Clemens Heni

Wissenschaft und Publizistik als Kritik

Schlagwort: anti-Semitism

image_pdfimage_print

Distorting the first and preventing a second Holocaust?

Troubling invitations spark controversies about the Global Forum in Jerusalem, to be held end of May 2013

by Dr. Clemens Heni

 

The Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism is a very important international conference. The first one was held in 2007, followed by two more events in 2008 and 2009. May 28-30, 2013, the fourth Global Forum will take place in Jerusalem. Fighting antisemitism, hatred of Israel, Islamism, anti-Zionism, and the distortion of the Shoah are tremendously timely and important topics.

Israel is a tiny country and the only one facing genocidal threats. Anti-Zionism is a religion in Europe and particularly in the Arab world, and parts of the Muslim world. Iran denies the Holocaust and agitates in a Nazi-style against Israel. Islamism is a huge threat on a worldwide level, but particularly in the Middle East, just look at Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood, Turkey with the more veiled but influential, equally legal form of Islamism and Jihad (remember the Mavi Marmara) or Saudi-Arabia with its decades long spread of Islamist ideology via funding of extremist groups, mosques, cultural centers and the like. Qatar is home of one of the world’s leading Sunni Islamists, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who urges the Muslim world to fight Israel, who supports suicide bombing by unveiled females and who thanked Hitler for having punished the Jews. No one is criticizing or isolating Qatar for being host of that influential antisemite and his world-wide media network, including al-Jazeera.

Therefore, the Global Forum will be a very important gathering of those dedicated to fight Islamism, Muslim antisemitism, anti-Zionism and hatred of Israel in all its forms.

However, is it a good idea to invite someone to an event dedicated to fight antisemitism and a possible ‘second Holocaust’ who is known for distorting, veiling or even affirming the Holocaust? Are politicians or representatives of countries known for their efforts to whitewash their own pro-Nazi legacy allies in the fight against Holocaust denial and distortion of history? Is it a reflection and sign of a change in public relations to invite the very same country to the very same event four years later, again?

Some tiny and not powerful countries have learnt to pay lip-service to Israel while promoting the above mentioned Holocaust distortion in their own countries. This is the case in Hungary and Lithuania.

In December 2009 I was part of a struggle against Lithuanian antisemitism at the Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism, organized by the Israeli Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem. In a working group, Professor of Yiddish Dovid Katz and I, supported by British MP John Mann, criticized Lithuanian antisemitism and Holocaust distortion!

Now, in May 2013, the very same Lithuanian government will be invited to the fourth Global Forum. Are the representatives at the MfA just lazy and have no other countries in mind when it comes to Israel and antisemitism? Was our criticism in December 2009 completely useless?

Now, facing the next Global Forum end of May 2013 in Jerusalem, Efraim Zuroff, the director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office, said senior government officials from Lithuania, Greece, Hungary and Ireland should not be allowed to attend — and speak at — the Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism. “The opportunity to address the conference by visiting dignitaries should be a prize given to people who are leading the fight against anti-Semitism, and not to individuals representing countries in which the problem is among the worst in Europe, if not the worst,”.

In December 2009 Zuroff already criticized the invitation of the then Lithuanian Foreign Minister:

“I am referring primarily to the invitation to Lithuanian Foreign Minister Vygaudas Usackas to participate as a special guest of the forum, but also to the presence there of two right-wing Hungarian politicians, Zsolt Semjen and Zoltan Balog, both of whom have made very negative comments about Hungarian Jews.“

Isn’t it predictable and also shocking, that these two countries, Lithuania and Hungary, are again supposed to deliver ridiculous speeches at the very same Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism? They will of course not deal with the failures of their own countries since 2009. They will not apologize for a reburial of a Nazi puppet minister in 2012 in Lithuania (with military honors). Nor will they change their radical nationalist policies, including antisemitism in both countries like the equation of red and brown (“Prague Declaration”) or the toleration if not support of antisemitic and far-right parties like Jobbik in Hungary. The same holds for Greece. Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn was supported by Prime Minister Samaras and a member of that antisemitic party was elected by the Greek Parliament to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). A Hungarian extreme right politician from Jobbik was elected to that very EU body, too. In March 2013 antisemitic and anti-Roma, racist journalist Ferenc Szaniszlo was awarded a state sponsored and most important Hungarian award for journalists, the Táncsics prize, given under the auspices of Minister of “human resources.”

Why should Israel honor such countries and governments at an event exclusively dedicated to the fight of antisemitism?

Nevertheless, computer expert and NGO activist Andre Oboler from Australia rejects Zuroff’s criticism and  recently attacked the leading Nazi-hunter, historian and activist from the Simon Wiesenthal Center on his JPost blog for his criticism of this year’s Global Forum.

In addition, Oboler is the author of a brochure about antisemitism on Facebook. Of course it is important to deal with antisemitism, neo-Nazis, Holocaust denial and related issues on the leading social network. However, Oboler bases his text on British scholar, very influential book author and activist Richard Dawkins. Dawkins insists that there is no-free-will, everything is determined, biologically and/or culturally. For example, Dawkins created the term “Meme,” which in layman’s speak is a means for ideas to be transmitted via ‘cultural’ genes from one generation to the next.

If one takes this idea one step further the notion of free will can no longer exist in such a Dawkensian world. One can only wonder what Dawkins would say about the Lithuanian Activist Front (LAF) and their active and self chosen involvement in the killing of Jews during the Shoah. Dawkins has sparked controversies about his aggressive new atheism, too and his friendship with animal rights activist Peter Singer, who endorses euthanasia, and says that a handicapped baby could be seen as a “non-person” and be killed, is highly troubling.  Dawkins has talked about the (in his view: huge and dangerous) Jewish influence in American foreign policy, for example, and has agitated against Judaism.

The Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism, organized by the Israeli Foreign Ministry, and probably the biggest gathering of scholars, activists, politicians, philanthropists, citizens, bloggers, journalists and others in the pro-Israel and anti-antisemitism tent, should be a place to analyze and fight all forms of antisemitism.

Inviting countries who are known for their contribution to the distortion of history, for the antisemitic rewriting of the history of the Second World War, Nazi Germany and the Shoah, was a bad idea in 2009 and is a bad idea in 2013.

Of course Israeli diplomats are happy if a European or Western colleague is rather friendly and not outspokenly hostile to the Jewish state. However, we have to think twice. We cannot criticize one form of antisemitism (like anti-Zionism or Muslim antisemitism) while endorsing another form of antisemitism like Holocaust distortion, the equation of red and brown, the trivialization of the Holocaust and the promotion of the swastika as “cultural heritage” as is the case in Lithuania. No one who trivializes the Shoah can be considered a true friend of Israel and the Jews, regardless of his or her lip-service to the Jewish state.

Does the steering committee of the Global Forum, including Oboler, and the Israeli government really think that countries who distort the Shoah are among the best allies to prevent a ‘second Holocaust?’

 

 

Is Quentin Tarantino an Antisemite?

By Dr. Clemens Heni, author of Antisemitism: A Specific Phenomenon. Holocaust Trivialization – Islamism – Post-colonial and cosmopolitan anti-Zionism

 

Antisemitism is a very flexible ideology. We know of Islamist antisemitism, the Iranian threat, Arab antisemitism, left-wing, right-wing and mainstream anti-Zionist European antisemitism. We also know of anti-Judaism and hatred of the circumcision and of ritual slaughter, for example.

A couple of days ago, American film director Spike Lee accused his colleague, film director, screen writer and actor Quentin Tarantino of distorting American history and slavery in his new film “Django Unchained.” For Lee the film is rather racist, or portrays slavery in a mild light. Lee will not watch the film, he says. Tarantino thinks of himself as the leading American film producer of our time.

Promoting his film in Berlin, Tarantino responded indirectly to Spike Lee and said: “America is responsible for two Holocausts: for the destruction of native Americans and for the slavery of African Americans.”

Leading German daily, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, known for promoting the anti-Zionist antisemitism of Nobel Prize Laureate Günter Grass earlier this year, happily quoted Tarantino accusing America of “two Holocausts.” Tarantino’s Austrian actor Christoph Waltz just was awarded a Golden Globe for his role in Django Unchained and Waltz is not known as a critic of Holocaust distortion Tarantinostyle.

Accusing America of genocide is among the best known anti-American tropes worldwide. In Germany (FRG), there was a remarkable increase in promoting this trope right after the screening of TV series Holocaust in January 1979. Blaming the West and America for just another genocide or Holocaust was most welcome by many Germans. Psychoanalytic theory calls this a projection of guilt.

As we know, the Holocaust was an unprecedented crime. Many historians of the Holocaust emphasize the unprecedented character of it, including historian and Jewish studies scholar Steven T.  Katz from Boston University.

The Holocaust is unique. Never before were there the intent and the policies to kill an entire people. Germans wanted to kill the Jews – and they destroyed European Jewry by killing six million Jews. For the first time in history gas chambers were part of an industry of destruction. The German railway system was used for deportations of Jews from far away countries like Greece. Since the late 19th century in particular (in fact, even before), Germans developed a specific form of German  antisemitism aimed at the destruction of Jews. Jews were seen as the “eternal Jew,” Ahasver, as working on a world conspiracy, as being behind capitalism (“Mammon,” the supposedly Jewish god of money!) and communism, liberalism, modernity, urban cities, free forms of sexuality and the like. The Russian forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, first distributed around 1905, became crucial for Hitler’s antisemitic ideology, too. Since the Middle Ages blood Libels have been a typical Christian tool and, since 1840 and the Damascus Affair, an increasingly Christian Arab, as well as Muslim and Islamist tool to spread Jew-hatred. Today Jews are accused of killing innocent Christian or Muslim children for religious purposes.

All these genocidal features are missing when we look at colonialism, slavery, and racism. Jews are seen as superior, not as inferior like native Americans, Blacks, or slaves. Jews were seen as a dangerous force behind all kinds of evil. Africans were subject to horrible crimes in modern times, but those crimes were far from genocide. The Arab-Islamic slave trade and the European-American slave trade used Africans as a cheap labor. Exploitation was the reason behind slavery and racism, and the allegedly superior Arabs or Whites were behind it.

On the other side, exploitation was neither the reason nor the result of the Holocaust. The (German) will to destroy Jewry was behind the Shoah. Destruction ruled, not exploitation or racist rule over a group of people. German did not just want to rule over Jews, they wanted to kill them and they did kill them. Not so in slavery, colonialism, or racism. The history of native Americans was also horrible, but far from genocide. There was never the intention of European settlers to kill the entire native population. Rather diseases caused much of the destruction of native peoples. Historian, theorist and critic of capitalism, Karl Marx, called this “primitive accumulation.” Primitive accumulation is based on violence, direct violence and murder. The Holocaust, though, is completely distinct from that. There was no cui bono in the Shoah.

The Sueddeutsche Zeitung mentions historian David Stannard as a “serious” source to back Tarantino’s claim about America having committed Holocausts. However, Stannard, is not a serious historian. I deal with him my new book, Antisemitism: A Specific Phenomenon. Holocaust Trivialization – Islamism – Post-colonial and Cosmopolitian anti-Zionism. Stannard promotes the anti-American and antisemitic Holocaust-distorting trope of the Holocaust of native Americans in the US. Stannard is also a friend of author and agitator Ward Churchill, infamous for framing the entire history of the US as an ongoing genocide or “Holocaust” (since 1492) and for calling of the 9/11 victims “little Eichmanns.” (The two notorious studies from these two ‘historians’ are David E. Stannard (1992): American holocaust: Columbus and the conquest of the New World, New York: Oxford University Press and Ward Churchill (1997): A Little Matter of Genocide. Holocaust and Denial in the Americas 1492 to the Present, San Francisco: City Lights Books.)

American journalist and columnist for the German weekly Die Zeit, Tuvia Tenenbom, reported in his book I Sleep in Hitler’s Room (which became a German bestseller, Allein unter Deutschen) about a brother-in-mind of Tarantino, the gardener of a lovely and very trendy restaurant vis-à-vis the house of the Wannsee-Conference in Berlin. When Tenenbom asked about the strange people who love to marry and to have lunches at the House Sanssouci Restaurant, the gardener responded: “And you killed the Indians!”

Tarantino promotes the very same antisemitic ideology. He distorts the Holocaust by framing American history as even worse than German history. Two holocausts for the US, and just one for Germany in this antisemitic, though very fashionable view.

Hurting Jewish Holocaust survivors and their relatives and all other people who remember the worst crime of mankind ever, the Shoah, is the result if not the intent of Quentin Tarantino. He praises the Germans for their kind of Holocaust remembrance while accusing America of being unable and unwilling to confront their own history.

There was and there is racism in the US, yes, even after the end of slavery and segregation. This has to be confronted on a daily basis. But there were not two holocausts in American history. Neither native Americans nor African Americans were killed intentionally on a genocidal level. Rather, exploitation, the spread of diseases, and European-American chauvinism and racism were prevalent.

The obsession to downplay, obfuscate, distort and even universalize the Holocaust has to stop. Quentin Tarantino is just another candidate, one of the first one in 2013, for the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Top Ten Antisemitic/anti-Israel Slurs. Holocaust distortion and Holocaust universalization are very widespread and serious forms of antisemitism. Those who forget or distort the past won’t support the Jewish state of Israel in the future. Quentin Tarantino is not a ground-breaker in this regard; he merely echoes the German and European (as well as American) anti-Americanism and antisemitism of the cultural elite.

 

Präsentiert von WordPress & Theme erstellt von Anders Norén