Showing posts with label Holocaust. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Holocaust. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Norman Finkelstein and the Holocaust Denial/Minimization Industry attacks us all

This is for Norman Finkelstein and by extension everyone who applauds him when he comes to speak on college campuses.

I’m not here to debate his stance on Israel and Zionism – there is really only one thing that I want address within this post. My issue with Finkelstein and his supporters is nothing more than a simple number.

No, it's not six million, as in six million murdered Jews, killed during the Holocaust – a fact that Finkelstein casts doubt upon by referring to "six million" in quotation marks. Finkelstein has also gone on record that Holocaust denier David Irving – who believes there were no gas chambers and that Auschwitz was a "tourist attraction" – is an "indispensable" historian. No, this isn’t some unbelievable fiction from George Orwell’s 1984; this is actually what this man thinks.


Dr. F Stein in action


Nor is the number 2,000, as in the nearly 2,000 years since Jerusalem was destroyed and the Jews were forced to flee their ancient homeland. The desire to return home has been expressed during Jewish festivals, in Jewish prayers three times daily and in countless other customs, many centuries prior to the rise of modern Zionism.

Finkelstein would have everyone that attend his rallies believe that the state of Israel is a modern colonial invention fueled by Holocaust guilt, rather than the truth which is the exact reverse – that the Holocaust was a disaster fueled by the lack of an independent Jewish homeland/army.

But no, that isn’t it either. The number I want to discuss is “43334.”

“43334” is the tattoo my grandmother received courtesy of the real “Holocaust Industry” – that of the Nazi’s Final Solution for her, me and every other “undesirable,” whether we lived during the 1940’s or are descended from someone who did.

Was she lying about how she got that number? Did she fake the anxiety she felt every time a dog barked because it reminded her of German Shepherds the Nazis used? Was she in on some global conspiracy when she was emotionally unavailable for her children?

What about my grandfather? Did he invent stories about his first wife, infant daughter, mother, father, three of his four brothers and countless others he knew, that disappeared into the flames of Birkenau? Was he lying when he would talk about being nearly starved to death and beaten within an inch of his life? Was he plotting a Zionist conspiracy when he would often wake up in the middle of the night and jump out of bed in terror, forced back in time during yet another terrible Holocaust flashback?

Why should survivors have to tolerate these efforts to de-legitimize their memories by Finkelstein, Irving and the rest of the Holocaust Denial/Minimization Industry? Whether you want to admit it to yourselves or not, de-legitimizing the survivors is precisely what Mr. Finkelstein does.

This is what he is doing when he refers to Nobel Peace Prize Winner and Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel as a “clown” in the “Holocaust circus.” There is a reason why white supremacist sites like Stormfront and neo-Nazi darling David Duke cite Finkelstein regularly – his life’s work minimizes the suffering of survivors and actually makes it worse forcing them to live through the spectacle of seeing rooms full of college students cheering for his attacks on them.

This isn’t an issue of questioning his right to criticize Israel – although a rational person would have to question why in order to criticize governmental policy someone would have to attack not the government but rather the historical, documented past itself.

Or maybe it isn’t so irrational. Orwell did teach us after all that “he who controls the past, controls the future.” By “vaporizing” memories, by converting the victims of the Holocaust into “unpersons,” Finkelstein makes it easier for his fans to not deal with reality. This frees them to practice the kind of cognitive dissonance necessary for a "liberal" American university student to support the actions of totalitarian movements like Hamas, Hizballah and others who have sworn to erase a population of six million Jews.

The fact that students gleefully welcome this distortion of history as “scholarly” is a disgrace not only to the memories of Holocaust victims but also to legitimate historians everywhere. This isn’t about Zionism, it’s about preserving the memories of those who perished in the Holocaust – and respecting those who survived.

It’s also about the stark realization that had the Nazis succeeded, I would not be here to write this post. And in this very real way, Finkelstein attacks us all.

This post was adapted from a letter to the editor at the Daily Targum


________________________________________________________________________



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Monday, April 12, 2010

At My Bar Mitzvah – and His

I've always found this poem to be very poignant and powerful...especially on Yom HaShoah.

At My Bar Mitzvah – and His
Dedicated to the memory of a thirteen-year-old hero of the Resistance
By Rabbi Howard Kahn
A responsive reading

When I was thirteen, I became a Bar Mitzvah.
When he was thirteen, he became a Bar Mitzvah.
When I was thirteen, my teachers taught me – to put Tefillin on my arm.
When he was thirteen, his teachers taught him - to throw a hand grenade with his arm.
When I was thirteen, I studied – the pathways of the Bible and roadways of the Talmud.
When he was thirteen, he studied – the canals of Warsaw and the sewers of the Ghetto.
At my Bar Mitzvah, I took an oath to live as a Jew.
At his Bar Mitzvah, he took an oath to die as a Jew.
At my Bar Mitzvah, I blessed G-d.
At his Bar Mitzvah, he questioned G-d.
At my Bar Mitzvah, I lifted my voice and sang.
At his Bar Mitzvah, he lifted his fists and fought.
At my Bar Mitzvah, I read from the Scroll of the Torah.
At his Bar Mitzvah, he wrote a Scroll of Fire.
At my Bar Mitzvah, I wore a new Tallit over a new suit.
At his Bar Mitzvah, he wore a rifle and bullets over a suit of rags.
At my Bar Mitzvah, I started my road of life.
At his Bar Mitzvah, he began his road to martyrdom.
At my Bar Mitzvah, family and friends came – to say “L’chayim.”
At his Bar Mitzvah, Rabbi Akiba and Trumpeldor, Hannah and her seven sons – came to escort him to Heaven.
At my Bar Mitzvah, they praised my voice, my song, my melody.
At his Bar Mitzvah, they praised his strength, his courage, his fearlessness.
When I was thirteen, I was called up to the Torah – I went to the Bimah.
When he was thirteen, his body went up in smoke – his soul rose to G-d.
When I was thirteen, I became a Bar Mitzvah – and lived.
When he was thirteen, he became a Bar Mitzvah – and lives now within each of us.


My own offerings on the Holocaust can be found here and here.

Never forget.






Sunday, April 11, 2010

Tragedy and Glory: Resistance and Remembrance on Yom HaShoah / Holocaust Remembrance Day

אַל-תִּירָא, מִפַּחַד פִּתְאֹם; וּמִשֹּׁאַת רְשָׁעִים, כִּי תָבֹא
Be not afraid of sudden terror, neither of the holocaust of the wicked, when it cometh
--Proverbs 3:25

עֻצוּ עֵצָה, וְתֻפָר; דַּבְּרוּ דָבָר וְלֹא יָקוּם, כִּי עִמָּנוּ אֵל
Take counsel together, and it shall be brought to nought; speak the word, and it shall not stand; for God is with us.
--Isaiah 8:10

וְעַד-זִקְנָה אֲנִי הוּא, וְעַד-שֵׂיבָה אֲנִי אֶסְבֹּל; אֲנִי עָשִׂיתִי וַאֲנִי אֶשָּׂא, וַאֲנִי אֶסְבֹּל וַאֲמַלֵּט
Even till old age, I am he; and even till seniority, I shall suffer and endure. I created and I shall bear; I shall suffer and endure and rescue
--Isaiah 46:4



On today's anniversary (which will be observed tomorrow in Israel due to calendar quirks) of Yom Hashoah I thought it would be interesting and a little more uplifting than my usual Holocaust or Kristallnacht posts to explore the full meaning of this day. No matter how much it hurts to think about it, we can never "move on" from the Holocaust.



Everyone knows that we are to remember the victims of the Nazi insanity that rampaged across Germany and Europe for over a decade (1933-1945)...but many are not aware that the full Hebrew name of "Holocaust Remembrance Day" is:

יום הזיכרון לשואה ולגבורה

Which translates into English as "Day of Remembrance for Destruction (referring to the Holocaust) and for Heroism." We always mourn the victims of this horrible time period but EQUALLY as important is to remember the heroism of those Jews (and people who were not Jewish) who refused to go quietly, who recognized that there was no appeasing the Nazis, and who stood up to take control of their own destiny. In fact, the original date chosen for this day was the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising which took place the day before Passover.

So with that in mind, it would be appropriate on this day to remember that unlike previous horrors which befell the Jewish people, the Jews of the Holocaust DID NOT simply go like sheep to the slaughter. There were many amazing stories of defiance in the face of Nazi death...but none greater than the Jewish partisans of the Warsaw ghetto.

The rebellion of the Jews in Warsaw was not simply a moral victory...it actually succeeded in forcing the Nazi war machine to divert entire battalions in order to quell it. They had no choice but to bring in tanks and flamethrowers to flatten a city that they had already conquered four years earlier - a FIRST in Nazi Europe.

Urban uprisings, whether organized by Jews or not, simply DID NOT HAPPEN to the Nazis before the Warsaw ghetto and it showed everyone (including Polish resistance units who started their own uprising about a year later) how truly precarious their situation had become. This an excerpt from the diary of German Major-General Jürgen Stroop - the SS Commander of Warsaw:
After a few days it was already clear that the Jews would under no circumstances consider voluntary resettlement, but were determined to fight back by every means and with the weapons in their possession. Under Polish-Bolshevik leadership so-called fighting units were formed which were armed and paid any price asked for available arms....

...While at first it had been possible to capture the Jews, who are ordinarily cowards, in considerable numbers, the apprehending of the bandits and Jews became increasingly difficult in the second half of the Grossaktion. Again and again, fighting units of 20 to 30 or more Jewish youths, 18 to 25 years old, accompanied by corresponding numbers of females, renewed the resistance. These fighting units were under orders to continue armed resistance to the end and, if necessary, to escape capture by suicide.

During the armed resistance females belonging to the fighting units were armed in the same way as the men; some were members of the He-Halutz Movement. It was no rarity for these females to fire pistols with both hands. It happened again and again that they kept pistols and hand-grenades (Polish "egg" grenades) hidden in their bloomers up to the last moment, in order to use them against the men of the Waffen-SS [military unit of the SS], Police and Wehrmacht.

The resistance offered by the Jews and bandits could be broken only by the energetic, tireless deployment of storm-patrols night and day...

Not rarely, the Jews stayed in the burning houses until the heat and fear of being burned to death caused them to jump from the upper floors after they had thrown mattresses and other upholstered objects from the burning houses to the street. With broken bones they would then try to crawl across the street into buildings which were not yet, or only partially, in flames. Often, too, Jews changed their hiding places during the night, by shifting into the ruins of buildings already burned out and taking refuge there until they were found by one of the shock troop units....

Only as a result of the unceasing and untiring efforts of all forces did we succeed in capturing altogether 56,065 Jews, i.e., definitely destroying them...

The SS and Police Leader
in the Warsaw District
Stroop
SS Brigadefuehrer
and Major General of Police

[emphasis added]

In the end however, a few poorly armed/trained civilians who had been starved, beaten, malnourished and abused for 4 years could not hold out forever against the military that ran over almost all of Europe.



The uprising was crushed, the commanders all killed and what little remained of the ghetto was liquidated. Before he died, the leader of the rebellion, Mordechai Anielewicz (himself an astonishing individual who should replace clowns like Che Guevara as the role model for oppressed minorities) wrote this letter to his friend and fellow rebel Yitzhak Cukierman:
April 23, 1943

It is impossible to put into words what we have been through. One thing is clear, what happened exceeded our boldest dreams. The Germans ran twice from the ghetto. One of our companies held out for 40 minutes and another for more than 6 hours. The mine set in the "brushmakers" area exploded. Several of our companies attacked the dispersing Germans. Our losses in manpower are minimal. That is also an achievement. Y. [Yechiel] fell. He fell a hero, at the machine-gun. I feel that great things are happening and what we dared do is of great, enormous importance....

Beginning from today we shall shift over to the partisan tactic. Three battle companies will move out tonight, with two tasks: reconnaissance and obtaining arms. Do you remember, short-range weapons are of no use to us. We use such weapons only rarely. What we need urgently: grenades, rifles, machine-guns and explosives.

It is impossible to describe the conditions under which the Jews of the ghetto are now living. Only a few will be able to hold out. The remainder will die sooner or later. Their fate is decided. In almost all the hiding places in which thousands are concealing themselves it is not possible to light a candle for lack of air.

With the aid of our transmitter we heard the marvelous report on our fighting by the "Shavit" radio station. The fact that we are remembered beyond the ghetto walls encourages us in our struggle. Peace go with you, my friend! Perhaps we may still meet again! The dream of my life has risen to become fact. Self-defense in the ghetto will have been a reality. Jewish armed resistance and revenge are facts. I have been a witness to the magnificent, heroic fighting of Jewish men in battle.

M. Anielewicz

Ghetto, April 23, 1943

[emphasis added]



If only he had lived through the horror and made it to Israel to see the miraculous extension of his efforts. Unfortunately it was not to be.

And this is the real tragedy - and paradoxically also the glory - of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Not that it failed or that the world watched and did nothing to help these heroes...that happened everyday during the Holocaust. The real tragedy was that it even came to this. That the Jewish people were so unprepared for the evils of the Holocaust that it came down to a few isolated, broken people desperately (albeit gloriously) fighting for just a few extra hours of life.

That after almost 2,000 years of pogroms and Crusades and Inquisitions and ghettoes, that we as a people still believed that deep down inside human beings weren't capable of becoming Nazis. That the Germans took advantage of our good nature and our innocence and reduced us to the point that we were closer to animals than to human beings.

That these uprisings didn't happen in every ghetto that was created or shtetl that was occupied because we simply had no historical precedent or training for it. That by the time these uprisings happened it was just simply far too late in the game. The enemy could not be overcome by Mordechai Anielewicz because the enemy had an entire state and military while he had a few revolvers, some molotov cocktails and no backup from anyone. And as tragic of an end (and beginning) there was to the Jewish martyrs of Warsaw, there is an even greater glory in their memory.

You see the GLORY of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising is that it showed the world that Jews COULD and WOULD fight back. This is no simple "moral" victory...this is very real. Because in the end we withstood the Nazis like we withstood everyone who came before them and allowed Anielewicz's glory to live on.

It is no small coincidence that next week we will be celebrating the continuation of Warsaw fighters' legacy in the establishment of the state of Israel and with it a Jewish army that ENSURES that never again...NEVER AGAIN...will there have to be "isolated pockets" of Jewish fighters unsupported and cut off from the rest of the world.

NEVER AGAIN will we have to look around at each other, stuffed into cattle cars, our homes in ruins behind us and wonder just how it was that we were brought to this point - how it was that we could be so easily abandoned by our friends and neighbors.

NEVER AGAIN will we be caught unprepared by a menace who seeks to annihilate us all.

And NEVER AGAIN will any nation have the ability or audacity to even THINK that they can goose-step all over our backs with impunity.



Because the glory of Mordechai Anielewicz lives on in in the Israel Defense Forces, in the state of Israel and within all of us who refuse to submit quietly to the forces that seek to reduce us to the point that they reduced our grandparents and their families.

It is for these reasons that we must never forget what happened to us... and why we must focus not only the tragedies of the Holocaust but the rare glories as well.

For more thoughts on the Holocaust please read last year's Yom Hashoah entry: Nightmare.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Triumph

In our annual build-up to the anniversary of Israel's rebirth we have taken a somber reflection on some of the great calamities of the 20th century and how they have played a role in the history of the Middle East and the world at large.

Nightmare

Nakba

Catastrophe

Today however, we celebrate the greatest triumph of the Jewish people since the dedication of the 2nd Temple in Jerusalem. It is important to remember that in the grand scheme of history there is no precedent for what occurred in the spring of 1948. Never before had the hopes and dreams of a broken people lain dormant for nearly 2,000 years before they were finally realized. This fact was not lost on the Zionist founders of the State of Israel. Secular (even non-religious) as they were, they still had a deep respect for history and appreciated the gravity of the moment,




as reflected by headlines from that day that not only speak of the "birth" of the state of Israel



The State of Israel is Resurrected


but of a REBIRTH of the first Jewish state in 19 centuries. The Founding Charter itself makes mention of this amazing turn of events:

IN ERETZ ISRAEL [the Land of Israel] arose the Jewish people, in which was formed its spiritual, religious and national image, in which it lived official sovereign life, in which it created national and universal cultural treasures and bequeathed to the world entire the eternal Book of Books.

After the nation was exiled from its land by armed strength it remained loyal to her in all the lands to which it was spread and did not cease to pray and hope to return to its land and to renew in her its national freedom.

From this historical and traditional connection strove the Jews in every generation to return and to grasp their ancient homeland, and in the last generations they returned in their masses, and pioneers, illegal immigrants, and defenders made spirits blossom, revived their Hebrew language, built villages and cities, and established a large and burgeoning community which controls its economy and culture, promotes peace and protects itself, brings forth the blessing of progress to all inhabitants of the Land and bears its spirit towards sovereign independence.




The charter also states the following:

The Holocaust which befell the Tribe of Israel in recent times, in which were led to slaughter millions of Jews in Europe, proved anew succinctly the necessity of a solution to the problem of the Jewish people lacking homeland and independence through the renewal of the Jewish state in the Land of Israel, which will open wide the gates of the homeland to every Jew and will grant the Jewish people the stature of a nation of equal standing within the family of nations.

The remainder of the refugees which was saved from the terrible Nazi slaughter in Europe and the Jews of other lands did not waver from immigrating illegally to the Land of Israel in spite of every difficulty, obstacle and danger, and did not cease to demand their right to live in dignity, freedom and honest labor in the homeland of their people.


And further:

THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open to Jewish immigration and the ingathering of exiles; will strive to develop the land for the benefit of all her inhabitants; will be founded on the principles of freedom, justice and peace in the spirit of the visions of the Prophets of Israel; will implement equality of complete social and national rights for all her citizens without distinction between religion, race and gender; will promise freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; will protect the religious places of all the religions; and will be loyal to the principles of the declation of the United Nations.

In one of my first postings on this site I spoke of why it is important for ALL Jews to stand behind Israel...whether they live in Israel, have family there or don't even know where to find it on a map. The mere existence of the state is our only insurance policy against future atrocities and Holocausts. In addition to the charter's stated purpose of being a place of refuge, the fact that we have an independent, sovereign home, with its own military transforms 2,000 years of Jewish suffering into 61 years of Jewish triumph.



Never again will we have to hope and beg and plead to be saved by the outside world.

Never again will we have to hope that our host countries will be good to us and hope that kings, dictators and presidents will bestow upon us their good will and let us live in peace and quiet.

The triumph of the state of Israel is the triumph of the Jewish nation in rising up from the ashes of a broken, homeless people to take its rightful place in the world and have the freedom of self-determination and most importantly self-defense.

To our neighbors the Arabs and even the Persians I say, as in 1948 when we said to them the following:

WE CALL - even during the bloody attacks which have been carried out against us for months - to the members of the Arab nation residents of the State of Israel to keep the peace and partake in their share in the building of the State upon the principle of full and equal citizenship and upon the principle of appropriate representation in all institutions, temporary and permanent.

WE EXTEND a hand of peace and good neighborliness to all the neighboring nations and their peoples and call upon them to partake in cooperation and mutual assistance with the independent Hebrew nation in its land. The State of Israel is prepared to contribute her share in the joint effort to advance the Middle East entire.


The victory of 1948 need not only apply to the Jewish residents of Israel! Already today there are over a million Israeli Arabs who have partaken in the aforementioned equal citizenship. The solution to the Nightmare and the Catastrophe can also be the solution to the Nakba...if you only "partake in [your] share in the building of the State" - or at least live in peace as our neighbors in the West Bank and Gaza, you too can be a part of solution to both of our nations' problems!



It is then the our Triumph will indeed be shared by all of the residents of the Middle East. Until then, it is still just a hope. It is no coincidence that the national anthem of our country is called exactly that...

As long as deep in the heart,
A Jewish soul yearns
And to towards the ends of the east
An eye is scouting for Zion

Our hope is as yet not lost
The hope that is 2000 years old
To be a free nation, in our own country
The land of Zion and Jerusalem

כֹּל עוֹד בַּלֵּבָב פְּנִימָה
נֶפֶשׁ יְהוּדִי הוֹמִיָּה,
וּלְפַאֲתֵי מִזְרָח, קָדִימָה,
עַיִן לְצִיּוֹן צוֹפִיָּה,

עוֹד לֹא אָבְדָה תִּקְוָתֵנוּ,
הַתִּקְוָה בַּת שְׁנוֹת אַלְפַּיִם,
לִהְיוֹת עַם חָפְשִׁי בְּאַרְצֵנוּ,
אֶרֶץ צִיּוֹן וִירוּשָׁלַיִם.

That day is not yet here and until that day comes we will celebrate the anniversary of the Triumph of the Jewish nation, in the face of impossible odds, alone.



Happy 61st Birthday, Israel.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Nightmare

This past weekend the Yankees opened up their new ballpark in the Bronx. Fans have been gushing about the improved sight-lines, the beautiful new architecture, fancy, shwanky new restaurants, the food court and yes, it's true EVERY seat now has a cupholder. Fans have complained about higher ticket prices ($2,500 for a one-time experience of watching your team lose 22-4? Really?), reduced number of "cheap seats" and a bizarre tendency for pop fly outs to turn into grand slams. Some have even claimed the new Stadium is cursed by the ghosts and memories of the old Stadium...which still sits across the street. Crumbling. Full of gaping holes. Just living out its last days. Waiting for the inevitable nano-thermite demolition...



Still it is a beautiful new stadium. Able to support 50,000 fans with all the luxury a modern baseball Temple should offer.

50,000 fans.

I tell you this, not just because I have been to the Stadium twice now and have seen it full of these screaming fans...but also because I want you to have the mental image of these fans...in this full stadium of 50,000 because I want you to imagine them all being loaded into a massive gas chamber, gassed, murdered and then their remains shoveled into several crematoriums where they'd be burned...incinerated, their ashes rising up into the sky in clouds of black smoke.

Pretty terrible image isn't it? Now imagine that instead of baseball fans these are Jews in Poland, Greece, Russia, Germany, Italy, France, Romania, Hungary, Denmark, Holland and all over the rest of Europe. And those 50,000 Jews? Imagine that after they cleared out the stadium they filled it up again and repeated the process. And then they did it again. And again. And again. AND AGAIN. 120 times.

Do you understand what that means? 120 times? And that's just talking about the 6 million Jewish victims. Let's not forget either the gypsies, homosexuals, mentally handicapped and all the rest of Hitler's "undesirable" peoples.

Today commemorated the event you know as the Holocaust. But for the people who lived through it they just knew it as a nightmare. A nightmare that began in 1933 and steadily got worse until it finally ended in 1945. A nightmare they were unable to wake up from until their liberation at the end of the war. A nightmare that some have been unable to wake up from until this day - or until the day they die.

You think the imagery is terrible? Using something so wholesome...a symbol of American freedom, a nice day enjoying the great American pastime to talk about something so terrible - it's pretty awful isn't it?

Guess what - that's how it was in 1939. And if you don't like it you have the freedom to go elsewhere and continue arguing about ticket prices and cup holders.



The Jews of Europe on the other hand, did not have that luxury.

In memory of those that didn't make it out of the German nightmare.



And in defense of those who did.


Always.


Skip to the next post in this series: Nakba


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Burging Bridges

Flipping through the channels aimlessly after another insane episode of Lost, I stumble across a Charlie Rose interview with Avrum Burg. They are discussing Burg's somewhat-new book, The Holocaust Is Over: We Must Rise from Its Ashes. Intrigued I stop to watch the exchange...and am somewhat less-than-shocked to see that Burg was arguing that Jews (and Israelis) today are still plagued by an obsession with the Holocaust that colors our everyday lives. His original title for the book was "Hitler Won" because in his opinion we are consuming ourselves still with hatred and paranoia...that we over-inflate every threat to Jews and Israel and that every enemy of Jews is elevated to Hitler status.

I'm transcribing what was said in this interview so I may be off on the exact quote but I think he just said that "everyday the Jews kill Hitler again and everyday Hitler kills us again." This basically sums up the gist of his book apparently, as he feels it's time we "got over it" and moved on with our lives.

Just get over it...



Right.

His main complaint is that Israelis (and Jews) use the Holocaust as an excuse to commit "atrocities" in places like Gaza and the West Bank. He relates a conversation he had with a friend about the recent act of Jewish self-defense better known as Cast Lead. Burg argued with his friend that Israel was acting in similar fashion to the Germans during WWII. The Jews, claims Burg, have been targeted for annihilation so many times over the years that we must be sensitive to ALL attempts to extinguish a race. Like our old friends Vera and Peter, Burg believes that "Never Again" applies to all races...not just Jews.

To which his mythical friend...portrayed as a voice for all chicken-hawk Israelis...responds, "but Avrum, there are no gas chambers in Gaza..." Burg and Charlie Rose chuckle at this obvious silliness. To think, that a people could be so wrapped up in semantics that they cannot even see the similarities between Nazi Germany and Zionist Israel JUST because the methods of destruction are different! Oh the hilarity!

The conversation then turns to Iran and the nuclear threat it will soon pose to Israel Burg states that in order for Israel to get what it wants RE: an American attack on Iran, Obama should require Israeli concessions to the Palestinians. And why do we need to sell out the Jews of Judea and Samaria? Well you see there can be no attack on Iran without peace in Iraq. There can be no peace in Iraq without Syrian cooperation. There can be no Syrian cooperation without Israel conceding the Golan Heights which of course can't happen (for some unexplained leap of faith)



without ALSO creating a Palestinian state in the West Bank. We can go in to a discussion of the flawed logic in this leap...how wrong he is, but even if he were right, the fact that this former highly decorated Israeli paratrooper subscribes to the notion that the Jews are at the root of all of the Middle East's problems which by extension is the root of the world's problems speaks to the very root of the Jewish condition.

First of all, neither of Burg's parents were exactly in the Holocaust. His mother was already living in Hebron and his father left Germany in 1939. While his father suffered great discrimination and went through the awful experience of Kristalnacht - he was never face-to-face with the aforementioned gas chamber that Burg and Rose were chuckling over. With all due respect to Yosef Burg who I'm sure went through a significant amount of trauma - he at least had the courage, ability and foresight to leave the Nazi hell behind before it was too late. Others, like my grandmother, grandfather and millions upon millions of other Jews and "undesirables" were not so fortunate.

You have a lot of nerve Mr. Burg, to tell people who are still alive today, still have flashbacks to the screams from the gas chambers that they should just "get over it". My grandfather died over a decade ago but until the day he died he was tormented with flashbacks that he was back in the camps and that the Nazis were after him. He would jump out of bed in the middle of the night from nightmares about his brothers, parents and the wife and daughter he had before the war that disappeared into the fire of Auschwitz.

Tell that to my grandmother, also a Holocaust survivor. A woman who lost her ENTIRE family and can barely even remember her life before the camps. A woman who used to jump at the sound of barking dogs because it reminded her of the german shepherds that the Nazis would torment her with. A woman who never even leaves her apartment anymore because she is so consumed with sadness and pain. Should she just "get over it" as well Avrum?

But he's not talking to my grandparents is he? He's talking to my parents and me and other Jews and Israelis that cling to these painful memories and simply cannot move on. Well excuse me if I have a hard time just forgetting the fact that had I been in my grandfather's shoes I too would have been beaten within an inch of my life, starved, taken from my land, etc etc. If I have a hard time just forgetting that had they succeeded in killing him or my grandmother I would not be alive today. If I have a hard time viewing an attack on my grandparents as an attack on me as well.

But even so - maybe it is time I myself, personally, stopped holding on to this. Maybe the world really has moved beyond this "genetic Judaism" and we can finally put this racism behind us.

Sure Avrum...just like after the Inquisition, the Crusades, the exiles and all that. Luckily, after the enlightened, progressive communists deposed the backward Czars and their Cossack friends the pogroms in Russia stopped and there was never anymore discrimination or action against Jews in the Soviet Union. Right Avrum????

And SURELY the poor innocent Palestinians of Gaza do not deserve the war against them just like the Jews of Europe didn't deserve the war against them. Right? Because unlike the Jews of Europe, it's not like the Palestinians were blowing up school buses, committing axe attacks against children, firing rockets at civilian population centers, declaring death on anyone who sells land to the infidels or keeping each other from getting medical attention due to political disputes like the Jews of Germany were, those vile instigators. Right Avrum???!?!?!

SURELY the evil Zionist oppressors would NEVER allow innocent Palestinians (who by the way voted overwhelmingly for a faction that was founded on the premise that it would destroy Israel and the Jews, called the Nazis oops I mean Hamas) into Israel to receive equal medical treatment that Israeli citizens receive, train Palestinian doctors, or allow Israel-hating, terrorist sympathizing Palestinians to serve in the Parliament...the same way the Nazis had lots of Jews in the Reichstag right before those sneaky weasels burned it down...................

Maybe it's more than just the lack of gas chambers in Gaza that separates this situation from the genocide committed against us...maybe it's a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT SITUATION where one has NOTHING to do with the other!

Which finally brings us to the root of the issue here. And it's the same problem that plagues every "progressive" Jew today. Denial of the past is the surest way to move ahead into the future. If we burn our connections, our bridges to the past we can stop remembering our oppression at the hands of others and finally take our place as a "normal" nation. We can be just like everyone else, oblivious of the dark ages the world is desperately trying to plunge itself into again if we just STOP THINKING ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED TO US. Just sit around drinking wine and eating cheese and wait for it all to come crashing down around us.

Unfortunately though it's not about the Jewish state of mind. You see the greatest lesson of the Holocaust was that this attempt to "move on" does absolutely NOTHING for us when a group of animals is determined to ruin our day. It was precisely the progressive intellectuals of Germany who wanted to put the exiles and catastrophes behind them that were among the first to be turned to ash. Hitler's victims weren't just the Jews who sat around on Tisha B'Av mourning the destruction of the Temple - he went after the secular Jews just the same as those who lived in shtetls! And it's the same today and it will always be the same.

Today there are people that are right now plotting new ways to kill you and me. Right now as you are reading this, there is some insane person, most likely in the Middle East sitting with his buddies and trying to come up with the best way to put an end to your life. And it won't matter if you're progressive, liberal, conservative, moderate, secular, Israeli, American, Orthodox, Conservative, Ashkenaz, Sephard or WHATEVER. It won't matter if you send your children on March of the Living or if Israel knocks down Yad Vashem as Burg suggests. The Holocaust lives on because the attempted PERPETRATORS of the NEXT Holocaust live on!

So while it's bad enough to burn a bridge to your past, your heritage and your culture (no matter how checkered or painful it may be, it is still a part of who you are) once you've crossed the river...how much worse is it to burn the bridge while you are still on it! This is a true ostrich mentality that it seems the entire world around me has adopted as its accepted policy.



“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
--Sir Winston Churchill


It's a cliche yes, but for good reason.

What makes it even MORE brazen is that in a society like which Mr. Burg describes he would be excommunicated...lynched even for the absolutely INCENDIARY suggestions he is making. And yet as this surprising New York Times article from December of last year points out...

what is perhaps most interesting of all is that Mr. Burg continues to play a public role in Israel. He is invited to speak to young people, he writes occasional opinion columns, and he is greeted warmly, even embraced, in this city’s cafes.

And why is this? Why ISN'T Burg treated like the traitor he sounds like, in the very country he has taken to thrashing on a regular basis? Because Jews need to stick together, precisely because of events like the Holocaust and the other horrors that have befallen our people before and after it. As the article continues:

This may be because, despite it all, Avrum Burg is family. And whether he likes it or not, Israelis look out for family.

The most ironic part of it all is that the very thing that Burg is denouncing, this obsession with the past that binds us all together is PRECISELY the thing that allows him to keep preaching without fear or reprisal.

Our past is what binds us together. Our past is what has held us together through it all. And no matter what we say or how we act, our past, if ignored will also be our future.