The Shoah Belongs to the Jews

International Holocaust Remembrance Day, 27 January 2019

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Everyone Wants a Piece of the Holocaust Action

Being a member of a victimised minority is all the rage these days, so it was probably inevitable that many, green with envy that the Jews had suffered such appaling victimisation throughout history, would seek to wrest the ownership of Holocaust memory from Jewish hands.

When Tony Blair, the former British Prime-Minister, declared UK Holocaust Memorial Day in 2001, I was despondent, sure that the event would become a flaccid remembrance of “man’s inhumanity to man”, reducing the horrors of the Holocaust to a list of platitudes. My fears were well grounded.

Actually, the UK remembrance is defined as “a national commemoration day in the United Kingdom dedicated to the remembrance of those who suffered in The Holocaust, under Nazi Persecution, and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur”. So, from the very beginning, this was not only about the Shoah, but rather a generic remembrance of mans’ propensity to massacre his fellow human beings. Even so, not everyone was pleased. Between 2001 and 2007, the Muslim Council of Britain expressed its unwillingness to participate, claiming that it “totally excludes and ignores the ongoing genocide and violation of Human Rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, in Jammu and Kashmir and elsewhere”. In addition, they objected to the fact that “It includes the controversial question of the alleged Armenian genocide as well as the so-called gay genocide.” In short, they didn’t like the list of included genocides, taking the opportunity to deny the existence of one genocide (Armenian) and invent another (Palestinian). Not a great act of unity.

Removing Jews from the Holocaust

Thus, the attempt to wrest the memory of the Holocaust from the hands of the Jews was well underway even before, a few years later, the United Nations adopted 27 January as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Things went downhill from then on. Annoyed that the suffering of the Jews were now given an international stage, the far-left stepped in with multiple arguments to downgrade the Jewish nature of the Holocaust.

There are several ways the “progressively” minded do this, as evidenced by a thousand Tweets. Firstly, we are constantly reminded that there were others who were killed in the death camps; Roma, Homosexuals, disabled people, political dissidents. In other words, there was nothing specifically Jewish about Nazi concentration camps. Such diminishers of Jewish suffering ignore the fact that the Final Solution, the industrial process of genocide, was designed for Jews. The tragedy of non-Jewish deaths is no less than that of the Jews, but we should remember that the concentration camps and gas chambers were built for the Jews. That the ever-efficient Nazis used this infrastructure of death to murder other undesirables does not alter that fact that the Nazi aim was primarily to make the Jews extinct. One could see this as a horrific example of “What starts with the Jews never ends with the Jews”.

Every people who have suffered genocide have the right to mourn. And every people, Jews and non-Jews alike, have the right to see the unique features of their own suffering.

The Holocaust as Privilege

Now coming into fashion is the somewhat bizarre accusation that Jews “privilege the Holocaust”. Quite how you privilege genocide is beyond me, but the intention is clear; we manipulative Jews are accused of using our victimhood for maleficious purposes. I think we are going to hear this more and more, for Privilege is now the fashionable evil, jostling with racism for the top spot. There have been many a Twitter discussion as to whether Jews, despite their history of repression, benefit from “White Privilege.” The general consensus is that we do. The most extreme example of this is the contention that the Holocaust was “White on White” crime, so not of concern to progressive thinking people. A more compromising piece of nonsense was that Jews, if not automatically recipients of White Privilege, at least have access to it. No, I don’t understand that either.

Note: I will not provide links to any of the many web pages making these arguments, so as not to drive traffic in their direction, but a quick web search will provide multiple examples.

This message that the Jews are privileged has been heard loud and clear from the USA via the leaders and supporters of the Women's March. Those very same leaders, Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory are besotted by Louis Farrakhan, the most influential anti-Semite in the US today, making those leaders, and those who march with them, complicit in anti-Semitism. I would argue that the accusation of White Privilege is itself a racist concept. People should not be judged by their race or skin colour — this should be a central lesson to be learned from the Holocaust.

Attempts to Define the Jewish Experience

The most pernicious aspect to the Jews as holders of White Privilege trope is that it is non-Jews who are attempting to define the Jews. We Jews have survived two-thousand years of the most appaling oppression because we never allowed our enemies to define us. We always defined ourselves by our own traditions, beliefs and ethics. The attack on Jews, inherent in the White Privilege debate, is an attempt to undermine the Jew’s own value of self. With so many members of the USA Jewish community disengaged from their own history, these attempts of the anti-Semites to redefine the Jew, are falling on fertile ground. We see this in far-Left Jewish organizations, who have taken their own extreme-liberal viewpoint, and tried to re-brand that as Judaism. Many young Jews, cut off from an awareness of their own ethnicity, are now defining their Judaism as a version of their Woke identity, introducing Identity Politics, Intersectionality and White Privilege guilt into a toxic mix that pits them against the mainstream Jewish community.

The Right to Mourn

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In Israel, there will be official ceremonies to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, but our main remembrance will take place on Yom HaShoah, which falls on the anniversary of the start of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, when the Jews struggled to regain control of their destiny against their oppressor. The International Holocaust Remembrance Day falls on the day when Allied troops arrived at the gates of Auschwitz. The symbolism of the dates should not escape us — we Jews celebrate our attempts, doomed as they were, to fight back against our oppressor. The world celebrates its role in the liberation of those few who survived.

So for me, Yom HaShoah is the day I ‘ll mourn the thirty-six members of my grandfather’s extended family who were murdered in Auschwitz. Unlike the International Remembrance Day for the Holocaust, Yom HaShoah is the Jewish day of remembrance, and on that day, I need justify to no-one my right to mourn.

When I’m not a poet, novelist, or writer of short stories, I’m a writer of creative non-fiction exploring Self, Food, Society and History.

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