23 (“they shall bow down to you and lick the dust of your feet”; RSV). For Jewish blood purity, see Deuteronomy 7.1–6 and Joshua 23.12–13. For the Jewish poetry of racial revenge, see the remarkable Psalm 137 (“happy shall he be who takes your little ones [i.e infants] and dashes them against the rock!”; RSV).
3. Novick, 195; Norman Finkelstein, The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering (New York: Verso, 2000), 8.
4. Quoted in Edward Norden, “Yes and No to the Holocaust Museums,” Commentary 96, no. 2 (August 1993), 32.
5. For Dayan, see Edward Said, The Question of Palestine (New York: Vintage, 1979), 14; for the Ghetto Fighters Museum at Samariah, see Tom Segev, The Seventh Million: The Israelis and the Holocaust, trans. Haim Watzman (New York: Hill & Wang, 1993), 450–51; Emil Fackenheim, “The Holocaust and the State of Israel: Their Relation,” in EJ Yearbook (Jerusalem, 1974), 154f, quoted in Leni Yahil, The Holocaust: The Fate of European Jewry (Oxford, 1990), 6; Alan Dershowitz, Chutzpah (Boston: Little, Brown, 1991), 136. Since 1973 America’s masochistic “commitment to the autonomy and security of the State of Israel” has cost taxpayers about $1.6 trillion, according to the estimate of economist Thomas Stauffer. See David R. Francis, “Economist Tallies Swelling Cost of Israel to US,” Christian Science Monitor, 9 December 2002.
6. Blu Greenberg, “Talking to Kids about the Holocaust,” in Roselyn Bell, The Hadassah Magazine Jewish Parenting Book (New York, 1989), 247, quoted in Novick, 208; Eliezer Berkovits, “Rewriting the History of the Holocaust,” Sh’ma 10/198 (3 October 1980), available from: http://www.clal.org/e57.html .
7. Arthur Miller, Focus (1945; New York: Penguin, 2001).
8. Cf. David Horowitz, Radical Son: A Generational Odyssey (New York: Free Press, 1997), 44: “It was not my parents’ idealism that elicited fear and provoked hostility from the goyim. It was their hostility toward the goyim, and indeed everything the goyim held dear, that incited the hostility back.” Horowitz, now a neo-conservative activist with a passionate commitment to Israel, was an important New Left ideologue in the 1960s; his parents were Stalinists.
9. Novick, 85. The liberators, of course, misunderstood their discovery. Cf. Mark Weber, “Buchenwald: Legend and Reality,” JHR [= Journal of Historical Review] 7, no. 4 (Winter 1986), 411: “The great majority of those who died at Buchenwald perished during the chaotic final months of the war. They succumbed to disease, often aggravated by malnutrition, in spite of woefully inadequate efforts to keep them alive. They were victims, not of an ‘extermination’ program, but rather of the terrible overcrowding and severe lack of food and medical supplies due to a general collapse of order in Germany during the tumultuous final phase of the war.”
10. Novick, 65.
11. For the racial composition of the camps liberated by Americans, see Novick, 65, 295n.8. Josef Kramer, commandant of Bergen-Belsen, where Anne Frank succumbed to typhus, told British liberators that his camp’s internees were “habitual criminals, felons, and homosexuals,” which was inaccurate, but more accurate than the now dominant judaizing interpretation that makes every camp survivor an inoffensive Jew. Many of the earliest accounts of wartime internment were written by non-Jews, because the Nazi concentration camp had not yet become exclusive Jewish cultural property. For a critical discussion of early camp literature, see Paul Rassinier, The Holocaust Story and the Lies of Ulysses (Costa Mesa, Cal.: IHR, 1978), where the ethnic demography of the internees is evident.
As Novick pointedly notes, the relative scarcity of Jews in the camps liberated by Americans did not prevent Holocaust industrialist Deborah Lipstadt (author of Denying the Holocaust) from spotting malicious anti-Semitism in the failure of press coverage to mention Jewish internees with sufficient frequency. It would be hard to find a more succinctly illustrative example of Holocaust scholarship, which is essentially an aggressive scrounging for sources of racial grievance. Lipstadt was, of course, engaged in her own small-scale Nazification of the liberators. A concentration camp, regardless of its actual demographics, has retroactively become holy Jewish soil, and belligerent Jews will characterize as racial hatred any failure to specify its exclusive owners. Cf. Cynthia Ozick, “The Rights of History and the Rights of Imagination,” Commentary 105, no. 3 (March 1999), 27: “How is it possible for a writer to set forth as a purposeful embodiment of the inmost meaning of the camps any emblem other than a Jewish emblem? It is possible the way it is possible to plant crosses, with heated [i.e. "racist, hateful"] intent, over the soil of Auschwitz.” This passionate belief in exclusive Jewish ownership of the concentration camp is a product of current Jewish identity politics, which will be touched on later, and constitutes a rejection of earlier interpretations of the war. In Memory of the Camps, a British propaganda film containing the dramatic documentary footage of Bergen-Belsen, the narrator (actor Trevor Howard) carefully practices a literal ecumenicism in his description of the assembled corpses: “And so they lie — Jews, Lutherans, and Catholics, indistinguishable, cheek-to-cheek in a common grave.” Similarly for Dachau: “Here were 32,000 men of every European nationality, including 5,660 Germans.” Leon Uris, in his militantly Zionist Exodus (New York: Bantam, 1958), an unapologetic celebration of Jewish apartness in ethnically cleansed Israel, retained (with no “heated intent”) the same broad inclusion even in his account of the genesis of Auschwitz: “In addition to Jews to dispose of there were Russian, French, and other prisoners of war, partisans, political enemies in occupied countries, religious fanatics, especially Christians of the Catholic faith, gypsies, criminals, Freemasons, Marxists, Bolsheviks, and Germans who talked peace, liberalism, trade unionism, or defeatism. There were suspected foreign agents, prostitutes, homosexuals, and many other undesirable elements. All these had to be eliminated to make Europe a fit place for Aryans to live” (133–34). Few Holocaust pedagogues practice such (admittedly comical) inclusion today. The USHMM rigorously excludes non-Jewish victims, despite an explicit mandate to the contrary, and when Americans liberate a Dachau satellite in an episode (“Why We Fight”) of Spielberg’s HBO miniseries Band of Brothers (2001), the “others” that Uris so carefully listed as targets of Nazi mass murder have vanished, leaving only Jews with yellow stars. As an unparalleled racial crime against Jews, the Jewish Holocaust has no tolerance for White Gentiles distorting its symmetry, and it therefore prefers to annihilate them from memory. The USHMM-sanctioned Liberators Project, a notorious fabrication in which Black soldiers liberate Jews from Buchenwald and Dachau, thus had the advantage, from a Jewish perspective, of eliminating White Gentiles not only from the inmates of the camps but also from their liberators, thereby constructing liberation as a symbolic episode in the history of anti-racism. See Mark Weber and Greg Raven, “Multi-Media ‘Liberators’ Project Exposed as Fraud,” JHR 13, no. 3 (May–June 1993), 4.
12. Paraphrasing here the PBS documentary America and the Holocaust: Deceit and Indifference (WGBH Educational Foundation, 1994): “In the spring of 1940, the fate of European Jews now fell into the hands of a new Roosevelt appointee, Assistant Secretary of State Breckinridge Long. . . . Long endorsed the anti-alien bigotry of the times.” America and the Holocaust, based on influential Holocaust scholarship, was written and produced by Martin Ostrow and boasted a wealth of well-known Jewish scholars (including Deborah Lipstadt) on its academic panel. The deliberate “abandonment of the Jews” also figures prominently in Herman Wouk’s 1978 novel War and Remembrance, which gave fictional expression to the charge that American anti-Semitism caused the Holocaust. The most popular Jewish inculpation of the British invokes their reluctance to permit European Jews to displace Arabs in Palestine, their motive being (unsurprisingly) anti-Semitism.
13. ABC World News Tonight, 21 April 1993, quoted in Novick, 48. Prof. Fagin, a Holocaust pedagogue who specializes in European anti-Semitism and Holocaust literature, was the chair of the USHMM’s Education Committee.
14. Quoted in Kevin MacDonald, The Culture of Critique: An Evolutionary Analysis of Jewish Involvement in Twentieth-Century Intellectual and Political Movements (Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 1998), 26.
15. On “Holocaust,” see Novick, 20, 133–34; on “Shoah,” see Segev, 434. Shoah commemoration was first proposed by Mordecai Shenhabi — the initiator of the memorial project that would later become Yad Vashem, Israel’s most important Holocaust museum — as “a new cause that can turn into a pipeline for large sums.” For Shenhabi and the early history of Yad Vashem, see Segev, 427ff.
Etymologically “holocaust” (“completely burned”) derives from the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Old Testament, where holokauston translates Hebrew holah (“that which goes up”). A “holocaust” (e.g. Leviticus 1.3-17, Judges 6.26-28, 1 Samuel 7.9) was a burnt offering (Gk. holos = wholly; kaustos = burned), usually an unblemished male animal sacrificed to Jehovah, to whom its smoke “went up.” The biblical origin of the term is, however, immaterial to its initial deployment, although the religious connotations of a “holocaust,” together with the prevalence of smoke and fire in some Holocaust writing, may have facilitated the later sacralization of Jewish deaths. Israeli attorney general Gideon Hausner, Eichmann’s Polish-born prosecutor, used “holocaust” (for Shoah) in English-language media interviews, and during and especially after the trial lowercase “holocaust” gradually became common in discussions of Nazi persecution, following the word’s standard nonbiblical meaning (“consuming conflagration, wholesale destruction”); Elie Wiesel did not (as Holocaust scholarship, assisted by Wiesel’s own inaccurate memory, often assumes) first apply “holocaust” to Nazi genocide in 1963. Cf. Oscar Handlin, “Jewish Resistance to the Nazis,” Commentary 34, no. 5 (November 1962), 401: “The holocaust . . . was a product not of the Jewish response or of the Jewish situation, but rather of the powerful engine of destruction the Germans controlled — a bureaucracy of uniquely remorseless and irresistible efficiency.” In Handlin’s usage “holocaust” means “massive (racial) destruction,” thus “genocide”; but although he may have felt a Jewish proprietary interest in the term, in 1962 “holocaust” could still easily be applied to non-Jewish deaths and non-German perpetrators, with no risk of trespassing on Jewish cultural property. Handlin’s holocaust was not precisely “the Holocaust,” since the latter had not yet come into full conceptual existence in the West. Two years later Alfred Alvarez, in a survey of “The Literature of the Holocaust” (Commentary 38, no. 5 [November 1964], 65–69), discussed the concentration camps in largely ecumenical terms as “symbols of our own in-turned nihilism” and “a focus of contemporary suffering,” with the suggestion that they might prove a mere “small-scale trial run for a nuclear war.” (In American usage of the early 1960s, “holocaust” referred commonly to “nuclear holocaust.”) For Alvarez, a noted literary critic writing in an official Jewish publication, “the holocaust” (still uncapitalized) was a distinct event but not a distinctly Jewish event, a convenient opportunity for erudite philosophizing about the traumas of modernity rather than a source of racial grievance or anti-Western polemics. Earlier in the same year Emil Fackenheim could still write “On the Eclipse of God” (Commentary, 37, no. 6 [June 1964], 55–60) without mentioning the holocaust or Nazi persecution, briefly adducing only unspecified “catastrophes” that imperiled religious belief; by the end of the decade Fackenheim had become (along with Berkovits and Richard Rubenstein) a founder of “Holocaust theology,” busily explicating “the commanding voice of Auschwitz,” his new vocation devoted to rhetorically outdoing co-workers in discovering bold new formulations of the Holocaust’s cataclysmic significance. See “Jewish Values in the Post-Holocaust Future: A Symposium,” Judaism 16, no. 3 (Summer 1967), 266–99, and Fackenheim, God’s Presence in History: Jewish Affirmations and Philosophical Reflections (New York: New York University Press, 1970).
The Holocaust, as the powerful propaganda construction we experience today, began coalescing around 1965 with the publication of Alexander Donat’s family memoir The Holocaust Kingdom, a phrase which other Jewish writers (including Fackenheim) soon adopted; Donat and his wife, we may note in passing, skillfully eluded Nazi genocide, surviving internment in a total of ten death camps. In the years that followed “Holocaust,” now often capitalized and preceded by the definite article, appeared in a growing body of essays and books authored by Jews, who by the late 1960s were asserting their ownership of the term and feeling a strong political interest in its further propagation. Nora Levin’s The Holocaust appeared in 1968, and in the same year the Library of Congress adopted “Holocaust, Jewish (1939–1945)” as a Judeocentric rubric for titles that had previously been listed under headings like “World War, 1939–1945 — Jews.” In the early 1960s Jewish writers had sometimes spoken of “Hitler’s holocaust” in order to distinguish their holocaust from other holocausts (e.g. Edwin Samuel, “One for Six Million,” Saturday Review, 18 May 1963); by the beginning of the next decade such clarification seldom seemed necessary. The 1978 NBC miniseries Holocaust, by far the most influential popularization of Judeocentric wartime history, placed capitalized “Holocaust” firmly in American consciousness as (in Elie Wiesel’s words) “the Event,” a distinctly Jewish tragedy of unparalleled magnitude; but that carefully orchestrated propaganda triumph only solidified a semantic invention that had been effected several years earlier, namely the creation of “the Holocaust,” a superholocaust which does not simply tower above other holocausts but actually reduces them to mere comparisons. Since the early 1970s anyone speaking of an uncapitalized, non-Jewish “holocaust” (e.g. “an ecological holocaust,” “the Ukrainian holocaust,” or even “a nuclear holocaust”) has understood that the word properly belongs to the Jews and that he is only briefly borrowing it to suggest a similarity, an analogical practice now regularly denounced by belligerent Jews as lexical theft.
16. (Berenbaum) Washington Times, 10 January 1991, quoted in JHR 14, no. 3 (May–June 1994), 44; Eliezer Berkovits, Faith After the Holocaust (New York: Ktav, 1973), 18. Cf. Marcia Sachs Littell, “Holocaust Education in the 21st Century,” in Proceedings of the Washington Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1999), 874: “Merging Holocaust Studies into Jewish Studies is the wrong approach. It simply sends the wrong message. That the Holocaust is the most traumatic event in the death and life of the Jewish people since the destruction of the Second Temple goes without saying. But study of the Holocaust is also to study the pathology of Western civilization and its flawed structures. It must not be hidden away by false bracketing of courses” (emphasis added). Dr. Sachs Littell, a professional Holocaust pedagogue, is the director of the National Academy for Holocaust and Genocide Teacher Training. Her ideas for educating Euro-Americans about “the pathology of Western civilization” are in essence no different from the unvarnished hatred of Rabbi Dov Fischer, vice-president of the Zionist Organization of America: “We [Jews] remember that the food they [White Europeans] eat is grown from soil fertilized by 2,000 years of Jewish blood they have sprinkled onto it. Atavistic Jew-hatred lingers in the air into which the ashes rose from the crematoria” (“We’re Right, the Whole World’s Wrong,” Forward, 19 April 2002).
17. Gershon Mamlak, “The Holocaust: Commodity?,” Midstream (April 1983); (Riskin) Tom Hundley, “Two Views of Horror,” Chicago Tribune, 9 May 1993, quoted in Novick, 160; Berkovits, “Rewriting.”
18. Earlier Jewish literary interpretations of Nazi persecution generally aimed at inclusion. In Edward Lewis Wallant’s strange 1961 novel The Pawnbroker, the protagonist, a concentration camp survivor isolated from the world by his incommunicable experience of Nazi savagery, is reintegrated into the human community through the empathic commiseration of a WASP woman named Marilyn and the redemptive sacrifice of a Puerto Rican named Jesus, an assimilationist thematic structure that later Jewish Holocaust writers would studiously avoid. The novel’s uplifting conclusion, based on its heavily marked Christian symbolism, was effectively excised in Sidney Lumet’s 1965 film adaptation. Wallant’s Pawnbroker has recognizable Holocaust themes (the radical isolation of survivors, the judaizing of the concentration camps, spectacular Nazi barbarity, etc.) but none of the political meanings that the institutionalized Holocaust would later express. The Painted Bird, on the other hand, is a true Holocaust novel with a Holocaust political structure, even though the Nazi concentration camp is only tangential to its subject matter. For Kosinski’s fabrications, see James Park Sloan, “Kosinski’s War,” New Yorker, 10 October 1994: “[Polish journalist] Joanna Siedlecka portrays the elder Kosinski [i.e. Jerzy Kosinski's father] not just as a wily survivor but as a man without scruples. She maintains that he may have collaborated with the Germans during the war and very likely did collaborate with the NKVD, after the liberation of Dabrowa by the Red Army, in sending to Siberia for minor infractions, such as hoarding, some of the very peasants who saved his family. Her real scorn, however, is reserved for the son, who turned his back on the family’s saviors and vilified them, along with the entire Polish nation, in the eyes of the world. Indeed, the heart of Siedlecka’s revelations is her depiction of the young Jerzy Kosinski spending the war years eating sausages and drinking cocoa — goods unavailable to the neighbors’ children — in the safety of his house and yard.”
19. For the Zionist objectives behind the Eichmann trial, see Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (New York: Penguin, 1964), 5–10, and Segev 327–28.
20. MacDonald documents this campaign in his Culture of Critique, esp. chapters 5–6. Cf. Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews: Revised and Definitive Edition (New York: Holmes & Meier, 1985), 1044: “When in the early days of 1933 the first civil servant wrote the first definition of ‘non-Aryan’ into a civil service ordinance, the fate of European Jewry was sealed.” Even if every word of the Holocaust story were true, Hilberg’s pronouncement would remain obviously false. Its political purpose is, however, unmistakable. Racial classifications and definitions are routine in Israel, and it is unlikely that a single American Zionist has ever worried that they might lead to a Palestinian holocaust. As Arendt (Eichmann in Jerusalem, 7) noted: “In Israel . . . rabbinical law rules the personal status of Jewish citizens, with the result that no Jew can marry a non-Jew; marriages concluded abroad are recognized, but children of mixed marriages are legally bastards (children of Jewish parentage born out of wedlock are legitimate), and if one happens to have a non-Jewish mother he can neither be married nor buried. . . . There certainly was something breathtaking in the naivete with which the prosecution [in the Eichmann trial] denounced the infamous Nuremberg Laws of 1935, which had prohibited intermarriage and sexual intercourse between Jews and Germans. The better informed among the correspondents were well aware of the irony, but they did not mention it in their reports.”
21. Nathan Glazer, American Judaism (Chicago, 1957), 114–15, quoted in Novick, 105.
22. Novick, 113; Cynthia Ozick, “Who Owns Anne Frank?” New Yorker, 6 October 1997. Jewish hostility to the popular stage (1955) and film (1959) adaptations of Anne’s Diary, both written by the White husband-and-wife screenwriting team of Albert and Frances Hackett, has become strident in recent years, a result of Holocaust consciousness and modern Jewish identity politics colliding with an established monument of wartime patriotism. Ozick, an especially volatile Zionist, argues that it would have been better if the Diary had been burned before publication, to prevent it from teaching anodyne, dejudaized lessons about Jewish suffering mediated through the moral universalism of non-Jews. Ozick and others import into Anne Frank’s life a strong Jewish consciousness she never possessed, while bizarrely blaming Gentiles (along with Anne’s “deracinated” father) for having disfigured her into a WASP in all but birth, a pallid symbol of the Jew as merely one of us. In fact current Jewish anger at the broadly faithful film version, which Jews in the 1950s justifiably considered a remarkable propaganda triumph, reveals growing frustration with Anne and the heroic version of the war she embraced, frustration so great that some Holocaust pedagogues recommend ejecting her from the canon of Holocaust authors for teaching insufficiently Judeocentric lessons; but because her Diary has become a quasi-religious document, scrutinized for its spiritual insights as fundamentalist Christians pore over their bibles, belligerent Jews generally direct their attack against White America, which in the 1950s allegedly betrayed the text for malevolently assimilationist purposes, an example of what Ozick calls “them stealing our Holocaust.” Accordingly in Holocaust education programs White students now not only read The Diary of a Young Girl Anne Frank, but also learn about the Eurocentric act of cultural theft that once misappropriated it from its rightful owners. The falsely rejudaized Diary, surrounded by polemical commentary, becomes in the process a Holocaust text with a Holocaust political structure. For summaries of the Jewish culture war over the Diary, an emotional intramural dispute barely comprehensible to any non-Jew, see Novick, 117–20, and Ian Buruma, “The Afterlife of Anne Frank,” New York Review of Books, 19 February 1998.
23. Cf. “Farrakhan’s Jewish Problem,” Tikkun 9 (March–April 1994), 10, quoted in Novick, 191: “In current discourse, who gets labeled ‘white’ and who gets labeled ‘person of color’ derives not from the color of one’s skin . . . but from the degree to which one has been a victim of Western colonialist oppression. By that measure, Jews have been the greatest victims of Western societies throughout the past two thousand years and must certainly be understood to be one of the ‘peoples of color.’”
24. (Belzberg) S. Teitelbaum and T. Waldman, “The Unorthodox Rabbi,” Los Angeles Times Magazine, 15 July 1990, quoted in Mark Weber, “The Simon Wiesenthal Center,” JHR 15, no. 4 (July–August 1995), 3; Abraham Foxman, “Schindler’s List — The Meaning of Spielberg’s Film,” ADL newsletter On the Frontline (January 1994), quoted in JHR 14, no. 2 (March–April 1994), 41. Sincere belief in the Jewish Holocaust does not of course preclude cynical exploitation of it. Cf. Novick, 157: “At a time  when West Germany was considering the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia, [Hyman] Bookbinder wrote to the German ambassador to the United States in his capacity as a member of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council — though he was not, he made clear, speaking for the council. Plans for the Washington museum were now being developed, he said. ‘How Germany will be treated in that museum may well be affected by the decision you make pertaining to the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia.’” Bookbinder believed that Gentile Holocaust consciousness was essential for preserving American “commitment to Israel,” but for the sake of Israel the USHMM’s presentation of Nazi atrocities was negotiable: the unique horrors of the Holocaust could become slightly less horrific if the West German government proved properly compliant.
25. On collective memory, see Novick, 3–6, 170ff. Novick, reflecting the consensus view, locates the principal source of awakened Holocaust memory in Jewish anxieties over Israel, prompted by the Six Day War of 1967 and especially by the Yom Kippur War of 1973. Cf. Marcia Sachs Littell, “Holocaust Education,” 870: “In the years directly following liberation [of the camps] there was silence — stunning silence. From the Jewish Community, from the churches, from government agencies. During this time, the majority of Americans were comfortable with the silence. Even the word ‘Holocaust’ did not come into current use until the 1960s. . . . Americans received their first real jolt of awareness at the time of the Six Day War (1967) in Israel, when ‘a Second Holocaust’ seemed threatened. With the realization that Jews might be destroyed in their homeland, not only Jews in the Diaspora were aroused: Christians friendly to Jewish survival were also moved to act.” But no explanation for the Jewish Holocaust that fails to acknowledge the racial hostility that animates it can be taken seriously. Elie Wiesel calls Auschwitz “the failure of two thousand years of Christian civilization” not because he supports Israel and fears for its survival, but because he hates the people he has chosen to live among and believes that he can now insult them with impunity. Holocaust memory had, in any case, clearly taken shape well before 1973 and even before 1967. There were already important (though lightly marked) Holocaust political themes in Stanley Kramer’s Judgment at Nuremberg (1961), a “message picture” that gently suggested, for the educational benefit of British and American Gentiles, their own complicity in nazi evil; the nazification of Pope Pius XII, a process that continues today, began in the early 1960s, well before Diaspora Jews could possibly have felt any fears about an imminent holocaust in Israel; and Holocaust theology, a now massive body of theopolitical scholarship centering all of human history in the Holocaust’s various Judeocentric revelations, also precedes Israel’s Six Day War. See Richard Rubenstein’s seminal After Auschwitz: Radical Theology and Contemporary Judaism (New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1966).
26. (Sher) Jewish World (Long Island), May 8–14, 1992, quoted in JHR 13, no. 1 (January–February 1993), 46; Ozick, “All the World Wants the Jews Dead,” Esquire (November 1974), quoted in Finkelstein. Sher, who left his job as a Nazi-hunter to become Executive Director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the chief Zionist lobby group in Washington, was speaking at a Yom Hashoah commemoration. The Brooklyn-born Dr. Baruch Goldstein, who in 1994 slaughtered twenty-nine Muslims praying in Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque, often wore a yellow star, marked with the German “Jude” (“Jew”), in order to commemorate his particularist understanding of the Holocaust’s moral lessons. Cf. Rubenstein, After Auschwitz, 153: “We stand in a cold, silent, unfeeling cosmos, unaided by any purposeful power beyond our own resources. After Auschwitz, what else can a Jew say about God?”; Fackenheim, Encounters Between Judaism and Modern Philosophy: A Preface to Future Jewish Thought (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1973), 166: “After the Holocaust, the Israeli nation has become collectively, what the survivor is individually.”
27. Novick, 12. Novick (207) comments further: “A good part of the answer is the fact — not less a fact because anti-Semites turn it into a grievance — that Jews play an important and influential role in Hollywood, the television industry, and the newspaper, magazine, and book publishing worlds. Anyone who would explain the massive attention the Holocaust has received in these media in recent years without reference to that fact is being naive or disingenuous.”
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