From my book, Tolerism: The Ideology Revealed (available on Amazon)THE TOLERIST TAKEOVER OF HOLOCAUST COMMEMORATIONS :
THE 10 LESSONS THAT WE SHOULD HAVE LEARNED
I suggest it is time for a re-evaluation of Holocaust Commemorations, Museums, and Education. We must re-consider what is the message we are trying to give, and re-consider the objective of our Holocaust teaching resources and the objective of our museums, ceremonies and other commemorations of the Holocaust.
In the context of this study of the ideology of Tolerism, we must be aware of how this ideology has even gone to the extent of corrupting well-meaning attempts at memorializing the Holocaust.The Holocaust Centre of Toronto states in its Mandate that “It is our responsibility to educate the community at large to ensure that the lessons of the Holocaust will be learned.”
In its statement of Purpose, the Toronto Holocaust Centre states: “ As custodians of memory, we must dedicate ourselves to preserving the past and educating future generations. Only through education and remembrance can we safeguard the lessons of the Holocaust, for it is clear that they have not yet been learned.”
So, the question is: what are the lessons of the Holocaust that our Holocaust commemoration centres are teaching? The Toronto Holocaust Education website, which does not mention the word “Israel” even once, goes on to explain: “It is in the ways in which we pay tribute to memory that we truly define ourselves, for it is in forgetfulness and indifference that hate and destruction triumph.”Two comments will suffice at present: Firstly, why do we assume the lessons are clear, and not openly discuss them? Secondly, this statement alleges that we “define ourselves” primarily in giving “tribute to memory” and then alleges that one lesson appears to be that it is in “forgetfulness and indifference that hate and destruction triumph”. While there is much truth to that, I would suggest that there are a host of other lessons that we better be imparting. Surely, the antipathy to Israel and Jews worldwide today is not based on “forgetfulness and indifference” but something more ominous.
Many Holocaust educators follow curriculum ideas from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, in its “Teaching About the Holocaust: A Resource for Educators, “(t)he Holocaust calls into question our most basic assumptions about human nature, modern society, social responsibility, and global citizenship.” I certainly agree with that. But then it goes on to state:“The study of the Holocaust assists students in developing an understanding of the ramifications of prejudice, racism and stereotyping in any society. It helps students develop an awareness of the value of pluralism, and encourages tolerance of diversity in a multicultural society.” I am not happy, however, when I read that Holocaust Education now has a major objective of “promoting the value of pluralism, and …tolerance of diversity in a multicultural society.” Let me explain why.
Recently, I watched a fine series on the Holocaust by the American network, Public Broadcasting System. As part of the series, they assembled a group of high school students who not only watched the series’ episodes, but went on a trip to tour Auschwitz. Then, at the end of the series, the students were filmed, discussing what they had learned. One young man, quite typical of the rest, was clear that he had learned that we must all be free of “discrimination” and “racism”, and he vowed to be more welcoming to Muslim immigrants.
So it was made clear to the viewer. The Holocaust now stands for the principle of being tolerant and non-discriminatory. We, of course, are now entering the end-game of those who have quite successfully hijacked the moral of the Holocaust story. In a world of moral and cultural relativism, where “tolerance” is the only enduring value, we Jews are participating in a fraudulent and reprehensible misuse of History – a misuse which results in the new villains being precisely those Jews and Christians who adopt religious values to judge human behaviour, and seek to discriminate between good and evil, and the new heroes being Muslim victims of criticism. Moreover, those who support the Jewish homeland in Israel are also cast as villains, since Israel (as viewed by the United Nations General Assembly et al.) is guilty of humiliating and offending Muslims everywhere by its lack of tolerance towards those who want to destroy it.
In a world that expresses more concerns about Israel erecting a security fence to protect civilians than about the intentional targeting of those civilians, and obscures the fact that there would be no checkpoints and no fences if the Palestinians would give up their fantasy of ejecting the Jewish state from the Middle East, we are faced with the need to examine what has gone wrong with our Holocaust commemoration. For it is my argument that Holocaust commemoration has been willingly subverted by well-meaning liberal Jews into a movement to deny Jewish values in favour of the new relativist and tolerant values that are weakening the Western World’s resolve to defend itself and its freedoms against the forces of Islamofascism. In part, liberals fear that they shall be accused of “using” the memory of the Holocaust for contemporary ideological purposes – in this case, support of the state of Israel – but what they fail to understand is that all history is interpreted according to some current ideology, and the ideology of Tolerance is a problematic lens for viewing the moral of the Holocaust – since it does little for the cause of maintenance of Jewish freedoms.Before we examine my list of what we should really be learning from the Holocaust, let us examine some ideological bases for what will follow. The reader will have already inferred that I see a distinction between Jewish values and the values existing today in the secular Western World. The fact that such a view is not shared by all Jews is, in my opinion, one of the tragedies of modern Jewish life. For most Jews view ourselves as the descendants of those who entered into a covenant with G-d at Mount Sinai to accept certain laws and moral values, sometimes summarized as ethical monotheism. But unlike proselytizing religions like Christianity and Islam, we accepted certain laws as our obligation only, as a way to bring a Tikkun Olam, a repair of the universe, necessary after the fall of Adam and Eve.
Thus accepting a role to act as a “light unto the nations”, did not involve any moral superiority as such, but it did carry with it the moral judgment that we expected righteous non-Jews to live by the seven Noahite Laws – with respect to 1) idolatry; 2) blasphemy; 3) homicide; 4) incest and adultery; 5) robbery; 6) eating the flesh of a live creature; and 7) establishing a system of justice.
Note that “tolerance” and “respect for diversity” are nowhere found in this list. And note, that the Nazis in the Holocaust quite clearly breached the Noahite laws pertaining to idolatry, blasphemy, homicide, robbery and a system of justice. Accordingly, the very first lesson of the Holocaust is to judge adversely any people emulating the Nazi rejection of these fundamental Noahite principles. Moral relativism, with its inherent minimization of such breaches among other peoples, is then a corruption, which a clear understanding of the moral lessons of the Holocaust should warn against.
Instead, we have one of our pre-eminent Holocaust museums named The Museum of Tolerance. The fact that it ostensibly honours the great Simon Wiesenthal, who surely rejected tolerance in favour of Justice, is an unfortunate irony.
One problem for a pro-Israel writer and lecturer, such as myself, is that my right to freedom of expression might be interpreted and limited by the right of Muslims not to have their multicultural heritage “disrespected” by my mere mention of the State of Israel and the problems for the Jews there, in the age of Iran and its proxies Hamas and Hizbollah.
Accordingly, when we invest all of our energies in promoting Tolerance and Respect for Diversity, we must be careful what we wish for.
Just as the first lesson of the Holocaust involves understanding the notion of what values are inherent in our civilization, other lessons involve understanding the way in which the Nazi Holocaust differed in scope and result to numerous anti-Jewish pogroms, inquisitions, discriminations, prejudices, lynchings, and the like, which have occurred through history with depressing regularity. The Holocaust was successful in killing an astounding 6 million Jews, and numerous others, because firstly, it audaciously adopted the mission of destroying every single one of this demonized People, and secondly it applied industrial-like efficiencies and modern propaganda methods.
In its mission of killing an entire people, a Genocide, the Nazis discovered that the more civilians that they killed, and the greater the speed and the magnitude of the slaughter, the easier this would be accepted by the modern world. This is related to the concept of the Big Lie, specifically that the bigger the lie, the more easily many people believe it. So, the second lesson of the Holocaust is that the second Noahite law against homicide is easier to breach the more audacious and bizarre the magnitude of the slaughter, and the professed rationale for same. It is easier for people to mourn the death of one person. There is an accepted protocol of going to a funeral and visitations that allow us a path towards mourning and acceptance. But for the death of tens, hundreds, thousands or millions, we do not have such protocol; it is too much for both our minds and our hearts, so we often do less to commemorate mass murder than the death of one individual.
The third lesson is that homicide is not acceptable no matter what the propaganda-like justifications that are given, and that intentional targeting of civilians for whatever reason is simply wrong. However, we must also not allow our people to be terrorized and murdered by a misuse of international law – that serves to protect civilian populations that have given over their homes to rocket launchers and hosting terrorist soldiers, and their children and religious faiths to the goal of eradicating other civilian populations.
The fourth lesson is that democratization of evil does not excuse it, and that democracy is not the important value – it is liberal democracy. A Liberal Democracy is a democracy that functions according to a justice system, which will, when necessary, overturn the will of the majority when that majority acts in an illegal fashion. The fact that the Nazis were initially voted in by the German people is analogous to the fact that the Palestinian people voted in Hamas. Democratization is useless without a system of justice, and neither the Nazis nor the Palestinians have had a properly functioning Justice system. To accord respect to societies that are run illegally and that trample on the fundamental inherent rights of human beings does not amount to being tolerant – it amounts to being intolerant to those who inevitably suffer at the hands of the crazies who elevate some ideology over the right to justice.
The fifth lesson is to me, the most tragic of all: we must counter the morally corrupt position that mentioning the name of the Jewish Homeland, Israel, in the context of Holocaust commemorations is unnecessarily “controversial”, or is a form of using the Holocaust for some political agenda. The extent to which some twisted notion of “political correctness” causes us to “cleanse” our commemorations of the mere mention of the importance of the Jewish state, is the extent to which we have given up our values and replaced them with the values of our enemy. Hitler would surely be smiling if he knew that Iran and Syria, with their evil proxies, Hizbollah and Hamas, are publicly planning the destruction of Israel and the nearly 6 million Jews there. He would laugh out loud if he knew that so much as mentioning that fact in a Holocaust Commemoration event, is enough to cause a huge controversy, and therefore many of our events are not Judenrein, but Israelrein.
Canadian Professor Anne Bayefsky, writing on January 27, 2005 in National Review Online points out that the United Nations commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz made sure that there were no actual Resolutions coming out of the ceremony, so as not to offend the Arab states, which boycotted the event (the auditorium was half empty). Of the 41 speakers at the event, only 5 dared to mention the word, “Israel” in their speeches, and such word was not mentioned in the speeches by the U.S., Canada, the European Union and Australia. Then, most amazing of all, at the ceremony that took place at Auschwitz, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfovitz stated: “We have agreed to set aside contemporary political issues, in order to reflect on those events of 60 years ago in a spirit of unanimity.” The price, however, for unanimity is to abandon the notion that the Holocaust contains lessons for contemporary politics. To concede as Wolfovitz did, that European leftists and the Muslims are offended by the lessons to be drawn, is to render the Holocaust into a meaningless symbol.
Bayefsky notes the irony of the constant repetition of the mantra “Never Again” when we fail to give primacy to discussions of what that means in the contemporary situation for the Jewish state: “Jews everywhere are indebted to the willingness and ability of Israelis to live and breathe self-determination. When contemporary political issues are set aside and an affirmation of the centrality of the Jewish state’s well-being is not key to a commemoration of the Holocaust, ‘never again’ is an empty phrase.”
And so, I look at the mandate and mission statement of my local Holocaust education centre, the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre; and I read on its website:The Mandate is “(t)o combat prejudice, racism, anti-Semitism and genocide by educating the public, especially students and teachers, about the events and implications of the Holocaust.” Certainly, educating about the events of the Holocaust is a mammoth task, and to teach history accurately is, by itself, an important and valuable mandate. But when I searched the entire website, I could not find one mention of the word “Israel”, and I question how we can teach about the “implications of the Holocaust” without so much as mentioning the Jewish homeland of Israel.
The mission of the Vancouver Holocaust Education centre is stated as follows: “ The Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre’s programming links the study of the Holocaust to British Columbia’s social studies, language arts and fine arts curriculum, and makes connections between the Holocaust, Canadian history and contemporary social justice issues.” So why do we shy away from making “connections” to the problems of the Jewish state? Why limit ourselves to contemporary social justice and not political justice and security of the Jews of Israel to be free of terrorism and murder? What are we telling the many visitors to the Centre when we fail to associate ourselves in any way with our Homeland? Part of the Mandate for the VHEC from its website is to educate on the “implications of the Holocaust”. Again, are there no implications with respect to Israel and its current abuse by U.N. bodies and the double standards routinely applied against our Jewish state?
Moreover, we must recognize and stress publicly that the most relevant Holocaust denial as well as current threats to the Jewish people emanate from members of Radical Islam.Courtesy of the MEMRI organization, here are excerpts from a speech delivered by Dr. Walid Al-Rashudi, head of the Department of Islamic Studies at King Saud University, Saudi Arabia, which aired on Al-Aqsa TV on February 29, 2008. Walid Al-Rashudi: “ One of the important things that we must tell people is that what is going on in Palestine today is a real holocaust. This is the real holocaust. A holocaust is not the burning of 50-60 Jews in Germany or Switzerland, but the Jews continue to call it the Holocaust. In case you don’t know, let me tell you that more than 90% of the Muslims in the world do not know that the Jews receive reparations from Germany and Switzerland for the so-called Holocaust affair. We believe that there was indeed a holocaust, but how many died? 50-60 people? Afterwards, they used it to blackmail these two countries. “So what are we supposed to say in the face of the Gaza holocaust? What compensation will satisfy us? By Allah, we will not be satisfied even if all the Jews are killed.”
Nowhere in such a succinct fashion is there made the link between Holocaust denial and the promise to try to create a second Holocaust as in this speech by the head of the Islamic Studies Department of the one of the most important Muslim universities in the world. The failure to make Israel the centerpiece of Holocaust commemoration means we give inadequate regard for this explicit threat to kill all the Jews of the State of Israel by an establishment Islamic scholar at the rich and powerful King Saud University.
In a misguided attempt to avoid political “controversy”, we fail to emphasize strongly enough that the new “anti-Zionism” is, for the most part, based on anti-Semitic thinking. Holocaust education must not shy away from examining what the U.S. State Department, in its impressive new study of anti-Semitism, says is anti-Semitic criticism of Israel:
- Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination
- Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
- Using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
- Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
- Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel by killing Jews all over the world
The sixth lesson is the link between the Jewish councils in the Holocaust, like that headed by Rudolf Kastner in Hungary, and the Olmert/Livni Israeli leadership, both of whom prioritized meaningless negotiations with the enemy over the saving of Jewish civilians. Kastner, who had received the Auschwitz reports from escapees Vrba and Wetzler, continued to tell Jews deported on the train transports to extermination in Auschwitz that they were being “resettled”. This was done when the Romanian border, in 1944 already offered a safe haven to those Jews who could have fled there. Olmert/Livni continued to negotiate with the Palestinian Authority, to give even more land and control to it and possibly Hamas, as terrorist acts were occurring and as rockets landed in Sderot and Ashkelon. The “phased” plans of Arafat and his successors to accept treaties and land in phases to accomplish their eventual goal of retaking all of Palestine, are there for any interested parties to read. Kastner deprived Jews of the chance to fight back, had they known the truth, and instead arranged for escape for some of his friends, relatives and powerful members of the Labour Zionists. Olmert/Livni deprived the Israeli citizens of Sderot and Ashkelon of the full power of the Israeli military as they catered to the left-wing elites of Tel Aviv. The sad lesson of how Jewish leadership has traditionally chosen power over morality, and has catered to the well-connected at the expense of the Jewish masses is the sixth lesson for Holocaust education, as unpalatable as it may seem.
The seventh lesson springs from the idea that the entire attitude of Diaspora Jews towards the Shoah, and the lesson to be learned from it, is just naively optimistic. Jeffrey Goldberg, in his book, Prisoners: A Muslim and a Jew Across the Middle East Divide, discusses his changed awareness when he emigrated from America to Israel, enters the army and feels the empowerment of his first rifle: “most of us having lived our lives in the company of quisling Jews who, for reasons inexplicable and bizarre, believed the main lesson of the Shoah was that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it, instead of the actual lesson of the Shoah, which is that it is easy to kill a unilaterally disarmed Jew but much harder to kill one who is pointing a gun at your face.”
The eighth lesson arises out of the seventh: American and Canadian Jews naively assume that others are similar enough to ourselves that if we create good museums and books, they will overcome years of training to hate – whether that training comes in totalitarian Muslim states, in mosques in the West where imams reflect an Islamist ideology, or even in our universities. For our universities provide a steady diet of anti-Israelism both in the classroom and outside, where obscene events like “Israel Apartheid Week” are sanctioned at the same time as Israeli speakers (like Ehud Barak at Montreal’s Concordia University) are banned, so as to not “offend” Muslim sensibilities. What about Jewish sensibilities? Fortunately we have now good organizations like Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, but our mainstream Jewish organizations have been ineffective for too long.
We must imbue our children with the understanding that Jewish values and American values, although many times compatible, are not identical. We must be clear that those values are close enough that support of Israel’s right to exist in peace and security should not attract the charge of “dual loyalty”. But we must be realistic that acceptance of those promoting appeasement and tolerance of groups seeking to kill Jews is where American values and Jewish values diverge. Then we must not be loathe to advocate on behalf of those politicians who espouse values closest to our own, and this implies that we and our children be educated sufficiently to understand just what those values are.
In particular, American Jews must consider how, in voting overwhelmingly for Barack Obama, they voted for a man whose values allowed to him to choose a Pastor who has firstly, blamed 9-11 on America’s and Israel’s “state terrorism” and, secondly, who associates with Louis Farrakhan, and, thirdly, who infamously stated that “God damn America”. The movement led by Noam Chomsky and the late Edward Said to create a hatred of America by its own young is not negated by vague promises of “change”, but by education led by Holocaust educators understanding what are the real threats that could cause a Second Holocaust. I do not accept that such a course of education improperly “politicizes” the Holocaust. It seems that simple allegations by our enemies that we are “mis-using” the Holocaust for “political” ends have paralyzed us with fear; instead, a free and strong people should be prepared to argue our case for the lessons we seek to draw.Instead, what I find somewhat offensive, is that self-proclaimed guardians of the memory seek to divorce the lessons of the Holocaust from any reference to contemporary politics. In their fear of controversy they render the lessons of the Holocaust, unteachable and undiscussable, except in the most general and inoffensive manner. Professor Peter Novick in his great book, The Holocaust in American History argues that “(i)n the United States, memory of the Holocaust is so banal, so inconsequential, not memory at all, precisely because it is uncontroversial, so unrelated to real divisions… so apolitical.”
It is so apolitical because of a pathetic fear – a fear of allegations by the anti-Israel types that we are using the Holocaust for political ends. It is high time to overcome this fear. Why are we so deferential to anti-Semites who want to eradicate the State of Israel, that we are willing to have them dictate that Holocaust commemorations should be Israelrein? It is time to be strong, and understand that the present situation uses the Holocaust too. Do we want the Holocaust to be used for the message that Tolerance is the only lesson? Or are we strong enough and confident enough that we can link the Holocaust to other lessons, even if the anti-Semites object?
The problem is that left-liberal Jews and others want to take away from Holocaust commemoration the political and historical dimension and the analysis of what constitutes a Justice system, and instead raise the Holocaust to a theological event and the ultimate in competitions for “victimhood”. When groups divorce the Holocaust from historical comparisons, political analysis, and analyses of what constitutes a proper Justice system, while insisting on its “uniqueness”, they pass into what Peter Novick calls “an intellectually empty enterprise”. He writes, “the notion of uniqueness is quite vacuous. Every historical event, including the Holocaust, in some ways resembles events to which it might be compared and differs from them in some ways. These resemblances and differences are a perfectly proper subject for discussion. But to single out those aspects of the Holocaust that were distinctive (there certainly were such), and to ignore those aspects that it shares with other atrocities, and on the basis of this gerrymandering to declare the Holocaust unique, is intellectual sleight of hand. The assertion that the Holocaust is unique – like the claim that it is singularly incomprehensible or unrepresentable – is in practice, deeply offensive.”
And so we learn to be confident in comparing and contrasting the Holocaust to other genocides. We can confidently enter into debate with Muslim clerics who lecture that only 50 to 60 Jews were killed in the Holocaust and that the Israelis are the new Nazis, because we know they are not correct, and we must stand up for truth as a fixed truth and not just one “competing narrative” among equally valid multiple viewpoints.
The ninth lesson is to watch out for Amalekites – the Biblical people who attacked the weakest Jews at the rear of the Jewish migration from Egypt through the desert on the way to Israel. They killed the weakest Jews, the elderly and the very young. As Jews are reminded in the Torah, Deuteronomy 25: Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you came out of Egypt, how he attacked you on the way when you were faint and weary, and cut off your tail, those who were lagging behind you, and he did not fear God.Surely, the notion that the world continues to fund and defend a group of people who are thoroughly imbued with a culture of death and terrorism and suicidal genocidal attacks, is exacerbated when Jewish “peaceniks” accept that these people can be given territory and arms and the right to import ever more dangerous arms, without a thorough “re-education” in the norms of civilized behaviour. As politically incorrect as this may seem, Jews are commanded to remember Amalek, and the actions of the Israeli left and their promoters in the European Union and the Bush government, are based on fantasy, not the teachings of the Torah.Finally, the tenth lesson is what to do about the first nine.
After years of writing about these matters, having had a lecture shouted down and my books “banned”, without the civil liberties crowd speaking out for me, and having seen mainstream Jewish organizations refuse to advocate for the latest victims of anti-Semitic actions, when they are undertaken by Muslims, rather than neo-Nazi skinheads, I have come to some conclusions. We are living in an age where the Public Library in my hometown of Vancouver, for “Freedom to Read Week” had the gall to invite a bizarre anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist, Greg Felton, and provide him with the dignity that such a lecture would provide to his resume. The Canada-Israel Committee and the Canadian Jewish Congress wrote emails to members of the Jewish Community in Vancouver, assuring us that they were taking care of the matter privately, and that we should not “protest” and draw attention to the matter, or risk violence. They of course are wrong. They of course are reflecting a sadly outdated form of Jewish leadership, which was shown to be tragic during the days of American Jewish leader Rabbi Steven Wise’s neglect of the urgency of Jewish rescue in 1943 after he was made aware of the death camps.Now that we have Europeans in almost complete agreement that no one should deny the Holocaust, we have Europeans almost completed agreed that no one should lift a figure to stop the next Holocaust against the Jews. As Norman Podhoretz wrote in the June, 2007 issue of Commentary:
“Much of the world has greeted Ahmadinejad’s promise to wipe Israel off the map with something close to insouciance. In fact, it could almost be said of the Europeans that they have been more upset by Ahmadinejad’s denial that a Holocaust took place 60 years ago than by his determination to set off one of his own as soon as he acquires the means to do so. In a number of European countries, Holocaust denial is a crime, and the European Union only recently endorsed that position. Yet for all their retrospective remorse over the wholesale slaughter of Jews back then, the Europeans seem no readier to lift a finger to prevent a second Holocaust than they were the first time around.”
The message we have to the world that fails to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, when its religiously fanatic leaders, with an apocalyptic world-view, promise to use them on the Jewish state, is simply:
THIS TIME WE SHALL NOT GO QUIETLY.
This is the ultimate message of the Shoah, where so many Jews went like “sheep to the slaughter”.
This time we shall not place a naïve faith in the international community, or in the Americans, or in anyone else, although we shall not give up on alliances. This time we shall not quietly entrust our “sheep” to the corrupted shepherds of a United Nations that makes Libya chair of its Human Rights Commission.
This time we shall not entrust our sheep solely to the non-democratic Jewish organizations. This time we shall not quietly entrust our sheep to the Labour Zionist elites who had so little to say about the murder of the Jewish sheep in 1941-1944, and who have so little to say about the rocket attacks on Sderot and Ashkelon, and the murders of Jewish civilians resulting from the ill-fated Oslo Process. This time we shall realize that self-described “progressives” and “intellectuals” who spend their time on rationalizing Islamic violence against Jewish civilians, are not our friends, but our enemies.
Accordingly, the centerpiece of Holocaust commemorations, whether on Yom Hashoah, or in our museums, education courses and memorials should be: This time we have our own country, this time we shall be armed, and this time we shall not go quietly.