Deborah Lipstadt, who’s been bequeathed the mantle of Holocaust sainthood from Elie Wiesel, penned a strong denunciation of the Trump administration’s erasure of Jews from the Holocaust in its recent statement honoring Holocaust Remembrance Day. In a piece in which she manages to promote the new movie based on her libel trial against David Irving, she coins a new term to portray it on the spectrum of Holocaust Revisionism. She calls it “softcore Holocaust denial.”
While the term is both provocative and apt in these circumstances, one part of her argument is not. Among the examples of Holocaust denial she offers is this:
Softcore denial uses different tactics but has the same end-goal [as hardcore denial, represented by Irving]. (I use hardcore and softcore deliberately because I see denial as a form of historiographic pornography.) It does not deny the facts, but it minimizes them, arguing that Jews use the Holocaust to draw attention away from criticism of Israel.
Being the patron saint of Holocaust studies doesn’t grant her permission to abuse of history on behalf of pro-Israel hasbara. It is a fact, disputed only by propagandists like her, that Israel itself abuses the Holocaust and accompanying charges of anti-Semitism against its critics. Also, Israel mistakenly appropriates the Holocaust as a historical event, arguing not only that it justified the creation of the State (debatable, but justifiable), but that any enemy or critic of Israel could threaten Israel with a new Holocaust (unjustifiable).
Every Israeli enemy becomes a harbinger of a new Holocaust. Remember Shimon Peres, like Wiesel another hasbarist of ‘sainted memory,’ saying that the (non-existent) Iranian Bomb was a “flying Holocaust (original source)??” Or Abba Evan’s invocation of the infamous phrase, “Auschwitz borders,” to justify Israel’s wartime territorial conquests (h/t Deir Yassin).
Note above, that Lipstadt cleverly inserts the word “Jews” so as to distort the actual content of the accusation against Israel. It is not “Jews” who accuse pro-Israel advocates of invoking the Holocaust to stifle criticism of Israel. It is Israel’s right-wing government and the Israel Lobby abroad. “Zionists,” yes. “Israelis,” yes. But “Jews?” That’s one bridge too far.
Deborah Lipstadt may be an expert in her field of Holocaust studies. But when it comes to Israel she is a cheap shill. She should stick to what she knows.
“Also, Israel mistakenly appropriates the Holocaust as a historical event, arguing not only that it justified the creation of the State (debatable, but justifiable), but that any enemy or critic of Israel could threaten Israel with a new Holocaust (unjustifiable).”
Many Israeli’s, me included, find it historically wrong and generally offensive when people (unfortunately also many Israelis) claim that Israel was founded because of the Holocaust or that its existence is justified by it.
I do think it is true that the history of the Jewish people for many centuries teaches us that Jews can not practice their cultural and religious traditions freely, with safety and dignity (and without suffering discrimination), in the diaspora. Either they are not safe or they are safe but many of them assimilate to the level of loosing much of their “Jewishness” if not completely loosing it.
In Europe Jews are afraid (and have been for quite a long time) to walk the streets wearing their Jewish symbols. In North America Jews have been doing very well physically but many gradually loose their Jewish identity. My impression from living there and being active in the Jewish community was that to secular Jews born in the USA being Jewish means very little. To some of them identifying with Israel gives some meaning to their identity. Others turn religious. The rest (which are the majority) find their “Jewishness” as a trivial part of their biography that adds to their uniqueness. That is certainly not much. It will not be too long, and perhaps I am too pessimistic, that the percentage of those who see themselves as Jews will severely diminish and most of the Jewish people in the USA will belong to the Orthodox sect.
I think Israel is essential not only as a possible shelter to Jews in distress (and in did it has been ever since it was founded) but also as a Jewish center that keeps the existence of Jews as a nation or people. This would have been true even if there were never a holocaust.
Deïr Yassin says
And the ultimate misuse of the Holocaust for Hasbara purposes: speaking of “Auschwitz borders”
how offensive is this. ever since Menachim Begin flim- flammed Ronnie raygun about his non existent brother dying in Auschwitz, Zionist collaborators have peddled the Holocaust card. A reminder, the disabled were the first to be targeted for death by the T4 program. Roma, Sinti and Slavs were untermenschen suitable only for death through labour. Lets not forget political dissidents such as the White Rose group or the Red Orchestra, nor the gays and Jehovahs Witnesses condemned to concentration camps. Israel and Zionists DO NOT have proprietary rights on an event that victimised millions Jew and non Jew alike, In the 1990,s a work colleague stated that what we needed was a strong leader like Hitler. When challenged he figured seeing as only Jews caught it, Hitler woulda been a safe bet for him, until it was pointed out that the government decided who was a Jew. He back pedalled really fast. The point is if that the full range of nazi atrocities and oppression were known, anti nazi sentiment would be a whole lot bigger than the singular focus on Jewish victims allows. Anyone dissenting from Nazism was at risk of extermination. If you were part of a group the Nazis regarded as undesirable then you got the special treatment as well ie the workshy, alcoholics social riff raff. we must tear the holocaust out of manipulative Zionist interpretations that allow the ethnic cleansing of those Muslim semites, the Palestinian people. we want one state united with equal rights and recognition for all its citizens. support bds. stop the annexation, end the ethnoc cleansing and free Palestine Israel from the Zionist fascist curse. I dare any Zionist to dispute this history of the holocaust.
Richard Silverstein says
While I appreciate the gist of your comment, I want to nip this invitation in the bud before it even starts. Do not dare anyone to get into a long drawn-out argument about interpretations of the Holocaust.