Clemens Heni

Wissenschaft und Publizistik als Kritik

Schlagwort: 1939

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Germany alone started WW II – Why is TOI running riot against Yad Vashem?

Dr. Clemens Heni, The Times of Israel (Blogs) |Feb 10, 2020, 6:34 PM

In an article for the Times of Israel (TOI), journalist Sam Sokol, with the help of JTA and TOI staff, chastises Holocaust memorial museum Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, for supposedly inaccurate or even “revisionist” videos, screened at the 5th Holocaust Forum at Yad Vashem on January 23, 2020, commemorating the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Sokol’s article “Scholars urge transparency to restore Yad Vashem credibility after Putin fiasco” raises questions about the quality of TOI’s journalism as well as about the political culture of Holocaust remembrance in Israel and among Jews.

I am not talking about the speeches or remarks at the event (including troubling facts or completely false numbers of Jewish victims in the Soviet Union by Putin in his speech) in question on January 23, 2020, at the 5th World Holocaust Forum. I am only analyzing the major video of that day (7:45 minutes), which is now attacked by the Times of Israel and Sam Sokol and many others, quoted in Sokol’s piece.

We already know about the attempts of gentiles to distort the Shoah. It started shortly after 1945, when Germans compared Auschwitz to the bombing of Dresden. Then, historian Ernst Nolte wrote in the 1970s that Stalin was first, not Hitler and the Germans. This Red equals Brown has become a major ideology of the European Union in the last few decades.

In 1997, French anti-communist (former Maoist) Stéphane Courtois edited the “Black Book of Communism,” claiming that communism killed many more people than Nazism and the Germans: Communism was worse than the Shoah – that is the antisemitic ideology of that kind of people. Those people deny the unprecedented character of Auschwitz, Sobibor and Treblinka, where for the very first time in world history, an entire people was chosen to be eliminated: Germans wanted to eradicate Jews and Judaism from the earth. They almost succeeded and killed six million Jews in the Holocaust. Post-colonialism, for those interested in the field, follows an equally troubling denial of the unprecedented character of the Shoah, by the way.

In 2008, the Prague Declaration, signed by Vaclav Havel and Joachim Gauck, along with Czech, Lithuanian and other politicians and activists, urges the EU to rewrite all textbooks and to warn everyone about the evils of both Nazism and Communism. That downplaying of National Socialism is common among many in Europe and the US.

Professor Dovid Katz dealt extensively with the dangerous “double Genocide ideology” of the Prague Declaration, Baltic politics and European activists alike.

It is to some extent news, however, that Jews and Israelis join the chorus of downplaying the role of Nazi Germany when it comes to the Second World War. Sokol claims that the Soviet Union holds a co-responsibility for the outbreak of WWII because of the Hitler-Stalin-Pact from August 23, 1939. That is a lie, though – as Germany wanted to invade and destroy Poland and the Soviet Union and other states in the East anyway. Realpolitik did not change Hitler’s and Germany’s intention to invade Eastern Europe and to kill European Jews, who were seen behind both Western capitalism and Eastern communism.

While it is unclear how many and which videos he talks about, the main video of that event is linked in the article. It is a 7:45 minute video about the development of German antisemitism and the rise of Nazi Germany to power. The video depicts some famous Jews like Einstein, Freud and Walter Benjamin to emphasize the role Jews played in European culture prior to World War II.

It shows how antisemitism spread in Nazi Germany, from boycotts (1933) and harassment to racial laws, the nights of pogroms (Nov. 9, 1938) to deportation, ghettos, starving, torture, murder and extermination. It then shows Sir Winston Churchill who spoke about the importance to stand “together” against Germany.

Then, the video deals with the fact that only an allied pact of the West and East, the US, Great Britain and the Soviet Union was able to fight, stop and finally defeat National Socialism. Correctly, the video says that the Red Army was the first one to fight back against the Germans.

From the time of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941 through to the first landings at Normandy in June 1944, millions of Soviet troops and citizens perished in the battle to push the Nazi armies back. D-Day, June 6, 1944, is correctly shown as the start of the major Western front against the Germans, alongside the Eastern front and the Soviet Union that had been fighting effectively from later 1941 onward.

On July 24, 1944, the Red Army liberated the extermination camp of Majdanek, without realizing, before their entry, the unspeakable catastrophe of the Holocaust that transpired there. Then, the Holocaust of Hungarian Jews in some two months in 1944 is reported, with 450.000 Jews being exterminated. Tens of thousands of Jews would then die in the death marches (from the camps westward to Germany).

The video clearly shows the Allies working together in the liberation of Europe. The Red Army liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau, the US Army Buchenwald and Dachau. British troops liberated Bergen-Belsen. The fall of Berlin (to the Soviet and American armies) and the liberation of Theresienstadt ended the war against Nazi Germany.

I had seen that video — which is linked in the TOI article by Sam Sokol —when it was screened in Jerusalem via the Yad Vashem livestream. I have watched it again now: What is the problem with that accurate video? As in any concise synopsis, many things are of necessity left out. But, it rightly explains how the Allies, including, and most importantly in the actual history as it unfolded, the Red Army, liberated Europe from Nazi Germany and indeed, how Auschwitz was liberated on January 27, 1945.

Obviously Holocaust distorting people with a political agenda to “equalize” Nazi and Soviet crimes as per the far right’s campaign led by East European governments, now notice that the Hitler-Stalin pact of August 23, 1939, is missing. Well, for that matter, so are the capitulations of Chamberlain at Munich and all the others. It has nothing to do with January 27, 1945.

Some might see Yad Vashem as nothing but a loudspeaker of Bibi Netanyahu, and I share skepticism about his policies, no doubt about this. However, this is a huge fight about how to commemorate the outbreak of WWII.

If Sokol and his allies succeed in saying that it HAS TO BE MENTIONED that there was the Hitler-Stalin pact when it comes to Auschwitz – antisemitism has succeeded in bringing even Jewish and Israeli scholars and activists in line with right-wing extremist revisionism.

Why? Because that is an antisemitic and far-right revisionist narrative, modified in fine Western style from its far-right East European originators by historian Timothy Snyder, former German President Joachim Gauck and right-wing extremist historians such as Jorg Baberowski of Germany.

The same people say that fact that Poland was occupied by the Soviets is missing!

Yes, after war’s end, completely true. But what has that got to do with a film about defeating Nazi Germany and liberating Auschwitz?

To focus on crimes by Stalin not as a separate issue, but mixed up with the Holocaust, is wrong and historically misleading. It is precisely what German antisemites since Ernst Nolte tried to pursue: both sides are evil, Nazis and Communists, everything is the same, one big mishmash.

Stalin committed many horrendous crimes. These crimes, though, have literally no place in a video dedicated to the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. The video does not focus on the failure of the US or Great Britain. – It could have mentioned the widespread antisemitism in America and Britain, the closure of the US border as well as Palestine by the British.

However, the aggressive tone of Sam Sokol and many historians he quotes – from Deborah Lipstadt to Dan Michman and even Efraim Zuroff – speaks volume about the intention to follow the revisionist narrative: Red equals Brown. Sokol goes so far and writes:

The videos presented at the ceremony — which was attended by dozens of world leaders, among them Russian President Vladimir Putin — focused almost exclusively on the Soviet Union’s role in defeating the Nazis, while downplaying the role of America, Britain, and other countries. They also failed to mention Joseph Stalin’s deal with Adolf Hitler in the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact that preceded the war, Russia’s occupation of parts of Poland, and other facts uncomfortable for Moscow.”

As shown, that is simply incorrect – that video does indeed emphasize the role of the allies! Watch it and you will see.

If Jews now start using anti-Jewish historical revisionism such as that of Ernst Nolte, claiming that Stalin was first or at least as evil as Hitler – then Yad Vashem should stand strongly and clearly against the revisionists.

This is not about belittling the evil intentions of the Stalin-Hitler pact. It is about the misrepresentation by that pact by those in the far right East European antisemitic camp, and their followers in the West, to elevate it to a Holocaust-grade event as part of the effort to downgrade the Holocaust. Many Jews are alive today in Eastern Europe and beyond because from Sept 1, 1939 onward, their forebears escaped from the Nazi to the Soviet held sectors.

It is time for the West, Israel and Yad Vashem to understand which modes of discourse signal the very revisionism that is anathema to all that Yad Vashem stands for.

Finally, let me teach you a lesson about fascism in the 21st century: a few days ago, February 5, 2020, the fascist Björn Höcke and the right-wing extremist Alternative for Germany (AfD) voted in favor of the candidate for the head of the State of Thuringia (some 2 million inhabitants) from the conservative-libertarian FDP, a no-name called Kemmerich. Mr. Kemmerich even accepted the vote after it was clear that he did only win because of the votes by the fascists. Shake-hands with wannabe-Goebbels Björn Höcke followed. Shockwaves through the democratic parts of Germany. That was the first time that a Nazi like party voted for a Prime Minister of a German state since 1945 and their vote was crucial. A few days later, the FDP politician had to resign, due to political pressure from the ruling Christian Democratic Party and the FDP, while both parties had supported Kemmerich just a few hours before!

The main reason for the Conservatives and the libertarian-conservatives to vote alongside with the fascists of the AfD was to avoid the left-wing Prime Minister of Thuringia, Bodo Ramelow from the Party of the Left, who is rather a Social Democrat. The fascists and conservatives frame him as “communist” or “socialist” and preferred fascism over communism or socialism.

Those Israeli journalists or Jewish-American and other historians who claim that the Soviet Union allegedly played a pivotal or any role in the outbreak of World War II follow the very same kind of what I call “existential anti-communism.”

Those who want so speak about the crimes of communism when asked about the liberation of Auschwitz, distort the worst crime in history and follow antisemitic revisionism.

The video in question by Yad Vashem is a video dedicated to teach a big audience about the liberation of Auschwitz and that video is correct in not at all focusing on Soviet policies in other aspects, it does equally not focus on the failure of the US and Great Britain to stop Hitler and the Germans long before September 1, 1939.

Sam Sokol seems to be following the very European antisemitic trope of equating Red and Brown and I am wondering why and if historians such as Deborah Lipstadt (““I am absolutely heartbroken that Yad Vashem, which has such a stellar reputation and stayed above the political fray, should have become part of this politicization of history,” she lamented), Dan Michman (“Unfortunately, the short films that accompanied the event, and especially the film that was meant briefly to present the key points of World War II and the Holocaust, included a number of inaccuracies that resulted in a partial and unbalanced presentation of the historical facts”), or Efraim Zuroff (“Yad Vashem has never engaged in Holocaust distortion; exactly the opposite,” commented Efraim Zuroff, a Nazi-hunter who runs the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Jerusalem office, surmising that the “material was not reviewed by the leading historians of Yad Vashem” before being presented publicly”) play that game, as he quotes them accordingly.

It is not by accident that historian Dina Porat did not say anything in public so far, which is sad, because she could perhaps tell us a different story about that very video by Yad Vashem.

Nazi Germany was all alone responsible for the outbreak of World War II.

Germans wanted the war, they wanted to invade Poland, the Soviet Union and all of Europe. They wanted to eradicate Jews and Judaism from the earth.

To even mention Soviet or other realpolitik when it comes to the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and to insinuate September 1, 1939 was not Germany’s responsibility alone, promotes an old right-wing extremist lie.

Everybody who rejects the historical truth of the German and only German guilt of starting World War II is part of the problem.

Dovid Katz puts it splendidly:

While the Soviets’ 1939 invasion of eastern Poland was one of thousands of disgraceful and contemptible invasions in world history, it was not “the same” as Hitler’s 1939 invasion of western/central Poland. In the German sector, Hitler’s forces unleashed the Holocaust, the worst genocide in the history of humankind. In the Soviet sector, all of the various peoples were granted full equality to live equally under (lousy, autocratic, freedom-stifling, wealth-stealing) Soviet law. Any Jew that could flee to the Soviet sector was quick to do so. Many thousands of Jews today exist on the planet precisely because their parents, grandparents and others fled to the Soviet sector.

 

StandWithUs to distort history?

This article was first published with the Times of Israel on 26 April, 2016

The pro-Israel NGO StandWithUs is an important voice in the anti-BDS camp. They are doing Israel advocacy and criticize anti-Zionist anti-Semitism. On 24 April, 2015, StandWithUs published a pictogram on Facebook that equates the horrible events of 1915 during the First World War, the killing of hundreds of thousands of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire (the Young Turks), to Nazi Germany. They equate the Young Turks to Hitler and 1915 to 1939, as if the Nazi Party (NSDAP) and Hitler came to power in 1939.

StandWithUspictogram 24 April 2016 on Facebook

September 1, 1939, the Second World War begun, but the picture by StandWithUs deliberately uses a pictogram of Hitler and his rise to power has nothing to do with 1939, but with 1933.

But there is much more behind this campaign by StandWithUs. To acknowledge the Armenian tragedy as genocide has been an international topic for decades now. Many equate genocide to the Shoah. The Holocaust is portrayed as just a genocide among others. That is a very common but dangerous trope.

In particular, post-colonial studies are eager to deny the unprecedented character of the Shoah. Take British-Nigerian broadcast of the BBC, David Olusoga’s and his Danish colleague Casper Erichsen’s 2010 book “Kaiser’s Holocaust” as an example. They make an analogy of the German massacre in South-West Africa in the early 20th century to the Holocaust. They claim the Shoah was a form of “social Darwinism.” No, the Holocaust was not a form of social Darwinism, nor were the Jews seen as the “weak.” Contrary to that, Germans saw Jews as superior, dangerous, and as preparing a world conspiracy. That is the very essence of anti-Semitism.

Post-colonial scholarship as well as post-Orientalist and genocide studies fail to understand the specificity of anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism imagined the Jews behind all evil, as being behind capitalism in the United States and communism and the Soviet Union. There is no connection between the “People without Space,” as one chapter in Kaiser’s Holocaust reads, and the Shoah, because anti-Semitism and the Shoah had nothing to do with land gain, imperialism or any other form of political, territorial, economic, cultural, social etc. purpose. The authors simply ignore the entire scholarship on the uniqueness of the Holocaust.

German historian Jürgen Zimmerer is a leading voice in comparing and equating German colonialism to Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. In 2003, he published an article wherein he stated that “genocides in the colonies” are in the same “category” as “National Socialist murder policies.” In 2011, Zimmerer published a collection of his essays on colonialism and the Holocaust, entitled From Windhuk to Auschwitz? He insists that as early as 1947 American civil rights activist and historian W.E.B. Dubois (1868–1963) said:

There was no Nazi atrocity — concentration camps, wholesale maiming and murder, defilement of women or ghastly blasphemy of childhood — which Christian civilization or Europe had not long been practicing against colored folk in all parts of the world in the name of and for the defense of a Superior Race born to rule the world.

Zimmerer emphasizes that another author posited comparable arguments. This is the old superstar of post-colonialism-studies, Aimé Césaire (1913–2008), who wrote in 1950 that the crime of the Holocaust is (supposedly) seen as horrible not because of

the humiliation of man as such, it is the crime against the white man, the humiliation of the white man, and the fact that he [Hitler] applied to Europe colonialist procedures which until then had been reserved exclusively for the Arabs, of Algeria, the colonies of India, and the blacks of Africa.

The city of Paris dedicated a big street at the Seine, close to the Louvre, to the memory of Césaire, “Quai Aimé Césaire.”

20160318_142415

Then, StandWithUs should look at Yale University. The most recent example of equating the fate of the Armenians to the Holocaust and to distort anti-Semitism and the Shoah comes from Yale University’s political scientist professor Seyla Benhabib.

In a recent article in the mainstream Journal of Genocide Research (Vol. 17, No. 3, 2015), she compares the mass-murder of Armenians by the Turkish in the First World War to the Jews and the Shoah. She urges US Congress and others to call the Armenian tragedy a “genocide.” She takes aim at American and Israeli politicians who reject to frame the mass-murder a genocide. She is not a historian of the Shoah, to be sure. But her approach is very much representing vast parts of the humanities and social sciences when it comes to reject the uniqueness of the Shoah. The case of the mass-murder of the Armenians is just used by Benhabib to bolster her anti-Zionist agenda. She writes:

At a deeper level, both Zionism and Kemalism are state-building and nation-crafting ideologies and the old elites of these movements understood one another very well. David Ben-Gurion had studied law in the Ottoman Empire, and to this day Israeli law contains many elements of Ottoman law. Just as Armenian people refer to the events of 1915 as their Holocaust, with the founding of the State of Israel, it is now Palestinians who refer to that event as their ‘naqbah’. In other words, the Israelis are no longer like the Armenians, a diasporic people, spread among the nations, but a people with a modern mighty nation-state, just as modern Turkey itself is.

Benhabib and her allies, like editor Dirk A. Moses — she thanks him “for encouraging me to publish it in this form” — equate the Holocaust to completely distinct events in history like the mass-murder of the Armenian people in 1915, which was not at all the same as the industrial eradication of European Jewry by the Germans.

Benhabib’s editor and ally, historian Dirk A. Moses from Australia, professor of history at the University of Sydney, sets American slavery, colonialism and the Holocaust, the fate of blacks and Jews in one historical line. In 2002, he published an article about the “racial century (1850–1950).” He accuses the Western world and Europe for “Eurocentrism” when the Holocaust is seen as unique. Moses is applying the language, for example, of German right-wing extremists who make fun of Jewish survivors and he accuses Jewish survivors of taking the Holocaust as something “sacred.”

Moses is a contributor to the Oxford Handbook of Holocaust Studies. He claims that “colonialism and the Holocaust are linked,” and that there is a close connection between “colonial rule and anti-Semitism.” For him, the “Holocaust” was the result “of a frustrated imperial nation.” Moses promotes the controversial approaches of scholars like Césaire or Zimmerer. Hamburg University’s historian Jürgen Zimmerer is Chair Person of the International Advisory Board of the Journal of Genocide Research and its former editor from 2005–2011.

Post-colonial or pre-colonial violence, though, are not topics of scholars like Moses as it looks like. Western scholarship does not deny the huge crimes of colonialism, and imperialism, including slavery, massacres, forced land dispossession, mass rape of women, sexual abuse and so on. As long post-colonial scholars, however, are not focusing on Arab and Muslim slavery in the Middle Ages and the modern times, as well as the ongoing Islamic jihad and anti-Western propaganda, one cannot take them too seriously as scholars who really care about violence in history and our contemporary world. Is it possible that violence just counts for them when the perpetrator is white and European, Australian, Canadian or American, Christian or Zionist, but never Muslim or “native,” for example?

Mose’s ally Benhabib misses the point, that Jews and Israel are threatened today by world-wide anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, while there is no international movement to “wipe Armenians of the map,”, for example. Benhabib’s use of the term Holocaust for the history of the Armenians as well as her analogy of Arab-Palestinian history is very troubling, too. She wants to equate Jews to Armenians and the Palestinians to Jews with the pure intention to portray both Armenians and Palestinians as still victims of history, while the Jews succeeded to get their own state (Armenians, too).

She does not even discuss that many in Europa and the US want Turkey to recognize the Armenian “genocide” — that is the topic of her article — because they are anti-Islam. There is of course also a serious awareness of Turkish crimes against the Armenians by scholars and the public who are not driven by anti-Muslim feelings. But many of that kind of people seem to be driven by Holocaust distortion. Benhabib accuses Israel and the US of “ugly geopolitical games.”  Perhaps one could take her approach more seriously, if she wouldn’t compare and even equate the Holocaust to the Armenian tragedy. But the downplaying or rejection of the uniqueness of the Shoah is the condition sine qua non of many parts of genocide research.

It is important to remember the Armenian tragedy, of course. But it is a distortion of history and a denial (!) of the unprecedented character of the Shoah to claim that without 1915 Hitler and the Nazis wouldn’t have come to power. This is a distortion of history and a denial of anti-Semitism, which has nothing to do with Ottoman or Armenian history. German anti-Semitism goes way back and was not inspired by the horrible events during the First World War in the Ottoman Empire.

It is shocking, though, to see an American NGO — StandWithUs — promoting these historical distortions, including the obfuscation of the long history of German anti-Semitism up until eliminationist anti-Semitism during Nazi Germany.

You can and should remember what happened to the Armenians. But never ever as analogy to anti-Semitism, the rise of Hitler and the Nazi Party and the Shoah. Instead, this campaign by StandWithUs speaks volumes about the knowledge of some of the smartest pro-Israel advocates in the US when it comes to the specificity of anti-Semitism, German history, and the rise of the Nazi Party (NSDAP) and Hitler to power in 1933, not in 1939.

I’d suggest to read Bernard-Henri Lévy’s 2008 study “Left in Dark Times. A Stand against the New Barbarism,” and his take on the uniqueness of the Shoah and the Armenian tragedy:

And you could take the time, with those who wonder, sometimes in good faith, about the uniqueness of the Holocaust, you could take the time to explain that this uniqueness has nothing to do with body count but with a whole range of characteristics that, strange as it may seem, coincide nowhere else in all the crimes human memory recalls.

The industrialization of death is one such: the gas chamber. The irrationality, the absolute madness of the project, is the second: the Turks had the feeling, well founded or not, and mostly, of course, unfounded, that they were killing, in the Armenians, a fifth column that was weakening them in their war against the Russians — there was no point in killing the Jews; none of the Nazis took the trouble to claim that there was any point to it at all;

and such was the irrationality, I almost said gratuitousness, of the process that when, by chance, the need to exterminate coincided with another imperative that actually did have a point, when, in the last months of the war, when all the railways had been bombed by the Allies, the Nazis could choose between letting through a train full of fresh troops for the eastern front or a trainload of Jews bound to be trans-formed into Polish smoke in Auschwitz, it was the second train that had priority, since nothing was more absurd or more urgent, crazier or more vital, than killing the greatest number of Jews.

And the third characteristic that, finally, makes the Holocaust unique: the project of killing the Jews down to the last one, to wipe out any trace of them on this earth where they had made the mistake of being born, to proceed to an extermination that left no survivors. A Cambodian could, theoretically at least, flee Cambodia; a Tutsi could flee Rwanda, and outside Rwanda, at least ideally, would be out of range of the machetes; the Armenians who managed to escape the forces of the Young Turk government were only rarely chased all the way to Paris, Budapest, Rome, or Warsaw (…).

It is tremendously important to fight Islamism and the current Erdogan regime in Turkey, including their denial of the Armenian tragedy. But there is a huge gap between denial and equation of that history to the Holocaust! It was not a forerunner of the industrial murder of Jews by Germans during the Second World War and National Socialism.

Israeli historian at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Yitzhak Kerem, writes the following about the Armenian tragedy:

In 1915, it’s more of a conflict. Turks will exaggerate and say that more Turks were killed in the fighting from 1915 to 1923 than Armenians. They do have responsibilities towards the Armenians, but to pattern itself as a Jewish holocaust which [some Armenians] have done, they were pushed by British intelligence, is a distortion of history.

“My point is, and this is what the Armenians don’t like, is that more Kurds killed Armenians than Turks. The Turks did terrible things to the Armenians. They butchered people right and left. They raped and pillaged, but it wasn’t an organized act by the regime. It was a byproduct of hate. The Turks did terrible things to the Greek Orthodox, especially in Izmir. To call that a holocaust and a genocide when you are equating that with the Jewish holocaust is a distortion.

This, at least, should be a point of departure for a discussion. Not denial of the Armenian tragedy as Erdogan and his regime prefer. And not exaggeration and equation with the Holocaust either.

This recent campaign of StandWithUs might be considered as a symbol of contemporary activism as well as scholarship in genocide research and post-colonial studies. Holocaust distortion is not seen as a topic from that point of view. The inflation of genocide and the rejection of the unprecedented character of Auschwitz has become mainstream even in some pro-Israel circles.

I just read the other day an old critique by English Studies professor Edward Alexander about Shulamit Aloni (1928–2014), a former Israeli minister of education, leader of the Meretz Party, Israel-Prize winner and human rights activist. Her focus on the Palestinians and how they are treated has for sure some merits, as long as we ignore her blind-eye on Palestinian terrorism, both secular and Islamist, and anti-semitism. Alexander focused on Aloni’s contribution to Holocaust distortion. In my view, his criticism fits very well to the recent StandWithUs campaign and to post-colonial studies and genocide studies. In his article “What the Holocaust Does Not Teach” (1993, republished in his “Jews against Themselves,” 2015) Alexander wrote:

But Mrs. Aloni, the Israeli, the Israeli version of what East European Jews used to call ‘a cossack in a sukkah,’ has deplored the stress upon the Holocaust as regressive and nationalistic. ‘I do not take pictures of the backside of history,’ she declared on Israeli Radio. ‘The Ministry of Education must be concerned with the future.’ Even before her elevation of office, Aloni frequently denounced Holocaust education in Israel because it taught children that ‘the Nazis did this to the Jews instead of the message that people did this to people.’

Aloni’s approach might fit American inclusiveness but fails to understand anti-Semitism, let alone the Shoah.

Holocaust distortion by Seyla Benhabib and the Journal of Genocide Research when it comes to the Armenian tragedy should be a warning to pro-Israel groups like StandWithUs in the future.

Finally, there seems to be a need, even an obsession, to reject the uniqueness of the Shoah. Germans need to obfuscate German crimes and project their guilt onto Jews or the allies. That has been analyzed as early as 1960 by Peter Schönbach, a co-worker of philosopher Theodor W. Adorno, at the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt.

Be it the fantasy of a Palestinian “Naqba” being equal to the Holocaust, be it the supposedly “Kaiser’s Holocaust” in German South-West Africa (1904–1907), be it the allegedly intentional “Ukrainian Holocaust” in 1932 or be it the propagated analogy of 1915 and 1933/39, Armenians and Jews, Turks and Nazis or Germany. This is how the Holocaust distortion movement works.

Today, we see this need to “steal the Holocaust,” as it is called, even among pro-Israel groups. StandWithUs is a case in point.

The author, Dr. Clemens Heni, is Director of The Berlin International Center for the Study of Antisemitism (BICSA)

 

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