December 29, 2005


THE DISPUTATION: Our Role in Promoting Holocaust Denial (David Klinghoffer, December 30, 2005, Forward)

Lately we Jews have displayed a weakness for a style of rhetorical overreach in which the Holocaust is deployed as a stick to threaten those whom some of us find objectionable. It should not startle anyone if Jew haters, seeing what a favorite weapon the Holocaust has become, seek to wrestle it out of our hands by denying it ever happened.

Some illustrations:

Last month in Houston, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, leader of the 1.5-million-member Reform movement, compared religious conservatives to Nazis for retaining the idea that marriage is a partnership of a man and woman. Yoffie said, "We cannot forget that when Hitler came to power in 1933, one of the first things that he did was ban gay organizations."

Placing conservative Christians in the same tradition that brought us the Holocaust was a theme already familiar in the statements of prominent Jews. When Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" came out last year, even some usually perspicacious analysts couldn't resist linking the traditionally Catholic Gibson with Hitler and the Holocaust.

Columnist Charles Krauthammer linked Gibson's movie to the "blood libel that... led to countless Christian massacres of Jews and prepared Europe for the ultimate massacre — 6 million Jews systematically murdered in six years."

In The Washington Post, Richard Cohen summarized his own view: "I thought the movie was tawdry, cartoonish, badly acted and antisemitic, maybe not purposely so but in the way portions of the New Testament are — an assignment of blame that culminated in the Holocaust."

Walter Reich, former director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, found in Gibson's "Passion" signs of "that kind of anger that became the seedbed in which the antisemitism that flourished in the last century, and the Holocaust it produced, took root."

The Anti-Defamation League's national director, Abraham Foxman, said that he is "always hesitant to make comparisons of today's evils... to that of Adolf Hitler." But that didn't stop him from locating "The Passion" in the same vein of hate that led to the Holocaust. "The very reason that Jews have gone through so much is the thinking and viewpoint reflected in the Gibson film," he explained to the New York Post. "For 1,950 plus years the accusation that the Jews killed Jesus has been the source of antisemitism — inquisitions, expulsions, pogroms and eventually the Holocaust."

The fact that Gibson's film led to no manifestation of increased antisemitism anywhere in the world has not, to my knowledge, resulted in any of these commentators retracting their statements.

It's not only Christians, however, against whom we wield the ax of Hitler's incomparable genocide. When Israel's incomparably humane plan to evacuate Gaza of its Jewish residents was carried out, one found Jewish settlers comparing themselves to Holocaust victims — wearing orange Stars of David to recall the yellow star that Jews in the Nazi era were compelled to wear. An Israeli housing minister noted, "Unfortunately, I am no longer surprised when a Jew compares me and other Israeli officials to Nazis."

The danger would seem less that it contributes to denial of the Holocaust itself, than that the continual accusation that George Bush, in particular, and Christians, generally, are Nazis will tend to diminish the evil of the Third Reich. After all, if heterosexuality is Nazism, then the God of Abraham is....

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 29, 2005 1:39 PM
Comments for this post are closed.