The very connotation this piece’s title probably brought to you mind, illustrates perfectly the point it is meant to make.
You expect another article complaining that we have forgotten the horrors, the unspeakable depths of depravity that man, more specifically the Germans, reached and inflicted on his fellow man, more specifically the Jews.
That we should watch more Holocaust films, make sure we can still cry when we watch them (lest we doubt our own humanity), campaign more strongly against Holocaust deniers, decry with outrage at the first sight of intolerance and even nationalism and/or religious pride (since only “gay” pride is acceptable in modern society), make sure every gentile is taught continuously about the Holocaust, send more and more people on trips like the “March of the Living”, and of course keep shoving guilt in everyone’s face.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Jewry today, and specifically American Jewry, have reduced the immensely rich heritage that is Judaism, and what it means to be a Jew, to the Holocaust. Being a Jew means that we were slaughtered during WWII, and being a good Jew means remembering it (or at least watching Schindler’s List).
Furthermore, while trading thousands of years of history, philosophy, tradition, Talmudic and Biblical scholarship, of searching for morality and justice, and an unmatched tale of unity and perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds, all for the emotional highs and lows that the knowledge that we were slaughtered by the millions like cattle can bring; we did something else as well.
We have first perfected and fine tuned the experience of grieving and “experiencing” the Holocaust. In film, books, plays and media of every kind, American Jewry revels, and insists that everyone else revel, in the dehumanizing agonies that our people underwent at the hand of the Nazis. Not only do these pitifully and thankfully pale in any comparison to express what it must have been like to undergo such horrors, but they also have taken a life of their own; a massive victimization cult, and an industry of the Holocaust.
Nowhere can this be more concretely observed and typified than the ever growing circus around programs such as the March of the Living. Step aside Disneyland, Auschwitz has taken your place.
Large sectors of the eastern european economy cater to this constant parade of well-to-do suburban secular Jews trying to connect with their Judaism (ie again, “Holocaust”) or at least trying to convince themselves that they are good people who “feel”. These trips one can imagine, are either trivialized as another summer camp type activity where the kids’ main goals are to gossip and flirt against the background of what they think is Judaism (again, “Holocaust”), or taken in another equally absurd direction where participants pretend to feel every bit of pain, and every tear. To enjoying wallowing in the unspeakable misery.
American Jewish Day Schools, often (ie when not religious) step outside of teaching their constant and secular liberalism, leftism, environmentalism and social/economic progressivism unto the uncomfortable grounds of anything to do with Judaism only to happily delve into the agonies of the Holocaust.
It makes me wonder, where did all the antisemitism leading up to the Holocaust even came from; since before the Holocaust there couldn’t have been anything to the Jews and Judaism at all. Did Jews even exist before the Holocaust?
Do not mistake this critique for anything even remotely dismissive or diminishing of the Holocaust; on the contrary, it is a testament of how awry its worship has led us. Let me explain.
Firstly, Auschwitz is not a theme park, and the Holocaust is not our identity. The unfortunate Jews who had to live (or die) through it would have very much wished to never have been there to begin with. The preservation of these camps is perverse. “and here we have exhibit ‘Human Oven’….” grotesque.
There is nothing there to commemorate, to preserve, nothing… no Jew should ever want to stand on that cursed ground. Auschwitz is not Masada, not the Western Wall, not the cave of the Patriarchs, it is nowhere near Judea and our Biblical homeland which so many Jews are so eager to give away to our modern day murdering enemy.
Even within Europe, the 2000 year old Ashkenaz tradition was not you will be surprised, composed of being packed into cattle cars. The Yiddish culture of the Shtetl, literature, stories, music, tradition, cuisine, etc etc that is who we really WERE, and what was virtually wiped out in the Holocaust. That is what we should remember, and not merely its last day amid the cattle cars and the ovens.
We are fortunate to be blessed with a massive geographical, archaeological and cultural heritage that we ought to want to preserve and honor. The Jews in the Holocaust, who themselves did not grow up worshiping its brutality, went through that hell because they DID wish to preserve our true identity. What a sin it is to so quickly forget it, and replace it with a perverse reverence of the pain they underwent.
To be more precise, the Jews actually often went through this hell because their fathers had remembered who they were for millennia, but they themselves Didn’t remember their identity… ironically one must remember that it is not the bearded black hat donning observant Jews of eastern Europe that the Nazi elite hated so much (nor even knew). They hated the very progressive, the very secular, the very Germanized, the very liberal, the very socialist/marxist Jew who was fast forgetting that he was a Jew and demanding that the German forget he is a German. Sound familiar?
Let me point out a mere single example of where this type of thinking leads to:
The city of Chicago had hosted (but not paid for) a nativity scene, and a Christmas tree at City Hall for the Christmas season as long as anyone could remember. The American Jewish Congress, a sickly and backwards organization compared to what it had originally been under Rabbi Wise, in 1985 set out to eradicate these Christmas symbols from city hall. Armed with an incorrect interpretation of the Establishment Clause (Separation of Church and State), unconcerned with what percent of Chicagoans were in fact christian, they demanded, whined and bullied..when all else failed they went to court too.
The city’s first naive reaction was to say, “of course, we are happy to have a Menorah display as well”. The AJC is not concerned with Menorahs, it is concerned with people not being christian.
A lower court at first correctly ruled against the AJC, but by 1987, Judge Flaum of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals had overturned the decision and ruled in the AJC’s favor.
City hall promptly complied, and some private citizens erected a smaller nativity scene in the nearby Daley Center Plaza. Though they had obtained a city permit for it, under pressure from the AJC and other leftist groups, the city flip-flopped and sent in workers to remove the display. This pathetic charade including a struggle with the citizens guarding the display was caught by cameras and broadcast around the world.
It doesn’t take much to realize how wrong the American Jewish Congress was, and in fact their actions were very embarrassing; but in their minds, following the Holocaust infatuation of American Jewry, they were stopping the next Holocaust.
The dissenting Judge Easterbrook, wrote “We must distinguish threats from shadows.” And quoted Madison as saying that the Constitution is not “concerned with trifles”. How appropriate.
But back to a Jewish perspective, this is the core of the issue. We hear a bastardized version of “Never Again” over and over. The Holocaust industry which I describe, has wholeheartedly taken it up as its battle cry. Never again… will this happen, why?
Oh because the American Jewish Congress will sue everyone and anyone when they dare show the slightest hint of pride in their own culture, ethnicity, religion etc. Because we will whine and complain, and throw guilt at every direction so that no one ever wants to kill us again. Because we will prove Hitler correct in that the presence of Jews in a nation weakens the identity of its non Jews.
Not only is the logic of this quite questionable to say the least, (one could say these things would invite murder!), and though its proponents would word it differently (“we have to educate the gentiles so that it doesn’t happen again”), it is thankfully an exact opposite of what was originally meant.
Though its ultimate origin is more elusive, the phrase in connection with the Holocaust was popularized by none other than the fierce Rabbi Meir Kahane. The vast majority of American Jews that use the term would probably shutter at being told of this fact (at least if they are among the minority who know who Kahane was).
And Rabbi Kahane did not mean that Nazis would never again want to murder us because we guilt-tripped them all to death, nor because we made a theme park out of Auschwitz…. he meant that we Never Again would go like sheep to the slaughter. That we Never Again would be so weak as to be at the mercy of our enemies.
Though he coined it perfectly, this obvious lesson from the Holocaust was widely understood by world Jewry immediately after the War (and before it by those with greater insight). It is this concept that directly leads to the establishment of Israel, to the creation almost overnight of a hardy, tough Jewish farmer/warrior in some ways indistinguishable as his bookish European father’s son.
To believe these things is not to judge the Jewish victims of the Holocaust harshly, on the contrary it is to ensure their sacrifices and their slaughter were not wholly in vain. Notice these Jewish groups tend to throw guilt at every nation on earth for the Holocaust (those on the side of the Axis powers for supporting it, and those opposed for not doing more to stop it), but never at the Jewish nation itself. Nine million Jews in Europe and over 15 million in total, while the Wehrmacht had about 4.6 million total men under uniform in 1939, and a bit over 12 million at its peak in 1944. Taking into consideration how much trouble a few thousand starving Ghetto fighters and Jewish partisans (like the awesome Bielsky Brigade (otriad)) caused the Germans, who were fighting a World War simultaneously, it is moving to imagine what a 15 million strong population determined to save itself and its brethren could have accomplished.
It is fine to understand the error of world Jewry during the Holocaust, to understand why it happened (the difficulty believing civilized Europe could come to what it did… etc), and to recognize the immense courage many families displayed in various ways…from sheer perseverance to survive come what may to the glorious fighters of the Warsaw Ghetto who faced down the mightiest army on earth.
It was Israeli General Shmuel Gonen, a bit over-dramatically given the circumstances one must admit, who gave a famous speech to his soldiers who had reached the Suez during the Six Day War (a war and a victory directly attributable to the correct understanding of “Never Again”) as the Egyptian Army crumbled and ran before them, and stated “We stared death straight in the eyes, and it lowered its gaze”.
It was the fighters of the Ghettos who stared death straight in the eye, and how I wish it would have lowered its gaze.
It is also most likely correct to realize that in their shoes, Gd forever forbid, we would have done the same if not far worse. The Jews of the Holocaust did not have a Holocaust a few decades earlier as an example, though the more learned among them would know of 2,000 years of persecution, expulsions, pogroms and inquisitions.
But understanding them, and not judging them does not mean we cannot learn from their mistakes. Nothing could be more insulting, more wasteful and more shameful than not learning from that horror. And what there is to learn from it is not about the ovens, and the cattle cars, and about how grotesque SS scum could be. Not to become an expert, much like they seem to enjoy, on the details of human torture. There is to learn that there is no honor nor merit in weakness.
There is to learn that appeasement to our enemies is not the path to peace and security. It is to recognize that when 30 years had not passed since the genocide of Europe, and barely 3 from when we again faced annihilation at the hands of our enemies (Yom Kippur War), and Jews once again sat separated from gentiles and held against their will, a small and young country still steeped in the strengths of “Never Again” sent its youth through enemy territory far and deep into dark Africa and rescued them from their terrorist hijackers and their Ugandan protectors in the most daring and most successful rescue operation of modern times.
The older brother of our current leader, Yoni Netanyahu, fell as he commanded the operation, which saved American Citizens, French citizens, British citizens, Israeli citizens, all held because they were Jews (together with a brave non Jewish air crew that refused to abandon them). I am unaware of what the AJC’s actions during the event were, but they seemed to have been less effective. It was my pleasure to serve with a soldier from France (we both had the unfortunate distinction of being the oldest soldiers in the battalion) whose mother had been at Entebbe. The young man grew up knowing that Israel had saved his mom, and he was there to make sure he said thanks. He did far more than that.
This young country needs our help to remain strong. We must remember our creed to be strong, we must honor our heritage and respect the rights of others to to honor theirs. We must be good allies to our friends, and not appeasers to our enemies. We must demand that our allies act as such, and not simply be those who pressure us to give in to our foes. Likewise we must stand with our allies when they face danger. Let us not wish that the American forget he is a Christian, he has much to be proud of as both, and we have much to thank him for his hospitality. Let us not Americanize to the extent we forget we are Jews. Holocausts are not avoided by ignorance, they are caused by them. For those who chose to forget who they are, often there will be others who remind them.
We forget the lesson of the Holocaust at our peril, we forget our heritage and threaten to complete the Nazi’s goals. Where is our support for Israel? We mention the Holocaust in relation to it only when we voice our support for the “palestinian” cause in saying that we should not be like those who oppressed us. The statement is as cowardly as it is absurd. Learn about who we were long before we were slaughtered at the death camps, learn about what it is that our forefathers labored, fought and risked to preserve throughout the centuries. Learn about our homeland, it is not Auschwitz nor Bergen-Belsen, but Eretz Israel, and the strength we need to keep it. These are the the things there is to learn.
There is to learn that Never Again, means that when the next band of lunatics wishes to exterminate us, they will find not the American Jewish Congress lawyers wallowing in self pity before them, but rather the lads of the IDF who will say “You must pass us first”. And with their strength, and Gd’s help, none shall pass.