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ZGram: Where Truth is Destiny - and Destination!

January 20, 2000

Good Morning from the Zundelsite:

Moving right along with Part III of the Allan C. Brownfeld essay that appeared in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs discussing the shameful political use of the Holocaust by Israel:

Brownfeld:

Discussing what he believes is the manipulation of young people through these death camp visits, Segev provides this assessment:

"Nothing better illustrates the change that has occurred in Israel's attitude toward the Holocaust than the journey of these students, members of the third generation, to Treblinka, Majdanek and Auschwitz. It was a pilgrimage to the Diaspora.

"Here was a Zionist irony. A single generation after the founding of the state, Israel was sending its children into the Jewish past abandoned by its founding fathers, who hoped to create a 'new man,' free of the ghetto past. The young people were sent to seek out what secular Israeli society was, apparently, unable to offer them, roots. The trip was a ritual laden with emotion and symbols and a sometimes bizarre obeisance to what Saul Friedlander once described as the union of Kitsch and death...

"It exuded isolationism, to the point of xenophobia, rather than openness and love of humanity. The attempt...to include the Holocaust's universal lessons in the instruction had been almost completely abandoned."

Zundelsite:

If Ernst Zundel or David Irving said that, it would be considered an actionable crime - a "hate crime"!

Brownfeld:

Recently, Allan Nadler, the former director of research at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research and an associate professor of Jewish studies at Drew University, attended the "March of the Living." At a ceremony on the grounds of Auschwitz-Birkenau he heard Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu declare that, "The Nazis failed...we won." Netanyahu then expounded on the "lessons" of Auschwitz to the 7,000 participants.

Writing in The Forward (May 22, 1998), Dr. Nadler laments that, "To my regret I was among them. For Mr. Netanyahu, as for many Israelis, the Holocaust is as uncomplicated as it is tragic. Its lessons are the lessons of Zionist historiography.

"If only the Jews had listened to the warnings of the Zionist leaders and evacuated Europe for Eretz-Yisrael, Auschwitz would not have happened...Most important, the rise of the state of Israel is history's answer and consolation for the catastrophe that befell European Jewry."

The Netanyahu speech "offended me," states Nadler. "The Holocaust is rarely confronted in Israel on its own bleak, inconsolable terms. Even the country's official day of mourning for the Holocaust connects the tragedy with the glory of Jewish resistance and subsequent rebirth...

"The Jewish catastrophe is, in the Israeli national consciousness, deeply and inextricably linked with the subsequent rise of the Jewish state. The March of the Living is carefully orchestrated to inculcate its young participants with this perspective on the Holocaust....But the revival of the Jewish nation in its ancestral land...can never compensate for the loss of the largest, richest and most creative Jewish community in all of Jewish history....

Zundelsite:

". . . carefully orchestrated to inculcate the youth in state ideology"? Is that not the oft-repeated charge against Hitler?

Brownfeld:

"It is, of course, natural to search for meaning, comfort and redemption in the wake of such tragedy. To confront the Shoah on its own terms is difficult and painful. But to cast it in an ultimately positive light, to emphasize Jewish resistance and 'bravery' beyond historical proportion; to insist that at the end of the day, the tragedy has been corrected by the subsequent rise of Israel, is ultimately to distort the disconsolate dimension and incurable nature of what was visited upon our people in this century. Worse yet, to use the Shoah as a political weapon as Mr. Netanyahu so clearly did that day at Auschwitz, is to desecrate the memory of its victims."

Zundelsite:

Mr. Nadler must be offended many times, for millions of Jews desecrate the memory of the true victims on a daily basis - from Goldhagen to Spielberg, from Wiesel to the Wiesenthalers.

Brownfeld:

Auschwitz, Nadler argues, "is not a place for flag waving, cantorial concerts, political speeches or triumphant nationalism. It is not the place to celebrate Jewish life or to affirm Jewish nationalism or to lecture on the wisdom of the Zionist idea...The only appropriate activity at Auschwitz is mourning. More than any other place, Auschwitz demands of us humility."

Zundelsite:

And a belated but long overdue examination why yet one more nation turned on its Jews!

Brownfeld:

Tom Segev's book, The Seventh Million, is the first to show the decisive impact of the Holocaust upon the identity, ideology and politics of Israel. It reveals how the bitter events of past decades continue to shape the experiences not just of individuals but of a nation.

Tom Segev concludes: "...consciousness of the Holocaust...played an ever more pivotal role in the ongoing debate over what fundamental values ought to guide Israeli society. It is in the framework of this debate that some have suggested that Israelis would do best to forget the Holocaust entirely, because they were not learning the proper lessons from it."

Zundelsite:

Indeed! Not a single Jewish or gentile writer has asked the all-important "WHY"?! What so angered the Germans to take such stringent measures against the Jews in their midst? What were the deep, fundamental reasons and causes for their policies?

Brownfeld:

"Indeed, the ceremonies tend to inculcate an insular chauvinism and a sense that the Nazi exterminations of the Jews justifies any act that contributes to Israel's security, including the oppression of the population in the territories occupied by Israel in the Six-Day War...The sense that the Holocaust was inevitable, in accordance with Zionist ideology, and the identification with the Jew as victim are liable to lead Israelis to conclude that their existence depends solely on military power, and so to limit their willingness to take the risks involved in a compromise peace settlement...

Zundelsite:

A place for wisdom from the Bible: Live by the sword, and you shall die by the sword.

Brownfeld:

"Yet it does not follow from the risks inherent in Israeli memorial culture, that Israel would do best to forget the Holocaust. Indeed, they cannot and should not forget it. They need, rather, to draw different conclusions.

Zundelsite:

Finally at least an attempt, a beginning to rethink? Just maybe?

Brownfeld:

"The Holocaust summons all to preserve democracy, to fight racism and to defend human rights. It gives added force to the Israeli law that requires every soldier to refuse to obey a manifestly illegal order. Instilling the humanist lessons of the Holocaust will be difficult as long as the country is fighting to defend itself and justify its very existence, but it is essential. This is the task of the seventh million."

Zundelsite:

I wonder why that lesson ". . . not to obey an illegal order ' was not heeded by those who killed the hapless villagers in Deir Yassin and in hundreds of other places - let's say when Egyption prisoners were massacred by the thousands in the Yom Kippur War?

=====

(Allan C. Brownfeld, who wrote this article, is a syndicated columnist and associate editor of the Lincoln Review, a journal published by the Lincoln Institute for Research and Education, and editor of Issues , the quarterly journal of the American Council for Judaism.)

(To be continued tomorrow)

=====

Thought for the Day:

"We dance around in a ring and suppose,

but the Secret sits in the middle and knows."

(Robert Frost)


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