Distortion of the Holocaust Mars Another Holocaust Remembrance Day: Manfred Gerstenfeld, Algemeiner, Jan. 24, 2019 — Many people equate Holocaust distortion exclusively with its denial and minimization.
To Combat Holocaust Ignorance, We Must Empower Teachers: Naomi Azrieli, Globe & Mail, Jan. 24, 2018— On Jan. 27, the 74th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau…
Canary in the Mine: Yad Vashem’s Holocaust-Awareness Programs Tackle 21st-Century Anti-Semitism: Deborah Fineblum, JNS, Jan. 8, 2019— It’s American teachers like Lori Fulton who, with their commitment to Holocaust education, are poised to be potent forces for holding back the current tidal wave of anti-Semitism for the next generation.
Making It: Lee Smith, Tablet, Jan. 16, 2019— The most famous first line in 20th-century American literature set in Kings County, New York, must be incomprehensible to many current residents of that highly literary territory.
On Topic Links
Holocaust Survivor’s Book a Story of Perseverance: Joel Goldenberg, The Suburban, May 2, 2018
20% of Canadian Young Adults Say Never Heard of the Holocaust: Ilanit Chernick, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 24, 2019
Top Nazi Hunter Blasts Visiting Ukraine Leader for Ignoring Holocaust Complicity: Raphael Ahren, Times of Israel, Jan. 24, 2019
DISTORTION OF THE HOLOCAUST MARS
ANOTHER HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY
Algemeiner, Jan. 24, 2019
Many people equate Holocaust distortion exclusively with its denial and minimization. This is incorrect. The latter two examples are only one category of Holocaust distortion — and they aren’t even the most abusive. Indeed, Holocaust inversion is worse, because it claims that Israel behaves toward the Palestinians the same way that the Nazis did towards the Jews.
There are also a variety of other categories of Holocaust distortion that can only be mentioned briefly here. Holocaust justification refers to the claim that Jews were the cause of their enemies’ antisemitism, and bore responsibility for their own murder. Blaming Jews for the hatred against them is a common antisemitic theme to this day.
Another important distortion category is Holocaust deflection, which admits that the Holocaust happened, but denies the complicity or responsibility of specific groups or individuals. In this way, blame for the Holocaust can be placed on others. One example is Austria, which for many years portrayed itself as the first victim of the Nazis, while in reality it was a major Holocaust perpetrator.
Holocaust whitewashing consists of many techniques and requires profound understanding. It aims at cleansing individuals, groups of people, or nations from blame without necessarily accusing others. For decades in West Germany, false claims were made that the Wehrmacht — the German army — did not participate in the atrocities that took place. But at the end of the last century, the claims about the Wehrmacht’s involvement in mass killings of Jews became irrefutable. Understanding whitewashing techniques of the Holocaust is important because they relate to many contemporary whitewashing techniques of antisemitism. A well-known case concerns the British Labour party and its leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Another Holocaust distortion category — de-Judaization — has several variants. For instance, one can broaden the term Holocaust in order to include people other than Jews who were murdered, but not part of the genocide. A second type of de-Judaization is to avoid or minimize to a large extent the Jewish character of the victims. A major example of the de-Judaization of the Holocaust is the way in which Anne Frank’s life has been presented over the decades. In many places, she became a universal icon, and her Jewish identity was minimized.
The distortion category of Holocaust equivalence manifests itself in a number of ways. For example, pre-war and wartime Holocaust equivalence consists of claims that Germany did not do anything different from what other nations had done earlier. Post-war Holocaust equivalence alleges that certain actions or attitudes of others since the end of World War II are the same as those of the Germans during the war. This includes claims of the double genocide, which refers to the supposed symmetry between Nazi and communist crimes.
Holocaust trivialization is partly a tool for some ideologically or politically-motivated activists to metaphorically compare phenomena that they oppose to the industrial scale of the extermination of the Jews. Frequent examples are the “animal Holocaust,” referring to the mass slaughter of animals. Another is the “abortion Holocaust.” A very different type of trivialization happens in commercial activities. For instance, one sometimes finds images of Hitler used to promote companies or products.
Yet another category of distortion is the obliteration of Holocaust memories. This has many aspects. One facet is the destroying or besmirching of memorials. Another is disrupting memorial ceremonies. The Muslim Council of Britain tried to void the content of Holocaust ceremonies. In 2005, this organization wrote to a British minister that it would not attend the commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz unless it included the “Holocaust” of the Palestinians. Sunday, January 27 is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. On that occasion, we should also focus our attention on the many categories of Holocaust distortion.
TO COMBAT HOLOCAUST IGNORANCE, WE MUST EMPOWER TEACHERS
Globe & Mail, Jan. 24, 2018
On Jan. 27, the 74th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, individuals throughout the world will commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day – reflecting on the six million Jewish people killed during the Holocaust, as well as the millions of other victims of Nazi atrocities.
But the disturbing results from a new study show that reflecting once or twice a year is simply not enough. The report, conducted by Schoen Consulting on behalf of The Azrieli Foundation in partnership with the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, exposed critical gaps when it comes to Holocaust awareness and knowledge among Canadian adults.
When we probed beyond baseline knowledge – such as familiarity with the term “the Holocaust,” ability to identify Adolf Hitler as the leader of the Nazi Party responsible for initiating the Second World War and the Holocaust, and the awareness that Germany was a country where the Holocaust began – our findings uncovered a fundamental lack of detailed knowledge.
Among all those surveyed, more than half of Canadian adults (54 per cent) did not know that six million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust. These numbers are worse among millennials: 62 per cent were ignorant of the fact. Ninety per cent of Poland’s Jewish population was murdered during the Holocaust; the killing centres of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Chelmno, Treblinka, Belzec and Sobibor were all located there. Yet fewer than half of Canadians surveyed (43 per cent) could identify Poland as a country in which the Holocaust occurred.
Too many Canadians are also worryingly unaware of our country’s own Holocaust legacy. Indeed, only 19 per cent of those surveyed knew that Canada employed a “none is too many” stance toward Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazis. Almost one-third of those surveyed (32 per cent) believed that Canada had an open-border policy at that time. If we want our next generation to successfully uphold a tolerant, thoughtful and democratic society, it is our duty to ensure that they know our history, even when it is problematic and seemingly unaligned with what we as a country stand for today.
Our survey shows clearly and unambiguously that the more Canadians know about the Holocaust, the less likely they are to think that neo-Nazi beliefs and actions are acceptable. Among those respondents with knowledge of the Holocaust, only 4 per cent believe that neo-Nazi beliefs are acceptable. Conversely, 16 per cent of those who never heard of the Holocaust say it is acceptable to hold neo-Nazi beliefs.
The consequences of this ignorance are alarming. The number of anti-Semitic incidents has ballooned: In 2018, Canada saw a record number of incidents of harassment, vandalism and violence against its Jewish population. It suggests that, even though the two pillars of Holocaust remembrance are “Never Forget” and “Never Again,” it appears that many of us Canadians have forgotten – or perhaps, never knew. And Canada is not alone. These findings are consistent with those found in another Schoen study on Holocaust awareness and knowledge in the United States. Conducted last year on behalf of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, the report found that when Americans are educated about the Holocaust in a meaningful way, the percentage of people holding neo-Nazi views drops dramatically to a potentially negligible number.
What both studies show is that a broad-scale strategy to optimize Holocaust education at the high-school level can fundamentally combat the increase in neo-Nazism and anti-Semitism we are seeing. Currently, each province sets its own school curriculum. They can include study of the Holocaust in courses such as history, social studies, modern history and Canadian law. Then it is up to each individual teacher to decide how they want to teach the Holocaust. But it’s clear this laissez-faire approach is not working. Every province needs to ensure that the Holocaust is included in their curriculum in a comprehensive way. Critically, teachers must be supported by receiving sufficient training, strategies and resources so that they have an appropriate comfort level and knowledge in teaching this sensitive material.
The survey showed overwhelming support for Holocaust education. Eighty-two per cent of Canadian adults believe all students should learn about the Holocaust in school, and 85 per cent say it is important to keep teaching about the Holocaust.
In a way, the declining level of personal connection to the Holocaust isn’t surprising. The population of first-person survivors and witnesses to the atrocities is dwindling, and 69 per cent do not know or know of a Holocaust survivor. As time inexorably passes, a comprehensive and compulsory Holocaust education curriculum in each province is needed more than ever.
By meaningfully supporting Holocaust education, we can do our part in reducing ongoing anti-Semitism, eliminating neo-Nazism and increasing respect for diversity. As Canadians come together to commemorate the liberation of Auschwitz, we cannot allow the Holocaust to be forgotten. We owe that to the men and women who survived, as well as to the millions who perished – and, crucially, to future generations.
CANARY IN THE MINE: YAD VASHEM’S HOLOCAUST-AWARENESS PROGRAMS TACKLE 21ST-CENTURY ANTI-SEMITISM
JNS, Jan. 8, 2019
It’s American teachers like Lori Fulton who, with their commitment to Holocaust education, are poised to be potent forces for holding back the current tidal wave of anti-Semitism for the next generation. Many of the tools for empowering Fulton and thousands of other teachers in striving to accomplish this Herculean task come from a hillside in Jerusalem, thousands of miles from her classroom in Mattawan, Mich.
Fulton, a high school English teacher who discovered the Holocaust as a teen when she happened upon The Diary of Anne Frank in her local library, spent two weeks last summer at Yad Vashem: the World Holocaust Remembrance Center. That’s where, together with dozens of other teachers, she learned how to bring these terror-filled years alive for her students. “I thought I knew about the Holocaust, but I realized I was missing something,” she says. “Sure, we can read Wiesel’s Night and watch ‘The Pianist,’ but only when you have the human stories—what it was really like to live through that hell—does everything change.”
Not only does Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies host 7,000 teachers annually in its Jerusalem center, but its programs train thousands more in 50 countries. And it provides a full menu of online teacher resources, including survivor testimonies, photos, rare film footage and lesson plans in 20 languages, destined for classrooms around the globe, in addition to resources for adults.
These offerings could not be more timely, given the uptick in anti-Semitism in Europe (where recent studies report a widespread increase in anti-Semitic behavior) and around the world. It’s coming from the right and increasingly, the experts say, from the left as well, marked by the demonization of Israel on many campuses and in the media, its fires fanned online by Holocaust-denial websites, and on Facebook and other social media.
In light of 21st-century anti-Semitism, the Holocaust is humanity’s canary in the mine. Its lesson: The unimaginable horror born when “garden variety” anti-Semitism is permitted to fester, turning murderous while the world’s global powers turn a deaf ear to 6 million screams. And that puts Fulton and thousands of other teachers on the front line, armed with an arsenal of weapons, much of it supplied by Yad Vashem, where, since its creation by order of the Knesset in 1953, every day is Holocaust Awareness Day.
The 1 million visitors each year who move through the powerful Moshe Safdie-designed structure—that seemingly threatens to close in on the viewer, conveying the feeling of being hunted down and even trapped—may not realize that the adjacent school is a veritable beehive of activity.
In the last two decades, 50,000 teachers from 12,000 schools have returned home inspired and ready to share what they’ve learned with their peers, impacting more than 5 million students over the years. Fulton, for one, is organizing a Holocaust-education training symposium in March for 50 teachers from across Michigan, each one destined to influence hundreds or thousands of students through the course of a career. “Our job is to tell the historical truth based on documentation,” says Avner Shalev, who for a quarter-century has been Yad Vashem’s chairman. “And the most important thing we do here is train teachers.”
“My students have no clue what Yad Vashem is, but after hearing survivor testimony and reading about their lives and the world they lived in, each one is going to own someone’s story,” says Fulton. “There’s nothing like looking over my football player with tears in his eyes watching ‘Schindler’s List.’ I told my principal that this is important enough to devote a semester to, and you know what? He agreed.”
Braxton French says learning about the Holocaust in Fulton’s class changed the way he sees the world. “We read books and watched videos, and we visited a survivor. I don’t know what it’s like to be in her situation, but it’s crazy to think about how this could have happened,” he says. “I’m a Christian, but when my friends say history isn’t important, I say, ‘Yes, it is’ or ‘It could happen again.’ ” One of the tools Fulton and her fellows use is “Echoes and Reflections: Teaching the Holocaust, Inspiring the Classroom,” a curriculum Yad Vashem created in partnership with the Anti-Defamation League and the USC Shoah Foundation, with the North American teacher in mind.
“We’re helping teachers convey the important truth that the Holocaust is both an historical event and the result of human factors—something that can happen anywhere and anytime,” says project director Sheryl Ochayon. To get this key message across, the course introduces such foundational concepts as stereotypes, propaganda, dehumanization, hate crimes and anti-Semitism, along with the deadly Nazi ideology, and the real-life stories of survivors and heroes like Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg.
“We also invite them to look carefully at the role of the bystander in anti-Semitism and other forms of hate, and in the unit on contemporary anti-Semitism, at their own culture for signs of these things. Stereotypes like ‘Jew you down,’ when they see what it really means, they won’t be as likely to perpetuate it. Something they will take with them when they get to campus or out in the world.” (To learn more about the program, teachers are invited to visit echoesandreflections.org). “The net is where we all look now for information,” says Futon. “But when my students go online to research Holocaust topics, they find lots of sites saying it never happened.”
When they return to class thoroughly confused, Fulton says, “Yes, there are Holocaust-deniers, and there are people who think the world is flat. You have to be careful who and what you believe. And when they ask why the Poles didn’t realize what was going on, I say, ‘Of course, they knew: The stink of burning bodies 24-7, the ashes, the trains full of people.” And that, she says, leads naturally to a discussion of the “innocent” bystander…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Tablet, Jan. 16, 2019
The most famous first line in 20th-century American literature set in Kings County, New York, must be incomprehensible to many current residents of that highly literary territory. “One of the longest journeys in the world,” writes Norman Podhoretz in the opening of his 1967 autobiography, Making It, “is the journey from Brooklyn to Manhattan.”
Podhoretz was of course speaking figuratively, referring to cultural and class differences separating the two boroughs that were infinitely wider than the East River. Today’s Brooklyn is different—apartment hunters are likely to find it less expensive to live off Park Avenue than in Williamsburg, Cobble Hill, or Fort Greene, where rents have soared due to the constant influx of tech-savvy millennials.
But back in the day, the price you paid to get from a working-class Jewish enclave in Brownsville to Columbia University and then the literary salons of the Upper West Side was constant re-invention, repeatedly shuffling off old selves and girding on new ones. That journey, as well as Podhoretz’s political transformations, from liberal to leftist to conservative, maps the last six decades of American society and culture and the Jewish community, and where and how they intersect. Today, he turns 89.
We’ve met several times over the last few years, first at lunch close to his home on the Upper East Side. “Here’s where Madonna lives,” he told me on the sidewalk, pointing to a large fortress-like structure, as if to note how the neighborhood of white-shoe lawyers and Wall Street financiers had morphed into something from Page Six.
I wanted to speak with Podhoretz for the same reason I’ve read and reread his work over the years—especially, in addition to Making It, Why We Were in Vietnam, The Bloody Crossroads: Where Literature and Politics Meet, and his two other autobiographies, Breaking Ranks and Ex-Friends. He seemed to me to hold the keys to the vault that contains the blueprint for how we as Americans, how I as an individual, got here, and where we’re going.
He’s taken up the struggle between liberal and conservative politics that re-generates our public life, and tells the truth about the drives of the ethnic New York through which much of the country passed before fanning out to fill and build America. Maybe most importantly to me, it’s because his political and cultural sensibility is shaped by his experience of literature. He takes texts, from the Bible to the modern novel, seriously. It’s easy to forget that the writer perhaps best known for his essay “My Negro Problem and Ours” and one of the intellectual fathers of neoconservatism, especially in foreign policy, studied with Lionel Trilling and F.R. Leavis, two of the greatest literary critics of the 20th century. He wanted to be a poet. Making It is a song of self filtered through a Brooklyn idiom: Here’s who I am—take it or leave it.
We spoke most recently on the phone after I visited him last year in his apartment on the Upper East Side shortly after the New York Review Books re-issued Making It in their classics imprint. He greeted me at the door with his wife, the writer Midge Decter, and daughter Ruthie Blum, an Israeli-American journalist. Their other children are Naomi Decter, the late Rachel Abrams, and son, John, editor of Commentary magazine. Norman edited the magazine from 1960-1995, leading it through at least two political and cultural transformations, first taking it from liberal to leftist and then swinging it back the other way to conservatism…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
CIJR Wishes All Our Friends and Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!
On Topic Links
Hillel Neuer Visits Hezbollah Terror Tunnels Ahead of UNSC Meeting: Breaking Israel News, Dec. 19, 2018—UN Watch’s Director Hillel Neuer visits Hezbollah terror tunnels crossing over the Israel-Lebanon border.
Ex-Government Agent Discusses Using AI to Battle Hezbollah Rockets: Yonah Jeremy Bob, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 20, 2018—Amit Meltzer is not only a former chief technology officer for a key Israeli government agency and a top cyber security consultant, he is also a master strategist.
Israeli Official Briefs Italian MPs on Hezbollah, Iran: Eldad Beck, Israel Hayom, Dec. 20, 2018—Head of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs tells Italian parliament session on Middle East that Hezbollah is helping Iran export the Islamic revolution across the region, disputing Italian MPs’ claim that Hezbollah operatives are not terrorists.
What Real Border Security Looks Like: Bret Stephens, New York Times, Jan. 10, 2019—What I saw on Wednesday while traveling along the Blue Line was … a fence. A fence studded with sensors, to be sure, but by no means an imposing one. As the accompanying photos show, here is what a long stretch of the border between two sworn enemies looks like.