THE HOLOCAUST AND GENOCIDE
Few, if any, events in human history have attracted the amount of attention as the so-called Jewish "Holocaust," capital H as opposed to all other lower case genocides. "Scholarship on the Holocaust," wrote Theodore Ziolkowski, "whether accurate or not, is piling up at such a rate that some observers believe the end of the century will witness an accumulation of works exceeding the total number produced on any other subject in human history." [ZIOLKOWSKI, p. 593] Moral arguments, factual contentions, survivor's accounts, Nazi documents, Jewish polemics, and every other kind of angle about the Nazis' attempts to eliminate Jews have been the base of careers for a huge number of mostly Jewish scholars. There are over ten thousand existent publications just about the Auschwitz concentration camp alone. [MILLER, p. 35] In 1982 a conference in Israel about the Holocaust drew 650 scholars from around the world, many with presentations about the subject. [LIBOWITZ, p. 272] And what has been a common core to the Jewish discourse on the subject? Wounded pride, often expressed in torrents of irrationality and emotionalism. "The blow to the national and human pride of the Jewish nation inflicted by the extermination of one-third of its people," notes Israeli sociologist Chaim Schatzker, "hardened the remainder to any logical and rational argumentation on the subject of the Holocaust." [SCHATZKER, p. 95] Jewish author Philip Lopate notes that Jewish emotionalism on the subject "forces the mind to withdraw." And in the world of contesting ideas, "in its life as a rhetorical figure, the Holocaust is a bully." [ELLIS, M., 1990, p. 33]
Jewish obsession with the Holocaust knows few limits, and leaves no stone unturned in its quest for esoteric minutia. "Sometimes one is even tempted to ask whether historians working on the Holocaust are not stretching the bounds of common sense," says Evytat Friesel, "One example is the debate that took place in 1991 in Frankfurt, where a Study and Documentation Center is being planned, in which well-known historians participated in a learned discussion on whether the Holocaust had been rational, irrational, or anti-rational." [FRIESEL, p. 228-229] "In the Jewish community," complains Gabriel Schoenfeld, "well-meaning organizations and individuals are mindlessly sponsoring Internet sites offering a 'Holocaust cybrary' or a 'virtual tour' of [concentration camp] Dachau! Already, an academic conference has been scheduled in Washington on the subject of 'Deaf People in Hitler's Europe,' where for four days scholars in three separate victimological fields -- 'Holocaust Studies, Deaf Studies, and Deaf History' -- will have an opportunity to 'interact.' Do we need more of this?" [SCHOENFELD, p. 46]
By the end of the twentieth century the Holocaust is understood by Jews to be the tragically golden cap that proves the Jewish mythos of eternal victimization. "One lesson we [Jews] frequently derive from our history," says Steven Cohen, "a very powerful one -- is the lesson of victimization, whose paramount example is the Holocaust. Jews believe that we have been victimized over the years, that we have a unique history of persecution. The lesson gets pounded into us in a variety of ways. It starts with the central formative events in Jewish history, namely the enslavement in Egypt. It continues through to the Holocaust in Europe and is punctuated with invasions, expulsions, and pogroms in between. The Israeli writer Aharon Appelfeld has said that Jewish history is a series of Holocausts, with only some improvement in technology." [COHEN, Uses, p. 26]
The popular formation of a modern Jewish identity that is completely Holocaust-centric is cause for some dissent in the Jewish community. "Some Jews actively search out anti-Semitism," says Adam Garfinkle, "as a raison d'etre to be Jewish, along with the modern cult of martyrology -- the canonization of the Holocaust. This they do because positive motivation for Jewishness, flowing from their grasp of the value of the Jewish perspective, is all but absent in their lives." [GARFINKLE, p. 21] By 1981 Jacob Neusner was disturbed by the "puzzling frame of mind of people whose everyday vision of ordinary things is reshaped into a heightened, indeed mythic, mode of perception and being by reference to awful events they never witnessed, let alone experienced, and by the existence of a place which they surely do not plan to dwell in or even to visit." [NEUSNER, STRANGER, p. 2]
"I think there is absolutely no question, as I look at the American Jewish experience," says Jonathan Woocher, "that we have appropriated both the Holocaust and the creation of the state of Israel in a mythic fashion. The myth has even been given a name, though not by me, 'From Holocaust to redemption.' Israel is a resurrection and all the world's great religions have a resurrection myth." [WOOCHER, Discussion, p. 28]
As always in the Jewish collective understanding of itself, and reflecting the traditional Jewish understanding of anti-Semitism, victims of the Holocaust were all categorically "innocent." "Holocaust theology," notes Marc Ellis, declares that "the Jewish sense of purpose [is] that of an innocent, suffering people in search of their destiny." [ELLIS, M., 1990, p. 6] The innocence of the European Jews is thereby transferred categorically to the intrinsic innocence of Israelis fighting Arabs. "For Holocaust theologians," says Ellis,
"the victory in the  Six Day War was a miracle, a sign that an
innocent people so recently victimized might be on the verge of
redemption. That is, a subtheme of Jewish suffering in the Holocaust
is the total innocence of the Jewish people and thus the innocence of
those who defend the lives of Jews in Israel. For Holocaust theologians,
the victory of Israel in 1967 is a victory of the innocent trying to forestall
another catastrophe, another holocaust, and the redemptive sign is that
this time Jews will prevail." [ELLIS, M., 1990, p. 3]
Rooted in the mythology of relentless victimization of Jewish innocence across the centuries, one of the most curious obsessions for most Jews today is the militantly avowed "uniqueness" of the Holocaust in comparison to all other atrocities in the human record. The Jewish Holocaust's declared outstanding "specialness," grotesque and horrible, inevitably echoes -- and is sometimes overtly theologically linked to -- the traditional tenets of self-asserted Judaic claims to distinction, exclusiveness, and chosenness. Over the years, notes Edward Linenthal, the Holocaust became to be understood by Jews as even a pseudo-religious event itself, "not only a transcendent event, it was unique, not to be compared to any other genocidal situations, and its victims were Jews. Any comparison of event or linkage to any other victim group could be, and often was, perceived as, if not the murder of memory, at least its dilution. Moreover, the story ended with a kind of redemption, the creation of the state of Israel." [LINENTHAL, p. 4] (This communal conviction has evolved over time, politically and socially, as it suited Jewish needs. As Peter Novick notes about earlier years: "After the war began, and after the main outlines of the Holcoaust had become known, it was common for Jewish writers to interpret Nazi atrocities in a univeralist fashion -- stressing that Jews were far from the only victims.") [NOVICK, P., 1999, p. 38]
Irving Greenberg, Chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Commission, "regarded comparison of the Holocaust with any other form of genocide as 'blasphemous, as well as dishonest.'" [LILENTHAL, p. 55] "The unique demands and inherent risks of teaching the Holocaust," says Richard Libowitz, "point to rejection of an instructor who merely instructs, in favor of the professor who will profess." [LIBOWITZ, p. 65] "The instrument of my return to [a Jewish identity] is not religion," says Jane Delynn, "but the Holocaust. It is where my identity as a Jew lies -- my chosen identification with an event in history that I have declared to be of significance as no other." [DELYNNE, p. 64]
A public school study guide about the Holocaust, sponsored by the Jewish Community Council of Metropolitan Detroit, begins with a question: "How is the Holocaust different from other mass murders or 'genocides?'" The volume then champions to the student the "uniqueness" of Jewish suffering:
"Comparisons to determine which group suffered the worst tragedy
serve neither the past nor the present. The uniqueness of the Holocaust,
however, invites us to focus specific attention on it and its lessons for
modern society." [BOLKOSKY, 1987, p. 13]
The Holocaust gapes like a wound within the ongoing Jewish "particularist/universalist" tension: What's more important, a larger community of human beings in general, or Jews in particular? The traditional answer, and the renewed answer for many Jews today, is the latter. "It makes no sense," proclaims Alvin Rosenfeld, "to add up all the corpses [killed by the Nazis] without distinction and pile them on some abstract slaughter heap called 'mankind.' [ROSENFELD, p. 160] Rosenfeld, like most Jews, wants to wade through the dead and sort them out: Jews in the rays of light, the rest in shadows. (When Eric Yoffie observed the Muslim victims of Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic, he couldn't acknowledge the Muslims' own identity. He only saw Jews. "As Jews," he says, "we look at these slaughtered victims and see Jewish corpses. We look at the more than a million refugees and see Jewish faces." [YOFFIE, Military, p. 3] )
"To cheaply universalize the Holocaust would be a distortion of history," says Elie Wiesel, and then, in vintage Orwellian doublespeak, "The universality of the Holocaust lies in its [Jewish] uniqueness.' [RITTNER, Chap 8] Emil Fackenheim condemns those who "universalize the Holocaust," those who "avoid precisely what ought to arrest philosophical thought. It is escapism into universalism." [FACKENHEIM, Holo, p. 17] "The uniqueness of the Holocaust," insists Gershon Mamlak, "was manifested in a dual form: the way the victims experienced it, and the way the Gentile world performed and/or witnessed it." [MAMLAK, p. 12] "Of all he events in human history," declares Ivan Avisar, "none is more compelling and disturbing than the Holocaust ... The Holocaust was a unique or unprecedented historical experience ... Hitler's intent to exterminate an entire people is incomparable to any other episode of malice in the annals of human history." [AVISAR, p. vii]
There is even a post-Holocaust Jewish rationale that encourages guilt in those Jews who still insist upon a universalist approach to other people. Deborah Lipstadt, for instance, claims that
"The Holocaust ... poses ... fundamental questions for those [Jews]
who have shunned the particular in Judaism and have embraced the
universal. Those who have pursued in Judaism's name the causes of
others and who have denied the legitimacy of specific Jewish concerns
must recognize that the Holocaust calls many of the premises of their
belief into question." [LIPSTADT, p. 340]
Hence, for many Jews there is no space for reflection upon the commonality of human suffering in World War II. In popular Jewish opinion no other people are entitled, or allowed, to share Jewish center stage of Utmost Tragedy.
"Nothing annoys Jews so much as to be told that other people have suffered," says Liebman and Cohen. "Not a few American Jewish spokesmen have bristled at the use of the words holocaust and even genocide to describe tragedies that have befallen other minorities and nationalities." [LIEBMAN/COHEN, p. 31]
This Jewish offense was evidenced, for instance, against Archbishop Desmund Tutu, the Black leader of the Anglican Church of South Africa and internationally known activist against that country's apartheid system. "There is a kind of Jewish arrogance," says Tutu, "one can only call it that ... I sometimes say that apartheid is as evil as Nazism and there have been Jews who say I am insulting them. Jews seem to think they have a corner on the market of suffering." [HOFFMAN, p. 10]
Many Protestant and Catholic theologians, says Yaakov Ariel, "[have] tried to ascribe a universal significance -- over and above nationality, or religion -- to [Hitler's] murder of millions of innocent people. Jewish spokesmen often denounced such an outlook." [ARIEL, p. 338] Jesse Jackson, during a visit to Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in 1979, created a wake of Jewish anger and indignation when he made the unpardonable sin of stating that the Jewish Holocaust "was one of the greatest tragedies of all times," instead of saying it was "unique." [CARSON, p. 135] Even the pope's beatification of Edith Stein, a Jewish woman who became a Catholic nun and was murdered as a Jew at Auschwitz, has offended Jewish sensibilities as a symbolic Christian appropriation, and honing in, of Jewish special suffering. [VIVIANO, p. 354-355]
In 1982, an international conference in Israel on "The Holocaust and Genocide" drew attack from Jews "who feared the uniqueness of their tragedy would somehow be compromised by the conference's inclusion of other victims, including Armenians, Tibetans, Gypsies, and Cambodians." [LIBOWITZ, p. 272] A few years later, in giving a speech memorializing Holocaust victims, President Carter offended -- among many others -- a professor of Jewish History at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Yehuda Baer, for daring to mention victims other than Jews. Carter was trying to "de-Judaize" the Holocaust, wrote Baer, which was "an unconscious reflection of anti-Semitic attitudes" based on "a certain paradoxical envy on the part of non-Jewish groups directed at the Jewish experience of the Holocaust." "To Baer," notes David Stannard, "the simple acknowledgement of the suffering of others constituted Jew-hating." [STANNARD, p. 168] Stannard, a professor of American Studies at the University of Hawaii, notes the preposterous position taken on the subject by Deborah Lipstadt, a professor of Jewish Studies at Emory University:
"Lipstadt regards as her enemy anyone who expressed doubts about the
utter singularity in all of human history of Jewish suffering and death
under Hitler ... In short, if you disagree with Deborah Lipstadt that the
Jewish suffering in the Holocaust was unique, you are, by definition --
and like [former Ku Klux Klan member] David Duke -- a crypto-Nazi."
[STANNARD, p. 168]
British scholar John Fox notes Lipstadt's position on the Holocaust subject to be "nothing less than intellectual fascism." [FOX, J., 3-19-2000, p. 47, 48]
Clinging tightly to the moral and political leverage afforded by the "uniqueness" of the Jewish experience in World War II, Christians are not welcome to search for parallel unity (in their own millions of dead) in the circle of suffering. "The Jewish community," Michael Berenbaum smugly notes, "has become ... deeply suspicious of Roman Catholic efforts to discover -- some would say invent -- a tradition of Roman Catholic martyrology in the Holocaust." [BERENBAUM, STRUGGLE, p. 85]
A chorus of Jewish critics led an attack upon a non-Jewish novelist, William Styron, for daring to write about the death camps in a novel from a non-Jewish perspective. Theodore Ziolkowski cites Alvin Rosenfeld as a typical complainant: "Rosenfeld's attack on ... Styron is based on two premises: an unwillingness to see the universal implications of the Holocaust and indignation at Styron's assumption that a Polish Catholic woman could be viewed as a representative victim of the camps." [ZIOLKOWSKI, p. 602]
"Some," says Jeffrey Shandler, "have come to regard the Holocaust as specifically, even exclusively, Jewish cultural property (literary scholar Edward Alexander describes it as the Jews' 'moral capital') that requires vigilant protection against misuse or misappropriation." [SHANDLER, p. 162] Alexander, a Jewish professor at the University of Washington, claims that the Holocaust serves "a Jewish claim to a specific suffering that was of the 'highest,' the most distinguished grade available." Those who dare to debunk such bizarrely elitist Jewish claims about their experience under Hitler, he says, are seeking "to plunder the moral capital which the Jewish people, through its unparalleled suffering in World War II, had unwittingly accumulated." [STANNARD, p. 193]
(In 1998 even the DC Comics company came under Jewish attack for robbing them of their unique "moral capital." In a new comic, Superman visits the concentration camps of World War II. The sin to Jews is that, although refugees wear yarmulkes and sport names like Moishe and Baruch in the comics, the word "Jew" (or, for that matter, Catholic or German) is never mentioned. Seeking to be politically correct and to avoid offence to anyone, the cartoon creators unwittingly exposed themselves to public attack by the Anti-Defamation League and others for "rob [bing] the [Jewish] victims of their identity." [NEWSDAY, p. A22]
"The world owes Jews," demands Alan Dershowitz, "and the Jewish state [of Israel], which was built on the ashes of the Holocaust, a special understanding." [DERSHOWITZ, p. 136] Eliezer Berkovits claims the Holocaust and the subsequent creation of modern Israel renders the Jews "as the point for the crystallization of moral direction in history. That is the ultimate significance of being the chosen people of God." [BRESLAUER, p. 10] "[The] Holocaust stands alone in time," decreed Menachem Rosensaft, "as an aberration within history." [LOPATE, p. 290] "The uniqueness of Jewish destiny," suggests Jacob Agus, "consists principally in the fact that the Jew is the litmus test of civilized humanity." [AGUS, p. 363]
Lawrence Langer calls the Holocaust "an episode without parallel in history or eschatology." [ZIOLKOWSKI, p. 683] Alvin Rosenfeld calls it "a major turning point in history and in the history of consciousness." [ROSENFELD, p. 10] For Emil Fackenheim, the word "Holocaust" is so sacred that "it has seemed to me that this word should be used sparingly lest it be used in vain." [FACKENHEIM, p. 16] George Kren and Leon Rappoport "hold that the Holocaust was unique because no other event of the modern era has so undercut the moral/humanitarian credibility of western civilization." [KREN, Was, p. 22] Irving Greenberg and Rosenfeld declared that "the Holocaust is an event of such magnitude that it creates a historical force field of its own.' [BRESLAUER, p. 6]
"This curious elitism," argues Theodore Ziolkowski, "reduces a tragedy of humanity to an episode in Jewish mythology ... [Such elitist commentators] unwittingly evade history by mythifying it." [ZIOLKOWSKI, p. 683] And what's worse, says Jewish author Philip Lopate, "is the degree to which such an apocalyptic religious-mythological rendering of historical events has come to be accepted by the culture at large." [LOPATE, p. 290]
Sociologist John Murray Cuddihy is particularly insightful, and damning, in unearthing the latent -- and classically Jewish -- meaning behind the Jewish dictate of incomparable Jewish suffering in World War II:
"This [Jewish Holocaust] exemption from comparison is a heady
privilege ... Among the many items selected by culture to symbolize
status, incomparability alone is inimitable." [CUDDIHY, p. 77]
"In Jewish discourse on the Holocaust," says Peter Novick, in an unusual Jewish perspective, "we have not just a competition [among other alleged "victims"] for recognition but a competition for primacy. This takes many forms. Among the most widespread and pervasive is an angry insistence on the uniqueness of the Holocaust ... The assertion that the Holocaust is unique -- like the claim that it is singularly incomprehensible or unrepresentable -- is, in practice, deeply offensive. What else can all of this possibly mean except 'your catastrophe, unlike ours, is ordinary; unlike ours is comprehensible; unilike ours is representable." [NOVICK, P., 1999, p. 9]
In other words, classical Judaism's insistent self-heralding as a "nation apart" from others and its innate class-conscious self-image of all-encompassing uniqueness and exceptionality, is the conceptual master for Jewish understanding of their holy Holocaust, a latent religious-based encoding of their role in the World War II disaster, a perspective that is actually militantly enforced upon non-Jews from a position of Jewish "prestige as a control system." [CUDDIHY, Holo, p. 72] Cuddihy underscores the racist undercurrent to the "Holocaust uniqueness" claim as a latent expression of the Chosen People paradigm, noting that Jewish philosopher Emil Fackenheim even calls the non-Jewish dead at the Nazi concentration camps "quasi-Jews," [CUDDIHY, p. 67] marginalized stand-ins for those really worth counting. "The 'Holocaust' is the Jews' special thing," says Rabbi Jacob Neusner, "It is what sets them apart from others while giving them a claim upon others. That is why Jews insist on the 'uniqueness' of the Holocaust." [NEUSNER, Holo, p. 978] "Let us be frank," says Cuddihy, "National priority and national uniquity (uniqueness) are both covert claims to superiority, parallel paths to the same summit, and that summit is what [Robert] Merton calls 'ethnocentric glory.'" [CUDDIHY, Holo, p. 74] ... Like social class symbols, cultural symbols serve 'to influence in a desired direction other persons' judgments' of the group that is the symbol's carrier." [CUDDIHY, p. 75]
Uniqueness linked to incomparable suffering makes deep demands upon others. "Beyond moral privileges," note Charles Liebman and Steven Cohen, "the Jews feel that their suffering entitles them to a special consideration from the non-Jewish world. Groups (and individuals) often make much of their history of suffering as a way of strengthening their claims to certain rewards." [LIEBMAN/COHEN, p. 44] "Out of this peculiar [Jewish] emphasis on suffering," noted Rabbi Richard Singer in 1960 when the post-Holocaust political dimensions of this had hardly begun to take shape, " there has developed an attitude, a new attitude of vicarious suffering -- a feeling among numbers of Jews today that because other Jews suffered and died they, the living, are somehow entitled to special consideration." [ZUKERMAN, p. 66] "One of the characteristics of nationalist Jews," said William Zukerman (noting, also in 1960, the commentary of Rabbi Singer), "is to look upon the Jewish group as isolated from the rest of humanity, particularly when it comes to suffering. They see only Jewish suffering and do not see the context of the entire world scene. The result is a distorted historical picture, showing Jews as the only sufferers, while the rest of the world presumably basks in happiness. As compensation for their suffering, it is assumed that Jews, as a group, are somehow entitled to special privileges which other people do not deserve (for instance, special immigration facilities, special fund raising, emigration from communist countries, etc.). [ZUKERMAN, p. 66]
There are few Jewish voices like those of Singer and Zukerman today. On the contrary. The "unique" suffering of Jews affords the possibility to make even this preposterously manipulative declaration by Jewish journalist-novelist Ann Roiphe: "The scale and terror of the Holocaust makes it clear that Jews are innocent and a wronged people, murdered and abandoned to their fate. This makes Christians, even Christians who were not in Europe at the time, a guilty people." [ROIPHE, CHANES, p. 461] Among those many who have succumbed to Jewish Holocaust mythology demands in the name of "interfaith dialogue" include the Catholic Church of France which in 1997 formally "asked for forgiveness" from Jews for Church "silence" when the Nazis were routinely slaughtering all who opened their mouths in protest of anything, and the Pope himself who entertained a historic first by hosting a menorah, symbolic candles of Jewish victims, and "7500 spectators" in the Vatican to "commemorate the Holocaust." [LA TIMES, 4-8-94, p. A10]
Such Christian requests to Jews for "foregiveness" are the results of a long Jewish lobbying and pressure effort, heavily leaning on guilt-based non-Jewish associates who seek to bask in the Christian tenets of compassion and religious tolerance. In the late 1970s, for example, the largely Jewish "National Conference of Christians and Jews" (with branches in 77 major U. S. cities) published "A Holocaust Memorial Service for Christians." The volume appeals to a grandiose universalistic morality, and suggests that Christians incorporate, on a yearly basis, "a special day" (April 22) in their religious services to pay homage to the Holocaust, [NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF CHRISTIANS AND JEWS, p. 3] particularly underscoring that righteous Christians are morally bound to protect Jews from anti-Jewish hostility. [p.4] Likewise, "Christianity's role in the Holocaust must not remain hidden or unstated. It must be faced, no matter how painful an undertaking it may be." [p. 4] A section even tries to diffuse the obvious question, which is given a bold-type heading: "Are You Asking Us to Lay a 'Guilt Trip' on Our People?" [p. 5] For those who might wonder why the Holocaust is so suddenly relevant, "more than thirty years" after the fact, a small chapter explains that, through the prism of the Holocaust, we all "can better prepare ourselves to meet the chalenges of the day," [p. 6] (i.e., the consequences of Jewish particularism may be used to explore generalized principles of human universalism, even though the Holocaust must be held to be separate, distinct, from all other historic atrocities). In subsuming Christian identity beneath that of Jewish martyrs, "Many Christians have wished to have a Christian symbol attached to the yellow Star of David when they wear it ... If you choose to use the Yellow Star as a symbol, and wish to have some Christian identification on it, it is recommended that you use the Sign of the Fish, the oldest Christian symbol. This is preferable to using the Cross." [p. 11] (And why can't Christians wear the cross? Because Jews hate the cross, and from time immemorial have understood it -- rival religion -- as a sign of evil. Spitting at the Christian symbol is an old Jewish tradition, long before the Holocaust). [See citations elsewhere] The National Conference of Christians and Jews have even provided a page-long prayer for Christian penance for the Holocaust, with the recurring refrain: "For the sin which we have committed before You" -- 14 times. [p. 15]
Joel Epstein, a professor of history in Michigan, in an overview of "world civilization" textbooks, uses in-depth addressment of the Holocaust and its alleged "uniqueness" as his criteria for recommending them or not. "The uniqueness of the Holocaust in history needs to be explained," he says. One textbook which "recognize [d] the fact that the extermination of the Jews was the most shocking aspect of the war, an attempt at genocide on an unprecedented scale," falls short of Epstein's standards. "If the centrality of the Holocaust to this process had been emphasized," he advises, "this text would be noteworthy. As it is, however, such emphasis is lacking and the uniqueness of the event is not articulated clearly." [EPSTEIN, p. 65, 70]
In discussing classroom methodologies to teach the Holocaust, Richard Libowitz observes that
"The Holocaust is a unique event in human history ... Efforts to
constrain knowledge within standard lines will conceal the uniqueness,
effecting diminishing student perceptions ... Students must be taken ...
to the edge of the abyss and made to look down ... Traditional
pedagogical norms caution educators against subjective involvement
with their materials; the Holocaust, on the contrary, demands entry
into the event." [LIBOWITZ, Asking, p. 63]
A Jewish professor of twentieth century history at Miami University in Ohio, Allan Winkler, noted in 1996 that
"thanks to [and experience teaching about the Holocaust at a Jewish high
school], to my more open acceptance of my own Jewish identity, the
Holocaust is now a logical part of my university teaching ... When I
address the American role in World War II ... I hope to show my
students how American policy was made, and to help them understand
its limitations. Examining our response to the Holocaust is one way of
identifying shortcomings in the American approach." [WINKLER,
In the proliferation of college courses about the Holocaust, some Jewish overseers feel that there are not enough qualified teachers to teach the subject from the right ideological perspective. "It was argued," says Richard Libowitz, "that the Holocaust was so unique an act within human history that to approach it within the classrooms as one more historical occurrence, one more instance of 'man's inhumanity to man' would be to miss its message and implications alike." [LIBOWTIZ, p. 280] One way to enforce Holocaust uniqueness in academe is "Holocaust endowed chairs," special faculty appointments funded by wealthy Jewish philanthropists interested in maintaining a special emphasis on the subject at American universities. So prevalent are these special teacher/researcher positions in the United States the New York Times devoted an entire article to them in 1995. "Advocates for the special chairs," reported the Times, "argue that the Nazi genocide is of transcendent importance in modern history and demands the constant and focused attention that only a specialized chair can provide." [NY TIMES] Saul Friedlander, holder of the Holocaust chair at UCLA, told the Times that "the chairs have made the Holocaust a special domain, but there is no choice because otherwise it is not taught in a significant way." [NY TIMES] (In 1998, Jewish financier Kenneth Lippet pulled his $3 million Holocaust chair endowment from Harvard University after the position went unfilled for three years: the academic search committee couldn't agree on who was best qualified for the job). [SCHOENFELD, G., p. 42]
This elitist view of supreme Jewish suffering, distinct from all others, has become profoundly politicized and attempts to systematically disenfranchise dissenters to the "uniqueness line" are widespread. "There is a disquieting pattern of claims," says Israel Charmy, "of the 'incomparable uniqueness' of the Holocaust and a good deal of political power in many places in academia, museums, and communities to boost up these claims by pushing down and out nonadherents." [CHARMY, p. x]
John Fox, a non-Jewish college teacher of the Holocaust, notes, from first-hand experience, the same disturbing problem:
"Some historians or writers are deemed acceptable for entry into
the fold of the chosen: if you accept the totally absurd uniqueness
theory (which refuses to acknowledge in the same breath as the
Holocaust the millions of other victims of genocide in the 20th
century), not only are you home dry but if you are non-Jewish
you are actually feted. If you don't you are excluded and damned
to hell in terms of your profession." [FOX, J., 3-19-2000, p. 47-48]
Elie Wiesel, a kind of semi-official guru of the Holocaust, invariably seeks to mystify the tragedy, elevating Jewish suffering (beyond others' suffering) into a specially transcendent, holy, and sacred realm. "[The death camp of] Auschwitz cannot be explained nor can it be visualized," he says, "Whether culmination or abbreviation of history, the Holocaust transcends history. Everything about the Holocaust is inspired by fear and despair: the [Jewish] dead are in possession of a secret that we, the living, are neither worthy of nor capable of recovering." [MARTIN, p. 45-46] Elsewhere, Wiesel even declared that, "Remove the Jews from the Holocaust, and the Event loses its mystery." [PAPAZIAN, p. 17] ("For the many Jews who, like me, have experienced nothing of the horrors," wrote Alfred Kazin, "Elie Wiesel became the embodiment of the Holocaust ... [Yet] Isaac Bashevis Singer scoffed at his novels; Hannah Arendt put him down as a publicity seeker; an Israeli novelist said bitterly of him: 'The Holocaust -- and me.' ... I thought synthetic the hysterically 'religious' atmosphere he built up in his books.'" [KAZIN, p. 122]
Maxime Rodinson, a French Jew whose own parents perished at the hands of the Nazis, alludes to the undercurrent of Jewish ethnocentrism and racism in their Holocaust mythology:
"Contempt for or massacre of white Jews by white Europeans is not
looked at the same way as the massacre of Armenians by Turks, of
Blacks by slave traders, or of Gypsies, of Chinese in Indonesia, and
so on. Auschwitz is elevated to a metaphysical phenomena, but not
the butchery other peoples have suffered." [RODINSON, p. 9]
David Stannard, author of a number of books about Native American "Holocausts" resulting from contact with European civilization, follows suit with a poignant condemnation of the racist origin of all such Jewish claims of exceptional suffering:
"The Holocaust hagiographers arguing for the uniqueness of the Jewish
experience ... are zealots who believe literally that they and their religious
fellows are, in the words of Deuteronomy 7:1, 'a special people ... above
all people that are on the face of the earth,' interpreting in the only way
thus possible their own community's recent encounter with mass death ...
With its spiritual emphasis on the maintenance of blood purity (e.g.,
Deuteronomy 7:3; Joshua 23:12-13), and on the either tacit or expressed
pollution fear of corrupting that purity with the defiling blood of others,
the ideology of the covenant intrinsically is but a step away from full-
blown racism and, if the means are available, often violent oppression
of the purportedly threatening non-chosen." [STANNARD, p. 193]
John Fox, a non-Jewish college teacher about the Holocaust in Great Britain, in a review of a book about the Holocaust by Jewish author Peter Novick, notes the undercurrent of Jewish racism in Jewry's myths about the Holocaust:
"Since the early Sixties it has clearly not been the purpose of many
American and Israeli Jews to over-concern themselves with objectivity
about [the Holocaust] ... Novick meticulously details the political
and cultural purposes which lay behind the American and Israeli
Jewish 'management' of the Holocaust over the past 40 years. In
addition, he presents sickening example after example of the racism
that dare not speak its name: Jewish racism." [FOX, J., 3-19-2000,
As Novick notes about the claim of Holocaust uniqueness:
"To single out those aspects of the Holocaust that were distinctive
(there certainly were such), and to ignore those aspects that it
shared with other atrocities, and on the basis of this gerrymandering
to declare the Holocaust is unique, is intellectual sleight of hand."
[FOX, J., 3-19-2000, p. 47-48]
In some Jewish quarters there is even a sacred literature about the Holocaust, rivaling any Holy Book, likewise beyond criticism or questioning. Jewish survivors' accounts are among the most hallowed testimonies and Elie Wiesel is one of the sacred authors. "The only completely decent 'review,'" says George Steiner, "of the Warsaw Diary or [Wiesel's] Night would be to re-copy the book, line by line, pausing at the names of the dead and the names of the children as the Orthodox scribe pauses, when recopying the bible, at the hallowed name of God." [ROSENFELD, p. 9] Another Jewish critic, A. Alvarez, wrote in Commentary that "as a human document ... Night is ... certainly beyond criticism." [WIESEL, first page]
This sacred book, Night, which -- due to its painful origin -- is so much considered to be flawless and beyond reproach, is an autobiographical account of Wiesel's hellious experience in Nazi concentration camps, environments where human beings were reduced to their most basic, primitive, animalistic instincts to survive. But innocent suffering and Nazi tormenters are not the book's main themes. Night's central current is really about guilt, specifically the guilt engendered by the moral costs of personal survival.
Wiesel turns again and again with shame to the profoundly disturbing feelings that his own weakening father's existence is a burden to Elie's own chances for survival in the camps. This self-preservative mood -- survival at all costs -- is echoed by other fellow prisoners, including even the son of a rabbi who hurries to distance himself away from his father.
Adoring commentators of Night as sacred vestige lose sight of the fact that the book is only peripherally about the slaughter of innocents; it is more poignantly about the very human psychological wounds of survival, i.e., what does it cost -- morally and spiritually -- to survive, in this particular case, when rendered by Nazis to be subhuman? "Everyone who survived [the concentration camps]," another Jewish survivor, Natan Gierowitz has noted, "was indirectly involved with the extermination of other people." [BOROSON, p. 17] Or as Polish Auschwitz survivor Wieslaw Kielar notes:
"Those who were best off [in concentration camps] were the people
who had no scruples at all. They advanced [in the survival system]
rapidly. They came to power, not squeamish about the means they
chose, at the cost of human suffering and even of human life. The
important thing was that, in this way, one made sure of one's own
position, one filled one's stomach with the stolen rations of one's
hungry fellows." [KIELAR, 1980, p. 70]
Such truisms of concentration camp survival is not only relevant to Wiesel's concentration camp experience, it is also core to Jewish self-identity in the collective sense throughout the ages -- in the sense that there is always attendant guilt to be paid for historic survival. In any context, for anybody, any people, what is the cost, ultimately, of "survival?" This cost -- what the Jews had to do in their long history to survive, and prosper, at others' expense -- i.e., their double moral standards, et al, as usurers, profiteers, and exploiters of all sorts -- is not part of their own popularly understood moral history of themselves. It is suppressed and denied. It had been, however, for many, very much part of the Jewish self-conception ("self-hatred") in the century leading up to the Holocaust, as seen even in the vehement Zionist disdain for the galut (exilic) Jewish identity. [See later chapters]
"Climaxing ... all previous persecutions in the history of Jewish exclusion and suffering," says George Steiner, "the Shoah has given to [Jewish] history a particularity of darkness, a seeming logic in which the sole categorical imperative is that of survival." [STEINER, Lowl, p. 159] What kind of morality, we might well ask, attends the "sole categorical imperative" of survival?
Ultimately, the Jewish enforcement of the Holocaust as a unique and sacred Jewish catastrophe of victimization at the hands of -- not just Nazis -- but the generic Gentiles, in a conceptual straight line for literally thousands of years, affirms their self-conceived status as a caste of people beyond (for others) moral reproach and criticism. "One of the major effects of the ... Holocaust," wrote Irving Howe, "... [is that] it dissolves any impulse to judge what the victims did or did not do, since there are situations so extreme that it seems immoral to make judgments about those who must endure them." [HOWE, p. 432] This "dissolvement of judgment" is polemically and politically wielded by Jews today as a veil of sacred atrocity and victimization that is draped across the whole of Jewish history, thus completely nullifying and erasing Jewish responsibility, culpability, and blame for not only their actions -- or inactions -- in the Holocaust epoch, but for Jewish activities -- or inactivities -- in the whole of human history. Because of the overwhelmingly evil gravity of Hitler's response to alleged Jewish social, economic, and political abuses of non-Jewish communities, the veritable mountains of complaints and criticism about Jews across the ages by Gentiles has been completely neglected. The Jewish Holocaust ideology -- which accuses and blackens all non-Jews as complacent sinners in the Crime of crimes -- functions as a methodological tool by which Jews do not need to atone to their fellow man for their own sins.
Even before the Holocaust experience begins for the author of Night, Wiesel was psychologically/religiously primed for it by the victim tradition of Judaism. At twelve years old, he writes, "during the day I studied the Talmud and at night I ran to the synagogue to weep over the destruction of the Temple." The Temple was of course destroyed in the year 70 AD, 1,871 years before Wiesel ran to the synagogue to weep about it.
The alleged unique sanctity of the Jewish experience in World War II is approached by Jews from other angles. Shortly after the war, T. W. Adorno made a famous comment in which he suggested that the Holocaust was so sacred in its misery that it would be immoral to write poetry about it, to lyricize such horror, "to squeeze aesthetic pleasure out of artistic representation of the naked bodily pain of those who have been knocked down by rifle butts." [HOWE, p. 427] Years later, Michael Wyschogrod followed up with:
"Art takes the sting out of suffering ... It is therefore forbidden to make
fiction of the Holocaust ... Any attempt to transform the Holocaust into
art demeans the Holocaust and must result in poor art."
[ROSENFELD, p. 14]
Wyschogrod's efforts to forbid art making from spilling into the Holocaust and profaning the sacred have been, of course, to no avail. There has been an avalanche of "poor art" about the Holocaust, almost entirely by Jews who try to connect more deeply to it victimhood symbology and to propagandize the "uniqueness" idea to others via sculpture, paintings, novels, poems, and monuments of all sorts and sizes.
And, of course, whatever else the art itself is about the Holocaust, it too is "unique," "special," "different," apart from other art. Sara Horowitz, in a book about a whole genre of fiction about the Holocaust, declares "Holocaust fiction suggests the need for an expansion of categories, for new classifications, new 'taxonomies.'" [HOROWITZ, p. 13]
Intrinsic to the Jewish insistence that the sacred Jewish Holocaust was unique is a desperate search for an explanation of the unfathomable horrors of their people under European fascism, and that the millions of Jewish lives lost were not piteously wasted. The incessant Jewish search -- whether religiously or secularly based -- is still towards a confirmation, or reconstruction, of their battered tradition of choseness: humankind's transcendent sufferers.
"The expressions 'one nation' and 'one people,' implying uniqueness, have become catchwords of traditional religious parlance," notes Yeshayahu Leibowitz, "In literary sources of Jewish thought and in various pronouncements of Jewish thinkers to this day, these expressions have come to represent basic tenets of faith. 'Uniqueness' is interwoven with other concepts such as 'election,' 'being cherished,' and even with 'holiness' in usages made obscure by the ambiguity of these expressions. Adherence to this idea of uniqueness may lead to great religious exaltation. But its indefiniteness invites perversion, distortion and corruption." [LEIBOWITZ, p. 79] "The presumed uniqueness of the Shoah [Holocaust] has become vital to Judaism now," says George Steiner, ".... In numerous complex ways it underlies and underwrites certain essential aspects of the 'recreation of nationhood in Israel.'" [STEINER, Long, p. 159]
"The [Jewish] hostility towards anything that questions the uniqueness of the Holocaust," notes Philip Lopate, "can now be seen as part of a deeper tendency to view all of Jewish history as 'unique,' to read that history selectively, and to use it only insofar as it promotes a redemptive script. Thus the Holocaust 'mystery' must be asserted over and over again, in the same way as was the 'mystery' of Jewish survival through the ages, in order to yield the explanation that God 'wants' the Jewish people to live and is protecting them. Being a secular, fallen Jew with a taste for rationalism and history, I cannot but regard such providential interpretations as superstition." [LOPATE, p. 307]
This Jewish demand for Holocaust-Chosen People "uniqueness" resounds everywhere throughout the Jewish world, a self-conception that nestles -- long before the Holocaust-- at the very heart of Jewish identity. "This difficulty in categorizing the Jewish people," says Hayem Donin, "may well be their uniqueness. It is a uniqueness which according to the believer was given its permanent stamp by the Divine command." [DONIN, p. 9] Gail Shulman notes the flavor of being raised as a Jew in America:
"A child in a family with any Jewish consciousness cannot avoid
growing up with a sense of uniqueness ... The message was conveyed
to me that I was not like everyone else: Living in a kosher household,
staying out of school on the High Holy Days, eating special foods on
special dishes at Passover, making Hannukah cards instead of Christmas
decorations ... -- all were powerful expressions of the specialness of
being Jewish ... I thought I understood what it meant to be a member
of the chosen people." [SHULMAN, G., 1983]
Again and again, this ideological current of exceptionality is the bedrock of Jewish discourse about themselves. "We have surveyed the mutations of hatred against the Jews through thousands of years," says Erich Kahler, "We have seen how it began and how it developed. Yet none of this can furnish a completely satisfactory explanation of a phenomenon unique in history ... [What accounts for it is] only the composite character, the unique social structure of the people to which it attaches." [GLATZER, p. 547] "I can't help feeling in some way," says famed Jewish historian Barbara Tuchman, "that the history of the Jews has revealed a kind of specialness, a uniqueness, in which they represented the tragedy of the human race, or humanity." [TUCHMAN, p. 14] American scholars, declares Edward Shapiro, "[have] provide [d] both a greater role for ideas in the origins of American anti-Semitism and a greater appreciation of the uniqueness of American Jewish history." [SHAPIRO, E., 1986, p. 213] "Israel," says Michael Rosenberg, "cannot ever be a 'state like any other state.'" [ROSENBERG, M., 1971, p. 81] "In Europe," wrote James Sleeper and Alan Mintz, "the uniqueness and development of Judaism had been due in part to persecution." [SLEEPER/MINTZ, 1971, p. 11] "American Jewish intellectuals," says Michael Galchinsky, "have tended to assert that their diaspora is 'exceptional.'" [GALCHINSKY, M., 1998, p. 185] "Since the early 1970's," says Allon Gal, "scholars have shown a great interest in the uniqueness of American Zionism." [GAL, 1986, p. 363] "The meaning of the idea of the Chosen People," proclaims Eric Kahler, "can be properly understood only in its connection with another, much more fundamental Jewish concept, a concept that is unique in the whole world ... [the Covenant between God and Abraham]." [KAHLER, E., 1967, p. 14]
"The Jewish people," declares Will Herberg, citing fellow Jew Carl Mayer, "represent a sociologically unique phenomenon and defy all attempts at general definition." "The mystery of Israel," adds Herberg, "is one that defies all categories of nature and society." [HERBERG, W., 1970, FROM MARXISM ..., p. 110] J. L. Talmon even turns a common ploy, somehow reconciling polar opposites: Jewish "uniqueness" with Jewish universality, in an article entitled Uniqueness and Universality of Jewish History. [TALMON, J.L., 1970, p. 116] "We are not comparable. We are unique ..., " declared Abba Hillel Silver, "This fact is the one key to an understanding of Jewish experience. To attempt to fit us into the framework of the commonly-held conceptions of race and culture, to liken us to other nations, is to miss the very quintesence of Jewish culture, to overlook the essential text and thesis of our life." [GITTELSOHN, R., 1964, p. 25-26] (-- Which, of course, is a claim, merely due to Jewish "Chosen People" definition, to extraordinary specialness). "The Jewish people is a unique phenomenon," wrote Nahum Goldmann, "and therefore no formula acceptable to all can be found to cover all the aspects of this phenomenon and to define it in a way satisfactory to the different shades of opinion within Jewish life." [GITTLESOHN, R., 1964, p. 26]
In the influential Zionist journal Midstream titles of articles over the last decade and a half have included The Ineluctable Uniqueness of Judaism, A Unique Feminism (about early Jewish pioneers in Israel), and Is Polish Anti-Semitism Special? Joel Carmichael began another article with the declaration that "Xenophobia is commonplace, anti-Semitism unique." [MAMLAK, GRYNBERG, FURSTENBERG] Later, he overlooked the millions of Russian dead in World War II to amazingly comment that "Hitler ... utilized ... the war in Russia for the sole purpose of destroying the Jews." [CARMICHAEL, J., p. 16] Monford Harris entitled an article Israel: The Uniqueness of Jewish History. [HARRIS, M., 1965, p. 77]
World Zionist Organization president Nahum Goldmann noted his own thoughts about the Judaism's "chosen people" concept, the origin of where declared Jewish "uniqueness" always comes from: "In spite of my attachment to the Jewish religion I do not like to talk about 'the chosen people' ... Rather than 'chosen' I prefer the notion of a 'unique people.'" [GOLDMANN, N., 1978, p. 14] Elsewhere he argued that "the Zionist political idea is absolutely unique and fantastic. You may claim that it is senseless or that it is magnificent, but in either case it remains unique." [GOLDMANN, N., 1978, p. 89] Holocaust theologians, notes Marc Ellis, "argue that the 1967 [Israeli-Arab] war represents a 'unique' type of victory. This uniqueness is seen in a number of factors, beginning with the particularity of Jewish existence and history, a return to the land of Jewish ancestry, and, especially, renewed access to the old city of Jerusalem and the Temple Wall." [ELLIS, M., 1990, p. 4] "It's hard to compare anything to the horror of the Holocaust," says "America's best-known commentator on religious life," Martin Marty, "It is a unique event, in so many ways." Marty's comments were in consequence of members of the Religious Newswriter Association of America voting for the Holocaust as the "major religious event" of the century. [MATTINGLY, T., 12-18-99]
"Christians must regard Jews as special," says Richard L. Rubenstein, "and, at least in areas pertaining to God's salvation, apart from humanity in general." [RUBENSTEIN, R., p. 12] "All other revolts, both past and future," proclaimed Israeli Prime Minister Ben Gurion, "were uprisings against a system, against a political, social, or economic structure. Our [Zionist] revolution is directed not against a system, but against destiny, against the unique destiny of a unique people." [GURION, in BIALE, Power, p. 4-5] "It has often been observed," asserts Etan Levine, "that in all the annals of recorded history, there is no chapter more romantic, more inspiring, yet more complex and more inexplicable than the 2,000 year episode of the Jewish people in exile." [LEVINE, E., 1983, p. 1-11] "I accept the idea," says Marie Syrkin, "that their special experience has given Jews a unique understanding of the role of a minority in a given society." [SYRIN, M., 1967, p. 118] "Hatred of the Jews has many parallels," adds Bernard Lewis, "and yet is unique ... The special and peculiar hatred of the Jews ... derives its unique power from the historical relationship between Judaism and Christianity." [LEWIS, B., 1986, p. 21-22] Teachers, argues a textbook about the Holocaust, must "recognize and confront the unique and complex history of antisemitism." [STROM/PARSONS, 1982, p. 47]
"The Bible typically goes to great lengths," says Zev Garber and Bruce Zuckerman, "to point out that the disasters in ancient times were a consequence of the peoples' inability to keep the covenant promises made at Sinai or to their incapacity to hold to the idealistic standards of justice demanded by the prophets. These demands are also seen as Israel's special burden -- a standard required of no other nation and to which no other nation could ever hope to aspire." [GARBER, p. 204]
Ultimately, at root in all this polemic masked as history, if the horrors of the Holocaust can somehow be established (not proven) to be absolutely unique in human history, so profoundly special, so painfully inconceivable -- either quantitatively or qualitatively -- to all other sufferings, it implicitly usurps in a secular manner the rival claims of the Christian religious tradition, that a special individual, Jesus Christ, died for the sins of mankind. In the new Jewish Holocaust view, religiously or otherwise, the latent inference is always that Jews as a group have lit the way for humanity (something which they have been heralding about themselves -- in one form or another -- for centuries), now with their self-asserted communal martyrdom in the Holocaust.
S. Daniel Breslauer notes Eliezer Berkovits' messianic views on the subject:
"The Holocaust, together with all other catastrophes in the Jewish past,
represents one arena in which Jews can perform their chosen duty.
All of history, even its tragic moments, presents opportunities for Jews
to 'fulfill their particular mission ... The Jew demonstrated how to
create values, how to realize the ideal. By so demonstrating, Jews
give value to being human ... 'Only when the chosen ones accept the
'decree' does the world acquire the moral right to exist.'"
[BRESLAUER, p. 10]
"The Holocaust, I fear," says Rabbi Jame Lebeau, "has come to fill the same need, to play the same role for some Jews as Jesus' death on the cross does for Christians." [LEBAU, p. 4] "The Golgotha [site of Christ's crucifixion] of modern mankind," declared British Rabbi Ignaz Manbaum in 1966, "is Auschwitz. The cross, the Roman gallows, was replaced by the gas chamber." [RUBENSTEIN, R., p. 164] "It is strange that the Jewish stories [of persecution]," says Ann Roiphe, "read in a sense like a communal crucifixion stretched out in time with a resurrection [modern Israel]." [ROIPHE, 1981, p. 194] "One of the things I find most striking about much of recent Jewish Holocaust commemoration," says Peter Novick,
"is how 'un-Jewish' -- how Christian -- it is. I am thinking of the ritual of reverently
following the structured pathways of the Holocaust in the major museums, which
resembles nothing so much as the Stations of the Cross on the Via Dolorosa;
the fetishized objects on display like so many fragments of the True Cross or shin
bones of saints; the symbolic respresentations of the Holocaust -- notably in the
climax of Elie Wiesel's Night -- that employ crucifixion imagery. Perhaps most
significantly, there is the way that suffering is sacralized and portrayed as the
path to wisdom -- the cult of the [Holocaust] survivor as secular saint." [NOVICK, P., 1999, p. 11]
The word 'holocaust' actually has sacrificial connotations; in Jewish religious tradition a holocaust is an offering to God, set afire. Sometimes animals were sacrificed. The Jews of Israel, however, seeking to distance themselves from the Nazis massacres of largely passive Jews, originally used the term "shoah," meaning "destruction, catastrophe, devastation, ruin, waste." [PETUCHOWSKI, p. 1-2] "Use of the word [Holocaust]," notes Richard L. Rubenstein, "to denote the destruction of Europe's Jews assimilates genocide to the world of religious faith and implies that the victims offered themselves up in the tradition of Israel's ancient martyrs al kiddush ha-shem (for the sanctification of the divine Name)." [RUBENSTEIN, R., p. 83]
In the West, modern Jewish secular convictions about the "Holocaust" is, hence, pseudo-religious in content. The word "holocaust,' observes Wolfgang Sofsky,
"designates ritual martyrdom that Jews took upon themselves because
they refused to renounce their faith. The expression thus forges a link,
totally inadmissible, between the genocidal murder of the Jews and the
fate of Jewish martyrs ... By distortion of the term's core meaning, the
impression is generated that the mass murder of the Jews had some
deeper religious impact -- as if the victims had, in a sense, offered
themselves up for the slaughter." [SOFSKY, W., 1993, p. 6]
If, however, despite all the Jewish lobbying, "the" Holocaust is not unique in human history, it has nothing specially to teach us. Humankind just again repeats its pathetic follies and perversions, the same brutal viciousness manifest in new guises, in new eras, this time reflecting mankind's most horrible baseness via the rationalist, scientific, technological, and corporate forms of brutality.
"To see God as having a role in the destruction of the Jews," says Garber and Zuckerman, "is difficult -- nearly intolerable -- but to divorce God from this most horrific of events would be far worse. For without the God of the Bible, who established the special relationship with the Chosen People, the genocide ceases to be a Jewish event." [GARBER, p. 206]
"I cannot help but see this extermination pride as another variant of the Covenant," argues Jewish critic Philip Lopate, "This time the Chosen People have been chosen for extraordinary suffering. As such, the Holocaust seems simply another opportunity for Jewish chauvinism. I grew up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, surrounded by this chauvinist tendency, which expresses itself in an insecure need to boast about Jewish achievement in every field, the other side which was a contempt for non-Jews, the gentile." [LOPATE, p. 299]
A number of Jewish scholars and organizations have doggedly persisted in a bizarre, arrogant game of victimhood one-upmanship over others' dead, searching for any angle to prove their claim of Jewish exceptionality: Jews were murdered faster than anybody else in history, Jews died more horribly, etc. Richard Rubenstein, a professor of religion, even digs up the old Chosen People hatred of Christianity paradigm to argue that "the religious element makes the Holocaust unique." In this view, "the Holocaust was a Holy War in which post-Enlightenment European Christendum's goal of eliminating Jews and Judaism from its midst was fulfilled by Hitler albeit by means other than most religious authorities would have preferred." [RUBENSTEIN, p. 16-17]
No one can successfully argue that the Holocaust was unique as a genocide purely on quantitative terms, using the (commonly claimed) number of six million Jews who died under Nazi rule. In a bizarre book about the subject, author Steven Katz laboriously undertakes to quantify, qualify, and otherwise dispassionately measure by numbers and statistics the history of human suffering at the hands of others ("We must," notes Katz, "distinguish between the percentage of Jews lost and the percentage killed.") Ironically, the author's scholarly zeal for objective academic rhetoric in addressing the tortured and murdered totally dehumanizes -- not unlike the Nazis' own culture of detached scientism -- his subject matter:
"Seeking to kill all of a group is descriptively, even ontologically,
different from seeking to kill part of a group, but is not necessarily
morally worse. For example, the killing of some X may be a
greater evil (assuming one could measure such things) than
killing all of Y, where there are more X than Y and the absolute
number of X killed exceeds the total number of Y even though the
killing of X (using a form of Bauer's nomenclature) is not Holocaustal.
[KATZ, p. 33]"
Katz notes that in this century alone there were far worse man-made catastrophes that have befallen people other than Jews. Joseph Stalin, for example, "willfully" killed up to twenty million people in Russia between 1929-39. In the 1940's another twenty million more Soviets lost their lives as a consequence of World War II. Alexander Solzhenitsyn estimated that between 1929 and 1959 sixty-six million Russians were killed by "manmade famines and related forms of violence and war."
In China, Katz figures between 34-64 million people died during the Chinese communist revolution in the 1930's and 1940's. In Turkey, between 35 and 60% of the Armenian population was killed by Turks in 1915-1917. Aborigines in Tasmania were entirely wiped out by the European conquest in the nineteenth century. [All KATZ, p. 97] In Central America, with the invasion of the Conquistadors, some fifty million indigenous peoples were reduced to three and a half million in less than a century. [TRAVERSO, p. 106]
Katz, who goes as far back into antiquity as 731 BCE to count and qualify Jewish deaths at the hands of others, neglects -- not surprisingly -- to mention the seminal Biblical record of the Jews themselves as genocidal perpetrators. Having reviewed a range of other historical atrocities that might be termed "genocidal," the author argues that "the Holocaust is phenomenologically unique by virtue of the fact that never before has a state set out, as a matter of principle, and actualized policy, to annihilate physically every man, woman, and child belonging to a specific people." [KATZ, p. 98]
Katz, of course, is wrong. As we have already seen, the ancient Jews articulated, "actualized," and even celebrated in the Old Testament the precedential policy of a Holocaust upon the Canaanites, and others. This genocide is even, however horrific, part of Jewish -- and others' -- religious belief. And while it was quantitatively smaller (tiny in comparison) to the 1940's Holocaust, it was equal in genocidal intention to the Nazis of modern Europe. Katz and other Jewish scholars might quibble over the semantic technicalities of what a "state" means, as we know the word today. But certainly the ancient Israelites understood themselves as a nation, certainly a well-defined ''state" of its own era, which is still part of Orthodox Judaic -- and Zionist -- belief today. That not all Canaanites and others were successfully wiped out is besides the point. Not all European -- or even Polish -- Jews were murdered either. As Katz notes, it was the intention to actualize a complete atrocity that counts, and the physical initiation of that process. Here the Jews themselves as violators take precedent, in religious and legendary form that has in no small way influenced the rest of human history.
This tendency by Jewish scholars to completely overlook their own people's history of genocidal perpetration (such an attitude of genocidal "intent" even endures today among Orthodox (and many other) Jews to "wipe out" even the "memory" of Amalek) -- yet minimize all other mass murders towards heralding their own victimization as consummate -- is noted with impatience by Jasper Griffin. In a review of a book by a Jewish scholar, Peter Schafer, that explores the deplorable "anti-Semitism" of ancient Greece and Rome, Griffin notes that "it might be thought, in the present instance, that here are some other parallels in ancient texts to this zeal for the complete destruction of a people. We might find them, not in Greek or Roman sources, but in the biblical accounts of the conquest of Canaan by the Israelites ... The prophet Ezekiel had a similar fate in mind for the city of Tyre (Ezekiel 26), and so on; the ferocious author of the Revelation, a Jew and a Christian, who gloats over the prospect of earthly destruction followed by eternal torment for most of mankind, only twelve thousand from each of the twelve tribes of Israel being saved, perhaps represents the logical end of this line of thought. None of this is mentioned by Schafer." [GRIFFIN, p. 57]
What can be said with certainty about the massacre of Jewry by the Nazis is that it is, thanks to Jewish publicity efforts, the most widely known atrocity -- or historical event, for that matter -- in history. (And the gigantic context for it -- World War II -- has been completely marginalized in a profound historical revisionism). Amidst decades of hand wringing and soul searching, the question surfaces again and again in Jewish discourse: Why did their God desert them like that? Fifty years later, this horrible experience is so much part of the modern Jewish psyche that it transcends all other self-conceptions. Beyond religion, beyond race, a Jew is someone who was sent to Nazi gas chambers. A Jew is someone whose life, whose history, is persecution. In our time the worldwide Jewish community has taken this bit of recent history, crystallized it as a beacon for Jewish insecurity and uncertainty in the Diaspora, and transformed the murder of millions into a formidable ideological weapon. Although the Holocaust is the consummate modern symbol for man's inhumanity to man, and Hitler had distinctly genocidal aims upon others, most Jews -- distinctly separate from others in self-conception -- claim it completely, and only, as inhumanity against their own. Says Moshem Leshem:
"Israeli and American Jews fully agree that the memory of the
Holocaust (as they carefully shape it) is an indispensable weapon --
one that must be used relentlessly against their common enemy, no
matter how high the cost to Jewish psyche. Jewish organizations
and individuals thus labor continuously to remind the world of it."
[p. 228, LESHEM]
For Jews like Jane Delynn, the hallowed fixation on Jewish Holocaust dead obscures all other catastrophes and miseries in human history:
"It is irrelevant to me whether Stalin's victims surpass the number of Jews
killed by Hitler. The number -- six million -- numbs me. All comparisons
(again except perhaps for Stalin) are found wanting: 6 million is 5 million
more than 1 million Cambodians; 5 and three-quarters more than a
quarter of a million starved Bangladeshis; 5,975,000 more than 25,000
Armenians killed in the recent earthquake; 5,999, 668 more than 332
Palestinians Jews killed in the intifada 5,999,999 more than one
American murdered on the Achille Lauro." [DELYNN, p. 73]
The numbers of Jews lost is not the only numbing fact in Jewish commentary. It is the way in which Jews died en masse which so disturbs, and ultimately enrages, their modern counterparts (despite the fact that many non-Jews died in the concentration camps in the same manner). If most Jews had died in a blaze of returned gunfire -- however hopelessly out- manned by Nazis -- it would, it appears, have been far more palatable to Jewish conceptions of themselves as a noble community. In this context, even the horrible demise of non-Jews who were machine-gunned as they begged for their lives in cornfields or on street corners, slowly starved or frozen to death, are preferable to the impersonal murder factory which so many Jews submitted to so feebly. Inevitably, such modern Jewish reflection evokes a picking through the piles of the dead to speculate on their last moment pedigrees of humiliation, indignity, and dehumanization. And, most importantly, the sorting of who was Jewish, and who was not. That Jews did little, and usually nothing, to forcibly resist their fate (and in fact actually aided their own demise, [ARENDT] at the hands of the Nazis has created a psychological backlash amongst Jews in our own day, epitomized by overwhelming support and allegiance for an angry, militant, brutal, and defiant Israel.
"Some people have argued that Israel or Jewish life is too focused on anger at the Holocaust," says Michael Lerner. "I disagree. In fact, the various commentaries and museums are a substitute for legitimate anger. They function to repress the real emotions Jews have every right to feel." [LERNER, Goyim, p. 434]
The Holocaust has become the ultimate Jewish rallying point and the blood of their murdered brethren tightens like a vice their international unity. "Never again" is the deeply felt Jewish rallying cry, this defiantly militant admonition giving impetus to aggressively locate and combat any perceived anti-Semitic threat to worldwide Jewry. Given Jews' self-proclaimed higher moral ground by virtue of their communal suffering at the hands of Gentiles in the Holocaust, many non-Jews typically fall silent in any debate when the Holocaust is wielded as the coup de grace. How can one, it is argued, presume to compare any injustice -- Israeli-inspired or otherwise-- with the tenor and scope of the Holocaust, the utmost of evils, the consummate destruction by a modern industrial civilization of all things human?
Among the modern Jewish recasts of history is the emphasis upon Jewish resistance and heroism in the Holocaust era, what Dina Porat calls "the valor [ization] of the Jews in Europe to a position equal to their suffering." [PORAT, p. 169] "Unquestioningly the need to revise the Jewish image concerning the Holocaust is very strong," wrote Jay Gonen in 1977, "... during the 1960s, the Holocaust was less frequently described to [Israeli] children as such in order to avoid the suggestion of a wholesale slaughter of passive victims." [GONEN, p. 155] Emphasis was eventually placed, says Goren, on "the Holocaust and heroism" and "the Holocaust and rebellion." [GONEN, p. 156] In reality, for those Jews who could afford it, "resistance" against the Nazis typically took the form of "petitions, ransom fees, and protection payments." [GONEN, p. 152]
As Peter Novick notes:
"Jewish spokesmen had more reason than most to claim that their people had
zealously resisted, since from the breginning there were many Jews who
had scorned those who went 'like sheep to the slaughter.' The cult of
Jewish resistance was particularly strong in Israel, where the full name of
Yad Vashem [the Holocaust museum] is 'Yad Vashem Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Authority"; the full name of Yom Hashoah is 'Day of
the Holocaust and Heroism.' But in the United States as well, the breadth
and depth of Jewish resistance was a major theme of what Holocaust
commemoration there was -- the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising
being the principal occasion of memorialization. Thus the event most atypical
of the Holocaust was made emblematic of it -- suggestive evidence of
the (quite unjustified) shame that many Jews felt because of the absence
of substantial Jewish resistance. At the time of the [former Nazi Adolf]
Eichmann trial a top ADL [Anti-Defamation Lague] official wrote that
'perhaps a million ... Jews were killed resisting the Nazi conqueror,
fighting back against Hitler's juggernaut, dying not on their bedraggled knees
but on their blood-soaked feet." [NOVICK, P., 1999, p. 138-139]
One of the few Jewish armed resistances to the Nazis of any significance was the so-called Warsaw Ghetto uprising, a desperate revolt by entrapped Jews who recognized, at the very last, no other chance for survival. This event has become the taproot for a variety of myths these days about Jewish heroism. "The [Israeli] fight for Jerusalem or the Negev desert," says Michael Berenbaum, "came to be seen as an extension of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. [Jewish] historians sought to recapture a tradition of resistance defined as armed struggle against an everywhere [Gentile] goal that was genocidal." [BERENBAUM, p. 449]
Another Jewish "revolt" occurred when a group of Auschwitz sonderkommandos realized that they were soon to be exterminated. "When news arrived ... that 300 prisoners [including the sonderkommando squads] were going to be sent off in a [train] transport," notes Barbara Jarosz, "the prisoners realized they would meet the same fate as their predecessors so they decided to carry out their plan and not let themselves dies without a fight." [JAROSZ, B., p. 233]
The preponderant educational theme in Israel about the Holocaust, notes Arye Carmon,
"overemphasized the few examples of active resistance during the
Holocaust (the general Holocaust memorial day is set annually to
commemorate the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising). The overemphasis on
active resistance was coupled, in the 1950s and 1960s, with an
obsessive search for further examples of such resistance ...
[CARMON, p. 79].... Since the middle of the 1970s ... the main
feature of [Israel's] approach [to the Holocaust] was the growing
emphasis on the Jewish amida (stand). This approach implies that
the Jewish response to the Nazis was basically active rather than passive
and that the various ways in which Jews coped with Nazi decrees,
collectively and individually, reflected both physical and spiritual
resistance." [CARMON, p. 81]
"It seems that the obsess ional preoccupation with the behavior of slaughtered Jews, and whether they died as heroes or fighters," says Jay Goren, "stems from historically accumulated feelings concerning a negative [Jewish] image. These feelings constitute a heavy inheritance." [GONEN, p. 158] "Israeli youth ... were especially troubled by the perception of the Holocaust victims offering little resistance to the Nazis," says Charles Liebman and Eliezer Don-Yehiya, "... Hence, the stress is on acts of forcible resistance by Jews." [SAIDEL, p. 21]
All this is classical historical revisionism to meet the growing propaganda needs of the modern state of Israel. The contemporary Israeli search for noble Jewish defenders and warriors stretches deep into history. Amos Elon notes that
"It is unlikely that the memory of Boadicea, the first-century queen
of the Britons who, like [Israeli hero] Bar Kokhba, staged a disastrous
uprising against the Romans, could generate similar ceremonies [by
modern national politicians], let alone passions, in today's England.
But in Jerusalem, the second-century uprising of Bar Kokhba against
the Romans is liable to be evoked, polemically, as an event of almost
contemporary significance." [ELON, 1991, p. 179]
Jewish scholar Dina Porat notes the Israeli perspective on the Holocaust immediately after World War II as surviving Jews from Europe made their way to Israel:
"Slowly the suspicion developed [among Israelis] that those who survived
had perhaps managed to do so because they had been unwilling to
sacrifice themselves in the struggle against the Nazis. Emissaries sent to
Europe to help the She'erit Hapletah, the saving remnant [of Jewry], and
to direct it to Palestine, reinforced this view. To a Zionist emissary in
Greece, those who returned from Auschwitz were cynical, lazy, money-
grubbing idlers and window-smashers. According to an emissary in
France, the survivors believed that the whole world owed them,
especially the Jewish people. And in the opinion of emissaries in
Germany and Austria: 'Five thousand like these [those liberated from
the camps] could turn Eretz Israel [the land of Israel] into a madhouse.'
In the yishuv and later in the state of Israel, there was a latent feeling that
the Jews who survived possessed certain aggressive qualities. In a closed
Mapai central meeting in 1949 [Israeli Prime Minister] Ben Gurion
expressed what others dare not say publicly: 'Among the survivors of the
German camps were people who would not have been alive were they
were not what they were -- hard, mean, and selfish -- and what they have
been through erases every remaining good quality in them.'" [PORAT, p.
"There was [in Israel], repeatedly," notes Peter Novick,
"the theme of the 'survival of the worst.' The future Israeli general David
Sh'altiel, who accopanied a boatload of survivors to Palestine, reported
his belief that 'those who survived lived because they were egotistical
and looked out, first and foremost, for themselves."
[NOVICK, P., 1999, p. 69]
"Often," said a Jewish official of the era, "it was the 'ex-ghetto' elements rather than the upper class or white collar groups who survived ... the petty thief or leader of petty thieves who offered leadership to others, or developed techniques of survival." [NOVICK, P., 1999, p. 68-69] Among the European Holocaust survivors, noted Zionist Abraham Klausner (who worked with them), "The number of people involved in the black-market is estimated at a minimum of 30%. This excludes those who traffic in what may be termed the 'gray market' or the basic food market ... The demoralization of the people increases rapidly. There is hardly a moral standard to which the people adhere." [NOVICK, P., 1999, p. 79]
Once in Israel, as many of the Holocaust survivors expressed deep allegiance to, and were malleable by, the Zionist cause, Ben Gurion's harsh opinion of them softened, because, as he said, "the majority are precious Jews, precious Zionists, with deep Zionist instincts." [PORAT, p. 164]
Since then, expressions of Jewish moral dearth, passivity and compliance to their own destruction in Europe during World War II was reconstructed to ideologically fit a mold deemed usable for the modern, defiantly militant, state of Israel. The Jews of Europe, formerly recognized by even Israeli leaders to have been "slaughtered like sheep," were now reinvented as noble martyrs and resistance fighters. "Between 1986 and 1989," says James Young, "[Israel television] included -- incredibly -- a Holocaust quiz show, The International Quiz on Jewish Heroism During World War II. Taped in front of a live audience, panels of students would take questions from the state's president on names, dates, places, and events of the Shoah [Holocaust] period highlighting instances of resistance and heroism." [YOUNG, The Texture, p. 27] In the parlance of formal public discourse in Israel, the Jewish victims of the Holocaust have become "holy martyrs" and "the first to fall in defense of the state [of Israel]." [YOUNG, p. 275] The facts of Jewish passivity were replaced with myths of Jewish action in the face of catastrophe that "exemplified the values that have always been central to their faith, namely, the primary responsibilities of the individual to the community." [CARMON, p. 84]
In the early years after the Holocaust, says Haim Bresheeth, "behind the question 'Why did they not fight?' which every Israeli child was taught to pose not as a query but as a historical judgment, was the corollary of that query: 'We, the new Jews, will NOT go like lambs to slaughter ... this simplified picture ... has been relaxed in one area, which then became the rule -- the few substantial acts of Jewish resistance were canonized." [BRESEETH, p. 196]
For many Jews, the Holocaust confirmed their worse fears and has provided the profoundest evidence of hideous Gentile designs upon them if anti-Semitism is not forcefully addressed -- like a disease -- early. In this view there are always other potential Adolf Hitlers in the Jew-hating world who could create trouble for Jews if they do not subvert and/or silence them with concerted action. Within this defensive web inevitably fall those who dare to voice legitimate criticism of Jews and/or Israel. Such voices are immediately discredited: anyone who dares to criticize the policies of Israel is likened to an anti-Semite. Critics often take great pains to distinguish between their criticism of Israel and criticism of Jews. They know too well that to criticize anything about Jews is automatically considered to be anti-Semitism and, hence, bigotry: the death blow to any argument. Once securely rendered a bigot, racist, and all the rest, the critic is easily discarded as a raving fanatic and will not be taken seriously except by fringe elements like neo-Nazi or Ku Klux Klan, of which he is presumed to be at least a spiritual member anyway.
Hence, the Holocaust is wielded like an immortal shield to protect the Jewish community and deflect any and all criticism from outsiders. It garners sympathy, compassion and Gentile guilt. It is also raised continuously to protect the state of Israel and that country's many disturbing policies. The Jewish state, its defenders maintain, guarantees refuge and/or military might for those who might threaten Jews anywhere. Amos Elon has complained that Israel's absorption with the Holocaust has "an obsessive quality," and that "inevitably some Israelis, at certain times and places, have found it unduly morbid, burdensome, and even contrived." [SAIDEL, p. 17] "The institutionalization of the Holocaust," says Rochelle Saidel, "as reflected in Israel's official monuments and commemorations" provide for Israeli leaders a "utilization of the Holocaust as an 'excuse' for foreign and domestic policies." [SAIDEL, p. 17]
In Israel, seminal "Holocaust museums" have long been instituted to enforce the myths of modern Israel and Jewish identity. Of particular note is Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, a "must stop" on any Jewish visitor's tourist package while visiting Israel. Philip Lopate, on these terms a very wayward Jew, saw through the artifice of the place:
"Institutions like Yad Vashem (the Holocaust Heroes and Martyrs
Museum) and the Museum of the Diaspora in Israel ... are, in my view,
essentially propaganda factories, designed to manipulate the visitor
through a precise emotional experience. They are like a Tunnel of
Horrors or a Disneyland Park devoted to Jewish suffering. The success
of the exhibit depends entirely on entering a properly preprogrammed
state and allowing one's buttons to be pushed ... In my own visit to Yad
Vashem ... I was disturbed by what seemed a theatrically partisan
misuse of historical methods." [LOPATE, p. 297]
"The visiting foreign statesman," notes Avishai Margalit, " ... is rushed to Yad Vashem even before he has had time to leave his luggage at his hotel. [He must come to understand] that all of us here in Israel are [represented in the room for murdered Holocaust] children and that Hitler-Arafat is after us." [LOPATE, p. 298] "A visit to Yad Vasham is the opening ritual of every state visit to Israel,' concurs Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, "--usually the first stop en route from the airport to a hotel in Jerusalem. The aim of this ritual is to express Israel's relation to the Holocaust, to present the country as the haven for survivors and as the answer to the insecurity of Jewish existence in the Diaspora. A second aim is to induce the appropriate feelings of guilt in the visitor." [HALLAHMI, p. x]
Yad Vashem also, like many Jewish organizations, has educational programs to socialize influential persons to their world view. Since 1981, over 1,400 teachers, historians, and clergy members (about half non-Jewish) have journeyed to Israel for seminars on how to teach the Holocaust in their respective countries. [VROMAN, p. 35]
In 1992, controversy erupted in Israel's Education Ministry over the way it sponsored 1500 Israeli youths every year to make pilgrimages to former Holocaust concentration camps sites in Poland. The Minister of Education, Shulamith Aloni, objected to what she called the young "Israeli chauvinists" who paraded around "with Israeli flags in the streets of Poland." Israeli critic Tom Segev noted that the "students were required to wear purple sweatshirts with 'Israel' printed on them' to remind the Poles that Jews "were still there." The Ministry tour program dictated that the Jewish visitors would read special commemoration notes at Jewish memorial sites, including, "As we stand beside your graves, we pledge that we will always defend the state of Israel, and will never leave it." They then recited the "dead's reply: 'Yes, this is what we command you to do.'" [DERFNER, p 41]
In the original booklet (To Know and to Remember) passed out to participants in the March of the Living, Jewish hatred of Poles was emphasized:
"There is no longer any Jewish life in Poland. Only remnants of
a few synagogues, most of which are used for other purposes,
and cemeteries ... Everywhere we will be surrounded by local
Polish people, and our feelings toward them will be ambivalent.
We will hate them for their involvement in the atrocities, but
we will pity them for their miserable life in the present. Let us
not be carried away by negative emotions." [WEINBAUM, p. 8]
Chicago Rabbi Byron Sherwin notes that "... a woman from Yad Vashem ... brought a group of Israeli teenagers to Poland. She told them that they were going there for three reasons: to see where and how Jews had lived, why the state of Israel was necessary, and how the Poles participated in the murder of the Jews ... Zionist ideology is built on the conviction that life outside Israel is unbearable for Jews. For them, the fate of the Jews of Poland and the Holocaust are proof of the correctness of Zionist ideology -- that there are only two doors to Jews in the diaspora outside Israel: death or assimilation. Jews who think this way are therefore interested in maintaining the negative image of Poland." [SHERWIN, B., p. 159]
Throughout the world, the Holocaust has become the greatest public relations tool of all time. And there is clear intention and design in the total artifice of the massive Holocaust propagandizing movement. "For Jews to solidify the place of the Holocaust with Jewish consciousness," says Michael Berenbaum, Project Director of the Washington DC Holocaust Museum, "they must establish its importance for the American people as a whole. The process cannot be reversed for the decision has already been made." [BERENBAUM, p. 457] Berenbaum calls this campaign "the Americanization of the Holocaust," whereby the Holocaust story -- as Jews present it -- will be absorbed by "a black leader in Atlanta, a midwestern farmer, or a northeastern industrialist," all towards "inform[ing] their current reality." [YOUNG, p. 337] "In so many books and movies about the Holocaust," observes Philip Lopate, "I sense that I am being asked to feel a particular pathos in the rounding up gentle, scholarly, middle-class, civilized [Jewish] people and packing them into cattle cars, as though the liquidation of illiterate peasants would not be so poignant." [LOPATE, p. 293]
The profound misery of humankind in World War II has been largely transformed, rendered in the public mind to be solely a Jewish experience. The contextual event that permitted the Holocaust to occur, a world war, has already, in a half century, been largely rendered forgotten and invisible. Yet today everywhere one sees and hears about the Holocaust that tried to exterminate the Jews in Eastern Europe during the same period. Multi-million dollar museums are built (largely by Jewish funders) in Los Angeles, Washington DC, and other areas to memorialize the sufferings of the Jews. "There are no fewer than nineteen Holocaust museums in the United States, forty-eight research centers, thirty-four archival facilities, twelve memorials, and twenty-six research institutes." [DAWIDOWICZ, p. 69] There are also hundreds of small research groups and five Holocaust libraries. [MILLER, p. 227]
"In 1981," notes Gabriel Schoenfeld, "there were 93 courses being offered on the subject [of the Holocaust] in American and Canadian institutions of higher learning, ten years later that figure had nearly doubled, and it has continued to grow throughout the 1990s." The Holocaust Museum in Washington DC alone offers 25 annual fellowships on the subject. [SCHOENFELD, p. 42] In 1998, Israeli professor Yehuda Baer estimated that there were about 400 colleges offering courses on the Holocaust in America. "There is no doubt that it is something happening on a mass level," he noted. [VROMAN, p. 35]
Movies and books continually stream out addressing yet another angle to Jewish suffering. In 1996 alone, for example, two Holocaust programs -- one from England and one from France -- won International Emmy Awards for television. In 2001, "three prime-time television dramas on Holocaust themes won top honors at [the] Emmy Awards," including the four-hour long 'Anne Frank;' two awards for 'Conspiracy' ("a dramatic re-enactment of the 1942 Wannsee Conference, where Nazi leaders drew up the blueprint for the Nazi extermination of European Jewry"); and Brian Cox's acting job in "Nuremberg" ("a dramatization of the 1945-46 tiral of top Nazi war criminals.") [TUGENTD, T., 11-6-01]
"The [Holocaust] memoirs," notes Stephen Whitfield, "histories, films, television programs, plays, poetry, and fiction that have been published ... defy tabulation." [WHITFIELD, American, p. 13] (In 1968 even the science fiction TV series Star Trek had an episode in which a peaceful people on another planet, the Zeons, sporting names like Abraham, Isaac, and David, were slated for extermination by the evil Ekosians.) [PEARL, p. 14]
(One spinoff from the Holocaust is an extended interest in condemning its creators, the Nazis, history's consummate Jew-haters. In 1998, eternally keeping the face of the quintessential anti-Semite in public consciousness, 40 books about Adolf Hitler were published in the United States. In the movie world, noted the London Guardian, "1999 will be the year of the Nazi ... During the past 12 months, some 30 films either set during the second world war or within Nazi themes in a contemporary setting entered production in the United States ... The highest profile trio arrives here in the next few months: Life is Beautiful, a satirical Holocaust farce; Apt Pupil, a Stephen King lesson in Nazi evil, and American History X, a glossy neo-Nazi expose." [FARROW, p. 8] The first film's lead character is Jewish and the second and third are directed by Jewish directors, Bryan Singer and Tony Kaye, respectively).
"In America," wrote Moshe Leshem in the 1980s, before the Holocaust obsession really took off, "the perpetuation of the Holocaust memory is now a $100 million-a-year enterprise, part of which is government funded. Books with Holocaust themes, documentaries, feature films, TV programs, memorials and museums are a staple of America's cultural diet." [LESHEM, p. 228] Yaffa Eliach, a Holocaust survivor and founder of the first Holocaust center in the United States, already noted in 1979 that American Jews had connected to the "vast educational and financial potential of the Holocaust ... One may sadly reflect that 'there is no business like Shoah business.'" [LINENTHAL, p. 13] "The process of converting the Holocaust into a profitable commodity goes on," wrote Gershon Mamlak in 1983, "Instead of elucidating its historic lessons, it has become a subject for self-aggrandizement and pseudo-scholarly works." [MAMLAK, p. 12] In 1987, British chief rabbi Immanuel Jakobovits decried the "entire [Holocaust] industry, with handsome profits for writers, researchers, filmmakers, monument builders, museum planners and even politicians." [SHAPIRO, H, p. 25] "At one Holocaust Museum in America, for example," bemoaned Tom Gross in 1999, "for $39.95 there are miniature replicas of cattle cars in which Jews were transported to their deaths." [GROSS, T., 11-28-99]
"It would be helpful," argued Jewish author Lewis Fein in 2001, in the face of an avalanche of continued mass media Holocaust obsession, "-- in fact, it may already be necessary -- for Hollywood to impose a moratorium concerning the Holocaust. No more films, television dramas or Broadway tragedies about the Holocaust and its one-dimensional portrayal of Jews as sympathetic yet hapless victims, or the equally extreme depiction of all mid-century Germans as Nazi coconspirators." [FEIN, L., 5-23-01]
In 1999, Judith Shulevitz noted a case of Holocaust fraud to get on the profitable bandwagon: "Bruno Doesseker is the real name of a Swiss author known to the world as Binjamin Wilkormirski, a Latvian Jewish concentration camp survivor and memoirist who is now accused of having wholly fabricated his harrowing tale of toddlerhood in the camps ... As fiction, it's banal ... This raises the question of why so many critics were so moved by so many clichés." [SHULEVITZ, p. A17] Earlier, in the academic realm, Jewish psychoanalyst Bruno Bettelheim (co-author of Dynamics of Prejudice and a prominent official in the American Jewish Committee's psychoanalytic studies of anti-Semitism) [BETTELHEIM, p. 101] was found to have "lied about studying with Freud, whom he never met; lied about his academic degrees; lied about his time in the concentration camp and about the behavior he observed there." [HEILBUT, p. 489]
In Hollywood, heralding the myths of the Holocaust, in 1999 Jewish actor Dustin Hoffman produced a TV movie that sought to socialize young Jews (and others) deeper into the Jewish victimology ideology. Its story centered on a teenage Jewish girl, disinterested in Jewish Holocaust obsessions, who is magically punished when she suddenly finds herself back in 1941, ending up in a Nazi concentration camp. "It just amazes me that many young people don't know about the Holocaust," said director Donna Deitch, "... The basic message of the movie is the message I get from [Holocaust] survivors, 'Remember.'" [APPLEBOME, p. 3]
Among the big Shoah profiteers is concentration camp survivor Elie Wiesel, probably the foremost propagandizer of the Jewish experience in World War II, a man "who charges in excess of $20,000 plus first-class plane fares for the privilege of listening to his post-Holocaust thoughts and memories." [BLAIR, p. 3] Among the earliest springboards to Shoah Business was the diary of Ann Frank. The first agent and populizer for the book, Meyer Levin, an avid Zionist, believed the young girl to be "a spokesperson for the Jewish victims of the Holocaust ... a means to popularize the message about Jewish persecution." [BLAIR, p. 4] Ann' s father, Otto Frank -- who survived World War II -- had a less Jewish particularist sentiment about the death of his daughter; he and Levin became embroiled in nasty lawsuits over control of the murdered girl's commercial and political legacy. [BLAIR, p. 4] (Peter Novick, in The Holocaust in American Life, writes at length about how Ann Frank's diary has been reconfigured, socially and politically, by Judeo-centric activists to be an expressly Jewish statement, and not a universalistic one.) [NOVICK, P., 1999, p. 117-120] By 1989 two letters written by Anne Frank were sold at auction for $160,000. [ROSENBERG, H. 3-3-89, p. 16] 600,000 people a year were visiting her hiding place from the Nazis in Amsterdam; in 1990 a close childhood friend of Frank, Jacqueline Van Maarsten, accused Frank's stepsister, Eva Schloss, of exploiting Ann's memory for a new Schloss book about the Holocaust. In a public feud, each claimed she knew the Jewish heroine better than the other. [SOCLOVSKY, p. 12]
In the broadcasting world, Gerald Green's 1978 TV series, Holocaust (with Executive Producer Herbert Brodkin, Producer Robert Berger, Director Marvin Chomsky, and Gerald Green all Jewish) had an estimated audience of 120 million viewers in the United States and 41% of the TV audience in Germany. [ZIOLKOWSKI, p. 676] There was also a massive publicity campaign to keep Holocaust in public attention; there was distribution of "educational viewing guides," a paperback edition of the program, and promotions for Holocaust as the "topic of the week" at churches and synagogues. "Reactions to the first American broadcast of miniseries ... was voluminous," notes Jeffrey Shandler, "prolonged, conspicuous, and contentious, constituting a 'big event' in American culture above and beyond the miniseries itself ... [it] generated an exceptional quality and variety of print coverage ... [including] reports on such related topics as Holocaust education ... the American Jewish Committee and Jewish Anti-Defamation League published the results of studies of the program's impact on American audiences ... [The publication], Impact: Four Days in April, saw greater awareness of the Holocaust, and its significance, than in three decades preceding." [SHANDLER, p. 154-155, 165] Post-broadcast, NBC even had a one-hour news special about reaction to the program.
In 1977, M. T. Mehdi, head of the American Arab Relations Community protested the mandatory curriculum unit created by the New York Board of Education called The Holocaust: A Study of Genocide. Mehdi understood the latent current of this socialization process to be "an attempt by the Zionists to use the city educational system for their evil propaganda purposes." [DAWIDOWICZ, p. 225] "Many public schools have adopted the recent Facing History and Ourselves curriculum on the Holocaust and genocide," notes Marvin Wilson, "More than 25 percent of Catholic high schools have used some form of Holocaust education in their curricula." [WILSON, M., p. 30] In 2000, students at a Jewish school in Baltimore made the news for attempting to collect 6 million cancelled stamps "to represent the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust." The stamps would be exhibited as a "permanent display in glass cases as part of an effort to remember the Holocaust and its role in Jewish culture." [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 4-3-2000] In 2001, eighth grade students at Whitwell Middle School in eastern Tennessee appealed for people to send in paperclips. The goal was to collect six million of them, "to represent the 6,000,000 victims of the Holocaust." "We will build a sculpture with the help of a local artist," announced the directors of the project, "to be displayed in our town. The memorial sculpture is being designed by a California jewelry manufacturer and will stand as a lasting memorial for those who gave so much." [about.com] In 1999, Denver's 17-year-old Holly Cole designed an Internet web site about Ann Frank that won the "Best of Show Award" at the "Ninth Annual Ann Frank Competition." [ESQUIBEL, C., 5-3-99]
In Georgia, Jewish director Sylvia Wygoda heads the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust. "With a $70,000 annual salary and as much as $20.000 a year in benefits, Wygoda earns more than any other Holocaust commission director in the country ... The Georgia Commission on the Holocaust now boasts political clout, the biggest budget of any such commission in the country and a sweeping mandate to teach Georgia's public about the Holocaust and the dangerous legacy of intolerance." Wygoda has even "hired an exhibit company to build a full-size replica of [Ann Frank's] secret annex, two rooms complete with reproductions of Anne's bed and writing table. Wygoda said she wanted all Georgians to learn about Ann Frank." Wygoda has come under public fire for being "unable to produce substantial minutes and records of commission meetings where money was allocated and spent." [ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES, 6-18-99]
On April 7, 1994 ("Holocaust Memorial Day") the governor of New Jersey signed a bill, like many other states, requiring his state's schools to teach about the Holocaust and other genocides. [LOSHIT, p. 5] By 1998, guided by the Holocaust Education Commission, 93 percent of New Jersey school districts had courses about the Holocaust and other genocides incorporated into their curriculums. The Commission specially trained 7,000 teachers. Some school districts even sent teachers on "Commission-led trips to Israel and Eastern Europe." And how is the Holocaust and "other genocides" systematically to be taught? Paul Winkler, the Holocaust Education Commission's director, told a New Jersey newspaper "that tailoring genocide to demographics [i.e., other atrocities against ethnic groups] is fine, as long as teachers make a connection to the Holocaust and the perils of discrimination." [LLORENTE, p. A3]
In 1997, Martha Mekaelian complained in the Armenian Reporter that "other genocides" (like that of the Armenian at the hands of the Turks) in such school programs tend to be overlooked because of a singular emphasis on the Jewish Holocaust. Noting a mandatory teaching to school children of genocidal issues in Illinois, Mekaelian observed that there was not an
"equitable approach in their presentation ... Since fourth grade, the
only Holocaust which has ever been taught is that of the Second World
War. Such narrow-mindedness has no place in the public schools.
Moreover, young impressionable students may ultimately infer that all
other genocides pale in comparison to that of the Jews. Students are
instructed to read books, which depict the events of the Holocaust in
the personal lives of Jewish families, beginning at age 9. This instruction
is referred to as the study of intolerance to 'prejudice'. The children are
taught the evils of prejudice, and the Holocaust is the focal example of
study ... Parents are led to believe that the events and leading figures of
the Second World War will be emphasized in [a World War II history
class in fifth and sixth grade]; but the reality is that the Holocaust is
being emphasized and the Second World War receives only a mention."
[MEKAELIAN, p. 2]
Leaving no stone unturned to spread the tale of Jewish victimhood throughout America, in 1997 Holocaust icon Eli Wiesel, Anti-Defamation League director Abraham Foxman, and FBI director Louis Freeh spoke at the "first annual Holocaust memorial ceremony at FBI Headquarters in Washington DC." The building also exhibited the ADL's "Holocaust poster series" there and at branch offices throughout the United States. [ADL ON THE FRONTLINE, Summer 1997, p. 5] During the 1996 ADL-sponsored Holocaust poster tour throughout FBI offices in the country, "special agent in charge, Robert Walsh, noted the closeness of the [FBI] Field Office to ADL." [ADL ONLINE, 1996, p. 14] Since 1991, the ADL's teaching program "Workplace of Difference" has been widely conducted for FBI audiences).
In one form or another, the "Holocaust is Unique" formula always reflects Judeo-centric propaganda that can be found pushed into anti-racist "educational" programs throughout the world. In Poland, a yearly conference for elementary and secondary school teachers is produced by Great Britain's Spiro Institute for the Study of Jewish History and Culture. One Jewish academic at the teach-in, Jolanda Ambrosewicz-Jacobs, noted that "it is impossible to know the facts in teaching about the Holocaust, but to truly understand how one human being could have prepared such a fate for another it has to be taught that individual, unique people died in the camps, and the great majority of them were Jews. [AMBROSEWICZ-JACOBS, p. 67] Thus primed, she later mentions another common Jewish teaching standby, reporting that "statements that the Holocaust was the work of Christians and that the swastika is a form of the cross stirred indignation [among the Polish teachers]." [AMBROSEWICZ-JACOBS, p. 69] She also noted that "religious affiliation [i.e., being Christian] should not conceal the variety of points of view, however, nor the variety of associations (the cross as a symbol of persecution through the centuries)." [AMBROSEWICZ-JACOBS, p. 69]
In 1998, a senior editor at Commentary magazine, Gabriel Schoenfeld, blasted the entire field of "Holocaust Studies" as a vehicle for propaganda. He wasn't talking, of course, of expressly Jewish propaganda but, rather, Jewish "feminist" propaganda, an expression of in-house Jewish warring about how the murder of millions is politically exploited. "A 1983 conference at Stern College on 'Women Surviving the Holocaust,'" complained Schoenfeld, "illustrates the lengths to which feminist scholars will go in pursuit of their propagandistic aims." [SCHOENFELD, p. 45]
"[The Holocaust]," says Berenbaum, "is now the second most widely taught course of Judaic content -- surpassed only by courses in the Hebrew Bible. The Holocaust is now taught in secondary schools throughout the country, television programs have proliferated; Green's Holocaust was joined by the mini-series on Wallenberg (a rescuer of Jews), Hershey's The Wall, and Felan's Playing For Time. All have attracted major audiences and have served as important, if flawed, vehicles for educating the American public." [BERENBAUM, p. 449]
To read and watch such a steady avalanche of material, one might forget everything else that has ever happened in history save for the presumption that vile non-Jews might be lurking under any rock, intent upon harming world Jewry. Contextual information about World War II (and anything else) has evaporated. Meanwhile, a climate is enforced such that when a Jew merely mentions the Holocaust non-Jews are expected to sink into respectful, if not shamed, silence. "The Shoah, Auschwitz, Treblinka, Bergen-Belsen and all the other places of horror," says Waltraud Herbstrith, of the Carmelite Christian order, "should make us silent, because silence in the face of this atrocity is the most appropriate prayer." [HERBSTRITH, W., 1998, p. 3]
Not all, however, remain silent. Not all stand still to relentless Jewish attack, a half century after World War II. Jewish mass media expressions of their Holocaust history invariably antagonize other views -- among them Ukrainian, Polish, and Czech groups who have taken offense at their own negative portrayals in Jewish history recreations. [SHANDLER, p. 161]
"Our preoccupation with the ultimate symbol of anti-Semitism, the Holocaust," wrote David Klinghoffer in 1998, "has become notorious. There is no end in sight to the Holocaust history books, Holocaust novels, Holocaust television shows, Holocaust magazine and newspaper articles, chairs in Holocaust studies at universities, Holocaust museums, Holocaust poems, Holocaust paintings, Holocaust sculpture. In fact, the flow seems to be picking up speed. Every self-respecting synagogue in the Jewish community must now have its Holocaust memorial, the more elaborately grotesque, the better." [KLINGHOFFER, p. 10-13] In 2001, following a string of Jewish lawsuits in recent years against American companies (having something to do with the Holocaust), German Jews Kurt Julius Goldstein and Peter Gingold even had the chutzpah to file a $40 billion suit against the U. S. government because it had not bombed the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II. [FORWARD, 4-6-01; SCHOENFELD, G., 4-11-01]
There are approximately 1,000 Holocaust organizations across the world, [VROMAN, p. 35] and nearly every American city of any size has at least one memorial of some kind to the theme of Jewish martyrdom. The larger ones, "those mammoth monuments, "says Evytar Friesel, "often vying with each other for the last word for recognition as the last word in this or that aspect of memorialization, are unrestrained, even aggressive." [FRIESEL, p. 230] "One does not have to aim at forgetting the unforgettable," says Jacob Neusner, "in order to judge such 'centers' as nihilistic and obsessive, lacking ... dignity and faith." [NEUSNER, Holo, p. 976] "Holocaust monuments seem to me primarily a sign of ethnic muscle-flexing," says Philip Lopate, "proof that the local Jewish community has attained enough financial and political clout to erect such a tribute to their losses." [LOPATE, p. 296] Jewish myopia centering on their historic suffering can run into public problems. A proposed Holocaust monument (which included the Star of David) at a public park in Los Angeles was vetoed by the County Board of Supervisors for its sectarian implications; it had to be universalized to include all Holocaust victims, both Jews and non-Jews. [YOUNG, p. 303]
In Denver, Jewish plans for a Holocaust memorial on 27 acres to commemorate an infamous 1942 massacre of Jews at Babi Yar in the Ukraine met complaints from others in the Denver community. The local Ukrainian community stepped forward to point out to the city council that the Babi Yar massacre was not exclusively Jewish; Ukrainians had been murdered there too, including their nationalist poet, Olena Teliha.
The Ukrainians ultimately chipped in $25,000 for their representation at the memorial site, one in which one hundred "crabapple trees" were planted "to represent Jews killed at Babi Yar." Today, however, says James Young, this contentious site has been largely "forgotten" by the Denver Jewish community, largely due to its diluted (i.e., non-Jewish representation) quality. "Denver's Jewish community," says Young, "grew alienated from the very site they meant to unify them." [YOUNG, p. 296] This should come as no surprise, since Jewish unity, by definition, does not include any one else. It certainly does not include Ukrainians -- some of whom are accused by Jews (like other non-Jews in Europe) to have collaborated with the Nazis. "Perhaps the inscription [at the Denver site]," snidely remarks Jewish scholar Steven Cohen, in the typical spirit of Jewish contempt for the Ukrainian-Americans of Denver, and of anywhere, "should read: 'Dedicated to the 33,000 Jews who died at Babi Yar and the Ukrainians who killed them." [COHEN, Uses, p. 25]
Harold Troper wrote an entire book about Jewish and Ukrainian animosities in Canada, noting that:
"For some Canadian Jews ... Ukrainians still appear as a collective
representation of evil. Thus when confronted, albeit infrequently,
by Ukrainian sorrows, Jews feel it hard to find sympathy for those
who they feel have been their persecutors." [TROPER, p. 43]
Sometimes, as evidenced in Dallas at a local Jewish community center, creative angles of Holocaust remembrance can be peculiar. In a search for tactile connection to European Jewish misery, an actual European railroad boxcar that carried Jews to their deaths was purchased and reconstructed as an entrance into the Dallas memorial rooms. Its purpose was to give visitors a sense of "having been there." [YOUNG, p. 298] Not surprisingly, some survivors of the Holocaust refused to pass through such a portal. Such persons were eventually provided "their own, hidden entrance (around the boxcar), a secret door for survivors only." [YOUNG, p. 298] (There are at least three such boxcar souvenirs in American Holocaust museums. The fourth largest Holocaust museum in America, in St. Petersburg, Florida, has one of them). [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 11-4-99]
In Tucson, the local Holocaust monument is a symbolic architectural construction that "visitors can pass through on their way into a stunning complex of auditoriums, cavernous gymnasiums, weight rooms, swimming pools, and tennis courts," lending "a certain cast to all activities that take place in the center." [YOUNG, p. 299] As early as 1964 an 18-foot bronze sculpture commemorating the Holocaust was erected in Philadelphia near the city hall: "It's motifs included an unconsumed burning bush, Jewish fighters, a dying mother, a child with a Torah scroll, and a blazing menorah." [MILTON, p. 12] Since the 1970s, several hundred public sculptures have been constructed in the United States and Europe that commemorate the Holocaust. [MILTON, p. 15]
Among the most ostentatious monoliths in homage to agonized Jewish narcissism (at a cost of $168 million) is the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC, as Hanno Loewy calls it, "a shrine to Jewish identity." [LOEWY, p. 236] Two million people visited the shrine in its first year alone (opened in April 1993). Initially promoted by three Jewish members of President Jimmy Carter's administration, it was conceived as a political concession to Jewish lobbying groups "to," says James Young, "placate Jewish supporters angered by [Carter's] sale of F-15 fighter planes to Saudi Arabia. All such memorial decisions are made in political time, contingent on political realities." [YOUNG, p. 293] A thousand rabbis were invited to a commencement function of the museum's planners.
With Elie Wiesel originally at the helm of the museum planning commission, despite a number of requisite feints towards democratic universalism and the inclusion of non-Jewish victims of Nazis commemorated at the site, the edifice is Jewish in conception, attitude, focus, control, and funding. One Jew present at a planning conference became "almost hysterical" at the thought of having Polish [non-Jewish] victims represented with Jews. [MILLER, p. 257] On February 13, 1991, at a museum committee meeting where the Armenian genocide at the hands of the Turks in 1915 was being discussed for possible inclusion in the Holocaust Museum, "a prominent [Jewish Holocaust] survivor and council representative lost control and screamed [at the Museum Director], 'ordering' him not to mention Armenians in his presence again." [LINENTHAL, p. 234] An early planning report for the Museum, warned advisor Seymour Bolten, could be understood as "patronizing and condescending toward the non-Jewish victims of the Holocaust -- particularly Polish-Americans." [LINENTHAL, p. 40] "Despite the overwhelming amount of documentation relating to the fate of the gypsies in Nazi Germany," says Ian Hancock (himself of Gypsy descent), "which has been examined during the fourteen years the United States Holocaust Memorial Council has been in existence, that body, more than any other, rigorously persists in underestimating and under representing that truth." [HANCOCK, p. 40] What is this Holocaust museum's essential perspective? "People had to grow," the Museum Director, Michael Berenbaum, told Newsday, "Jews had to learn to be sensitive to non-Jewish victims and they, in turn, had to learn to be sensitive to the uniqueness of the Jewish experience." [HANCOCK, p. 41]
Paul Berger, a prominent member of the United Jewish Appeal, explained in a Congressional hearing the necessity of the Jewish-centeredness of the proposed museum:
"Once you open the door to things that are not related to the
Holocaust, where do you draw the line? ... I think the special historic
experience of Jews as Jews is a different story, and reflects how the
world has looked at Jews in a special way. That is not to say there
haven't been other kinds of sufferings. But to involve other kinds of
sufferings distracts from the experience of the Jews as Jews."
[GOLDBERG, JJ, p. 195]
Most of the Holocaust Museum's 'commission' are Jews ("as Jews"). By 1980 the fifty Holocaust Museum Council members included two Blacks, two Polish-Americans, one Ukrainian American, and one Slovenian-American. Three-fourths of the Council members were Jewish. [LINENTHAL, p. 46] Among those appointed who were not Jewish, were those like David Wyman, a non-Jewish "special adviser to the Council." And his perspective on the issues at hand? "Today I remain strongly pro-Zionist," he wrote, "and I am resolute supporter of the state of Israel ... I look upon Israel as the most important line of defense against anti-Semitism in the world." [WYMAN, p. xvi]
Referring to those non-Jews who were not so easily malleable to Judeo-centric aims, "each Eastern European ethnic appointment was at best a political necessity made only to satisfy White House concerns," notes Jewish scholar Edward Linenthal, "and at worst an obscene incursion into the boundaries of Holocaust memory by those whose countrymen had persecuted Jews." Some Jews didn't think the Armenian genocide at the hands of the Turks in the early twentieth century merited inclusion at the Holocaust Museum. "Once you include Armenians as part of the Holocaust," complained Yaffa Eliach, a Holocaust Museum council member, "I don't see why other African tribes which are being annihilated at this very moment should not be included." [LINENTHAL, p. 229] The first Romani (Gypsy), William Duna, to get on the Holocaust Museum council in 1987 accused the group of "overt racism" in its understatement of the Gypsy experience in World War II. [LINENTHAL, p. 245]
The Museum's decision-makers "engaged in a long and bitter debate concerning the uniqueness and universality of the Holocaust." [BERENBAUM, p. 453] In its formulative years, Seymour Bolton complained that although "Jews were first and primary subjects for extermination ... all Slavs of Eastern Europe were slated for decimation, degradation, and eventual liquidation ... [it was] morally repugnant to create a category of second-class victims of the Holocaust as Mr. Wiesel would have us do." [LINENTHAL, p. 43] As to the formal terminology of who and what the Holocaust Museum was to address, Eli Wiesel ultimately framed a compromise for President Carter, defining the Holocaust as "the systematic, bureaucratic extermination of six million Jews by the Nazis and collaborators as a central act of state during the Second World War ... as night descended, millions of other people were swept into this net of death. ... While not all victims were Jews, all Jews were victims." "In this way, "says Berenbaum, "[Weisel] negotiated the labyrinth between those who argued for a Judeo-centric uniqueness and the national requirement of universality imposed by the President [of the United States]." [BERENBAUM, p. 453]
Even some Jews, wrote Jacob Neusner in 1979, during the planning stages of the museum, "find the Holocaust Commission puzzling. There has not been, after all, a commission created to memorialize the Armenian massacre in World War I (the first major act of genocide in this century), or the political violence and mass murder of Stalinist Russia and Maoist China, let alone the Nazi war against the Poles, Russians, South Slavs, Slovaks, and other people deemed by the racist Wissenschaft to be subhuman. And, to be sure, such commissions as these would prove equally puzzling to Blacks and Indians on our own shores, who surely would wonder why we commensurate these sorts of acts done abroad, which when they occur in our own land are forgotten." [NEUSNER, Holo, p. 977]
In 1981 the President of the Polish American Congress complained that the Washington Holocaust Museum plans were highly prejudicial: pro-Jewish and anti-Pole. Museum Council member Rabbi Bernard Raskas responded that the Museum should focus more on "the long, sad and documented history of Polish anti-Semitism ... One might also philosophically reflect as to why it was that the Germans selected Poland as the site for Auschwitz-Berkanau death camps." [LINENTHAL, p. 117] John Cardinal Krol, the Catholic archbishop of Philadelphia, was among those who contributed a recommendation to the Holocaust Museum Council. "His letter," says Jewish scholar Edward Linenthal, "spoke about the importance of forgiveness, quoted a former President of the World Jewish Congress who claimed that Jews of the free world were also to blame for the Holocaust, and recommended that 'a handy pamphlet, in an interesting and readable style ... would have a far more lasting effect than any statue or memorial ... The purpose of the pamphlet should be to affirm the dignity of every human and the sacredness of every human life." Cardinal Krol's letter, declares Linenthal, was "one of the most grotesque recommendations [to the largely Jewish council]." [LINENTHAL, p. 26]
In 1998 six people wrote a formal letter of protest to the director of the Holocaust museum, complaining about a film regularly shown at the museum, one that "advances a profoundly inaccurate thesis: that Christianity and Christian leaders were the initial cause of anti-Semitism and have at all times been its major proponents." [WIESELTIER, 2-9-98, p. 42] The protesters were newsworthy because they were all "conservative" Jews.
Backstage at the museum, Jewish/Israeli wheelings and dealings (in suppressing other peoples' commemoration of their own sufferings) were -- as usual -- two-faced and hypocritical. David Stanndard remarks that
"Turkish and Israeli government officials together pressured the White
House, which was then involved in the planning for the United States
Holocaust Museum, to reject any mention of the Armenian genocide in
the museum's exhibition. It is what happened on another occasion when
the head of the Jewish community in Turkey, Jewish lobbyists in the
United States and Israeli officials of the foreign office conspired with
the Turkish government to prevent the United States from holding an
official Armenian day of remembrance. And it is what continues to
happen today when, among many other examples, a documentary film
on the Armenian genocide remains banned on Israeli television, and
when an effort by people in Israel's Education Ministry to produce
high school curricula on the Armenian and Gypsy genocides was
quashed by an oversight committee of government-paid historians."
[STANNARD, p. 196]
The (Washington) Jewish Week worried that "if Jews join in an effort to whitewash what happened to the Armenians, how can they expect other groups seeking their own diplomatic gains, to treat the Nazi Holocaust any differently?" [LINENTHAL, p. 239] The Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz traced the Jewish efforts to reject a proposed United States resolution to recognize a day commemorating the Armenian genocide. A Jewish community leader in Turkey, Jacque Kamhi hired Paul Berger, a Jewish American lawyer to lobby against it. The former Executive Director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Mori Amitay, also joined the lobbying effort, as did the former Assistant Secretary of Defense, Richard Perle, Washington lawyer Douglas Feith, and Mark Epstein, former Washington director of the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews. The resolution in commemoration of Armenians was defeated. [LINENTHAL, p. 314] (Meanwhile, in Israel, a survey of 800 Israeli students at eight universities by Yair Auron, a professor in Tel Aviv, found that "most of them said they knew nothing about the genocide of the Armenians and gypsies." [COCKBURN, P., p. 26]
In 1995, while in France, Bernard Lewis, a very prominent Jewish (and Zionist) emeritus professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University, told a Le Monde reporter that the Armenian disaster at the hands of the Turks didn't qualify as "genocide." This remark caused an uproar in France, where "Holocaust deniers" have faced jail and hefty fines for similar assertions about Jewish history at the hands of the Nazis. Four lawsuits were filed against him -- three were dismissed by courts but the last resulted in a fine of "one symbolic franc." Lewis' comment in "connection to the Holocaust," noted Jonathan Mahler, "has made the debate especially contentious within the Jewish community, where there is a special sensitivity to the status that the term 'genocide' confers. Those in Mr. Lewis' camp say that to describe the massacre [of Armenians] as a 'genocide' is historically inaccurate and belittles the Holocaust's unique place in history. The professor's critics, for their part, say that refusing to label the massacre a genocide is akin to Holocaust denial." [MAHLER, J., 8-18-95, p. 1]
Originally chaired by a Baltimore real estate developer, Harvey Meyeroff, the Washington Holocaust museum (the world's most expensive Holocaust museum) is a secularly sacred edifice to Jewish identity and is located on the Washington Mall, nestled in the context of the Lincoln, Jefferson, and Vietnam Memorials, the Washington Monument, and the Smithsonian Museum. Behind the hallowed facades at the Washington site, different Jewish cliques struggled for power and control of the place, with rich families purchasing the prestige of prominent name plaques or entire wings named after them. [MILLER, p. 263-265] Plans were even made to honor wealthy benefactors by entitling their names to "a theatre, kosher dining pavilion, library ... [and an] education, research, and archival center." [LINENTHAL, p. 82]
The first museum design proposal was rejected by the Washington DC Fine Arts Commission because of its "almost unintended link to fascist architecture" and its "sheer size and aggressiveness" that threatened to "upstage ... the rest of the Mall's monuments." [YOUNG, p. 340] The actual arrangement to locate the proposed Washington DC Holocaust Museum on federal land next to the famous mall was done in haste and as secretly as possible. Edward Linenthal notes that "several members of the National Capital Planning Commission, a governmental agency charged with reviewing development and conservation plans in the District, were bothered ... by the fact that there was no public announcement of, or public hearing scheduled on, the issue of the land transfer ... All discussions of the transfer took place in executive and not open sessions of the planning commission meetings. Clearly, the [Museum] council was wary of what it feared might be mixed public reaction, and one planning commission member recalled that the pressure generated from politically well-situated council members to accomplish the transfer privately and swiftly was 'enormous.'" [LINENTHAL, p. 63]
Among the enduring symbols of pluralistic democracy, the Holocaust museum stands out as a testament to one affluent ethnic group's power to literally, physically, change the landscape of American values, inflicting its own grandiose perception of itself -- humankind's innocent martyrs -- as part of the pantheon of American patriotic symbology. "Building [such a Holocaust memorial]," worried Henry Kissinger, "is likely only to re-ignite anti-Semitism." [MILLER, p. 233] The Holocaust Museum is not small in scope; it is not humble. It is not modest. It is not a Zen garden to intimately reflect upon death, human suffering, and man's inhumanity to man. It is, rather, institutionalized in concept, a grandiose self-hallowing of a particular ethnic people. The Holocaust Museum is a celebratory fortress, an elegant palace of pain, envisioned to anchor American public opinion to a certain sway; it is great ship designed to carry people somewhere. It is, after all, created to enforce the self-proclaimed Jewish myths of consummate persecution, rendered with tons of concrete immovable; like a giant billboard in the heart of the city of American government, it casts its shadow across the entire country. The Holocaust Museum has elbowed its way to the front of the line of American democratic tradition. Ironically, oblivious to its builders and believers, such a monumental edifice ultimately confirms in monolithic form a range of classical stereotypes about Jews, including excessive Jewish power and influence, self-obsession, exclusivity, "apartness" from non-Jews, clannishness, ostentation, and wealth, among others.
Jewish efforts to rationalize and justify such a huge building in America that memorializes something that happened across the world rests on pretty thin foundations. One of the most tenuous links is the fact that Americans across the world did contribute to the liberation of the German concentration camps (as did Russians, and others). With this as the entre, more useful to Jewish and Israeli propagandists, however, are the museum's displays that emphasize negative (and, hopefully, guilt-inducing) links to its American context: "the restrictions on [Jewish] immigration [to America], the rejection of [Jewish] refugees during the war, and the refusal to bomb the death camps." " Ironically," claims Jewish scholar James Young, in such criticism of American policies during World War II, "the memorial will thereby Americanize the Holocaust, making it a pluralistic, egalitarian event." [!?] [YOUNG, p. 338]
"Does the primacy of group identity among halakhic Jews," counters Adam Garfinkle, "clash with the individualist ethos of the American ideal? Yes. And no placing of Holocaust Museums in Washington -- at base an attempt to turn a Jewish experience into an American one so that American Jews can pretend that the Jewish parochialism they love and cling to and the American universalism they admire and need do not conflict -- can change that." [GARFINKLE, p. 15]
The subject of the Jewish Holocaust -- the Jewish tragedy in Europe now distanced generations ago -- has nothing whatsoever to do with America, let alone Washington D.C., or the patriotic memorials and monuments around it. As Howard Husock notes, "[The museum sets] a particularism which threatens to undermine the fragile foundation of civil religion," [HUSOCK, p. 92], which, when we last looked, was supposed to be pluralistic and non-denominational. Even a polling firm hired by the Holocaust Museum Committee, Peter D. Hart Research Associates, noted that the Museum "should be in Germany or Austria, where these things happened." [LINENTHAL, p. 64] Nor is this museum, in the context of the United States, about the Holocaust, inter-ethnic tolerance, or cultural pluralism and egalitarianism. Rather, the Holocaust Museum is a cynical monument to everything wrong in modern America: special power, special privilege, special people. It symbolizes the economic gulf between ethnic groups in a faltering multicultural experiment, as impoverished African-Americans who live blocks away from the $168 million boondoggle to Jewish selfhood can testify. How far could $168 million -- say, in memory of the Holocaust victims and the spirit of human brotherhood -- have gone towards battling injustice and alleviating suffering in the Black ghettos down the street?
"[Jewish Holocaust museums]," argues apologist James Young, a Jewish scholar, "have already inspired other persecuted minorities to demand national museums as well to commemorate their catastrophes. In the most ideal of American visions, the memory of competing "holocausts" would not continue to divide Americans from one another but may lead each community to recall its past in the light of another group's historical memory." [YOUNG, p. 304]
A monument suffering to pan-human suffering would dignify the "historical memory" of many roots. Armenians in this century had their own genocide at the hands of the Turks. Some argue that the Irish potato famine that killed million had British connections. There is the genocide and ethnic cleansings in Bosnia, Rwanda, Cambodia, and others in our own time. Native Americans can certainly lay claim to genocidal experiences in this country; African-Americans have their own historical miseries at the hands of others. Man's inhumanity to man stretches in a continuous line across history. Why don't Jews want to connect with anyone else? If it is argued that their Holocaust Museum is justified because Hitler expressly singled them out, why must Jewish monuments to themselves echo Hitler's own horrible conviction that Jews are different, Jews are special, and that Jews are, indeed, apart from others. Unless, of course, these tenets are part of Jews' own world-view, from which Hitler appropriated it, and which belongs in some other country, if anywhere.
Howard Husock notes the underlying bedrock for the very conception, and ultimate meaning, of the Washington DC Holocaust memorial:
"One must also include the possible benefits museum supporters may
quietly perceive for Israel. The memorial on the Mall represents a sure-
fire way to spotlight day in and day out the historic justification of a
Jewish state before Congress and the White House." [HUSOCK, p.
Efforts to propagandize the innocent museum visitors towards a sympathy for Jewish/Israel political views know no bounds. (The first director of the museum -- Jeshajahu Weinberg -- was an Israeli.) [LINENTHAL, p. 141] With their paid admissions, visitors to the Holocaust Museum are requested to type their age, gender, and profession into a computer; they are then each provided with an identity card of a Holocaust Jew who approximates the tourists' own life, "turning all into victims for the day." [YOUNG, p. 342, 344] As one critic noted, "Everyone [is] expected to enter the museum an American and leave, in some fashion, a Jew." [YOUNG, p. 345]
The profound disbalance that Jews create about their sufferings during World War II is reflected, in overview, in a 1993 publication by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Roots Amid the Darkness. In its extensive bibliography of recommended reading about the "Holocaust" of World War II, over fifty books are cited that focus on Adolf Hitler or some aspect of the Nazi regime; other books address general themes such as "Pursuing Nazis for Retributive Justice," and genocide in general. Over three hundred other recommended books, however, expressly center upon some aspect of the Jewish Holocaust experience in World War II including European Jewish history, anti-Semitism, "Jewish leadership," the "Final Solution," organized rescues of Jews, and "Persecution and Extermination," among other Jewish subjects. In comparison, books listed that address non-Jewish experiences are overwhelmingly about the Nazis, with a few exceptions addressing Christian-Jewish relations after the Holocaust, non-Jews who saved Jewish lives, and the like. Only one book was cited about the Nazi persecution of non-Jews generally. More specifically, five books are cited about gypsy victimization by the Nazis, three about homosexuals, one about prisoners of war, and two about Slavs. Only a handful of other cited volumes are non-Jewish accounts of some aspect of the era.
In this context of Judeo-centrism, the President's Holocaust Commission recommended that "the study of the Holocaust become a part of the curriculum in every school system in the country." [SILVER, p. 464] "One way of extending Holocaust memory into American public culture," says Edward Linenthal, "was to have [Holocaust] Days of Remembrance become part of the national calendar." [LINENTHAL, p. 27] To propagandize Jewish ethnocentrism as wide as possible, the Museum's "Project Ahead" program "seeks to broaden the role of Holocaust education in the life of a neighborhood, city, county, regions, or state" so that "Holocaust education can become a more important element in the community." [FEINGOLD, M. p. 280] "Polish American groups and some Catholic organizations," says Marilyn Feingold, a faculty member at Rhode Island College, "object to materials which may tend to portray some of their respective group members in a negative light and these issues deserve appropriate examination. Public school teachers need clear guidance on these issues to assure that what we teach is defensible from a historical perspective." [FEINGOLD, M. p. 281]
In Boston, like Washington DC, Jewish lobbyists and political power have pushed the Holocaust again onto the center stage of the American historical experience, as James Young notes, "into the very myth of American origins." [YOUNG, p. 324] Boston's Holocaust Memorial is now centrally located along the so-called Freedom Trail, interwoven with the likes of Paul Revere, the Boston Massacre, Bunker Hill, and other authentic sites of the American Revolution. (In 2001, a new bridge was even named after a former Boston regional director of the Anti-Defamation League -- the Lenny Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge.) In New York City the "Living Memorial to the Holocaust" museum was built in Battery Park at the tip of Manhattan in view of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. "Visitors ... descend to a below-ground level where a transition segment on anti-Semitism will lead into a 450-foot arc that treats the history of the Holocaust chronologically, and thematically in the form of a 'big monumental time-line." [GODFREY, 10-30-87, p. 20] Original plans included a 34-story apartment complex connected to the Holocaust building, deemed by its critics, "Treblinka Towers."
Increasingly, the Holocaust pops up in the heart of American tradition as a kind of Jewish Flag of Exceptionalism. "Some people," remarks Young, "had difficulty accepting the Holocaust's place on the [Boston] Freedom Trail, wondering what it had to do with the American Revolution." [YOUNG, p. 328] In 1999, in Los Angeles, a $2 million "renovation and expansion" grant from the California Council for the Arts was awarded to a Jewish community site called the Skirball Cultural Center which allegedly represents "the intersection of Jewish heritage and American democratic values." Here, relics from George Washington and the Declaration of Independence meld with those from the Holocaust. [HAITHMAN, D., 12-3-99, p. F2] In Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1997, mayor Martin Chavez "was trying to head off what he thought could become a public art controversy ... He was concerned that the [new Holocaust] memorial might be 'the dominant artistic focal point' on the [Civic] plaza." Supporters of the $40,000 sculpture, privately funded, largely by the local Jewish Federation, were requested to downscale four and a half feet. [STEINBERG, D., 5-19-97, p. A1]
Recognizing the trend in America, in 1997 the Royal Canadian Legion -- Canadian war veterans -- stepped forward to announce that they opposed the Canadian War Museum's plans for a "face lift" to dedicate 7.7% of its space to the Jewish Holocaust. The Legion noted that only 15% of the museum's artifacts were displayed as it was with the available floor space. As reported in the Associated Press, "war veterans guides at the museum threatened to quit if they had to discuss the Holocaust as part of their duties ... several other veteran groups already have spoken out against the $2.2 million project, saying the Holocaust played no direct role in Canada's wartime mission and suggested that any Holocaust memorial be established in a separate venue." [CRARY, p. 7a] By the next year, there was talk about building a whole new War Museum. Jewish war historian Jack Granatstein was named the CEO of the organization formed to develop such a site. [WARD, J., 2-6-98] Earlier, in 1988, a former official of Canada's External Affairs and International Trade and Commerce department began a new organization called the Society for Free Expression which was created to fight "Jewish cultural influence in Canada," particularly manifest "by the introduction of Holocaust studies in Ottawa's public schools." Seeking to discredit it, a Jewish journal, the Jewish Week claimed that the new group's founder, Ian Macdonald, had associations with "several Arab states and individuals" and "close contacts" with a leader of the Ku Klux Klan. [KAYFETZ, p. 21]
Across the Atlantic Ocean, in 2000 Great Britain's Queen Elizabeth formally opened the "permanent Holocaust exhibition at the prestigious Imperial War Museum." At a cost of $25 million, paid for by a lottery fund, the museum "regards [the show] as the most important project it has ever undertaken." [DAVIS, D., 6-7-2000, p. 5]
In Tampa, Florida, the Tampa Bay Holocaust Memorial and Educational Center attracted 90,000 schoolchildren to be socialized to Jewish/Zionist martyrology in its first five years since it opened in 1992: "As they enter the museum, visitors first ... see a stylized menorah ... They will proceed to historical exhibits showing Jewish life before the Holocaust and continuing through the Nazi era." [MOORE, p. 9]
In Japan, in 1988 Fumitatsu Inoue, a Japanese architect who received a scholarship from the Israeli Ministry of Education to study in Israel, and who spent twenty years there, was instrumental in the building of a memorial to the Jewish Holocaust in the town of Kurose in the province of Hiroshima. The Jewish Week reported that:
"Some critics say you cannot unite the two events: the suffering at
Auschwitz arose from completely different conditions than those at
Hiroshima. Yet Inoue and members of the Kurose committee who
recently visited Yad Vashem don't try to diminish the uniqueness
of the Holocaust." [BLACK, p. 27]
In 1999, the London Guardian noted that "the liberal novelist and pillar of the [German] intellectual establishment, Martin Walser, gave a speech criticizing government plans for a huge national Holocaust memorial in Berlin and complained that the Germans were constantly being made to atone for the crimes of the Nazis." [TRAYNOR, p. 10] At a cost of $26 million and "by its position and size," noted the International Herald Tribune, "the memorial by the New York architect Peter Eisenman will be a dominant feature of the city." (A large "Jewish Museum" in Berlin, designed by another Jewish American architect, David Libeskind, was scheduled to open a year later). [COHEN, R., 1-18-2000]
In Manchester, England, art critic Brian Sewell complained about a planned Holocaust center there: "The Holocaust has no particular relevance here. Is it possible to recall with any genuine feeling an event that is both outside our experience and time? Can we not say to the Jews of Manchester that enough has been made of this Holocaust and they are too greedy for our memories?" [NORMAN, P., 7-11-99]
In San Francisco, by 2000, a new Jewish Museum (not just Holocaust-centered) was being planned at an estimated cost of $100 million. With "national and international ramifications," 80% of the funding for the place was expected to come from outside the San Francisco area. Millennium Partners -- a firm headed by Phil Aarons -- was scheduled to build the complex. The Jewish Bulletin of California noted what so often is a common theme with these self-celebratory Judeo-centric sites:
"In early 1997, [original architect Peter] Eisenman presented a design
to the redevelopment agency that outraged the Jewish Museum's
future neighbors. Eisenman had designed a shared plaza that critics
argued featured the Jewish Museum too prominently and directed
foot traffic away from the others." [i.e., away from other museums]
ALTMAN-OHR, A., 2-18-2000, p. 1A]
Yet another Judeocentric "tolerance" museum is being planned for the California capitol, Sacramento. Pushed by California Assemblyman Darrell Steinberg, its conception is "based on the Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance." [LUM, R., 3-3-2000, p. 67]
This leads us to yet another major American Holocaust museum of note, this one in Los Angeles: the $38 million Simon Wiesenthal Center (with branches, however, in New York, Chicago, Miami, Toronto, Washington DC, and Paris, employing 70 people). The founder of the Center and its "dean," is an Orthodox rabbi, Marvin Hier who -- in the words of the Los Angeles Times -- "turned his brainchild, the Wiesenthal Center, into the fastest growing, highest profile Jewish activist organization in the world today." [TEITELBAUM, p. 8] After luring $500,000 in 1977 from a rich Jewish businessman to get the dream project started, Hier managed to steal the famed Viennese Nazi Hunter, Simon Wiesenthal, his name, and his special reputation in the worldwide Jewish community, away from a cross-town Holocaust memorial organization, the Martyr's Museum, which had likewise sought to capitalize on Wiesenthal's fame status for their own publicity and fundraising efforts. Hier cut a deal with Wiesenthal for the use of the Wiesenthal name for $5,000 a month and even bought off Martyr Museum complaints about the loss of Wiesenthal's draw at a fund raising dinner for $25,000. [MILLER, p. 241] Appealing to Jewish fears of anti-Semitism and the secular Jewish religion of the Holocaust, in 1989 alone Hier managed to attract nearly $10 million in donations for the Center, and another $5.3 million for an adjacent "Museum of Tolerance." Hier claims that 380,000 (certainly overwhelmingly Jewish) families around the world contribute economic support to his institution, one that the Times says "Hier intends to ... be a tourist attraction." [TETELBAUM, p. 11]
Hier's project has been assailed by many as the most vulgarly commercialized expression of Holocaust commemoration cynically known as "Shoah business." A Center brochure describes the Museum's high-tech "in your face" approach in addressing the murder of millions:
"As a searchlight comes on, you are at a replica of the gate of Auschwitz.
You imagine Jews are being stripped, clothed in prison garb, numbered,
having their heads shaved. You see historical film footage of Jews being
'selected' for work -- or the gas chamber .... A searchlight sweeps the
boundary fence. You are introduced to the Hell that was Auschwitz. You
imagine that you are following the final steps of the victims along the
rough road ... you view actual film records of the discoveries made by
Allies when they liberated the camps ... and you hear the echoes of the
victims -- those who survived and those who did not. As you are about
to leave the Holocaust section of the museum, how do you feel?
Perplexed. Sad. Angry. Disgusted. Stunned. Ashamed. [MILLER, p. 19]
Piped in smoke and the screams of victims were considered as props for the site, but eventually rejected.
Not all Jews applaud the crass tone and motivation of the Wiesenthal Center and its emphasis on phobias of anti-Semitism and the negative in Jewish history. "People like Hier," says Leon Wieseltier, the literary editor of New Republic, "do not understand the distinction between commemoration and entertainment." [MILLER, p. 49] "How has Rabbi Hier managed to crack Hollywood," wondered Robert Eshman, "in a way that has got to be the envy of every other Jewish organization in town? How does he manage to mark the suffering of the six million at a luxurious dinner featuring comedians and singers without cheapening it?" [ESHMAN, p. 4] "Ideologically," says a rabbi across town, Harold Schulweiss of Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, "I am concerned with the imbalance in the Center's regard for the Holocaust. It is the predominant event in the Jewish psyche. Jews have the Holocaust clinging beneath their skins, in their nostrils. The majority of the [Jewish] people out there find their strong and visceral identification through the Holocaust, and Hier has been able to tap into that." [TEITELBAUM, p. 39]
"It's a sad fact," says one of Hier's biggest financial backers, Samuel Belzberg, "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." [YOUNG, p. 306] (Belzberg's brother William "has been a national Israel Bonds leader. The Belzberg brothers have been the chief financial muscle of the Simon Wiesenthal Center since its founding." [TUGEND, 10-22-99] Hier's Wiesenthal organization even has a filmmaking division, Moriah Films; among its most prominent efforts have been its "acclaimed Holocaust trilogy," including Mark Harris’ The Long Way Home. (Rabbi Hier received his second Academy Award Oscar in 1998 as a film producer. Both his Oscars were for documentaries about the Holocaust. In 1998, yet another documentary about the Holocaust -- not of his authorship -- "Visas and Virtue," won an Oscar for the best "live action short film category." [JEWISH WEEK, 3-27-98, p. 3])
Such "tapping" of the Holocaust, observes Hanno Loewy, is "package [d] ... in such a way that it can actually be used as a substitute for identity and deployed as an instrument of policy ... So, whether, it is a matter of disciplining American Jews in order to temper any criticism they may have of Israeli politics, or keeping down-and-out Blacks and Latinos from looting the Jewish store owners around the corner -- when you come right down to it, it is primarily a matter of increasing the influence of the Wisenthal Center on the Jewish community. For only a 'Holocaust,' which can happen to you again at any time and any place, which can happen to anyone, a 'Holocaust' -- the harbingers of which are standing on the very next street corner -- is no longer personally threatening but instead a confirmation of your identity. This 'Holocaust' is something you can -- and must-- ‘fight’ against, especially as a Jew (even if it is by sending a check to the Wiesenthal Center), for it is something which helps you to organize and affirm your own life, instead of questioning it with this kind of thinking, the Jewish history of persecution -- this negative head start with experience, so to speak -- leads to a secular, political claim to power." [LOEWY, p. 236]
Hier's preoccupation with anti-Semitism and stirring Jewish worry about it for funding purposes is legendary. In 1983 he hired an advertising agency to mail a packet to hundreds of thousands of Jews, requesting donations for a "Nazi-watch" program, claiming that anti-Semitic Americans were engaged in rebuilding nazism in Europe as part of a global network, a premise for which there is no evidence. Judith Miller writes that critics accused Hier of "a deliberate exaggeration of the threat of anti-Semitism for fund-raising purposes." [MILLER, p. 245] In an extraordinary act of Jewish disunity, in 1984 the Anti-Defamation League (the premier Jewish "defense organization") rebuked a Wiesenthal Center fund-raising letter that claimed a "new wave of anti-Semitism" in the United States and Europe; the ADL characterized the Wiesenthal form letter as being "replete with factual misstatements and exaggerations about the situation with respect to anti-Semitism and organized Nazi activity in the United States and abroad." [FREEMAN, K, p. 6]
In 1998, Sol Littman, the Toronto-based representative of the Wiesenthal Center caused considerable outrage when he called the little Canadian town of Oliver (population: 9,000) "the hate capital of Canada." Littman was busy attacking an Internet service provider, FTC, and its owner, Bernad Klatt, because the provider hadn't censored "hate material" against Jews off its lines. The town of Oliver's crime was that it and the local school district had used FTC's broad Internet services. "Mr. Littman," noted the British Columbia Report, "was reluctant to speak to the B.C. Report, and first attempted to discern whether the publication would depict him in a positive light." [TORRANCE, K., p. 25] Littman didn't fair well in the resulting article. The Canada journal titled the piece on him, "Who's Spreading Hatred? Oliver Reacts with Fury to a Smear by a Toronto Jewish Activist." [BR COL REP, 2-2-98, p. 25]
Jewish author Howard Jacobson recounts his troubling experience with another official of the Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles:
"He begins by talking to me about haters. Haters? I notice his verbal
italicization. A hater is more than a noun coined from a verb; a hater
is clearly a known type here, a person familiar and recognizable to
Research, a distinct subspecies of individual. A hater. Like a psychopath
or an arsonist. Someone defineable by many more characteristics
than just the accidents of whom or what he may end up hating."
[JACOBSON, H., 1995, p. 179]
The Wiesenthal Center's economic influence and nearness to Hollywood make it a necessary pilgrimage point for streams of politicians and celebrities seeking to clock in as "tolerant" personalities and court Jewish favor. Visitors have included everyone from Ronald Reagan to the French Ambassador to the United States to the Dalai Lama. Corporate relationships with the Center and its Museum have included everything from the GTE phone company to MTV television; the Center also "undertook a joint program with ABC" to expand its 'Testimony of Truth' video oral history of the Holocaust. Wiesenthal-sponsored exhibitions about the Holocaust have been presented as far away as China, Japan, and in minor a place as Aruba. The former director of the young museum, Gerald Margolis, built the connections needed to join the State of California's Commission on the Prevention of Hate Violence. One Wiesenthal "national tribute dinner" honored Sidney Sheinberg, President and CEO of MCA, Inc., moviemaker Steven Spielberg and his wife who served as honorary chairpersons of the event, the governor of Texas gave the keynote address, and Jack Valenti, President and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America served as the Master of Ceremonies.
In 1995 the Wiesenthal Center courted broad public controversy when -- in the midst of budget cuts for a variety of social services in Los Angeles county -- the Center's Museum of Tolerance (which frames itself as an examiner of generic prejudice in America) was awarded a five million dollar grant from the State of California, a taxpayer gift that was to come out of money intended for public schools. (It was the second five million dollar grant the Center had scored from the State of California since 1986). [MORAIN, p. B3] The privately-owned Center's application framed the Jewish site as an educational institution and the big money was pushed through government bureaucracy again by "friends in high places," including the California State governor, Pete Wilson, who looked to Jewish money and good graces for an upcoming run for the American presidency. (Wilson owes much to the Jewish community. He won a 1982 U. S. Senate race against 15-year incumbent Pete McCloskey, a man singled out for defeat by Jewish organizations because of his critical views of Israel. In the words of the Washington Post, "Jewish political participation" defeated McCloskey. [CURTISS, p. 56] Wilson was also there to bend rules for Jewish organizations on other occasions. In 1987 Yeshiva Rav Isacshon, an Orthodox Jewish primary school in Los Angeles, made the news when the Federal Department of Health and Human Services department asked for a $1.8 million grant back that had been awarded as a Reagan administration "political favor" through the political influence of Rabbi Milton Balkany in New York. The Los Angeles Times noted that the school's request for $2.3 million "far exceeded the $500,000 limit that the department had set for such grants," but the school was awarded its $1.8 "on an 'urgent' basis two weeks later without having an independent review of it or comparing it with other grant applications”.... [The award could not] be used for religious, sectarian instruction or any other religious purpose." [FRITZ, p. I, 3] Then Governor Wilson came to the rescue. "At Balkany's urging," noted the Times, "Wilson has sponsored a bill, opposed by the Department of Health and Human Services, that would permit the Los Angeles group to use the money in a manner that does not have the government's approval." [FRITZ, p. I3]
In the case of the $5 million for the Wiesenthal Center, the Los Angeles Times had noted the foul odor of back room politicking emanating from the state money for Rabbi Hier. The Center had a few months earlier conferred its "National Leadership Award" upon Governor Wilson at a banquet of predominantly Jewish big shots at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City. Attendees had included Michael Fuchs (chairman of Home Box Office), Alan Greenberg (chairman of the investment firm of Bear Stearns, of which Rabbi Hier's son, age 25, was already a vice president), and New York financiers Nelson Peltz and Ronald Perelman. (Perelman, prone to surrounding himself with bodyguards, is listed as one of Forbes' 400 richest Americans with ownership of everything from Marvel Comic Books and National Health Laboratories to Revlon and Gibraltar Savings and Loan) [FORBES, 400 Richest Americans] All four men were on the Wiesenthal Center's board of directors and were prominent money contributors in American political life. (Other influential board members included U. S. Senator Diane Feinstein, her investment banker husband, Richard Blum, and even a Hollywood glitz contingent of Frank Sinatra and Ellizabeth Taylor).
Maxine Waters, a black Los Angeles Congresswoman, too familiar with the atrocious shortcomings of the schools in the African-American communities, was among those who objected to the multi-million dollar grant at taxpayers' and schools' expenses. She impugned Hier's propaganda site for Jewish polemics and its claim that it was an investment in education, likening it to a purely business operation: "70,000 kids might go to McDonald's every day, but we don't pick up their lunch tab."
Particularly damning for the state grant was the Times' revelation that Hier's personal Wiesenthal salary ("including benefits") was $225,000 a year, and the fact that six of his associates there each made more than $100,000 apiece. [MORAIN, p. B1, B3] By 2000, critic Norman Finkelstein complained that
"A salary of over $500,000 for Rabbi Hier, his wife and son, who run the Simon
Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles as a family business is outrageous. According
to their 1996 federal tax returns, they collectively took in over $500,000 that
year. Who knows? We can only speculate as to what was taken for expenses."
[TATUM, W., 9-27-01, p. 1]
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the Simon Wiesenthal complex is where such state money goes to promote Jewish mythology at the Museum of Tolerance through its "Tools for Tolerance" program. Set up in offices across the street from the museum, the "Tools" program reflects the educational purpose behind the multi-million dollar museum: to socialize and sensitize visitors (especially targeting schoolchildren) to Jewish mythology about the their history and their Holocaust. It doesn't hurt that receptive ears in the school system have included a Jewish head of the Los Angeles School Board, Marcia Volpert, also formerly at the helm of the Jewish Community Relations Committee. Members of the Los Angeles and ("nearly all members" of the) Santa Monica city police departments have taken the "Tools for Tolerance" training, as well as many business and other professional organizations. [RESPONSE, back page, FALL 94-95]
In the context of deep interethnic conflict throughout southern California, a "Museum of Tolerance" is an attractive theme, particularly to local school systems. The Museum, and its system of in-house facilitators, have in fact served on large scale the Los Angeles and Ventura County School Districts, among others, to function as a multi-media means to educate children against racism, interethnic intolerance, and, of course, anti-Semitism. Sanctioned by local school districts as field trip options, school principals and teachers work with Wiesenthal staffers to plan school visits and studies about the Holocaust. Opened in 1993, by 1995 the museum claimed 600,000 visitors for the last year alone, including 77,000 school children. [MARGOLIS, SPR 95] "I believe," announced former California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, "that every child in our schools should be exposed to the types of materials on display at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles." [RESPONSE, SUMMER 95] (Jewish efforts to revise their history and socialize others to it, are international in scope. In Poland, "in 1993 the Jewish Historical Institute commenced publication of booklets designed for secondary schools. They contain selections of sources concerning the history of Jews in Poland, as well as popular essays on some issues." [TOMASZEWSKI, p. 47]
Given the background of Jewish ideology about the Holocaust and its own historical ideas about "tolerance," what, we need ask, does the Museum of Tolerance and its staff teach?
The Tools for Tolerance program provides, among other support, a Teacher's Guide for study of the Holocaust. The guide itself outlines -- in a conceptual overlay for experiencing the museum -- a sequence of preliminary questions for students. Initially generalized as addressing generic "intolerance," the sequence of questions shapes into final focus upon Jews as victims, the subject of most of the museum.
l. What is tolerance?
2. What is prejudice?
3. What is a stereotype?
4. What is a bigot?
5. What are civil rights?
6. What is genocide?
7. What is the Holocaust?
8. Who was Adolf Hitler?
9. What is a ghetto?
10. What is a concentration camp? [MUS. OF TOL. GUIDE, p. 3-5]
It is the classically Jewish funneling, as always under the hubris of pan-human universalism, the shape of the whole world into a disguised Jewish parochialism.
An 81-page educational kit, The Holocaust, 1933-1945, suggesting Wiesenthal Center guidelines for teaching about the Holocaust as the consummate "intolerance" is also provided for teachers. Of particular note is the advice of Mark Weitzman, National Associate Director of Educational Outreach at the Center (whose following commentary was adopted from his article in a Catholic magazine). In a brief aside noting that not only Jews perished in the Holocaust era, the author qualifies this concession by emphasizing traditional Jewish animosity for its rival religious faith: "Jews were victims, but the crimes were committed by persons raised in European cultures that were in great measure shaped by Christianity." [WEITZMAN, p. 69] This equation of Christianity with the rise of fascism -- no less in the context of a teaching guide for interracial, interethnic and interreligious tolerance -- is remarkable, but not surprising.
Elsewhere Weitzman dictates that teachers should "include a unit on Jewish resistance, both physical and spiritual, to the Nazis. A presentation of Jews as only victims conforms to a negative stereotype." What Weitzman doesn't elaborate upon, of course, is that his discomfort with Jewish victimhood is discomfort with self-imposed Jewish tradition itself, and that Jewish "resistance to Nazis" was an inconsequential anomaly to the rule of Jewish passivity, stereotypical or not, and has only been conjured up in recent years as part of the Zionist warrior/hero and "Jewish pride" ethic.
When it comes to the millions of non-Jews who were murdered by Nazis, Weitzman counsels: "Do not omit non-Jewish victims of the Nazis. These include Gypsies, homosexuals, and Jehovah's witnesses, among others." The named groups had relatively small numbers of victims in the World War II era. The "among others," of course, includes the millions of Polish and Russian Slavs who -- aside from traditional Jewish apathy for them -- are unmentioned because by sheer numbers of victims they endanger Jewish claims to massacre exceptionality.
"Be careful," Weitzman then adds, after the Gypsy-homosexual concession, "not to lose the particularity of the Nazi genocide of Jews in a broad universality." [WEITZMAN, p. 70] Weitzman, in his role as educator to thousands of teachers who will be educating California's schoolchildren, later elaborates upon this classical Jewish "intolerant" and chauvinist streak in modern Jewry by admonishing teachers to
"Be cautious when comparing the Holocaust to other events. Easy
comparison to other events, such as the mass murders of Armenians
in the early 20th century, or the contemporary issue of abortion,
without historical reference, are demeaning to both the victims
and opponents of Jews." [WEITZMAN, p. 71]
Weitzman's completely Judeo-centric diatribe of "do's" and "don'ts" concludes with a subtle reference to Israel and the teaching of the rationale that justifies the Jewish state's policies as a refuge for persecuted Jews everywhere:
"Explore the post-war Jewish reactions to the Holocaust. There include
both political and religious responses. This will help to explain the
backgrounds of many current events." [WEITZMAN, p. 71]
In 2000, the Jewish Commissioner, Howard Safir, of the New York Police Department, announced that the Wiesenthal Center's Tools for Tolerance program would begin training that city's police force in "tolerance," at a cost of "$225 per individual per day." [GREENBERG, E., 4-14-2000, p. 8]
Upon arrival at the Museum site, visitors find their tour to be regimented by a guide who leads them, assembly-line style, through a timed sequence of exhibitions. The first display is a large room full of high-tech anti-racist messages declaring the usual platitudes against "intolerance," a cacophony of competing videos, digital displays, and various interactive machinations that excite and war for the viewers' attention. Stereotypes are not fair. Prejudice is not just. Holding a bias is stupid. Specific allusions to injustice include the African-American experience, as well as selected video tracts of interethnic warring in Bosnia, Rwanda, and other countries virtually no visitor knows anything about, nor can fathom.
Ironically, a museum of "Tolerance" is exactly what this place is not. It is, rather, a profoundly sophisticated propaganda factory, so disguised in its intolerant intentions that entire school systems have swallowed it up. The Museum of Tolerance is, at root, a covert dissemination center for the myths of Jewish martyrology. It represents the standard Jewish ideological fare: the foregrounding of Jewish particularism (their troubles unique and tantamount in the human experience), framed in its illusory context of examining the universality of injustice. While we see weeping Israeli victims of terrorist attacks in one video sequence, never do we see reference to the miseries of Palestinian Arabs at the hands of the Israeli state.
In fact, the Museum even actively contributes to its own version of intolerance. Moammar Gadafi, the Ayatollah Khomeini, and other sworn enemies of the state of Israel are stereotypically branded as consummate hate-mongers in photograph displays, configuratively associated with Mao Tse Tung, Fidel Castro, Benito Mussolini, former Ku Klux Klan member David Duke, and, in the broader context of the museum, the King of Hatred: Adolf Hitler.
Such images, even as they are mingled (as they are in the Museum) with an image of Mahatma Gandi or Martin Luther King, do not engender reflections of tolerance and educated reason, but cynically reaffirm the broadest brush stereotypes of Good and Evil: any school kid can glance at the photo test on the wall and point out, as they are socialized to, the bad guys.
Any serious study of the Ayatollah Khomeini, for instance, must conclude that, whatever his failings, he cannot be fairly dismissed as merely a stick-figure of hatred with Hitler. To his own Shia Muslim worldview, and that of his millions of followers, he was a model of religious piety, as well as a man who led a just revolution against an evil dictator, the Shah of Iran, who was supported by both the United States and Israel. Khomeini's subsequent animosity for both nations is well known.
The Museum of "Tolerance" portrays Khomeini in a life-size photograph, his hand raised into the air as he presumably addresses the masses; the contextual inference is that he is a Hitleresque rabble rouser, demagogue, hate-monger. The Museum's accompanying caption of Khomeini underscores this, saying: "Used with emotion only, words build barriers against communication and can incite us to violence."
This caption could well fit an equivalent image of Israeli leaders like Menachem Begin, Ariel Sharon, Meir Kahane, and many others. But, on the contrary, one news report even claimed that Rabbi Hier was interested in founding a "Menachem Begin Yeshiva High School," named in honor of the former right-wing Israeli prime minister, and head of the "Irgun" Jewish terrorist organization in pre-Israel Palestine. At Begin's death, the Associated Press quoted Rabbi Hier's eulogizing words and noted that he was "a longtime associate of Begin." [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 3-9-92] As Edward Said remarks about Hier's hero:
"For years and years Begin has been known as a terrorist and has made
no effort to hide the fact ... In [his book Revolt] Begin describes his
terrorism --- including the whole-sale massacre of innocent women and
children -- in righteous (and chilling) profusion ... Yet so strong is the
consensus decreeing that Israel's leaders are democratic, western,
incapable of evils normally associated with Arabs and Nazis ... even a
morsel as normally indigestible as Begin has been transmuted into just
another Israeli statesman (and given an honorary LLD by Northwestern
University in 1978 and part of a Nobel Peace Prize to cap it all!" [SAID,
Shall we dismiss Said because he is an Arab -- however respectable as a professor at Columbia University -- and therefore "intolerant" and prejudicial? Even David Ben-Gurion, the first prime-minister of Israel and hero of Zionism, had this to say about Begin:
"Begin is clearly a Hitlerist type. He is a racist ... I cannot forget the little
I know of his activity, and it has one clear significance: the murder of
scores of Jews, Arabs, and Englishmen [by terrorist acts]; the pogrom
[of Arabs] in Dir Yassin and the murder of Arab women and children;
the Altadena [an Irgun-sponsored weapons-running ship], which was
designed for the seizure of power [in Israel] by force ... These are not
isolated acts, but a revelation of method, character, and aspiration."
[HABER, p. 255]
Begin will never show up as an icon of intolerance in a Jewish propaganda post. Instead there may yet be Jewish schools named after him. As Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the Director of the Museum of Tolerance, has revealingly admitted in the pages of the Center's own magazine, "It is generally not the policy of the Wiesenthal Center to discuss internal Israeli politics. The Center's primary mission is to combat the enemies of the Jewish people." [RESPONSE, FALL WINTER] Just for starters, that would apparently include generic Arabs, who are nowhere represented as fellow victims (at the hands of Israeli Jews) in the "Museum of Tolerance." And of course, by traditional Orthodox dictate, the enemies of the Jewish people are the 'goyim': all non-Jews.
And what of Israel -- the behind-the-scenes ideological pillar of the Museum of Tolerance, so sacrosanct from criticism? The modern Jewish state is a paragon of institutionalized intolerance and prejudice. Enforced as an expressly Jewish nation, discrimination is the law of the land. Israel is founded upon prejudice. Only Jews may immigrate to Israel and claim citizenship. And dictated by the Orthodox rabbinate (i.e., the likes of Rabbi Hier), modern Israeli law even forbids intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews. This law alone, notes Jewish scholar Georges Tamarin, creates a "situation of apartheid ... flagrantly violating paragraph 16 of the Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations. This [Israeli] law ... reminds at least many of the European immigrants [to Israel] of similar provisions in the infamous [Nazi] Nuremberg Laws forbidding mixed marriages." [TAMARIN, p. 31] Israeli law even discriminates against other branches of Judaism that are not Orthodox, denying, for example, that Reform or Conservative conversion practices are legitimate. [The systematically institutionalized legal -- and other -- discriminations against Israeli Arab citizens, and others, will also be addressed in a later chapter].
In 1988, when Yitzak Peretz, the Israeli government's Minister of Interior and a leading Orthodox rabbi, revealed his religiously-based racism about Arabs frankly and publicly to the local press, fellow Israeli Uri Huppert, a lawyer by occupation (whose expertise is victims of "religious coercion") responded:
"There is nothing new or extreme about Minister Peretz's declaration.
To the contrary, it is relatively mild. The novelty lies in announcing
publicly, through the media, the halachic stand on relationship with
Gentiles. After all, the halacha forbids even employing a Gentile as
a messenger; and it is doubtful whether a Jew may serve food to
The Talmud morally categorizes people according to their
relationship to the Commandment of Moses. An observing Jews
is enjoined to show an especially high moral level to 'a colleague
of Torah and [observer of the] Commandments.' He may be
forgiving toward a 'criminal' Jew insofar as fulfilling the
Commandments, but not to a Gentile, particularly a pagan.
The Mishneh Torah of Maimonides (Rambam) deals with the
commandments enjoined upon the children of Israel when their
entry to the land of Israel coincides with the arrival of the Messiah.
Here, their attitude toward the Gentile is specified to the last
detail. Regarding non-Jewish women, for example: 'A beautiful
woman who refuses to stop worshipping idols after twelve months
The general tenet is that anyone not a member of the people of
Israel should be rejected. Even more, 'any Gentile not upholding
the Noachic commandments is killed if under our rule.' The Rambam
goes further and determines that all living beings must uphold the
Noachic commandments or else be put to death." [HUPPERT, U.,
1988, p. 38]
Huppert also notes the implications of Jewish Orthodoxy's activist intolerance against Mormons living in Israel:
"One should not believe that Jewish Orthodoxy hates only Mormons
... The orchestrated campaign against the Mormons [by Orthodox
Jews in Israel] is a warning to all non-Jewish religious beliefs in
Israel. A generation of religious Jews has now arisen that is imbued
with the conviction that it must participate in holy wars like the
Christian crusades and the Moslem jihad ... This approach emphasizes
only one aspect, although a significant one, of a wider struggle
conducted by Orthodox Judaism against the Gentiles and against
conflicting lines of thought within the religious Jewish community."
[HUPPERT, U., 1988, p. 64]
In the 1960s, Georges Tamarin, an Israeli faculty member at Tel Aviv University, was even dismissed from his post for his controversial work and views about prejudice in Israel, including his studies of Israeli schoolchildren and "the effects of chauvinism on moral judgment." Selecting "the most extreme form of prejudice: the extermination of the out groups," [TAMARIN, p. 185] Tamarin provided over 1,000 Jewish children in Tel Aviv between the fourth and eighth grade with either the written tale of Joshua's Biblical genocide at Jericho or a comparable story about a genocide instituted by a General Lin, founder of Chinese dynasty 3,000 years ago. The children routinely studied the story of Joshua in the Israeli school system as "both a national history and as one of the cornerstones of modern national mythology." [TAMARIN, p. 185] General Lin was obscure to them.
In two sets of results, 60% of one group of students "totally approved" of Joshua's genocidal conquests; 20% expressed "total disapproval." General Lin's genocide, however, garnered only a 7% "total approval," and a 75% complete disapproval. In a second set of children, 66% of the surveyed students expressed "total approval" for Joshua's genocide, and 26% "totally disapproved." 30% of the students "totally approved" of General Lin's actions, and 62% "totally disapproved."
These figures from Israeli schoolchildren who are socialized to their own Jewish/Israeli nationalist prejudices, suggested Tamarin, "unequivocally proves the influence of chauvinism and nationalist-religious prejudices on moral judgment." [TAMARIN, p. 187] Reflecting on his ultimate firing for addressing such issues in Israeli academe, he noted that "I never dreamt that I would become the last victim of Joshua's conquest of Jericho." [TAMARI, p. 190]
In 2000, the results of a study about "hate" of ethnic and religious others among students in 168 Israeli schools (produced by the Hebrew University in Jerusalem) was so damning that its director, Dahlia Moore, remarked that
"The point is that this should be a warning to our society. These kids
hate, and with such depths of hatred, our society is in deep trouble."
[PRINCE-GIBSON, E., 9-24-2000]
In 2000 too, the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz reported that
"An annual report prepared by the U.S. State Department's Democracy,
Human Rights and Labor Division criticizes Israel for unfair
treatment of Arabs, for vandalism and discrimination against
Christian groups and non-Orthodox Jewish streams, and for
sanctions against Muslim citizens who want to go to Mecca
on haj pilgrimages." [RATNER, D., 9-21-2000]
So much for the disingenuous Museum of Tolerance's mission of universalistic tolerance, and to socialize people to keep open minds about cultural, ethnic, and religious differences, yet by central tenet completely shielding Jewish and Israeli "intolerance" from view. We need not hold our breath waiting for an indicting presentation at the museum about the evils of Orthodox Hasidic Jewry, a group of people who represent what famed Israeli author Amos Elon calls "a fanatical world of intolerance of other worlds of thought or ways of life." [ELON, 1991, p. 185] Or, as Israeli Uri Huppert notes, "For some unknown reason it had long been hidden from us that religious Orthodoxy, both anti-Zionist as well as the messianic Zionist, is struggling not only against the desecration of the Sabbath but also against the values of tolerance." [HUPPERT, U., 1988, p. 60] Nor can we expect to hear at the noble museum anything about Jewish Orthodoxy in general, a world view, notes Susannah Heschel, that "cannot permit itself to tolerate religious pluralism. There can either be one truth or no truth, and hence other modern forms of Jewish religious experience are heretical." [HESCHEL, 1983, p. xxv] Incredibly, Heschel is not even talking here about traditional Judaism's institutionalized bigotry and disdain of non-Jews. One needs not go that far. Orthodox Judaism is so incredibly intolerant of other world views, Heschel is merely referring to its fortress-like intolerance against others within the Jewish community.
And as Bernhard Lang notes about the origins of Rabbi Hier's Orthodox Judaism, and the Christianity that evolved out of it:
"To what extent is the animosity between religious groups rooted in
the Bible itself? If we look closely and honestly at the Hebrew Bible
and Christian New Testament, we will see that the dominant attitude
toward nonbelievers is not one of integration and tolerance, but of
segregation and intolerance ... Religious leaders insisted that their
people separate themselves from the gentiles. Social segregation
and the prohibition of intermarriage were accompanied by strict
control over apostasy." [LANG, B., 1989, p. 114]
The aforementioned confession about Israel (the Museum of Tolerance will never criticize the Jewish state) from Rabbi Cooper underscores what lurks behind the multicultural, universalistic veiling of the "Tolerance' enterprise: it is a multi-million dollar "educational" Disneyland, carefully seeded into the public school system, to propagate into those searching for moral truths a favorable receptivity to the Jewish (read also "Israeli") self-celebrating universe. Once the Museum's supposed universality of approach is thus composed, including tapes of Martin Luther King and other civil rights era speeches, visitors are funneled into the narrower meat of the real program; the bulk of the Museum highlights the Jewish myth of consummate victims of intolerance as epitomized by their carefully framed story under Nazi Germany. (Among the optional highlights of the Museum visit is an intimate opportunity to sit in a small, windowless room and listen to an emotional Jewish concentration camp survivor recite the irrefutably horrible testimonies in daily lectures at 1, 2, and 3 o'clock in the afternoon, an environment where the only fitting response for a visitor is to sit quietly, deferentially, and absorb, rather than ask questions and seek enlightenment.)
"Upon entering the darkened Holocaust Center," describes the Wiesenthal periodical, Response, "visitors become part of an environment where they are asked to become witnesses -- as if brought back to the scene of the crime -- and moved from exhibit to exhibit by synchronized computers." [RESPONSE, WINTER 92, p. 8]
Jewish-oriented displays even include a section in a dimly-lit room that reflects current Jewish historical revisionism. Narratives herald the Jews of the World War II era as fighters and heroes. A handful of minor, atypical incidents of Jewish "armed resistance" to the Nazis are misrepresented as the norm of millions.
Elsewhere, a series of dioramas depict life for Jews in pre-Holocaust Germany, brief movies address the same theme, and tourists experience a presence in an architecturally correct gas chamber. Like other Holocaust museums, visitors are provided a magnetic card to intimately carry along during their wanderings: all cards carry the portraits of Jewish child victims (only Jewish, no one else). Eventually a print out of the child surveys the highlights of his or her human (but distinctly Jewish) story.
It should go without saying that a true museum of "tolerance" and mutual understanding would not be so chauvinistically motivated towards a particular people's ideological agenda. Such a museum would not even need to be admonished to de-emphasize the Jewish polemic of specialhood, of "uniqueness." Visitors would be provided with victim cards to represent peoples of all nationalities and allegiances who have been fatal victims of intolerance. Jews -- and anyone else -- would be rendered part of the human community, and not incessantly preeminent within it. Anything less is a political, and moral, farce of ethical subterfuge, the elevation of Jews above all peoples by underscoring the inevitable conclusion that some people count more than others. And again and again in this museum and the American culture at-large, Jewish religious, secular, and all other interests inevitably meld into virtually monolithic support for the chauvinist policies of the Jewish international hub, the modern state of Israel, a vital paradigm of multicultural, multiethnic, and racial intolerance.
The profound irony to all this, of course, is that "intolerance" for other peoples and their beliefs (in the Judeo-Christian-Islamic religious lineage) is a Jewish invention, seminal to traditional Jewish identity itself. "The Hebrew Bible," notes Scottish Biblical scholar Robert Carroll, "contains much nationalistic writing and is therefore often very xenophobic in its outlook. Foreigners may be tolerated under certain conditions, but generally they are despised." [CARROLL, R., 1989, p. 159] Or, as Karen Armstrong, in her popular volume, A History of God, notes, Jewish intolerance was born with the insistence upon the rejection of all other gods in an age of polytheism, finding its most horrible expression in the Chosen People ethos:
"Today we have become so familiar with [religious] intolerance that has
unfortunately been a characteristic of monotheism that we may not
appreciate that the hostility towards other gods was a new religious
attitude. Paganism was an essentially tolerant faith ... In the Jewish
scriptures, the new sin of 'idolatry,' the worship of 'false gods,' inspires
something akin to nausea ... [ARMSTRONG, p. 49] ... The dangers of
... theologies of election [the Chosen People concept] ... are clearly
shown in the holy wars that have scarred the history of monotheism.
Instead of making God a symbol to challenge our prejudice and force
us to contemplate our own shortcomings, it can be used to endorse
our egotistic hatred and make it absolute." [ARMSTRONG, p. 54-55]
In 2000, Orthodox rabbi Marvin Hier, head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, was afforded the opportunity to deliver his message of tolerance to millions at the Republican National Convention. [PR NEWSWIRE, 6-30-2000]
In homage to Rabi Hier, let's conclude this section with famous Jewish author Isaac Asimov's's sense of "tolerance," Holocaust guru Elie Wiesel, and Orthodox Judaism:
"[In 1977] I shared a platform with others, among them Elie Wiesel, who survived
the Holocaust (the slaying of six million European Jews) and now will talk of
nothing else. Wiesel irritated me when he said that he did not trust scientists and engineers because scientists and engineers had been involved in conducting the Holocaust. What a generalization! It was precisely the sort of thing than an anti-Semite says. 'I dont' trust Jews because once certain Jews crucified my Saviour."
I brooded about that on the platform and finally, unable to keep quiet, I said,
'Mr. Wiesel, it is a mistake to think that because a group has suffered extreme persecution that it is a sign that they are virtuous and innocent. They might be,
of course, but the persecution process is no proof of that. The persecution
merely shows that the persecuted group is weak. Had they been strong, then,
for all we know, they might have been the persecutors.'
Whereupon Wisel, very excited, said, 'Give me one example of Jews ever persecuting anyone.'
Of course, I was ready for him. I said, 'Under the Maccabean kingdom in the
second century B.C., John Hyrcanus of Judea conquered Edom and gave the
Edomites a choice -- conversion to Judaism or the sword. The Edomites, being sensible, converted, but, thereafter, they were in any case treated as an inferior
group, for though they were Jews, they wre also Edomites.'
And Wiesel, even more excited, said, 'That was the only time.'
I said, 'That was the only time the Jews had the power. One out of one isn't bad.'
That ended the discussion, but I might add that the audience was heart and soul with Wiesel.
I might have gone further. I might have referred to the treatment of the Canaanites
by the Israelites under David and Solomon. And if I could have forseen the future,
I would have mentioned what is going on in Israel today. American Jews might appreciate the situation more clearly if they imagined a reversal of roles, of
Palestinians ruling the land and of Jews despairingly throwing rocks.
I once had a similar argument with Avram Davidson, a brilliant science fiction
writer, who is (of course) Jewish and was, for a time, at least, ostensibly Orthodox.
I had written an essay on the Book of Ruth, treating it as a plea for tolerance as
against the cruelty of the scribe Ezra, who forced the Jews to 'put away' their
foreign wives. Ruth was a Moabite, a people hated by the Jews, yet she was
pictured as a model woman, and she was the ancestress of David.
Avram Davidson took umbrage at my implication that the Jews were intolerant
and he wrote me a letter in which he waxed sarcastic indeed. He took asked
when the Jews had ever persecuted anyone.
In my answer, I said, 'Avram, you and I are Jews who live in a country that
is ninety-five percent non-Jewish and we are doing very well. I wonder how
we would make out, Avram, if we were Gentiles and lived in a country that
was ninety-five percent Orthodox Jewish.'
He never answered." [ASIMOV, I. 1994, p. 21-22]
As noted earlier, powerful Jewish efforts to recreate (Holocaust and general) history favorable to Jewish/Zionist myth is international in scope. With the fall of communism in Poland, wealthy Orthodox (and Zionist) American-Jewish heir, Ronald Lauder [See later chapter for his political profile] is among those able to move towards the money reigns of Poland's economically-strapped Auschwitz Museum, thereby shaping it to Jewish specifications. As always, "He that pays the piper plays the tune." As the American Jewish Yearbook noted about the Auschwitz convent controversy: "Poland's government took several highly visible steps to improve relations with foreign Jewish communities and their leaders and with the State of Israel. Most observers suggested that the goal was to improve Poland's image among political and financial influentials who could help Poland out of her [economic] difficulties." [SINGER, D., 1989, p. 364]
In this vein, the Auschwitz Museum's in-house publication, ProMemora noted in 1997 that
"a well-publicized project for the preservation and maintenance of
Auschwitz arose out of the activities of a special commission of
preservationists convened and sent to Oswecim [Auschwitz] by
the Ronald Lauder Foundation ... The German Parliament did take
up the question of funding Auschwitz, since the Lauder Foundation
had officially requested that European governments act to maintain
and conserve what was left of the [concentration] camp ... From
that time on, the Museum has received financial assistance from the
governments of various European countries. It is thanks to the
Lauder Foundation that the financing of Auschwitz be a matter
of international concern and that many states now take part. The
Lauder Foundation continues to undertake steps designed to
involve more governments and its representative, Kalman Sultanik,
is both a member of the International Council of the [Auschwitz]
Museum and the Chairman of the Council's Finance Committee."
[OLEKSY, K., p. 8]
Unnoted in ProMemora, Sultanik is also vice-president of the World Jewish Congress. The New York Times noted that in 1998 Sultanik "suggested during a visit to Poland that Auschwitz should be made an 'extra-territorial entity' [i.e., taken out of Polish national sovereignty] to insure respect for the site. That term is explosive in Poland because Hitler demanded an 'extra-territorial' road link from Berlin to Gdansk before invading in 1939." [COHEN, R. , p. 3]
Among the new changes at the Auschwitz Museum in recent years is the titling of the building dedicated to Jewish history at the concentration camp. The visitor is greeted now with the words "Jewish Martyrology" in stone at the door. The entire concentration camp grounds are also shut down once a year for the aforementioned Israeli patriotic pilgrimage of international Zionist high school students. For that day, the Israeli flag flies over the site with the Polish one, a curious concession given the stated efforts of the Museum to remain "apolitical."
No politics at Auschwitz? In a 1997 ProMemora issue, Stephen Wilkanowicz, identified as a member of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum's International Council, noted a new role for the Auschwitz Museum in Poland:
"A new 'Education Center' being created within the Auschwitz Museum,
and other institutions with similar aims, could have great
significance. They could also serve Israeli youth and Jewish youth
in general ... to help in fulfillment of their duties not only to their
own people but also toward the world. And these obligations
have very concrete dimensions, associated mainly with the
location and situation of Israel." [WILKANOWICZ, p. 27]
Also, noted a ProMemora issue, "the annual three week Yad Vashem Memorial Institute Seminars have already become a foundation [at the Museum] ... [Polish] participants have an opportunity to visit that beautiful country [Israel] ... A seminar has been held in Oswiecim [Auschwitz] for people from Israel. Continuous cooperation in this field is planned. [OLEKSKY, p. 10]
Yet another dimension to increasing Jewish economic control of Auschwitz history is the Foundation for Commemoration of the Victims of Auschwitz-Birkenau Death Camp. (Birkenau is the camp a couple miles from the central Auschwitz site that largely murdered Jews; it is the most famous death camp for them). This organization, notes ProMemora, "has existed for seven years. It was founded in 1990 by people emotionally attached to the legacy of the former Auschwitz camp, who wished to make a personal contribution to its maintenance and to the dissemination about it. The majority of them are members of the International Council of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum." [MARSZALEK, K., p. 127]
"The Museum has also, " noted ProMemora, "succeeded in acquiring special buses [from Jewish benefactors in Canada] that shuttle back and forth between the main camp and Birkenau parking lots. The necessity of visiting Birkenau is stressed inside the main camp ... This is not the end of the tour, and ... visitors should now proceed to Birkenau." [OLEKSY, K., p. 9]
THE AUSCHWITZ CONVENT CONTROVERSY
As reported widely in the world media, in the summer of 1989 seven American Jews, dressed in concentration camp-style clothing and led by Rabbi Avraham Weiss, climbed a fence and invaded a makeshift Carmelite convent in a former storage building "at Auschwitz" (the remains of a Nazi death camp), upsetting eight nuns who lived cloistered lives there since 1984. The Jews pounded on the door and shouted for 15 minutes, then climbed another fence to pray and blow horns in a courtyard. BART, p. 87 This aggressive Jewish intrusion onto the convent grounds near a site that Jews worldwide deem sacred to their own collective memory, and the eventual physical eviction of the Jewish intruders by Polish workers at the site, set off a firestorm of controversy. (Newsweek magazine quoted the Simon Wiesenthal Centers' figures that 2.5 million Jews and 1.5 million non-Jews were murdered at Auschwitz. NEWSWEEK, 4-11-89, p. 32) The developments in the controversy were closely followed for weeks by the world's news media, even making the cover of the New York Times.
The problem was rooted in international Jewry's conviction that the Christian site was a desecration of Jewish memory at the metaphysical "Jewish graveyard" of Auschwitz. Modern Jewish Holocaust polemic claims Auschwitz as the central symbol of their self-styled World War II martyrdom. "It is not only a matter of the Auschwitz convent," proclaimed the President of the World Jewish Congress (and Seagram's alcohol company owner), Edgar Bronfman, "but the broader implication of historical revisionism in which the uniqueness of the Holocaust and the murder of the Jewish people is being suppressed." [BART, Conv, p. 77]
Adolph Steg, an official of the Western European Jewish agency, Alliance Israelite Universelle, further charged that "the establishment of a Carmelite convent at Auschwitz has caused alarm and revulsion among Jews -- among all Jews ... We do not think.. that there is anything excessive in proclaiming that the Jewish people has acquired, through the martyrdom of its children, inalienable rights to Auschwitz ... In the conscience of the world, Auschwitz is a symbol bound to the Jews alone." [p. 48] (Jews regularly demand that others to genuflect to their Holocaust campaign: In 1999, for example, "Jewish groups [were] denouncing plans to build houses at a site in Warsaw from which hundreds of thousands of Jews were deported to their deaths." [GRUBER, R., 3-30-99] In 1994 a California newspaper , the Pacific Sun, was forced to apologize "for publishing a political cartoon that compared the massacre of Palestinian worshippers [by a Jewish mass murderer in a mosque] in Hebron to the Holocaust." [KANTER, L., 3-11-94, p. 3] In 1996, " a water ballet that France's synchronized swimming team wasa to perform at the Olympics in Atlanta next month has been canceled after Jewish groups protested its theme -- the Holocaust.") [YANOWITCH, L., 6-6-96, p. 4]
The resultant controversy and international Jewish pressure campaign came as a shock to Polish society. Polish historiography has for decades considered the murdered three million Polish Jews as part of the six million Polish citizens murdered by the Nazis. Polish Jews were not accorded in Poland the separate status as special transnational super-victims and conceptual "separateness" that international Jewry demands. Weiss and his cohorts pushed this issue into explosive focus. Protesting Jews, says Edward Shapiro, see the Holocaust as "a distinctly Jewish experience, and the memory of the graves of the Jewish victims would be desecrated by the presence and prayers of the nuns." [SHAPIRO, p. 6]
The western mass media overwhelmingly sided with international Jewry's offence at the Christian site at the old Nazi camp, grounds that had become hallowed to them as the consummate symbol for Jewish victimization. As noted by the Times, Jewish organizations had protested about the nuns there two years earlier and a group of four prominent Catholic clergymen (three from other European countries, and the archbishop of the Polish city of Krakow, Cardinal Macharski) had agreed -- as an act of good will -- to assuage Jewish protesters and remove the nuns within two years and build an interfaith building nearby. "The Catholic side," notes Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, "... made all the concessions." [BART, CON, p. 47]
"Macharski was mistaken to sign (the agreement with the Jews)," a local Polish Solidarity official told a news reporter, "In the West you can build the Eiffel Tower in two years. This is Poland."
The convent, leased from the local town, had existed in an old theatre building for over a year without notice. It only came to Jewish attention when a Catholic organization began soliciting funds to improve the building. A phrase in the solicitation that said that the convent would be "a guarantee of the conversion of strayed brothers from our countries," was interpreted by Jewish critics to refer to them. However, the "strayed brothers" in the text, argued its authors, alluded to fellow Christians of Eastern Europe who had become atheists under the communist regime, which was finally in the process of collapsing. [CHROSTOWSKI, p. 23]
The western mass media framed the controversy to Jewish dictate, one that focused on an alleged Polish anti-Semitism, expressed here in a Polish Catholic reneging of a formal agreement with Jews to move the nuns and build a new interfaith site elsewhere.
The townsfolk of the Auschwitz area, regional officers, and the local religious official in the preeminent Catholic official whose jurisdiction included Auschwitz, Cardinal Jozef Glemp, took issue with both the negotiations about the convent without local input, increasing demands by the international Jewish community, and the seven American Jews' confrontational tactics with the group of Polish nuns. Indeed, an important broader context to the convent controversy was never addressed in the American mass media. To widespread Polish public opinion, Poland's very sovereignty was at stake on the issue. Poland, after all, was at that very moment -- through its Solidarity movement -- in a patriotic fervor, wrestling free from Russian communist domination (of which many prominent Jewish communists had played an important role). This was the first time Poland had even a glimpse of self-rule since the Nazi invasion of 1939, which was immediately followed by Soviet communist takeover, that oppressive rule that was finally disintegrating during the convent controversy.
The backbone of resistance in Poland to both the nihilistic Nazis and atheistic communists had always been Catholicism. And in the midst of the Polish struggle for national freedom, with it at last in sight after more than half a century, what was perceived as a transnational cabal of Jews (fulfilling all stereotypes) began making demands about a spot on Polish national soil, a spot where at least hundreds of thousands of Poles had been murdered too.
Cardinal Glemp responded with anger to the Jews who assaulted and defamed the convent and insulted the nuns. Some of Glemp's excerpted comments about the matter were reproduced widely, including in the New York Times. Among Glemp's remarks that the media zeroed in were these:
"Dear Jews, do not dictate conditions that are impossible to fulfill...
do you, esteemed Jews, not see that your pronouncements against
the nuns offend the feelings of all Poles, and our sovereignty, which
has been achieved with such difficulty? Your power lies in the mass
media that are easily at your disposal in many countries. Let them not
serve to spread anti-Polish feeling." [NYT, 8-29-87, A7]
Of course the media did exactly that, vilifying Poland and Cardinal Glemp completely (Jewish "power in the mass media," roundly scoffed at as part of the package of anti-Semitism, we will set aside for the moment. That subject deserves extensive attention in another chapter. For the moment, suffice it to say that the way Newsweek (Sept. 11, 1989) handled the story with heavy-handed bias in favor of the Jewish position, was not atypical. Three photos were used in Newsweek to illustrate the complex controversy: a head shot of Cardinal Glemp, an image of Polish workers pouring a bucket of water from a second story onto a Jewish protester, and, incredibly, a ghastly 1940's image of a pile of naked corpses with this caption: "An emblem of Jewish suffering: Victims of the Death Camps." Newsweek's inflammatory article even claimed that "With Polish anti-Semitism rearing its ugly old head, many Jews and Catholics looked to the Polish-born Pope Paul II for a solution ... Catholic Poles are still infused with insensitivity and often outright anti-Semitism. Traditionally Jews have been accused of squeezing money from Polish peasants and of bringing communism to Poland -- slurs that were repeated in Glemp's homily." [NEWSWEEK, 9-11-89, p. 36] As evidenced earlier, such "slurs" are part of the historical record. The Jewish historian selected for quotes in the article, the one from which Newsweek reporters called for "perspective" on the story, and the one whose overall perspective the reporters parroted, was Lucy Dawidowicz, an activist Zionist, a "pop" historian, and the author of a number of extremely Judeo-centric volumes of history who is so enthralled with her people that, in one of her books, she calls them "the quintessential people of history, the Jews originated the idea of the God of history." [DAWIDOWICZ, p. 125]
The Polish Catholic provincial superior of the Carmelite order of nuns at Auschwitz joined the media fray to remark that "the entire Polish society is opposed to moving the nuns out of Auschwitz and does not accept that others govern our country." [NEWSWEEK, SEP 11, 1989, p. 35] "Why do the Jews want special treatment in Auschwitz for only themselves?" asked sister Teresa Magiera to a Polish-American newspaper, "... Do they consider themselves the Chosen People?" [DERSHOWITZ, p. 153]
A few days later, as the controversy continued to heat up with Jewish feelings of "repugnance" to the Polish Catholic leader, Cardinal Glemp added this:
"This is offensive. Suppose someone came to your home and
ordered you to move a wardrobe. You would be justified in
answering, 'Stupid, that's not your property.' There are some
Jewish circles who let themselves get carried away by their
nerves." [4-3-89, A1]
Cardinal Glemp's defiance to Jewish pressures only aggravated international Jewish determination to oust the handful of nuns off a spot of Polish national soil all the more. On September 5 the Times reported that "in a meeting with the Cardinal, Senator Paul Simon, Democrat of Illinois, cautioned that the dispute could jar Polish-American relations and slow financial aid efforts." [NYT] How a U. S. Senator could state that a Jewish parochial concern could harm "Polish-American" relations and "financial aid to Poland" is the height of arrogance worth a volume of exploration itself, addressing traditionally "anti-Semitic" notions of Jewish parochial influence and economic power in the American politic. Suffice it to say here that Simon was in fact profoundly beholding to the Jewish community; they had put him in office. Simon secured his senate seat when Illinois senator Charles Piercy became "the best known victim" of Jewish political lobbying. "Defeating Percy for reelection [in 1984]," notes J. J. Goldberg, "became virtually a national crusade among pro-Israel activists." [GOLDBERG, p. 270] (Likewise, later President Bill Clinton, in appeasement to all the Jewish economic support in his campaign [see later chapter] and Jewish interest in Poland, provocatively appointed a Jew, Michael Neczewski, in 1992 as the Ambassador to Poland).
As for Cardinal Glemp, he was internationally branded as the intolerant voice of Polish anti-Semitism. "Cardinal Glemp," declared Konstanty Gebert, "at the height of the Auschwitz controversy was met with approval by what seemed to be the majority of the nation. Clearly anti-Semitism of the traditional variety is alive and well in Poland." [GEBERT, p. 28] Meanwhile, in Israel, apparently related to the Carmelite convent controversy, vandals damaged the remains of a 13th century Carmelite monastery. [RITTNER, p. 75]
On the same day that the Senator warned the Polish Cardinal about the holding of U.S. funds to help rebuild Poland, Rabbi Avraham Weiss of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, in the Bronx, the man who led the Jewish takeover of the convent, announced that he was suing Cardinal Glemp for libelous statements Glemp allegedly made against the seven invading Jews. "The Cardinal has," Rabbi Weiss had earlier told the media, "in almost classical anti-Semitic terms, chosen to portray Jewish victims as aggressors." [NYT, 8-11-89, A4] (Weiss in later years was cited by convicted terrorist Era Rapaport (who bombed and maimed Palestinian mayors) as someone who "stood by me, a friend in need, after my action, guiding and strengthening my family and me." [RAPAPORT, E., 1996, p. 279] In 2002, Weiss also publicly endorsed naming an American street after Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze'evi. Ze'evi, a far-right racist, called for the expulsion of Palestinians from the Occupied territories of Israel and was eventually assassinated. Weiss, who called the murdered Israeli minister "a great man,' has a grandson named after Ze'evi.) [CATTAN, N., 1-25-02] Alan Dershowitz, one of the members of the "star" criminal defenders legal team that later managed to get O.J. Simpson off the hook for murder, kept a Jewish Defense League bomber/murderer (Sheldon Siegel) out of prison on techicality [ROBINSON, H., 1994, p. 451] (and who, after the 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center publicly endorsed the use of torture ), told the news media that he would serve Glemp with lawsuit papers as soon as the Cardinal "left his plane" for an upcoming visit he had planned in several United States Polish communities. [NYT, 9-5-89, A8] (Glemp was forced to cancel the trip). Two years later Glemp was served a summons for the Dershowitz/Weiss suit as he left a cathedral in Albany, New York. Rabbi Weiss, noted the Jewish Week, "watched from around the corner." [JW, 10-4-91, p. 9] Weiss had also earlier announced that he was going to sue the Polish workers who threw his group off convent grounds and the police who didn't get involved in the fiasco. He also proclaimed that "If Israel does not administer and supervise Auschwitz, it will be impossible to preserve the unique message of this place where the Nazis tried to liquidate Jews." [BART, Conv, p. 103] Weiss had also previously demanded that the Church punish the nuns for "watching in silence as workers beat Jews." The nuns were likewise accused of turning their backs on Jews "just like your Church did 50 years ago." [BART, Conv, p. 87
Dershowitz later even filed lawsuit action against Cardinal Glemp in Poland, an action guaranteed to antagonize the Polish populace and resurrect the worst stereotypes of Jewish behavior for them. In the midst of the Auschwitz convent controversy, Dershowitz even publicly accused the Jewish citizens of today's Poland of timidity and cowardice. [PAWLIKOWSKI, p. 109]
Well known lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, a major agitator in the convent controversy, merits further attention here. He has framed himself throughout his life as a sometimes unpopular crusader for "freedom of speech." (See, for example his book, Contrary to Popular Opinion). His own account of his actions in the Auschwitz uproar are noted in his book, Chutzpah (Yiddish for "pushiness"). Dershowitz derides "one of Poland's most prominent human rights lawyers," Wladyslaw Sila-Nowicki, for
"seeking to justify the role played by the Polish people during the
Holocaust ... [Sila-Nowicki] invokes many classic canards of crude
anti-Semitism: dual loyalty ("[The Jews] had to love their community
more than the host community"), excessive wealth ("Who held the
largest capital in Poland, the Polish majority or the 10% Jewish
minority?"); Jewish success ("It is only natural ... that a community
will defend itself against letting its intellectual elite become eclipsed
by others, which was a particularly likely prospect in areas such as
medicine or law.")" [DERSHOWITZ, p. 147-148]
But particularly outrageous to Dershowitz was Sila-Nowicki's assertions about the Holocaust that dismisses Jewish mythology about it:
"For us, Poles, it was often an astounding spectacle to see several
thousand Jews being led from a small town along a road several
kilometers long, escorted by only a few guards (six, sometimes four)
carrying ordinary rifles ... Nobody escaped, although escape was no
problem ... " [DERSHOWITZ, p.]
For Dershowitz, the recitation of such historical facts -- as also asserted by Raul Hilberg, and many other Jewish scholars -- is "anti-Semitic assumptions." [DERSHOWITZ, p. 148]
Dershowitz's preposterous tact to sue and harass Cardinal Glemp with technicalities, legal maneuvering, and other obsessive legalese on behalf of Rabbi Weiss, was for these particular words by the Cardinal:
"Recently a squad of seven Jews from New York launched attacks on
the convent at Oswiecism [Auschwitz]. In fact, it did not happen that
the sisters were killed or the convent destroyed, because they were
apprehended." [DERSHOWITZ, p. 155]
From this, Dershowitz intended to provoke deeper Polish animosity by trying to prove libel, "that Cardinal Glemp had deliberately lied in accusing the 'squad' of New York Jews of intending to kill the nuns." [DERSHOWITZ, p. 153] The Jewish American lawyer's self-appointed task was to dust off the minutia in his law books to find a way to prove that a public figure had "made false statements with 'malice': either actual knowledge that the statement was false, or reckless disregard of its truth." [DERSHOWITZ, p. 153] In the meantime, Dershowitz called Glemp "stupid" (in true lawyer weasel-like form, lest he be faced with some kind of libelous claim himself, he discretely says that unnamed "Polish American leaders have told me that Glemp is, in fact, stupid.") [DESHOWITZ, p. 153]
But was Glemp's statement of worry malicious? After all, the seven Jewish intruders had far surpassed all accepted norms of Polish civil decency and behavior. In the context of the Polish world-view, a trespass against the Catholic convent was an act of lunacy. And aggression. Who knows what such people were capable of? Dershowitz himself writes of his own mood when visiting Poland, that
"I went to Auschwitz-Birkenau -- the site of the largest murder camps --
expecting to be moved, perhaps to cry. But instead of my eyes tearing,
my fists clenched. [DERSHOWITZ, p. 140]
Dershowitz's fists literally started clenching again, as he notes in his book four pages later, in rage against the Poles, because Polish focus upon special Jewish Holocaust martyrology in Poland wasn't expansive enough for him. [DERSHOWITZ, p. 144] Dershowitz also, like Rabbi Weiss, was having delusions in Poland, a man obsessed. In Polish streets he disdained that "passerbys all had characteristic Polish faces." But, suddenly, overcome by narcissism, he felt a purely racist connection to a Polish stranger walking down the street. The stranger "bore a striking physical resemblance to me. His face looked very Jewish." Dershowitz cornered the hapless Pole and tried to assign him a Jewish heritage "in Yiddish, Hebrew, English. He did not understand and walked on. I could not help wondering whether he could have been of Jewish birth, one of the Jewish babies abandoned by its parents or given over to a non-Jewish family so that it might survive. Probably not, but the haunting possibility stayed with me for the remainder of the trip." [DERSHOWITZ, p. 146] This man, Dershowitz walking around Poland with his "fists clenched," projecting himself into passing Polish strangers who had a "Jewish look," is the individual who sought to sue a Catholic Cardinal who suggested that a group of such fanatics might well harbor violent potential.
So Dershowitz embarked upon a plan to hound Cardinal Glemp and, by extension, the Catholic church and the Polish people, invoking as true every anti-Polish stereotype (and every anti-Jewish stereotype for that matter) one can imagine in the process. "It was about time an anti-Semitic priest," says Dershowitz, "was called to account for his bigotry." [DERSHOWITZ, p. 154] The angry Jew filed a suit against the Cardinal in the United States, thankful that Glemp's "accusation of attempted murder by an American rabbi made before a very large audience [received] international media coverage." [DERSHOWITZ, p. 154] Dershowitz arranged to serve Glemp with a formal legal complaint to begin the suit when the Polish Cardinal arrived in the United States for a planned visit. Reluctant to engage in further controversy and being a continued target for harassment, such action forced Glemp to cancel his trip.
"It was," says Dershowitz, "a great victory for decency. It was also a victory for Jewish power." [DERSHOWITZ, p. 156] Not satisfied with disrupting and alienating the Polish-American Catholic community, Dershowitz decided to go to Poland itself to try to sue Cardinal Glemp there. No Polish lawyer would work with him. Undaunted, Dershowitz returned to Poland with Rabbi Weiss yet again in 1990 to try to get his lawsuit going again. A group of Polish judges ruled that he did not have a legal case, "an embarrassment," says Dershowitz, to the Polish legal system. [DERSHOWITZ, p. 160]
One last note about Alan Dershowitz. This man, one of America's foremost criminal defense lawyers, has lucratively defended a range of much publicized criminal clients including the Jewish American spy for Israel, Jonathan Pollard, neo-Nazi religious fanatic Rabbi Meir Kahane, members of the Jewish Defense League, Rabbi Bernard Bergman (owner of a chain of nursing homes who was jailed for systemic exploitive immoralities against the helpless elderly), Claus Von Bulon, Mike Tyson, Leona Helmsley, and Michael Milken. Dershowitz is also a man who was especially reviled -- even in the Jewish community -- as a legal prostitute for his successful contribution to the legal defense of accused murderer O.J. Simpson (one of the victims was Jewish, Ronald Goldman). "Until the Simpson case," wrote Dershowitz, "virtually all my hate mail was from non-Jews. Since the verdict, the majority has come from Jews ... Initially I hoped that some of the writers who identified themselves as Jews were imposters. But I have checked and, tragically, they are authentic ... " [DERSHOWITZ]
Attacked by his own people, Dershowitz charges them with racism and, of course, internalized anti-Semitism absorbed from evil Gentiles:
"Lawyers are supposed to be paid for their time, especially by relatively
wealthy clients. There is no shame in being compensated for one's
professional work. Yet the stereotype of doing everything 'for the money'
was a dominant theme within the Jewish letters [to me]. It led me to
wonder whether some Jews have not incorporated the anti-Semitic
stereotype into their own thinking ... [The complaints from Jews]
articulates a stereotype about Jews that usually comes from bigoted
non-Jews: that all Jews care about is money. The word 'greed' appears
over and over again; but this time from the mouths of Jews."
[DERSHOWITZ, p. 27]
The irony to all of Dershowitz's lofty moral posturing as a criminal lawyer is that it is innately ethically bankrupt. As he has himself noted, "Almost all of my own clients have been guilty." [GAINES/CHURCHER, p. 130] On one hand ascribing "anti-Semitism" to fellow Jews who pelt him en masse with criticism, he justifies his vocation and world view purely in terms of expediency:
"My responsibility as a criminal defense lawyer is not to judge the guilt or
or innocence of my client. Generally, I don't know. My job is to
advocate zealously, within the rules. That is what I did in the Simpson
case, and I am proud of my work." [DERSHOWITZ, p. 27]
Dershowitz's singular allegiance to function "zealously, within the rules," without caring about "guilt or innocence" whatsoever, and conveniently dismissing all personal moral judgment as irrelevant to system rules, has, as he should know, profoundly disturbing precedent. This is Hannah Arendt's description of (captured Nazi bureaucrat) Adolf Eichmann's excuse for his own vocation, that of overseeing -- from a comfortable office -- the murders of millions:
"[What Eichmann did] as far as he could see [was] as a law-abiding
citizen. He did his duty, as he told the police and the court over and
over again; he not only obeyed orders, he also obeyed the law."
[ARENDT, p. 135]
Richard Rubinstein managed to frame the whole Rabbi Weiss affair with his own apparent psychoanalytic obsessions:
"[Weiss] gives no indication that he had any understanding of the kind
of fearful primal associations that could be triggered in the psyche of
theologically unsophisticated Polish Catholics when uninvited males
entered a domain reserved for women who have devoted their lives to
chastity and prayer. At the most primitive level, the symbolism involved
in the idea of male invasion of a precinct reserved for pious virgins
carries with it the most unfortunate sexual associations."
[RUBENSTEIN, p. 44]
Curiously timed in the midst of the controversy, on September 14, nine days after the filing of lawsuit action against Glemp, President George Bush's administration "ruled out any major, immediate efforts to provide economic aid to Poland in their struggles out of a communist economy. Even a food airlift was postponed. The New York Times noted that "Chris Goldthwait assistant general sales manager for the Foreign Agricultural Service ... is expected to visit Poland shortly to try to provide an accurate picture of its food needs." [NYT, 9-14-89]
Shortly after Pope Paul (of Polish origin) intervened into the international controversy to guarantee the removal of the convent from Auschwitz grounds, on September 24 "Secretary of Commerce Robert A. Mosbacher told Poland's new Government this week that Washington would help lure private credits and investments (for Poland) here." [NYT, 9-24-89]
On November 14, still following the convent story, the New York Times noted that Lech Walesa, the leader of Poland's Solidarity movement, met with "about 70 leaders of Jewish organizations" in New York during a trip to the U.S. "Mr. Walesa ... complained that repeated accusations of Polish anti-Semitism are unfair and exaggerated, and create divisions that hamper Poland's efforts to move towards democracy and a free market economy." For their part, Robert K. Lifton, President of the American Jewish Congress, spoke for American Jewish groups in stating that Walesa's "defense of Cardinal Glemp left the community quite cold." [NYT]
So the western -- particularly American -- media consistently reported the controversy: the Poles as unreasonable anti-Semites and Jews as victimized innocents who merely sought justice against bigotry on their hallowed Auschwitz grounds. In always reflecting Jewish demands about Auschwitz as the central aspect of their stories, the mass media totally overlooked the Polish perspective to the controversy. For starters, few westerners -- including demanding Jews -- knew the geographical issues that are part of the Polish outrage. There are in fact three distinct concentration camp remnants collectively known as "Auschwitz" in the Polish town of Oswiecim: Auschwitz I (the main camp), Auschwitz II (Berkanau), and Auschwitz III (Monowitz). Auschwitz I -- the place next to the where the convent was located -- was opened in June 1940 expressly as a camp for Polish political prisoners. For the next 21 months inmates of the camp were almost exclusively Polish victims of Nazi roundups, mainly Poland's "elite" educational strata, consisting of those with more than a secondary education. An estimated 270,000 Poles died in Auschwitz I. Jewish prisoners at Auschwitz I throughout World War II accounted for only 14% of the imprisoned population. Auschwitz II, however, (Berkanau), two miles away, was the local killing site reserved mostly for Jews. Over 90% of those murdered there (perhaps as many as 1.5 million people) were Jewish. Even here, however, the first gas chamber murders were 600 Soviet prisoners of war and 250 prisoners with consumption (tuberculosis). [BART, Conv, p. 6-11]
Aside from the fact that the main killing site for Jews was two miles away, the convent was not actually on today's formal Auschwitz I grounds; it was next to it, but not obtrusive to any visitor. "People with no idea of the topography of the camp," says a Jew and Polish citizen, Stanislaw Krajewski, "could have thought that the convent was in the center of the camp and that Jewish visitors would have to enter a Christian establishment. But in reality, no visitor is likely to find this building without specifically looking for it." [KRAJEWSKI, p.45] Hershel Shanks, editor of the Jewish magazine, Moment, visited Auschwitz at the end of the convent controversy. "Yes, we saw the convent," he wrote, "I confess, I did not find it offensive. But I am in a distinct minority. You must seek it out to see it. You don't pass it on the way from Cracow to Auschwitz. It is not near the only entrance of the camp. You must drive around to the site to see it. You can't see it from anywhere in the camp ... The Jews seem to be denying the right of the Poles to pray for their own dead. Rabbi Avi Weiss who climbed over the convent walls to protest was seen as a madman -- even the Nazis, we were told, didn't touch the Church." [SHANKS, p. 5]
When apprised of all the geographical facts of Auschwitz, the mainstream of Jewish histrionics was not abated. There were ashes of cremated Jews everywhere, anywhere, all over Poland. Adolph Steg, for instance, argued that it did not matter where the convert was technically located; the simple fact that it once served as a storage site for Nazi gas pellets -- wherever it was located -- was enough to render it hallowed and connected to Jewish sensibilities about Auschwitz. "Who can fail to see," he proclaimed, "that nothing signifies the Holocaust as uniquely as the gas?" [STEG, p. 49] (Apparently, it is only a Christian presence that is an insult to Jews. Since the convent controversy, Jewish American Director Steven Spielberg brought the desecrating chaos of a Hollywood film crew for the movie Schindler's List to photograph "the Auschwitz scenes just outside the camp's main gate." [SHANDLER, p. 161]
"What made [Rabbi Weiss'] intrusion specially intolerable for the Poles, "comments Krajewski, "was the generally known fact that the Carmelite sisters are an enclosed order and do not meet strangers without special permission. The fact is that a Catholic man entering even a garden, which is also part of the enclosure, without permission is liable to excommunication. [Rabbi] Weiss did not care or did not know, which comes to the same lack of respect for the nuns. ... Psychologically, Weiss' action was an act of war." [KRAJ, p. 49] (One of the nuns of the convent was even a survivor herself of the concentration camp. CHROST)
Not only was the convent holy ground for Polish Catholics, it should have been for Weiss too. The Polish convent system had been particularly meritorious in hiding Jews from the Nazis during World War II, particularly children. Matylda Getter, for example, and her order of the "Provincial of the Franciscan Sisters of the Family of Man" is herself credited with aiding over 1,000 Jews. [BART, Conv, p. 153] In writing about the Polish convents during the Holocaust era, Szyman Datner, a Jewish survivor and historian, noted that
"In my research I have found only one case of help being refused. No
other sector was so ready to help those persecuted by the Germans,
including the Jews; this attitude, unanimous and general, deserves
recognition and respect." [BART, p. 102, Conv]
In this context, "anti-Semitic" Polish public opinion often felt, says Wladaslaw Bartoszwski, that "Western Jews had done nothing for their brethren during the war when the nuns sheltered children. American Jewry was particularly criticized for its pushiness, in contrast to the war when they had remained passive. The Israeli treatment of the Palestinians and of the Intifada was contrasted with the peace-loving image which the Jews wanted to project in Poland." [BART, Conv, p. 91]
Rabbi Weiss' "acts of war" against others have continued with other victims. In later years he led agitations and protests against American visits by South African black activist Nelson Mandela (for shaking Moammar Gadafi's and Yassar Arafat's hands) and South African bishop Desmond Tutu (for criticizing Israel). Weiss also continued to protest the continued American imprisonment of American Jewish spy (for Israel) Jonathan Pollard, visiting him over 30 times in prison. Pollard, according to Weiss, "is a prisoner of conscience." [BOLE, p. 18] In 1993 Rabbi Weiss was named "Rabbi of the Year" by the New York Board of Rabbis, which includes both Reform and Orthodox members. [GOLDBERG, p. 333]
While acknowledging the symbolic importance of Auschwitz to him, and others, as Jews, "at the same time, "says Krajewski, "the West does not sufficiently understand Polish suffering and its connection to Auschwitz. The historical fact is that the Nazis tried to crush the Polish nation; they not only introduced bloody terror but began to murder the Polish elite and destroy Polish culture. The Auschwitz camp was used for this purpose, which, during its first two years of existence, was its main function." [KRAJEWSKI, p. 38] Krajewski even supported the continued presence of the Catholic convent at Auschwitz.
Another rare Jewish voice for Polish defense came from Jonathan Webber, a social anthropologist at Oxford University, familiar with the
"How come, in this age of pluralism and multicultural reconciliation,
that we [Jews] find it so emotive that members of another faith wish to
pray at or near a place that has been hallowed (if that is the right word)
by massive Jewish martyrdom? Pray! Who are we, where have we got
to nowadays, if we find a group dedicated to prayer and contemplation
offensive to us?" [BART, Conv, p. 84]
(Similarly, in 1995, the Mormons were caught off guard by Jewish outrage and attack. A group of Mormons had made the mistake of thinking that posthumously baptizing 380,000 Jewish Holocaust victims, as a religious act of universalism, and entering their names into a Mormon computer base (the Mormons have one of the largest genealogical archives for all peoples in the world), was a good, and loving, action. ("Baptizing the dead," noted the Los Angeles Times, "is a central tenet of the Mormon church.") [LA TIMES, 5-6-95, p. B4] Jews didn't see this action as benevolent. Jews are not a universalistic people after all, and even an abstract appropriation of Holocaust victims to the pan-human community is, for Jewry, a cardinal offense. The Mormons baptized the Holocaust Jews from, in their perspective, compassion. "Five major Jewish groups" made the national news, demanding that the names be taken off the Mormon lists. The troubling curiosity here, of course, is such intensive Jewish offense at such an abstraction, one, that to Mormon religious sensibilities, was well intended. May Christians pray, on their own terms, in a church, for Holocaust dead? May Buddhists perform blessings, in the context of their own understanding of human existence, for the murdered Jews? Would Jewry really prefer neutrality in the world's religious faiths to the issue of the Holocaust, or, worse, the obverse of Mormon compassion: condemnation? What do Jews reasonably expect from other religious groups, if not expressions of their religious beliefs?)
Rabbi Weiss' trespass on the convent grounds was a staged incident for the media. He had informed local police of his intentions and made sure journalists were present to record outraged Polish reaction to his confrontation. After hours of failed negotiation with the New York Jews, and the reluctance of local Polish to remove the Jewish intruders, Polish workers at the convent physically evicted them. Reuters reported it as "one of the most abhorrent scenes of violence towards Jews to have taken place in many years." [CHROST, p. 31] Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League called the incident "an intolerable return to the old Polish hatred and pogroms, practices which we thought had finally been given up." Israel's prime minister, Yitzak Shamir, outraged Poles by publicly asserting that "all Poles imbibe anti-Semitism with their mother's milk." [p. 33]
In the Polish popular press, opinion could best be exemplified by comments of journalist Jacek Wozniakowski:
"I must admit sincerely that if I were a worker busy repairing something
in a building of the convent, then, risking accusation of barbarity, I would
apply myself probably to throwing out the intruders whoever they might
have been. The fact that during such incidents not everybody behaves
velvet-like must have been part of the publicity apparatus: photographs,
articles in the western press about the brutality of the Poles, about the
new, dangerous wave of Polish anti-Semitism....]"CHROSTOWSKI,
Jewish lobbying and bashing of Poles reached a crescendo in the 1990's when Edward Moskal, head of the Polish American Congress and Polish National Alliance complained to Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski about Poland's "submissiveness" to Jewish pressures, enabling "Jews to take advantage of [Poland's economic] situation and acquire more and more influence." The Anti-Defamation League's director, Abraham Foxman, demanded an apology from Moskal. "In implying Polish capitulation to Jewish demands," said Foxman, "you raise age-old anti-Semitic claims of excessive Jewish power." Moskel refused a retraction. [ADL ONLINE]
One of the very few American public figures to question the Jewish propaganda avalanche about the Auschwitz convent was Pat Buchanan, one of the Republican candidates for U. S. President in 1996. Buchanan told a Jewish reporter that
"[Rabbi] Weiss was run off the grounds of the Auschwitz convent,
doused, roughed up, chased off. That got global attention. But the
shooting up of the Church of the Holy Family (in Ramallah, in the
West Bank, in January 1988, when Israeli troops reportedly opened
fire to disperse Palestinian parishioners) did not. Alan Dershowtiz (the
Harvard law professor) in his very nice column about me, said that
this type of incident is an everyday occurrence on the West Bank. I
suggest that if a soldier somewhere went in and shot up a synagogue
and chased out the congregation, there would be international outrage.
If someone said this was an everyday occurrence, then we would all
say, 'Well, if it's an everyday occurrence, that must be some kind of
fascist state' ... Meanwhile, we'd seen Pius XII under savage attack,
we'd seen the Polish people and Polish Catholics in effect branded as
anti-Semites, we'd seen Catholic history defamed, calls for cutoffs in aid
to Poland until they caved in (by removing the convent). All this went
on systematically." [LAZARE, p. 32]
The Jewish reporter who solicited these Buchanan comments, Daniel Lazare, concluded his article by telling readers that Buchanan "runs the risk of opening the door for others to vent their latent anti-Semitism." [LAZARE, p. 32] In other words, according to Lazare, Jewish actions don't cause Gentile hostility, remarks by critics like Buchanan do.
Meanwhile, the Simon Wiesenthal Center continued to fan the embers of broader Jewish outrage, writing about the "presence of crosses, churches, convents, and chapels at the sites of Nazi concentration camps and death camps ... Said survivor Jack Reich: 'There were no bishops and nuns praying with their crosses for my [Jewish] loved ones when we were humiliated, starved, and murdered. This is nothing less than the spiritual desecration of what was predominantly a slaughterhouse for Jews.' Historian Martin Gilbert said: 'What the Catholic Church is doing is scandalous and grotesque." [RESPONSE, p. 9, FALL WINTER, 1994/95]
The ultimate undercurrent through the convent controversy, of course, as always, is the usual Jewish double standard, one standard for Jews and another for everyone else, and the disturbing power of Jewish economic and political lobbying organizations and, indeed, their profound influence in the mass media. What would happen, one wonders, if a group of Catholics, led by a priest, invaded, planted a cross, and otherwise disturbed -- refusing to leave -- (for whatever "reasoned" righteous purpose) a service at a Jewish synagogue? We can rest assured that it would be the invaders who were vilified.
The real story of the Auschwitz convent controversy remains this: the international Jewish community banded together to condemn Polish Catholic parochialism and its 23-foot tall wooden cross beyond a fence at Auschwitz in an out-of-the way place that no Jew even noticed for years, trample the religious values of a handful of nuns, impugn Polish patriotism, and ignore the Polish inability to come up with two million dollars for an interfaith site across the world in Poland because Jews demanded it. Then they enforced the convent's complete removal in an impoverished foreign country, only four years later Jews could cluster together to open their own $168 million dollar edifice to Jewish parochialism and chauvinism on the same subject in the secularly sacred context of American democracy and human universalism at the symbol-laden mall of Washington DC.
* Note: Controversy surrounding Christian symbols near Auschwitz continues. Jews have been lobbying for years for Polish authorities to dismantle a cross that stands today in the former Auschwitz convent's garden. It was put there in 1979, on occasion of a visit by the Pope. In defiance of continuous Jewish demands in recent history, Poles erected over 200 wooden crosses at the papal cross site. Jewish pressure on the Polish government accelerated, the New York Times noted in December 1998 that, despite having escaped the oppressive communist state and Polish society rushing headlong into the celebration of private property, "the Polish government has drafted a law to be submitted to Parliament in the next few weeks that would put all former concentration and death camps and the land around them in the control of the state. The law would override all previous property claims; land would be bought at market prices." [COHEN, R., p. 3]
In May 1999 the bill was signed into law and the wooden crosses were forcibly removed from the Auschwitz area. "Jews regard the crosses," summed up Reuters in its news report, "as a desecration of what is, in effect, the largest cemetery of European Jews." [INTL HERALD, Poland, p. 6]
Also in 1999, even the home where Pope John II (the focus of proud Polish Catholicism) grew up, in Wadowice, Poland, was under attack by a Jewish New York lawyer, Ron Balamuth. Balamuth filed suit in Polish courts for rights to the home, arguing that the site, today a Catholic shrine visited by 200,000 people are year, was owned by his grandfather, who died in the Holocaust. The usual Jewish efforts were then made to confiscate the Catholic shrine too into yet another memorial to Jewish martyrology. "This house has two symbolisms," declared Balamuth's (fellow Jewish) New York lawyer, Ayall Schanzer, "It is a holy site for Catholics but it also has tragic symbolism for all the families of Poland and Europe. We would like to see this other symbolism significantly recognized." [WILLEY, D., 10-3-99, p. 33]
In the early 1980's, Shoah, one of a number of widely distributed movies and TV productions about the Holocaust, and the best known before Schindler's List, was released by its creator, Claude Lanzmann, a French Jew. The movie is part of the vast modern movement in the Jewish community to secularly reify the original Chosen People tenets of exceptionality through the prism of their "Holocaust." Lanzmann insists that the Holocaust "is above all unique in that it erects a ring of fire around itself." [HARTMAN, p. 63] The film was widely shown, it had numerous television venues and was well-received, especially in Jewish circles. It was a nine and a half hour documentary, shown in segments, largely based on a series of interviews with Jewish survivors of the Holocaust and Polish peasants who were asked, not to comment on their own situation during World War II, but about Jews. Lanzmann's central thesis, remarks Wladaslaw Bartoszewski, is "that Jews went to their death because Poles were totally indifferent." [BART, Conv, p. 24]
"In his treatment of the Polish peasants," says Czeslaw Milosz, "Lanzmann was more a Parisian intellectual than a Jew, and exhibits the scorn for specimens by an anthropologist." [MILOSZ, p. 40] "Shoah is highly biased," noted Omer Bartov, "and its biases are intensely personal, stemming directly from its maker's own national and ideological prejudices and finding expression in his style of interviewing, his editing technique, and the context of his comments." [BARTOV, p. 55]
One important Lanzmann interviewee, Jan Karski, a courier for the Polish underground in 1942, was concerned about what the filmmaker didn't choose to use in his own eight hour interview with him:
"[The missing material] in the film, as well as even the general
information about those who tried to help Jews, would have presented
the destruction of Jews in a proper historical perspective.... People,
normal people, thousands of people sympathized with the Jews or
helped them." [BART, Conv, p. 251]
Completely ignoring the Polish peasants' plight under Nazi rule, (or under Jewish economic domination in Poland, for that matter) and denying them any dignity in their portrayal, Lanzmann frames his own bitter scapegoating against Poles by exclusively focusing on the Poles' own critical comments about Jews, rendered in the film as venial barbs aimed at the destroyed Jewish people.
One peasant remarks, for instance, that
"Polish women worked. Jewish women only thought of their beauty and
clothes. ... They were rich. The Poles had to serve them and work ...
The capital was in the hands of the Jews ... All Poland was in Jews'
hands." [LANZMANN, p.]
Lanzmann frames such words as an indictment of Poles, not of Jews, because Jews suffered the "uniquely" horrible tragedy of the Holocaust and are sacrosanct. In Lanzmann’s context, the "anti-Semitic" peasant shares guilt with the Nazis as persecutor. The filmmaker's intention in this regard was made explicit in a magazine interview. Lanzmann, responding to a query by an interviewer if his film was accusation against Poles, responded: " Yes, it is the Poles who accuse themselves. They mastered the routine of extermination." [KORBANSKI, p. 108]
The Poles mastered "the routine of extermination," when Jews -- as has been well-documented, and surely known to Lanzmann --were leading their own people to murder every step, every inch, of the way? Lanzmann's "obsession with the complicity of the Polish population in the genocide...," says Jewish scholar Omer Bartov, " is matched by his relative lack of concern with the Germans." [BARTOV, p. 55-56]
With the release of Shoah, the Polish American Congress Executive Committee responded with a formal condemnation of the "prejudiced stereotype of Polish anti-Semitism," and assessing Lanzmann's work as a "cunning distortion of the truth, designed to justify his preconceived notion of Poles' complicity in the extermination of the Jews by Germany during World War II." [KORBANSKI, p. 108] (Lanzmann's myopic world view is expressed more fully in his next film epic -- five hours long -- called Tsahal. Its subject is the Israeli army, and he approached it in a such a way that even "most ... Israeli critics seemed to think ... [he was] too appreciative of its subject." [HALIKIN, p. 49]
Lanzmann's common Jewish attitude towards Poles was later echoed in Steven Spielberg's feature film, Schindler's List. (Apparently, Lanzmann's personal ghosts guided him in vilifying Spielberg's version of the Holocaust when the newer film first came out. "[Spielberg's] Hollywood production," complained Lanzmann, "commits a transgression by 'trivializing' the Holocaust, thereby denying its unique character." "Mr. Lanzmann's charges," noted the [Jewish)] Forward, "which were echoed widely in the French media, brought counter-charges from French intellectuals that what he was defending was the 'unique quality' of his own work, and essentially questioning whether anyone else was suitable to address the topic of the Holocaust." [HALFF, p. 1] In Schindler's List the only attention paid to Poles -- who were themselves experiencing Hell under the Nazis -- was when a young girl is highlighted shouting, "Goodbye Jews!" to crowds of Jews being led away by Nazis. The only scene in the entire movie about Poles is this one of vilification, despite the fact that this Holocaust story takes place in Poland.
Stephen Dubner notes the case of another Jewish-made documentary film shown on PBS, Shtetl -- another that sought to demonize the Polish people:
"The filmmaker, Marian Marzynski, was a Polish-born Jew who, as
a child during the war, was sheltered by Christians. Nearly all of his
family was killed. Many years later he returned to Poland, acting as a
guide for an American-born Jew who wanted to investigate his own
family's shtetl, Bransk. Marzynski, meanwhile, was interested in the
idea of complicity, the degree to which the Polish Catholic peasants
in Bransk had participated in the killing of the Jews doing the war."
[DUBNER, p. 277]
Negative stereotyping and the degradation of Poles regularly surfaces throughout Jewish discourse. In literature, one Jewish reviewer noted with excitement the reemergent American "Jewish novel" in the 1980's. "Some new talents have lately emerged," writes Mark Schechner, " ... that who promise of restoring this literature to a place of importance in American letters." [SCHECHNER, p. 169] One of the Jewish authors cited as a "new talent" is Art Spiegelman whose autobiographical Maus: A Survivor's Tale, published by Pantheon (and nominated for a National Book "critic's circle" Award) is illustrated as a kind of comic book in addressing the Holocaust. The book is an extremely compelling and painful human story, rooted in suffering, suicide, and mental illness, entwined in and out with the tale of the Holocaust. Ironically, Spiegelman's alter-ego in Maus makes a disturbing commentary about the facts of his real life father, the book's central character:
"It's something that worries me about the book I'm doing about him. In
some ways, he's just like the racist caricature of the miserly old Jew. I
mean, I'm just trying to portray my father accurately." [SPIEGELMAN,
Worried about facts that seem to confirm anti-Jewish stereotypes on one hand, Spiegelman freely and unapologetically propagates anti-Polish slurs on the other.
"One of the objections that arose to Spiegelman's animal fable," notes Schechner, "was his depiction of Poles as pigs. While the conception of Jews as mice and Nazis as cats did not make much of a stir, the pigs for Poles metaphor occasioned some consternation. Yet, outside the metaphor, Poles on the whole are treated positively ..." [SCHECHNER, p. 177]
Outside of the pig's metaphor? One wonders what reaction Jews would have if they were themselves cartooned as swine (but, "on the whole, treated positively"), particularly in the context of their terrors under Nazi Germany, terrors that were shared by Poles. How is it that Jews always get away with their ages-old double standard, a standard of benign innocence for Jews and a "pig" standard for others? Spiegelman even renders the insidious Nazis as a relatively positive "metaphor" as cats prowling around looking for meek "mice" Jews (ever innocent), who hide -- in Spiegelman's book -- behind pig masks.
Spiegelman's rendering of Poles as pigs resonates in Jewish lore:
"[A Jewish] child ... might peer out into the streets and see the Gentile's
pigs snuffing and eating the corpses of the people [after Gentile violence]
who until yesterday had lived next door. It was in character for the
unclean animal to behave so, and inevitable that this scavenger activity
would strengthen the symbolism of the pig as an object of disgust. Such
experiences and memories, nevertheless contributed to the total picture of
the goyim held by the Jews."
[ZBOROWSKY, p. 153]
In an Isaac Bashevi Singer novel, Yoshe Kalb, a Jewish brothel owner implores a rabbi not to take away his only Jewish girl because "the swine have to have one." [BRISTOW, p. 51] And let us not forget here the Yiddish language itself which, as we have seen in an earlier chapter, even linguistically dehumanizes Poles, i.e., the verbs used for animal descriptions are also applied to non-Jews, for example, eating like "pigs," and dying like "dogs." [KRAMER, p. 107]
In this spirit of despisement and debasement of Poles, a 1995 volume published by Israel's Hebrew University, Alina Cala, presented the results of her interviews with Poles (collected one and two decades ago) about Jews, The Image of the Jew in Polish Folklore. Cala was surprised that "my interlocutors spoke willingly and colorfully, without concealing their opinions." The author notes in her introduction that she went fishing for material in "the jungle of still lively prejudices against the Jews ... anti-Semitism, which was morbidly fascinated by Jewish differentness." And Cala concludes her volume with a final paragraph that the Poles lost "the opportunity to see oneself from a distance, through they eyes of others [Jews]. This is not an easy skill, so it is not wonder that the people of Poland have preferred their own phobias and obsessions."
In between these ideological bookends that trash and stereotype the Polish people, and in her totally Judeo-centric view and complete reluctance to reverse her premise of Jewish victimization for even an instant, (in other words, to consider Jews from the Polish situation for a change), Calla provides a broad sampling of the Polish commentary she so loathes, with her own emphasis upon supposed irrational and completely baseless Polish "phobias and obsessions" such as these:
"[The Jews] exploited the peasants, [they were] greedy for money,
cunning, egoistic..." [p. 30]
"Impudent in trade, they even solicited in the church porches." [p.
"There were rich and poor Jews, but there were no honest Jews...
They cheated terribly ... They lived and enriched themselves at
our expense." [p. 62]
"The Jews held all commerce in their hands. [p. 27]
"The respondents," writes Cala, "rarely reflected on the origins of anti-Semitism. Those that did so most often looked for the reasons in Jewish separateness, the Jews' alleged wealth and domination in trade and industry, or their political inclinations." [p. 59-60]
If Polish folk wisdom of Jewish economic domination in Poland is irrationally anti-Semitic, with no basis in fact whatsoever, what are we to make of the following Yiddish folk tale that traditionally circulated among the Jews of Poland?
"The Polish nobleman, Radziwell, who owned the little town of
Nishwiz, chanced to be out of funds in Warsaw. He entered a Jewish
banking house and asked for a loan. The clerk refused on the plea of
not knowing him.
The nobleman asked, "Did you ever hear of Nishwiz?"
"Yes," replied the clerk.
"Do you know to whom it belongs?"
"Surely I do. To the Rebbe [Rabbi] of Lekhivitz," said the clerk.
The nobleman left in disgust." [NEWMAN, p. 289]
Or how about this excerpt from the 1892 Yiddish story Unease in Jacob, by Mendele Mocher Sforim ("Mendele the Bookseller"):
"This is the way of the Jews, the nature imbued in them from time
immemorial, that whenever they see a fellow with a gold coin, let
him be what he will, even a calf, a beast in human form -- he becomes
their God, and they bow down to him, dance and frolic before him,
giving glory to his name." [BRENNER, p. 77]
And what of this extraordinarily arrogant apologetic from the Universal Jewish Encyclopedia for the common and condescending Yiddish word, "goy," that Eastern European Jews used (and most Jews still use) for all non-Jews?"
"In later colloquial usage, the implication of contempt that attached to the
word 'goy' was due to external circumstances. Thus,
for example, in Poland and other countries of Eastern Europe, the Jews
found themselves surrounded by a populace that was almost entirely
illiterate. In view of their own high educational standards, it is not
surprising if the word goy came to connote an ignorant peasant." [UNIV
JEW EN, v. 4, p. 534]
Isn't this "they are beneath us" rationale, even defended by the Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, the very essence of any institutionalized racism? (For the record, according to an 1897 Russian census, the literacy gap between Jews and non-Jews was not that stupendous: 50% literacy for Jews and 28% for non-Jews.) [STEINBERG, p. 99]
"The term goy," notes Ewa Morawska, "referring to Gentiles [non-Jews], was actually used to denote 'peasant' ... and that meant people and things (goyish) that were backward, ignorant, driven by corpeal, unrestrained instincts and physical aggression ... the goyim-peasants represented everything a Jew, including members of the uneducated strata of Jewish society, did not want to and should not be, and this value-laden distinction was inculcated in children from infancy." [MORAWSKA, p. 16]
The Jewish scholars Zborowski and Herzog quote common Jewish opinion that existed about the impoverished Polish peasantry around Jewish communities:
"He [the peasant] has no worries. What's he got to be afraid of? He gets
drunk, beats his wife, he sings a little song." [ZBOROWSKI, p. 156]
"Jews harbored many unflattering images both of Gentile individuals and Gentile culture," says Leibman and Cohen, "These negative images were constituent elements in traditional Jewish identity, reinforcing Jewish notions of their own individual and collective superiority, and contributed to ... the belief that Jews were all part of one extended family, and chosenness." [LIEBMAN/COHEN, p. 37] "To Jewish children," notes Jay Gonen, "intellectuals, scholars, and spiritual pursuits became identified as Jewish values, whereas sensual, gross, and menial preoccupations became identified as Gentile." [GONEN, p. 136] "Yiddish folk wisdom percolated with disparaging phrases about sluggish gentile intelligence," says Joshua Halberstam, "contrasting Jewish mental gifts with the feckless reasoning of the peasants with whom they lived." [HALBERSTAM, p. 57] Upon moving to Israel in 1967, an American Jew, Ze'ev Chafets, eventually decided to learn a little Yiddish along with the obligatory Hebrew. He was struck by the old Jewish Eastern European victimhood worldview fore grounded in his earliest Yiddish lessons, noting that he "was bemused to find that in the standard [Yiddish learning] text, early vocabulary words included Cossack, pogrom, and cholera." [CHAFETS, p. 16]
Israel Shahak notes that "everywhere, Judaism developed hatred and contempt for agriculture as an occupation and for peasants as a class, even more than for other Gentiles -- a hatred which I know no parallel in other societies. This is immediately apparent to anyone who is familiar with Yiddish or Hebrew literature of the nineteenth and twentieth century. [SHAHAK, p. 53] ... Nobel Prize winners Agnon and Bashevis Singer are examples of this, but many others can be given, particularly Bialik, the national Hebrew poet. In his famous poem My Father he describes his saintly father selling vodka to the drunkard peasants who are depicted as animals. This very popular poem, taught in all Israeli schools is one of the vehicles through which the anti-peasant attitude is reproduced." [SHAHAK, p. 109]
Even today, modern Jewish novelists reiterate such anti-peasant, anti-Polish, and anti-Gentile themes. Chaim Potok's novel In the Beginning has this paragraph:
"Goyim,' his father said, "it's a world that hates Jew." Looking at
the scar on his father's face, Davey said: "Who hurt you, Popa?"
"A goy a Polak. He wanted to steal my tallis, and I would not
give it to him, so he cut my face with a bayonet and took it, and
none of the goyische soldiers with whom I had fought for years
said a word or lifted a finger to help. The job of a Jew is to suffer,
they think, the stinking Polaks." [BLOOMFIELD, p. 27]
Modern Jewish scholarship still reflects this racist foundation against Slavs and peasants. In 1990 one could find this from a distinguished Jewish historian, Howard Sacher:
"The brutish life of the illiterate and superstitious muzhik [peasant]
exercised no attraction whatever for the literate devoutly religious Jew.
Virtually any hardship could be borne more easily than entrance into
the bucolic and primitive Slavic world." [SACHAR, p. 78]
Anti-Polish [and broader anti-Gentile] animosity in Jewish circles can run extraordinarily deep. In 1992 a Jewish scholar, Enzo Traverso, took offense that the turn-of-the-century Eastern European Jewish humanist and socialist, Rosa Luxemberg, expressed some affection for the Polish peasantry around her. "The contrast," says Traverso, "between [Luxemberg's] contempt for the Jewish tradition and her exaltation of Polish virtues is striking."
Traverso quotes an excerpt from a Luxemberg letter:
How delightful -- fields of wheat, meadows, forests -- the Polish language
and Polish peasants ... a little barefoot cowherd and our magnificent
fir trees. It is true, the peasants are hungry and dirty, but what a handsome
race!" [TRAVERSO, p. 63]
This innocent pan-human endearment is apparently threatening and is defaming to the bedrock dogma of Jewish exceptionality. Traverso cynically remarks that
"One is almost tempted to see in [Luxemberg's] Polish version of [Nazi]
'volkisch' romanticism, a typical form of Jewish anti-Semitism."
[TRAVERSO, p. 63]
While legions of Jewish scholars, propagandists, and apologists flood the English language media with Jewish perspectives and points of view about Gentile hostility in Poland, there is little translation of the Polish versions of Polish-Jewish relations into English. As John Grondelski notes, "Polish scholarship has, unfortunately, not received the attention it merits in the West in part because it has often remained in its original language and thus been linguistically isolated." [GROND, p. 285]
The popular movie, Schindler's List (which had grossed four billion dollars by 1994), by Stephen Spielberg -- a Jew who has subsequently instituted yet another Holocaust memory perpetuation agency, the Shoah Foundation, as a repository for Jewish oral history of the Holocaust -- is a good example of the standard stereotypes and Jewish reconstruction and decontextualization of history to singularly render themselves the world's continuous and consummate victims of injustice. (In February 1997 this film was presented on national TV, sacred and hallowed, without commercial interruption. It is supremely ironic that the sponsor for this prime time showing on NBC was the Ford Motor Company. This corporation's founder, Henry Ford, is widely reviled by Jews today as one of America's most notorious anti-Semites. Corporations know which way the economic wind blows. By 1997 the company he founded was on their knees to the secular religion of the Holocaust, trying to buy Jewish redemption.)
"Schindler's List," notes Betsy Zelizer, "has generated a slew of unresolved questions about who has the right to tell the story of past events, and in which way." [ZELIZER, p. 18] "This is a Jewish film" says Estelle Gilson, "from its opening shots ... the film speaks to secret places in the Jewish heart." [GILSON, p. 12] "Uninformed viewers," notes Andrew Nagorski, "which includes many Americans, may emerge from the film with no idea the war was aimed at more than the destruction of the Jews or that there were other victims of Nazi atrocities ... Moreover, the movie's few fleeting images of Polish Catholics -- such as the chilling scene of a young girl screaming with hatred, 'Goodbye, Jews!' as victims were herded into the ghetto -- seem to suggest that the only role Poles played was to applaud Nazi terror." [NAGORSKI, p. 152-157]
In another review of the movie, H. R. Shapiro notes who the Jews were -- in real life -- that worked intimately with Schindler:
"The Nazis formed the Judenrate to implement Nazi policy in the
Jewish community and, more importantly, to divide and conquer
the Jews and to crush any resistance to the Nazis. The Jews who
worked with Schindler were all leaders of the Judenrate ... The
Judenrate ... through secrecy and lies, convinced the Jewish masses
that reports of horrors to the east were only rumors, and that Jews
were merely being 'resettled.' With potential opposition thus neutralized,
the Nazis were able to deport and exterminate most of the Warsaw Jews.
By contrast, those who had some connection to the Judenrate and
their associates, especially the privileged and the wealthy, survived
the war." [PIOTROWSKI, p. 70]
Spielberg is also disingenuous with the Talmudic epigram that starts the movie, as its pan-human, universalist theme: "He who saves a life saves the world entire." Even taking this "life-saving" statement at face value, it is subject to interpretive manipulation. Some Jewish observers have noted that "this Talmudic saying, taken literally, is the ideological basis for an amoral survivalism," i.e., saving "a" life is merely self-survival. [CHEYETTE, p. 233]
Yet this supposedly noble refrain is clouded even further. In the talmudic Mishna, Sanhedrin 4:5, the original really says this: "Whoever destroys a single Jewish life, Scripture accounts it to him as though he had destroyed a whole world." It is quite particularist in its scope, i.e., it only cares about Jews, self-survival or not. Nonetheless, this literal fact does not hinder many Jewish non-Orthodox apologists from universalizing this chauvinist quote anyway. "Most Jews whose study of the Mishna," says Jacob Petuchowski, "is confined to the standard edition continue to invest this statement with a particularist limitation, while the few scholars who deal with textual criticism are aware of the greater universalistic breath of the original statement." [PETUCHOWKI, p. 8] When dropping the adverb "Jewish" from the seminal source, insists the likes of Petuchowski, one arrives at the "correct reading."
"The Talmudic epigraph of Stephen Spielberg's Schindler's List," adds Jewish scholar Peter Novick, "'Whoever saves one life saves the world entire,' surely reflected the universalist values of liberal Judaism as it had evolved in recent centuries. The observant knew that the traditional version, the one taught in all Orthodox yeshivot [religious schools], speaks of 'whoever saves the life of Israel.'" [NOVICK, P., 1999, p. 182-183]
Schindler's List first appeared as a novel by Thomas Keneally, a non-Jew of Irish heritage. The movie was based upon his meticulously researched story of Oskar Schindler, a Nazi industrialist who had the moral courage and consciousness to rescue, at great personal risk and inevitable financial destruction, 1100 Jews from the death camps under Hitler's rule. Keneally writes that he "intended to avoid all fiction, since fiction would debase the record, and to distinguish between reality and myths ... " [KENEALLY, p. 10]
So, taking the facts presented in the novel, where did Spielberg and Hollywood go with it? The sufferings under Nazi oppression is carefully rendered a purely, innocently, and entirely Jewish experience. The fact that there was a World War going on is barely noticeable. Spielberg's movie is singularly The War Against the Jews skirting the pan-human themes of good versus evil in focusing entirely upon "evil versus Jews." This is simply done, by ignoring some facts, and emphasizing others.
For starters, it was important to render all Jews -- as a block -- as innocent, unified, moral and holy people. Hence, Spielberg's movie entirely ignores the Jews who (in Keneally's book) were absorbed in ruthless self-preservation, profit, and intra-Jewish hatreds and who actively and openly functioned in the Jewish ghetto as agents for the Nazi regime. The most sinister among them was Symche Spira. "Spira," writes Keneally, "was of orthodox background and by personal history as well as temperament despised the Europeanized Jewish liberals ... He took his orders from ... [the] SS headquarters across the river... [The Nazis] had asked him to set up (a Jewish police force) and he recruited various of his friends for it. ... Spira's Political Section would go beyond the demands of grudging cooperation and would be full of venal men, men with complexes, with close-held grudges about the social and intellectual slights they'd received in earlier days from respectable middle-class Jewry. Apart from Spira, there were Szymon Spitz and Marcel Zellinger, Ignacy Diamond, David Gutter the salesman, Forster and Gruner and Landau. They settled in to a career of extortion and of making out for the SS lists of unsatisfactory or seditious ghetto dwellers."
Later we learn about another evil Jew in cahoots with the Nazis, one who, in his desperately selfish actions, aids in stealing food from his fellow people, many of whom will starve to death: "Amon [the concentration camp director] was ... selling a percentage of the prison rations on the open market in Cracow through an agent of his, a Jew named Wilek Chilowicz, who had contacts with factory management, merchants, and even restaurants in Cracow." [p. 195]
But the exploitation of Jew by Jew in the original Schindler tale gets worse. Oskar Schindler went bankrupt in spending his fortune on saving Jews who worked at his factory. Incredibly, Marcel Goldberg, the man responsible for the final decision about what fellow Jews got on Schindler's list -- a list that meant the difference between life and death -- demanded extremely hefty bribes from the desperate Jewish prisoners. To get on the list, he tells Poldek Pfefferberg, "it will take diamonds." [p. 292-293]
Such predatory creatures -- middlemen to the Nazis and life itself -- cannot be shown in Spielberg's film because they allude to the most horrible stereotypes of Jews. And Jews hating Jews and betraying Jews in the midst of their horrible torment is difficult to explain away. Certainly it clouds an easy division of the good guys and bad guys. If one attempts to explain the Spiras and Chilowiczs and Goldbergs of the Holocaust away as due to desperate inhuman conditions and primal survival instincts by which the Jews found themselves under Nazi rule, one then must likewise permit such excuses for anyone in those hellious times, including Germans who were sucked into the Nazi steam roller, and the Polish Slavs, who are widely villainized and demonized by Jews to this day for their alleged hatred and betrayal of the Jewish people to the Nazis. The Poles, who themselves were slated for mass extermination under Hitler, and who -- as a largely impoverished peasant group -- had centuries of socio-economic grievances against Jews, bore their own profound misery under Nazi occupation. But we do not hear about them, never whatsoever, in this film or anywhere else in Jewish Holocaust folklore. Decontextualizing history, Speilberg's film is absolutely and exclusively Jewish. There is nothing else that matters but "saving Jews." When we watch the Nazis drive their auto over a road of Jewish tombstones in Spielberg's movie, the viewer does not know that there were Polish tombstones used in the same way in the very same concentration camp. [p.166] Although there were, by midsummer of 1940, 250 Poles working in Schindler's factory, [p. 72] the movie's factory is populated only with Jews. When we watch in horror Spielberg's huge pile of burning Jewish bodies outside the Plaszow concentration camp, we are not informed that in the real world many of these corpses -- there and elsewhere -- were those of Poles and Gypsies [p. 253] When the movie Schindler -- at great risk to himself -- defies Nazi regulations and compassionately sprays water into a cattle car stuffed with Jewish prisoners Spielberg omits the fact that there are Poles in those cars too. [p. 265] Nor does the film director address the implications of Keneally's observation that Jews and Poles and gypsies "kept brief residence" at the dreaded Birkenau concentration camp on their way to respective roads to Hell. [p. 306]
Spielberg never once alludes to any misfortunes but that of Jews in his movie. The sufferings of others is marginal -- invisible -- to his political theme. This systematic myopia, ostensibly shaped to sharpen the exclusive dramatization of "Schindler's Jews" in Nazi Germany -- and Jews in general -- leads somewhere: the rationale for the modern Israeli state.
Spielberg's subtle political intention is evidenced at the end of his movie in his own interpretive addenda to Kineally's Schindler story. When the Jews are released from internment in the film by the Russian army, they query amongst themselves where they should go. A Russian officer -- himself a Jew -- reminds them that they are not welcome in the West, or East, but might try a nearby town. The Jews, en masse, homeless and hungry, strangers in every country, reviled everywhere, are pictured in the distance moving across a field in search of a new home. Spielberg then cuts immediately to similar shot of a group of Jews in the distance, in color now, distinct from the black and white movie. The "wandering" Jews in the farmer's field in the fictive movie are now transposed to modern times in a short "documentary," one that chronicles a group of "real" Jews who have lived to this day thanks to Schindler’s compassion and humanity. Schindler's grave is in a Christian cemetery in Jerusalem and Spielberg has gathered a number of concentration camp survivors and their children to pay homage to the Righteous Gentile at his grave. "In the background," writes Michael Goldberg, "we hear the strains of Yerushalayim Shel Zahav -- 'Jerusalem of Gold.' Written in the aftermath of the Six Day War in 1967, the song celebrating Israel's historic recovery of the ancient city, has become a virtual anthem." [GOLDBERG p.]
In the last few minutes of the film, Spielberg has thus abandoned the Keneally version of things (from which the movie director snaked an entirely personal path anyway) and transformed the Schindler story into a piece of Israeli propaganda. Non-Jewish audiences are lured by the shocking horror of the Nazi story, then find solace that one of their own, a Gentile, had the moral courage to stand up for what is right and protect the Jews under his governance. With his coda in Israel, Spielberg deftly infers in the viewer the necessity for setting up the state of Israel as protection against violent anti-Semitism, which is the cornerstone of the Zionist belief system, and, indeed, modern Jewish identity. "Spielberg," observes Goldberg, "... here seems heavy-handed, bent on wresting one particular emotion response from us: unallayed support for the state of Israel." [GOLDBERG, p.] "Schindler's List," says Steven G. Kellman, "is Zionist affirmation, a lustrous assertion that Israel is the only alternative to persecution if not eradication of Jews." [KELLMAN, p. 10]
Underscoring the ideological manipulations and machinations at base in the film, the version of Schindler's List that was released in Israel has a different song for its concluding scene. While "Jerusalem of Gold" finds a soft spot in the heart of diaspora Jews in their myths of Israel, in Israel itself this song's connotational range is more expansive, even controversial, symbolizing "first the euphoria of the Israeli victory of 1967 and then the bitter fruits of conquest, occupation, and repression of others by the young Jewish state." [BARTOV, p. 45] The new song in the Israeli version of the movie (Eli, Eli) "shift[s] the politics of the film's ending from the Arab-Israeli conflict to the Israeli-sponsored 'heroic' aspect of the Holocaust." [BARTOV, p. 59]
In our time, the systematic omission of all World War II contexts of the Holocaust -- except those that reinforce the exclusivity of Jewish suffering -- is endemic to Jewish discussion of the subject. The movie Schindler's List evidences this profoundly. A reviewer in Poland (site of the film's historical base and the movie production itself), remarked that the film was "not an anti-Polish film: Poland basically does not exist in it." [SHANDLER, p. 161] Incredibly, Spielberg's systematic omissions are exponentially compounded in a remarkably myopic review of the film in academia by Daniel Fogel, the Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Chairman of the Advisory Council for the Jewish Studies Program at Louisiana State University. In a gushing and laudatory article about the film, Fogel nonetheless notes that "Spielberg's departure from [Keneally's book], principally in the form of omission, are striking ... As I inventoried discrepancies [between film and novel] with my students in a course on the literary response to the Holocaust, our puzzlement grew ... " I refer to Fogel's review here in tandem with Spielberg's myopic vision because of its profound implications, for here we come to the quintessential Jewish Blind Spot, always manifest as an ideological censorship. And we must bear deeply in mind that this is not a review by some small-fry bozo in a bar on a street corner, but by an academic hot-shot of some repute. This is a man who evidences -- in his unwieldy bureaucratic titles -- significant educational input as an "advisor" in the matter of "Jewish studies."
After noting that he (and his class!) has made an inventory of "omissions" and "discrepancies" between book and novel, he proceeds to list the differences he found. These include the fact that the Spielberg film collapses many characters into the personality of Yitzak Stern and the fact that various scenes in the book are relocated to different ahistorical sites in the movie. Fogel also notes the movie's changes in event chronology, an omission of some of Oskar Schindler's "most memorable actions" of heroism against the Nazis, and a collapsing of events together for the sake of drama.
Incredibly, Mr. Fogel, Chairman to the Advisory Council for Jewish Studies, eminent educator, after stating that his self-appointed task was to look for omissions and discrepancies between film and book and to make an "inventory" of them, never notes the more politically sensitive -- per Jews -- omissions I have cited earlier. None of them. Zero. Zip. And omissions were what Fogel's article, per his own thesis, was largely supposed to be what he was addressing. Mr. Fogel, adorned in the Emperor's New Clothes, announced that he was "looking," but had no inclination to "see."
But he did see something. In fact, in his own list of the film's omissions he still managed to bring in something that helps us to understand the kinds of things he was singularly looking for. Somehow, in his review of Schindler's List, he manages to drag in journalistic commentary about former Ku Klux Klan member David Duke and his unsuccessful bid for Louisiana public office, and how a group of the righteous managed to stop him. We are left to wonder that perhaps Fogel thinks Spielberg should have been more explicit in allusions to the resident Nazis of America.
And what of Fogel's students, those in his class who all sat around wracking their brains and sounding each other out as to the omissions and differences between Spielberg's depiction of Keneally's story? None of these students noticed the whoppers described earlier? Was this class in the "Jewish Studies" program, and does that dictate a limited line of seeing? Were they all Jewish kids who shared their mentor's political blind spot? Or did Fogel, the educator, censor the obvious omissions cited here out of his own class? Or, worse still, were the students in his class intimidated by the sacred, self-righteous wail by yet another Jew in authority about the Holocaust and they could find no welcome space to speak what they recognized? Whatever the answers to these questions, it underscores the omnipresent limitations of critical discourse about Jews in modern America, even at a university. And, of course, that there are likely reprisals to face for those who dare to venture into the hornet's nest.
As intended, Spielberg's fictional Schindler's List, which won seven Academy Awards, including Best Film and Best Director, has been monumental in confirming Jewish martyrology in the public mind as irrefutable "history." The Wall Street Journal called the film "a valuable historical document.. a film almost entirely free of artifice." The Washington Post declared that "Spielberg, so famous for manipulation, has let the material speak for itself." One critic even suggests that "to question Schindler's List [is] to trifle with the memory of the Holocaust." [ZELIZER, p. 22] "Yet," notes Barbie Zelizer, "Spielberg was not a reputed scholar of the Holocaust. Rather, he came from the widely contested terrain of popular culture, a known culture-monger best recognized for turning errant sharks, dinosaurs, and extraterrestials into box-office hits." [ZELIZER, p. 22]
Not atypically, Spielberg is another of the many influential public figures who have been "reborn" as a didactic Jew. He described himself as "bearing witness" in making the film; he mystifies his direction of the movie, calling the experience one that "any witness or victim would have. It wasn't like a movie." [ZELIZER, p. 23] "I think I'm prouder now of being a Jew than I ever was in my history," said Spielberg, "... the movie is a result of what I went through as a person." [ZELIZER, p. 25] Manipulative sectarian political use of the film as self-promotive leverage even included a New Jersey Jewish senator's exploitation of the movie as a "campaign gimmick." [ZELIZER, p. 33]
"IVAN THE TERRIBLE”: THE TRIAL OF JOHN DEMJANJUK
In April 1988 John Demjanjuk, an American stripped of his citizenship, was found guilty of Nazi war crimes by an Israeli court and sentenced to hang. Demjanjuk, born in the Ukraine, had immigrated to the United States after World War II and worked for decades as a factory worker for the Ford Motor Company near Cleveland, Ohio. His problems with an allegedly murderous past began in 1976 when he was identified in old photo IDs by Jewish Holocaust survivors as "Ivan the Terrible," a particularly brutal and sadistic gas chamber operator in the Nazi death camp of Treblinka. Crucial evidence against Demjanjuk included a 1951 photographic portrait from which he was recognized as Ivan and an identity card from the Soviet Union which allegedly proved that Demjanjuk was trained for duty in concentration camps. In 1986 the factory worker was extradited to stand trial in Israel, accused of being the man who had a personal hand in gassing to death as many as 850,000 people -- most, if not all, Jews. This of course was no routine murder trial. John Demjanjuk was to be tried by and for the Jewish people of the world as a living symbol -- and scapegoat -- for the whole Holocaust, human magnet for fixated Jewish rage.
The American organization that initiated the investigation into Demjanjuk's past was the Office of Special Investigations (OIS), an office of the Criminal Prosecution Division of the United States Justice Department. "The OIS," notes Allan Ryan Jr., "has established a very close working relationship with Israel and, indeed, a number of the OIS's staff is stationed full time in Jerusalem, at Yad Vashem." [RYAN, A., p. 201-206] Founded in 1979, OIS owes its existence to Jewish lobbying groups who wanted a special investigation agency to track down World War II-era killers of Jews who resided in America. Before the institution of OIS, Jewish agencies themselves were doing most of the detective work; in the mid-1970s for instance, the Immigration and Naturalization Services' list of 53 suspected Nazi-collaborators living in America was largely provided by the World Jewish Congress. [TEICHOLZ, p. 24] Particularly active in the push to create OIS was Jewish Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman who held a press conference in 1974 and "accused the government of failing to investigate and prosecute known Nazi war criminals living in the United States." [TEICHOLZ, p. 24]
In 1978, Jewish members of Congress Holtzman (by then the Chair of the House Subcommittee on Immigration) and Joshua Eilberg directed the United States General Accounting Office to investigate the INS's record of convictions of Nazi war criminals. [TEICHOLZ, p. 25] The intensity of INS prosecution was deemed to be grossly inadequate and the OIS was created a year later.
For any United States agency, investigations of Nazi war criminals often lead to Soviet records. In the midst of the Demjanjuk trial, an unnamed "American legal authority," speaking on condition of anonymity, told a New York Review of Books reporter that the "Soviets could never understand ... our preoccupation with the murder of Jews. For the Soviets, the Nazis were the murderers of twenty million Russians. For us in America, 'Nazi' had become synonymous with the genocide of the Jews and our investigations of war crimes were almost invariably connected with the Holocaust. This, apart from many other things, made for an enormous cultural gap and distrust on both sides." [SERENY, p. 32]
Short of the sensational accusations of being a mass murderer, Demjanjuk's personal history as defendant in the most important trial in Israel since that of Nazi Adolf Eichman in 1961 is modest. Demjanjuk was raised of peasant heritage in the Ukraine at a time when millions of people faced famine. In 1932-33 alone some six million Ukrainians died as a consequence of Stalinist policies. [ECONOMIST, 4-23-88, p. 46] His family reportedly was forced to sell its home for ten loaves of bread. The young man eventually ended up in the Russian army, was captured by the Nazis in World War II and taken prisoner. [SHEFTEL, p. 121] From here, Demjanjuk's life is mired in controversy. Depending upon one's personal conviction, and in which scientific expert one finds most credibility, Demjanjuk was either a concentration camp operative or merely a Russian prisoner of war who has become a victim of Soviet forgeries and intrigue against ethnic Ukrainians and anti-communists.
Among Demjanjuk's Israeli prison guards was a spy who sought to befriend the prisoner and elicit incriminating information from him. The best the spy could get was Demjanjuk's evaluation that Jews "collaborated" with Nazis the same as any other survivors. "Any witness who speaks against me," said Demjanjuk, "will be from the S.S. We had to collaborate." [TEICHOLZ, p. 148] The spy also learned that in the Ukrainian's own "suffering at the POW camp, Demjanjuk said he would have killed for a loaf of bread." [TEICHOLZ, p. 148] The spy also testified that "Demjanjuk blamed the Ukrainian famine ... on a Soviet official named Kaganovich -- who was, Demjanjuk said, a zhid -- the derogatory term for Jew ... " [TEICHOLZ, p. 149]
The death camp Treblinka -- to which Demjanjuk has become ultimately, and unshakably, associated in the public mind as "Ivan the Terrible" -- was located about sixty miles northeast of Warsaw. The camp was overseen by about 30-40 German guards; a subgroup of about 100 Ukrainians -- originally prisoners of war -- functioned as various operatives, including the running of the gas chambers. Jewish prisoners were themselves forced or co-opted into many of the most fundamentally repugnant death camp tasks: "the sorting of clothes, the shaving of female victims' hair, the removal of corpses from the gas chambers, the extraction of gold teeth from the bodies, the burial, and later, on Himmler's order, the excavation and burning of corpses." [WAGENAAR, p. 2]
The problem with this whole scenario, however, as it pertains to John Demjanjuk, is that he was eventually proven innocent of the charges made against him. "Ivan the Terrible" from Cleveland came perilously close to hanging for an identity which was not his. (Demjanjuk's turmoil was not unique, although by far the most extensive and horrible. In 1978, for instance, 12 Jewish Holocaust survivors identified Frank Walus of Chicago as a Gestapo agent in Czestochowa and Kilsen. Walus lost his American citizenship; after the guilty verdict, however, the Walus defense team produced documentary evidence from German records that he had been an agricultural laborer in Germany when he was alleged to be a Nazi killer in Poland. His citizenship was restored. [SHEFTEL, p. 203]
Yoram Sheftel, Demjanjuk's Israeli lawyer, has recounted the systematic injustice and abuse perpetrated against the accused Ukrainian-American (and his whole defense team) as a scapegoat for Jewish Holocaust hysteria. In his memoirs of the long ordeal, The Demjanjuk Affair: The Rise and Fall of a Show Trial, Sheftel depicts the whole trial as a disgraceful sham, a "frame-up," [SHEFTEL, p. 331] exploring in disturbing detail the nightmarish Kafka-like episode in which Jewish communal hatred, rage, and hunger for revenge precluded reason. And justice.
At root, what Sheftel describes as a show trial was intended to reaffirm the ideological pillars of the Jewish nation in its punishment of Jewish enemies, as well as to socialize new generations to Israeli perspectives and mythologies of the Holocaust. "The trial was ... used as a means of educating young people about the realities of the Nazi genocide of the Jews," observes Gitta Sereny, "As a result, the terrible accounts over many weeks by the survivors of Treblinka, heard by a live audience of hundreds of schoolchildren and by millions on radio and television, created their own momentum." [SERENY, p. 33] The political function of the Demjanjuk show trial for both Israelis and worldwide Jewry was based on the various mythomanias held of themselves as a redemptive nation and people. "The symbolic re-enactments of victimization and victory, Holocaust remembrance and Israel's defense," noted Jewish sociologist Egon Mayer about the psycho-social undercurrents of the trial, "became the central communal rites of the Jewish people." [MAYER, NYT, p. 4, 17] In 1990 "Intercom Prime Time" on Channel 13 in New York City aired what the New York Times called an "absorbing account" of "how Mr. Demjanjuk ... was identified by survivors ... [in this program] the verdict goes against Mr. Demjanjuk." The narrator of the program, E. G. Marshall, linked this case's importance to the 1961 Adolf Eichman trial which "became a national obsession, an inquest into [Jewish] history and identity." [GOODMAN, W., p. c18] "Several of [the Holocaust survivors] who first identified Mr. Demjanjuk," noted the Times, "died before he was brought to trial, and the few who made it to the courtroom seem driven by a compulsion to bear witness before they too pass into history." [GOODMAN, p. c18] Strapped then on the anvil of unrelenting Jewish emotionalism was the scapegoat for worldwide Jewish rage and hatred, personified in a single man, an accused Nazi-mass murderer and ages-old Ukrainian enemy of the Jews, a Cleveland factory worker: John Demjanjuk.
Demjanjuk's Jewish lawyer Sheftel of course never contested any aspect of the facts of the Holocaust itself; he simply focused upon the fact that John Demjanjuk was not Ivan the Terrible, futilely fighting to keep everything else out of the case, knowing full well that any semblance of objectivity and Demjanjuk's most basic rights to a fair trial would be hopelessly lost to the emotional tidal wave of Holocaust appeal. A Jewish author, Tom Teicholz, wrote a 1990 book about "Ivan the Terrible" when Demjanjuk's death sentence appeal was still unresolved. Teicholz's predilection to the inseparableness of Demjanjuk the defendant and the Holocaust itself is rendered in his many pages of emotional reference to Treblinka, including "the screams of women, the weeping of children, the pleas for mercy, for God's deliverance, fill[ing] the air like the howling of wild animals." [TEICHOLZ, p. 10] Teicholz follows form in affirming the Demjanjuk monster by repeating the flippant assessment of a Chicago Sun-Times reporter who in 1977 insisted upon bringing Demjanjuk unwanted publicity about an alleged Nazi past: "'Get off my property,' [Demjanjuk] growled, stepping from beyond his power mower and picking up a bamboo rake ... 'Go, go. No questions. I answer nothing. Go.' ... When Demjanjuk brandished that rake it was easy to picture 'Ivan the Terrible." [TEICHOLZ, p. 63]
Although Sheftel repeatedly objected to the extraneous introduction of a Holocaust lesson in the trial, the Israeli judges and prosecutors colluded in wallowing in the explications of Nazi-inspired atrocities that were in no way contested by the defense, a litany of assertions about the Holocaust that bent the trial towards publicly reaffirming the ideological foundations of the Israeli state and modern Jewish identity.
The broader undercurrent of the Demjanjuk spectacle, and the wider accusation, was underscored by one of the three presiding judges, Zvi Tal, who -- incredibly -- interjected to steer the testimony of a witness (a historian) for the prosecution, asking him,"
"Were there not additional reasons for the Germans to expect
cooperation from the Ukrainians, for instance a long hatred and
hostility toward the Jewish populations from the days of Chemilnitzki
in the mid-seventeenth century, wasn't that one of the reasons?"
[SHEFTEL, p. 201]
Jewish hatred of Ukrainians is deep. In 1987 Ukrainian-Americans throughout North America rallied to Demjanjuk's defense. Jean Berger, a Ukrainian woman now living in America, who had hidden Jews in her home from the Nazis and was shot in the leg for attempting to give bread to a Jewish friend, led a Ukrainian-American group to Israel to plead for a fair trial for Demjanjuk. Shortly thereafter the Deputy Speaker of the Israeli Knesset, Dov Ben-Meir, wrote to her group, invoking the old story of the massacre of (or revolt against) Jews by Cossack leader Bogdan Chmielnicki in the 17th century. "The Jewish people," wrote Ben-Meir, "has a long score to settle with the Ukrainian people ... You go to church not only on Sunday, but also every day of the week, and ... you kneel there until bleeding in asking forgiveness for what your people has done to our people." The Ukrainian organization denounced the letter, calling it an "inflammatory defamation ... against the entire Ukrainian nation." [JW, 5-1-87, p. 17] Ukrainians in North America were the fundamental source of Demjanjuk's staggering seven-year defense costs in Israel (the full legal battle lasted 17 years), eventually totaling over two million dollars. In the American Ukrainian community, the Demjanjuk trial became "a symbol of Soviet and Jewish persecution." [SERENY, p. 32]
The official final court verdict that sentenced Demjanjuk to death was 444 pages long; 36 of 118 chapters detailed the Treblinka concentration camp and the story of the Holocaust, far adrift from the narrow essentials of Demjanjuk's trial: was he Ivan the Terrible or not? One chapter entitled "Memorial" was dedicated "to the souls of the holy [Jewish] communities that have been lost and which are no more." [SHEFTEL, p. 215] "Erecting a memorial to the millions of Jews killed in that unparalleled holocaust is indeed a sacred and noble task," said Demjanjuk's Israeli lawyer, Yoram Sheftel, "But when a judgment in a criminal trial pretends to this, the result is a shameful legal process that defiles the memory of the Jewish people slaughtered at Treblinka ... I have no doubt that Israeli legal history will name this the most shameful legacy ever written in the Hebrew language." [SHEFTEL, p. 216-217]
Sheftel described with horror the abusive nature of the entire environment in a court of law throughout the trial, and especially when the verdict of Demjanjuk's execution was announced:
"The minute the word 'death' escaped from Judge Tal's lips, a terrible
commotion began in the courtroom. All the disorder there had been up
to then was merely naughtiness compared to the chaos that erupted now.
The unruly crowd began cursing, shouting, and screaming insults, 'Death,
death,' 'Death to Ivan,' 'Death to the defense attorney,' 'Death to all
Ukrainians.' 'Death, death, death!' The people were dancing, stamping
their feet, waving fists in the air." [SHEFTEL, p. 225]
From his 1990 book that was supportive of Demjanjuk's conviction, Tom Teicholz's version of the death announcement noted that
"The spectators rose to their feet and many broke out in spontaneous
applause. The survivor witnesses who were sitting in the hall embraced.
Then all turned, stunned, at the sight of teenagers near the back rows,
standing on the chairs, hurtling epithets at [Demjanjuk's Israeli lawyer]
Sheftel, and singing, 'Am Yisroel Hai (Israel Lives).' They were led by
an elderly survivor, visiting from Florida, who egged them on like a
coach at a soccer game." [TEICHOLZ, p. 300]
Demjanjuk was deemed guilty by the Israeli press, public, and overseeing judges from the very start of the fiasco, a "trial" that was staged in a 400-seat auditorium especially arranged for the occasion, and continuously broadcast live on Israeli television and radio. For the Jews of Israel, and throughout the world, Demjanjuk was cast as the human face of ignoble villainy, the most recent scapegoat for the six million Jewish martyrs of the Holocaust. By the time he was finally released from prison, Demjanjuk was 73 years old, and perhaps the last chance the Jewish world had to wrack revenge upon a surrogate Adolf Hitler from the actual Holocaust era.
Demjanjuk's Israeli lawyer, Yoram Sheftel, was acutely aware of the transcendent nature of the case and the dangerous passions it engendered; he foresaw the gross violation of his client's most fundamental right: the impossibility of getting a fair trial in Israel. The very premise of the trial, noted Sheftel, was that "a man was guilty until proven innocent." [SHAFTEL, p. 120] Blatantly underscoring this, soon after the death verdict was announced, the lead judge in the case, Dov Levin, gave a lecture tour to Jewish groups in America. As noted in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Levin told the Jewish Community Center in Norfolk, Virginia, that "we cannot be impressed by someone claiming 'I am innocent.' Innocence is not what you say in your testimony. Innocence must be proven.'" [SHEFTEL, p. 194] "The judges [on the case], like the [Israeli] media," says Sheftel, "had, to all intents and purposes, convicted Demjanjuk in advance, long before they did so officially in their verdict; so they did everything in their power to ensure his conviction." [SHEFTEL, p. 200]
An Israeli judge, Haim Cohen, not associated with the case, told Israel's Al Hasharon newspaper that the trial "was a spectacular [sic] for the people. Any resemblance to justice was purely coincidental." [SHEFTEL, p. 207] "Take it from me, as someone who spent 17 years on the bench," said retired judge Dov Eitan (who eventually joined the Demjanjuk defense team to appeal the death sentence), "We are dealing here not with an error, but with something more serious." [SHEFTEL, p. 217] "He meant," adds Yoram Sheftel, "deliberate deceit."
The bias against the Demjanjuk defense was all-encompassing throughout the Israeli court system, the mass media, and the public at-large. Demjanjuk’s Israeli lawyer, Yoram, Sheftel, noted Tom Teicholz, "was called 'the most hated man in Israel.' His Hebrew was said to be lower-class. He was the sort of lawyer, one attorney said, who represented pimps, prostitutes, and drug dealers. He seemed always to be spitting as he talked, a court regular said." [TEICHOLZ, p. 179] A defense witness, a British historian of Russian descent, Nikolai Tolstoy, became upset with the blatant prejudice of the Israeli judges overseeing the case and announced, "I'm sorry, but if I am not guaranteed fair treatment, I will not be able to continue." [SHEFTEL, p. 147]
Sheftel was also outraged upon discovering that the three presiding judges in the case (Israel has no jury trials -- these judges decided the verdict) regularly reviewed Israeli newspaper clippings in their chambers and assembled them in albums. "The vast majority of these clippings constituted incitement against the defendant," wrote Sheftel, "They utterly undermined the defendant's right to a fair trial." [SHEFTEL, p. 192]
A Dutch professor of psychology at Leiden University, Willem Wagenaar, who testified for the defense, believed "the photo spreads [arrangements of portraits from the World War II era by which observers respond with -- or without -- recognition] in which Demjanjuk was identified are all worthless, and may not be trusted." [SHEFTEL, p. 158] Wagenaar's disturbing experience in the case led him to write his own book about the problems of identifying people based upon 35-year old photographs, and the intrinsic bias, manipulation, and contextual inferences imbued in the recognition process. "I know of no other case, "he wrote in his book about the crucial photographic evidence in the Demjanjuk trial, "in which so many deviations from procedures internationally accepted as desirable occurred ... The legal proof of Demjanjuk's identity was based on identification evidence [old photographs and Nazi documents] exclusively ... The Cleveland court [the OIS-inspired extradition proceedings] refused to hear expert witness on identification problems. The Jerusalem court allowed the defense to bring forward an expert, but declared that the testimony was irrelevant because the surviving witnesses could not make mistakes." [WAGENAAR, p. ix] Wagenaar also meticulously itemized the innate bias in the photographic identification process of Demjanjuk in Israel, as well as its arbitrariness, and subtle manipulations, resulting in Holocaust survivors changing their minds about their memory, thanks to information provided by bureaucratic investigators. [WAGENAAR, p. 95-125] (A Treblinka survivor reunion in Tel Aviv in 1976 even provided an occasion for individuals already interviewed by investigators about "Ivan the Terrible" and Demjanjuk to discuss that news, thus enhancing other survivors' "memory" of him. [NATHAN, p. 29]
From the very beginning of the trial, Yoram Sheftel, Demjanjuk's Israeli lawyer, faced death threats, insults, and ostracization from Israeli society for daring to represent the Ukrainian-American, a man already deemed in the public mind as being guilty of the most foul crime imaginable. At the funeral of a fellow Israeli lawyer who had recently joined the defense team (only to commit suicide) a regular member of the trial audience threw acid into Sheftel's face. Ironically, the Israeli lawyer's personal trauma was fortuitous for Demjanjuk; the appeal of his death sentence was delayed nearly a year while Sheftel's eyes healed after operations on both of them in the United States. The time permitted more evidence in Demjanjuk's defense to surface.
During the trial itself, Sheftel had difficulty finding a Jewish scholar willing to ignore widespread Israel opprobrium to testify in Demjanjuk's behalf about historical aspects of the case. "Because of the public campaign against the defense," says Sheftel, "I was determined that at least one of our expert witnesses be Israeli. I contacted several Israeli professors of history, directly and indirectly, but all rejected the idea out of hand. There can be no doubt they feared the media would attack them, and one of them told me frankly, 'If I agreed to appear as a defense witness, I will no longer be invited to be interviewed as a historian on television.'" [SHEFTEL, p. 148] (He eventually did find one).
Jewish predilection to Demjanjuk's guilt, worry for their careers and their tarnished credibility as dedicated Jews if associated with him, and their resultant reluctance to contribute to a fair trial, extended to America. Asked to be an expert witness in the psychology of photographic interpretation and memory for the Demjanjuk defense team, a Jewish professor of psychology in Seattle, Elizabeth Loftus, explained in Newsweek that she could not participate because her family and friends opposed her involvement in Demjanjuk's defense. They had, of course, already decided him to be guilty by the accusations they had heard in the news. True, she could obliquely testify in Newsweek that "research has shown little or no relationship between a witness’s confidence and his or her accuracy of recall ... [but] in the eyes of many [my testimony for the Demjanjuk defense] would be seen as an attack on the handful of people who miraculously survived Treblinka and now wished to be believed. They would not understand that a questioning of one part of memory does not necessarily mean a denial of all such memory. Thus [my] testimony would be seen as an unmitigated assault on the only memories we have of Treblinka." [LOFTUS, p. 10-11] Afraid then to give offense (and cause herself problems) to the monolithic wall of Holocaust Memory (whatever it is, accurate or not), Loftus shamefully withheld her crucial testimony as a Jew (her replacement was not Jewish and served to reinforce the largely sectarian nature of the prosecution/defense polarization), claiming solidarity with a higher moral allegiance than truth: the dictate of Holocaust survivor sensitivity and emotionalism. And their sacrosanct unaccountability.
"From a scientific point of view," noted Debbie Nathan and Jan Haaken in a Jewish magazine years later, "there was every reason for [Loftus] to help Demjanjuk's defense, and none to justify refusing. Yet she did refuse, in a dramatic illustration of the conflict between the disinterested pretensions of science versus the fervid politics of recovered memory -- a politics that can affect even scientists ... [NATHAN, p. 30] ... Elizabeth Loftus is Jewish, and although not religious, she could hardly have remained isolated from the forces driving the Demjanjuk prosecution ... [NATHAN, p. 94] ... Personal ties and fears of ostracism can create both strong solidarity and repressive silence. In Loftus' case, both combined with guilt and the desire to make things right at any cost. Eventually, these politics would override science ... Loftus' fear of once again betraying her Jewishness led her to rationalize her refusal to testify." [NATHAN, p. 95]
So Loftus, the dedicated Jew, for reasons of allegiance to the emotions of the Tribe refused to be part of a scientific, rationalist challenge to Holocaust Memory as evidenced, for example, in the testimony of Holocaust/Treblinka survivor Eliahu Rosenberg. Early in Demjanjuk's trial, in high court drama, Rosenberg walked up to Demjanjuk to inspect his face closely. "The courtroom," noted Yarom Sheftel, "erupted with shouts of murderer! He should be killed!" [SHEFTEL, p. 47] "Beyond a shadow of a doubt -- it's Ivan the Terrible from the Treblinka gas chambers," declared an emotional Rosenberg, "The man I'm looking at. I saw the eyes, those murderous eyes." [SHEFTEL, p. 46] "Murderous eyes -- merderische oygen,," says Sheftel in underscoring the deeper, ages-old Jewish contempt for Ukrainians (and others) in the case, "is a common Yiddish expression used of goyim by Polish Jews. Rosenberg knew that the eyes he saw were not the murderous eyes of Ivan the Terrible. One could say, however, that he said this under the influence of a show-trial being staged by the prosecution with the full court's approval." [SHEFTEL, p. 46]
A rather significant footnote to Rosenberg's testimony here was the declaration written in his own handwriting that turned up later, found in a Warsaw Jewish archive; Rosenberg had testified in 1945 that he had witnessed the killing of Ivan the Terrible during an uprising. [WAGENAAR, p. 105] (Cross-examined about this document, the Holocaust survivor claimed that he had really only meant in 1945 that he had heard that Ivan had been killed, and there in the courtroom the real Ivan sat before him).
Testimony from Treblinka survivors riveted Israeli attention and was treated as irrefutable. Tom Teicholz noted the court testimony of Yehiel Reichman, for example:
"'While I was washing [prisoners' extracted] teeth ... with Finkelstein ... this
demon Ivan' -- Reichman pointed spontaneously at Demjanjuk -- 'came
with a drill ... He turned it into the buttocks of Finkelstein ... [He] was
seriously wounded." [TEICHOLZ, p. 152]
"Throughout this account," observed Tom Teicholz, "Demjanjuk was slowly shaking his head no." TEICHOLZ, p. 152
The appeal of Demjanjuk's death sentence began to turn in the defense's favor with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the release of relevant documentation about the real "Ivan the Terrible," now identified as Ivan Marchenko. By 1992, notes Sheftel, the Israeli judges had before them 83 decades-old testimonies from 37 guards at Treblinka, "all of them indicating Demjanjuk's innocence of the crimes for which he had been accused and convicted." Serious cracks in the prosecution's case widened when a former lawyer at OSI, George Parker, testified in 1992 that the United States government's handling of the Demjanjuk case was "inappropriate and unethical." [HARRISON, 11-13-92, p. A4] Parker left the OIS in 1980. "When I left the department," he said, "I did not think [Demjanjuk] was Ivan the Terrible." [HARRISON, 11-14-92, p. A2] More sensationally, it came to light that the Office of Special Investigations had knowingly withheld crucial evidence that would help Demjanjuk against the charge that he was the Treblinka gas operator. Under questioning in a U.S. court of inquiry, a former director of the criminal division of the OSI, Martin Mendelsohn, admitted "that the department refused to disclose requested evidence in a number of instances after determining that the materials wren either irrelevant or exempt from disclosure requirements. [HARRISON, 11-14-92, p. 2] "Thus," says Yoram Sheftel, "in August 1978 the OSI had in its possession a hundred pages which, we later found out, demonstrated Demjanjuk's innocence. These had been deliberately kept from Demjanjuk's attorney and obviously, from the courts as well. This was done in order to secure under false pretenses Demjanjuk's denaturalization, extradition to Israel, trial and execution as Ivan the Terrible, when these authorities knew for certain that he was not the right man." [SHEFTEL, p. 325]
The reason for this grotesque fraud? Massive pressure from the American Jewish and Israeli communities for a Nazi to kill. "OSI's motives in the odious deed," notes Sheftel, "... [was rooted in] a letter sent August 25, 1978 by Jewish Congressman Joshua Eilberg, Chairman of the House of Representatives' Committee on Immigration to Attorney General Griffin Bell:
"Reports have reached me that deficiencies have been apparent in the
preparation of the case of the U.S. v. Demjanjuk, a denaturalization
proceeding against an alleged Nazi war criminal now living in
Cleveland, Ohio. I wish to express my strong concern over the
possible inadequate prosecution of the case. A repeal of the recent
Federenko adverse decision to the government's case in Florida will
nullify and gravely jeopardize the long and persistent efforts of this
subcommittee in ridding this country of these undesirable elements...
The creation of a Special Litigation Unit [the OIS] within the I.N.S.
was established to bring expertise and organization to this process.
This Unit should be fully entrusted with these cases. I would strongly
urge you to place the direction of the proceedings of the
Demjanjuk case in the hands of the Special Litigation Unit. We
cannot afford the risk of losing another decision." [SHEFTEL, p. 329]
Alan Ryan, the head of OSI until 1981, told a newspaper in 1991 that, "It was one of the first cases we tried and we were very much on the line. If we lost the case, we probably would have had a very short lifespan." [SHEFTEL, p. 331] "The feeling within the OSI that it had to succeed was intense," notes Gitta Sereny, "for winning the Demjanjuk case could justify the agency's existence." [SERENY, p. 32]
In November 1993, the New York Times noted the "unanimous opinion” of a three-judge Federal Appeals panel in Cincinatti about the Demjanjuk case, that
"[OIS] prosecutors had withheld evidence in part to curry favor with
Jewish organizations, which put pressure on them to prove that Mr.
Demjanjuk was the notorious 'Ivan the Terrible’.... The judges said the
prosecutors had faced pressure from Jewish groups to win the case.
They noted that Alan A. Ryan, Jr., the head of the Office of Special
Investigations at the time, had even taken a lecture tour in Israel in
1986 that was sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith.
In addition to Mr. Ryan, the court singled out the actions of [OIS] lawyer
Norman Moscowitz ... The Judges said that the two were aware of the
existence of evidence that would have been useful to the defense but
failed to provide it in a timely fashion to Mr. Demjanjuk's lawyers ... [It
was also] obvious from the record that the prevailing mindset of OSI
was that the office must try to please and maintain very close relationships
with various interest groups because their continued existence
depended on it." [LABATAN, p. A1, A20]
One of the judges of this ruling, Gilbert Merritt, later publicly complained that he lost an expected appointment to the United States Supreme Court because of Jewish disdain for his part in the Demjanjuk affair, and that he had been told by those in the know that President Clinton didn't want to "go to war with the most influential national Jewish organizations." "There was a strong feeling that this man was Ivan the Terrible and that it was anti-Semitic to say that there's serious doubt about that," Judge Merritt said in a 1995 TV interview, "They [Jewish organizations] made an all-out attack, during the course of this litigation, against me." Merritt's critical observations only fueled further Jewish attack upon him. "He's reinforcing his notion of Jews as powerful and interfering," accused the Washington Anti-Defamation League director, Jess Hordes. "Judge Merritt has repeatedly displayed greater sensitivity to the rights of accused Nazis than to the victims of the Holocaust," added Elon Steinberg, executive director of the World Jewish Congress. [FORWARD, 2-10-95, p. 1]
"Besides raising concerns about the abuse of government power," editorialized the Chicago Tribune after the Federal Appeals ruling, "this latest development in the unraveling of Washington's case against Demjanjuk should serve as a cautionary tale about the dangers of zealotry." [CHIC TRIB, 11-24-93, p. 1, 18] "Critics of the [OIS]," noted the Los Angeles Times, "... have claimed that is was under pressure from Congress, from American Jews, and from Israel to be aggressive in ferreting out former Nazis and that its lawyer-investigators became advocates for a cause." [JACKSON, p. A13] An Atlanta Constitution editorial (entitled Demjanjuk Case a Blot on Justice) quoted the U.S. Appeals Court ruling, that "the prevailing mindset [at the OSI] was to please ... various interest groups because [the OSI's] existence depended on it." "For the record," added the Constitution, "one of these groups mentioned by the court was the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith." [ATL CONST, p. A10] For its part, the ADL called the Federal Appeals ruling "fodder for anti-Semites." [GOLDBERG, JJ, p. 190]
While Demjanjuk sat in Israeli prisons for seven and a half years, and spent over $2 million to defend himself, the lawyers who perpetrated fraud at OIS faced no discipline whatsoever. "History tells us that prosecutors who are condemned in judicial opinions never suffer any blemish on their careers" Stephen Gillers, an "ethics expert" at the New York University Law School told the New York Times, "If history is any guide, this case is ended yesterday." [MAGLOCK, 11-19-93, p. A30]
Even when Demjanjuk was proven innocent of the crime for which he had been extradited, Israeli prosecutors sought other avenues to save face in the wake of a cataclysmic and much-publicized embarrassment. This involved Israeli stalling efforts to keep Demjanjuk and try him on some other Nazi-related charge, that perhaps he was a concentration camp guard or other such figure. "This," says Yoram Shaftel, "was supposed to create a kind of moral, if not legal, justification for holding him in [an Israeli] prison for seven and a half years for being someone he was not." [SHEFTEL, p. 352]
Sheftel was horrified by the implications of the looming scenario. The Israeli prosecutors had by now 87 testimonies of people in the Ukraine in the 1940s and 1950s about the real "Ivan the Terrible," all proving that Demjanjuk was wrongly accused. But still the prisoner was not released. "A chill ran down my spine," wrote Demjanjuk's Israeli lawyer Sheftel, "Now, any low anti-Semite could, if he wanted to, argue that the Jewish state's prosecution was unable to act in accordance with legal criteria in any trial that involved the Holocaust." [SHEFTEL, p. 341] "Now, of all times, to listen to what Ukrainians said in a stupid interrogation!" Holocaust survivor Eliahu Rosenberg complained to the New York Times, "It's all stupid nonsense." [HABERMAN, 8-9-92, p. 1, 16]
On April 3, 1992, the Jewish socio-political implications of releasing Demjanjuk was made explicit in the Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv. A "senior prosecutor close to the case" was quoted as saying that
"So the most important thing now is at least to prove that Demjanjuk was
part of the Nazi extermination machine ... otherwise ... we will be making
a great contribution to the new world-wide movement of those who deny
the Holocaust took place." [SHEFTEL, p. 342]
On March 9, 1993, with Demjanjuk proclaimed innocent of Ivan the Terrible charges but still languishing in prison, the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz wondered, "The Demjanjuk case has not ended and that is bad ... Perhaps, God forbid, they are afraid to issue the verdict [of release] because of its problematic nature?" [SHEFTEL, p. 350] The Demjanjuk case, noted the New York Times, "has since raised questions about the fairness of Israeli justice in the context of the injustice of the Holocaust." [JOHNSTON, D, NYT, 6-13, 92, p. A1]
Even when Demjanjuk was finally cleared for freedom, the date of release was held up five times as Israelis still desperately scrambled to find some sound reason to keep and retry him for some other crime. On the day of his acquittal announcement a petition was filed with the Israeli Attorney General's Office to try the Ukrainian-American for something else. In America, the Sixth Circuit United States Appeals Court in Cincinnati announced that the extradition law that the United States had with Israel "forbids him from being tried on any other charges" other than the accusation he was sent there for: the crimes of the identity of Ivan the Terrible. But growing numbers of petitioners and protesters in Israel demanded that Demjanjuk be retried. Petitioners included eight of eleven Sobibor concentration camp survivors in Israel, the World Jewish Congress, the Organization for Holocaust and Heroism Heritage, the Second Generation of Holocaust Survivors, and the Israeli representative of the Simon Wiesenthal Center (although the famous Nazi hunter himself, Simon Wiesenthal, publicly stated that it was time that Demjanjuk be freed. [BOSTON GLOBE, 8-22-93, p. 21] By now too, Yisrael Yehezkeli -- the man who had thrown acid in Demjanjuk's Israeli lawyer's eyes -- was proclaiming that Demjanjuk had murdered his whole family at Sobibor. [SHEFTEL, p. 370] In New Jersey, a Holocaust survivor came forward to claim that she recognized Demjanjuk as a concentration camp guard too. [WALL ST JR, 8-24-93, p. A1] Elizabeth Holtzman, the (now former) Congresswoman who was so active in the creation of OSI, complained in an editorial published in the Washington Post, declaring that "the Federal court in Cincinnati is wrong ... As the author of the Holtzman Amendment, the immigration law that bars Nazi persecutors, I ought to know ... Demjanjuk got the benefit of careful, objective legal proceedings, something that was denied to the Nazi victims ... We cannot allow the Demjanjuk case to destroy the Department of Justice Office of Special Investigations ...." [HOTZMAN, p. A29] Yehudah Raveh of the World Jewish Congress also argued against releasing Demjanjuk, "Since the Supreme Court found that Demjanjuk was a camp guard, he is not a human being, and therefore he does not enjoy the rights of a human being." [SHEFTEL, p. 371]
The Chicago Tribune noted the situation in Israel with a critical editorial:
"Demjanjuk remains imprisoned in Israel, kept from leaving because
Israeli prosecutors, in apparent defiance of the U.S. - Israeli extradition
treaty, say they are considering charging him with war crimes other than
those for which the United States originally extradited him. That's not
fair.... Americans remember and rightly abhor the Holocaust and
support the pursuit of war criminals. But the surest way to undermine
that support is to let that pursuit become a witch hunt. More and more,
the Demjanjuk case has that aspect." [CHIC.TRIB. 8-6-93, p. 1, 18]
The same week the Los Angeles Times noted
"The State Department warned Israel earlier this week that further
detention of accused Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk would
elicit a strong reaction from the United States, sources within the World
Jewish Congress said Thursday ... The sources called the U.S. action
a blatant interference in Israel's internal affairs." [LA TIMES, 8-13-93, p.
The Washington Post noted the case, saying
"Due process and fair government conduct must be afforded in each
individual case. This is not only for the sake of the accused. Deviation
from this high standard is an affront to the Constitution, which protects
everyone's liberties." [WASH. POST, p. 11-19-93, p. A28]
Ultimately, Israeli Attorney General Nili Arad was forced to concede defeat and denied all petitions to retry Demjanjuk on other grounds, saying:
"The public has no interest in opening proceedings against Demjanjuk on
alternative charges if in the end there is no certainty that he will not be
acquitted of those as well. An additional acquittal will look like a debacle
and we cannot rule out such an acquittal." [SHEFTEL, p. 372]
"The truth came out at last," noted Yoram Sheftel, with satisfaction in his own vindication for ever taking the Demjanjuk case, "The Attorney General was forced to acknowledge that he did not have hard evidence to prove any alternative charge against Demjanjuk." [SHEFTEL, p. 373] Debbie Nathan and Jan Haaken note further that even if it could have been proven that Demjanjuk had been at least a guard at another concentration camp, "although guards at Sobibor participated in the atrocities common at all the death camps, authorities had no evidence that Demjanjuk personally murdered anyone." [NATHAN, p. 30]
When Demjanjuk finally flew home on Israeli El Al airlines, escorted by private bodyguards and Ohio Congressman James Traficant, the former prisoner was "heckled repeatedly by [Jewish] passengers." [WALSH, p. A3] When his plane landed at Kennedy Airport in New York, 100 protesters awaited him. "Jewish extremists" soon announced their threats to kill him. [HALBERMAN, 9-23-93, p. A3] The Simon Wiesenthal Center announced a campaign to flood President Clinton with telegrams to "vigorously pursue" further action against the former Ivan the Terrible. [HUNDLEY, p. 1, 6] Columnist Pat Buchanon's editorials defending Demjanjuk's freedom made him out to be in some Jewish quarters a "defender of Nazi war criminals." [NATIONAL REVIEW, p. 18] Among the Jewish protesters waiting for Demjanjuk at his home in the Cleveland suburb of Seven Hills was the familiar face of Rabbi Avi Weiss who vowed to "keep shadowing" the released prisoner [BRAUN, 9-23-93, p. A126] (presumably only when Polish Cardinal Glemp was not in this country).
"For some of Cleveland's 60,000 Jews," noted the Detroit News, upon Demjanjuk's return to America, "a retired autoworker with a fourth grade education has become the living, breathing embodiment of the Holocaust." [DICKERSON, p. A1] "He is not a victim or hero," Rabbi Weiss told a reporter at a demonstration near Demjanjuk's home, "... but one of the great symbols of Holocaust revisionism." [PERTMAN, p. 6] The News noted that the local Ukrainian community felt a need to rally to Demjanjuk's defense "because they themselves felt attacked -- particularly by Jewish groups." [DICKERSON, p. 9A] "Ukrainians have been called murderers and Nazis," a local Ukrainian complained to the News, "I've never seen such hate." A Seven Hills town ordinance was created to limit protests to four hours a day. The announcement that Attorney General Janet Reno planned an attempt to deport Demjanjuk drew a bitter reaction from William Liseynesky, president of the Cleveland area United Ukrainian Organizations. "She is under pressure from the Jewish community," he said, "She's just running scared from them, that's all." [PERTMAN, A, p. 6]
"There are those," wrote Gitta Sereny, "-- survivors and others -- who maintain that Demjanjuk must have been 'Ivan the Terrible.' They need to believe it because it is unbearable for them to find that all the sorrow, the anger, the pain, and all the effort have come to nothing." [SERENY, p. 33] As late as 1995, in spite of the long trial that acquitted Demjanjuk, and in spite of the due process (innocent until proven guilty) of western-style democracies, Jeff Jacoby, a Jewish columnist at the Boston Globe, was afforded editorial space to still sow the Jewish community's undying hatred. Jacoby's vitriol is startingly vicious in its single-minded hatred of the former Cleveland factory worker and its blanket animus towards the Ukrainian people:
"Demjanjuk's presence in this country is obscene ... Like many other
Ukrainians, Demjanjuk was glad to help the Nazis massacre Jews ... At
some point in 1943, Demjanjuk was transferred to Treblinka. So
infamous was his sadism there that he was nicknamed 'Ivan Grozhny,'
Ivan the Terrible ... Seven Jewish eyewitnesses, some of them trembling
and weeping, identified Demjanjuk as Ivan the Terrible ... He would stab
Jews as they were herded to gas chambers; he would slice off noses
and ears with a saber; he would cut women between their legs; he
would lash victims with a whip ... There's only one place where
Demjanjuk belongs. He's 75; with any luck, he'll be there soon."
[JACOBY, p. 15]
But Jewish efforts to hound Demjanjuk to death were not yet over. In May 1999, the U.S. Justice Department renewed "its court battle to strip U.S. citizenship from John Demjanjuk ... the new complaint alleges that he was a guard at the Sobibor extermination camp and at the Majdanek and Flossenberg concentration camps during World War II and served in the 'Trawniki' unit that participated in a campaign to annihilate the Jews of Europe." [INTL HERALD TRIB, p. 10]
[Meanwhile, Israel treats Jews differently -- per the death penalty -- who collaborated with the Nazis. As Jewish scholar Peter Novick notes: "Many published diaries and memoirs were filled with denunciations of officials fo the Jewish Councils (Judenraten) and the ghetto police they employed as [Nazi] collaborators, traitors, and murderers ... Indeed, the very law under which [former Nazi official Adolph] Eichmann was tried [and executed in Israel] had been instituted in Israel to punish Jewish collaborators. The Law for the Punishment of Nazis and Their Collaborators included Nazis as a matter of form, but there was no expectation that they would be bagged. Its real targets, everyone acknowledged, were collaborators among the [Jewish] survivors. Before Eichmann's capture, dozens of Jews in Israel had been prosecuted under the law. (Some had been sentenced to death, though the sentences were commuted)."] [NOVICK, P., 1999, p. 140]
* Note: In Canada there was a recent story of comparable Jewish fervor in that country's Federal Justice Department War Crimes division, a section created in 1987 to hunt down ex-Nazis there. By 1997 Bill Hobson -- the first head of the unit, and Arnold Fradkin, its first lawyer, were accusing the government department itself of anti-Semitism. Hobson even filed a $1 million lawsuit, attacking the man who succeeded him, Peter Kremer, claiming that Kremer "questioned the objectivity and legal advice of Fradkin, undermined his reputation and fazed him out of war crimes work because he was Jewish."
A 260-page investigative report was written by the Osgoode Hall law dean John McManus in response to the charges. "I have been unable to discover any evidence of anti-Semitic incidents or attitudes in the work of the War Crimes section during Kremer's term," McManus wrote, after interviewing dozens of Jewish and non-Jewish colleagues and legal opponents of Kremer, "... indeed, the overwhelming impression I have gained from the discussions is that it is widely believed that the allegations being made against him are profoundly unfair." The Canadian Jewish News noted that in the final report "Fradkin was described by colleagues, Jewish and non, as being 'obsessed,' and a 'passionate zealot,' and Kremer was justified in thinking he had lost objectivity on one case he had worked on for years ... Despite Hobson's gripes to the contrary, the report appears to be independent, mind-numbingly exhaustive and fair." [BINDMAN, S., p. 32]
In 2001, yet another alleged ex-Nazi Ukrainian was being hounded by Canada's (Jewish) Immigration Minister Elinor Caplan. A Toronto Star reporter, Peter Worthington, wrote a scathing article about Caplan's efforts to deport Jacob Fast:
"[A] trial opens in Hamilton today to deport a 91-year-old deaf man with
Alzheimer's, who the government thinks lied to get into Canada 54 years
ago. Immigration Minister Elinor Caplan wants Jacob Fast deported
because he 'probably' didn't tell the truth about being coerced into auxiliary
police attached to a Nazi SS unit during the war. Fast was born in Soviet
Ukraine in 1910. When he was accused, a couple of years ago, of working
with the Nazis and mistreating prisoners, he denied it (don't they all?).
Ottawa has no records to show he lied when he and his family came to
Canada in 1947 -- a time when refugee screening was casual, and displaced
persons were being settled in the thousands. Fast now lives in an old-age home
in St. Catharines, cannot maintain a conversation because of Alzheimer's,
can't defend himself, and won't appear at his Hamilton trial today. This is a
civil case, not a criminal one, so Mr. Justice Denis Pelletier of the Federal
Court has ruled it's not necessary for the defendant to appear in person.
I have no knowledge of Mr. Fast (a retired auto worker), but the fact that
he's another Ukrainian targeted by immigration, smacks of prejudice,
vindictiveness, vendetta. Wasyl Odynsky, of Toronto, who at age 17 was
forced into auxiliary police in World War II as a perimeter guard at a
concentration camp, is another Ms Caplan is determined to deport. The
record shows that when young Odynsky refused to report to the auxiliary
police and ran away, he was caught and told if he ran away again, his
parents and family would pay the price. Another Ukrainian, Helmut Oberlander,
has already been ordered deported. He was a teenaged translator for the
Germans in World War II. As for Mr. Fast -- what does it matter today what
he did or didn't do in World War II? We know the Nazis viewed Ukrainians
as 'subhuman' and punished them rather as they punished Jews in Ukraine
-- Babi Yar in Kiev was a massacre of Ukrainians and Jews."
[WORTHINGTON, P. 11-28-01]