Two articles from Haaretz begin with the ugly display of the Knesset walk-out, led by Naftali Bennett last Wednesday. Carlo Strenger sees Bennet’s petulant rudeness as a evidence of his (and the right’s) total loss of contact with reality. Avraham Burg jumps over the politician’s impotence to an important new set of principles based on acceptance that neither Israeli Jews nor Palestinians have a surplus of rights or exclusive sovereignty over any part of the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.
“The term Holocaust refers to all victims of Nazi persecution… only Jews were targeted for complete extermination” is the lesson from Holocaust Education Trust to schools in England and Wales. In fact, Jews were the largest ethnic group so targeted. All gypsies/Sinti were also slated for extermination. Nazi hatred of Slavs/communists made Russians the largest single group of people destroyed by Nazis. Remembering the murderous ambition of Hitler’s regime, and the suffering caused, is a lesson we are in danger of not having understood or learned.
From the J Street conference to the Pew research Emily Hauser follows the trail to what creates Jewish identity for young and non-religious Jews. The fact that it is the holocaust, or shoah, is disturbing especially when it is mis-remembered as being a mass killing of Jews alone. Perhaps a defining sense of Jewish ethics and justice would be stronger and sense of always being the only victim would be weakened with better history.
PM Netanyahau forbade all Israelis from listening to President Rouhani’s speech in New York. The rest of the UN General Assembly was very interested as Iran’s new President juggled tributes to the old hard line while opening new doors. He affirmed the Holocaust had taken place and was a crime, called terrorism a ‘violent scourge’ and did not once refer to the USA as an enemy. Netanyahu scorned the speech as a trick.
“We acknowledge, as witnesses, that it is unacceptable to deny this historical reality and declare such denials or any justification of this tragedy as against the Islamic code of ethics” said a group of Muslim leaders on a visit to Auschwitz. (Numbers vary according to report). The trip was organised by the US Center for Interreligious Understanding or State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom. More importantly, will the imams have the influence to challenge the denial and/or abuse of the Holocaust?
Naomi Alderman, multi-talented writer, carries the heritage of Anne Frank and, of course the Holocaust and antisemitism. She reviews contemporary Jewish fictions – including one where a Palestinian boy demands of a settler that she renounces her ‘mythical claim’ – to find where that heritage has led. But it’s 2013, and life is as good as it has ever been for anyone in the history of the world. So without forgetting, we must stop looking in “the mesmerising mirror of victimhood”.
Both Jews and non-Jews are often taken aback at how the powerful, racist and military-loving people who are dominant in Israeli politics see themselves as frail victims of – just about everyone else. A cartoon by Mysh found by Richard Silverstein expresses this paradox perfectly, leading him to meditate on the sort of psychosis which can create such a warped and deluded self-image.
The Holocaust is the one unifying thread in Israel and a remorseless part of all education. Yet in a Holocaust play teenagers jeered at the weak Jews and cheered the Nazi persecutors. Is this so surprising when the Ministry of Education holds up the settlers as brave pioneeers and demands the excision of a textbook quoting the Goldstone report from the school curriculum? Still, Adam Keller does not despair…
German citizenship is becoming the political identity of choice for thousands of Israelis as well as a growing number of American and Russian Jews. The reasons given are freedom, safety, cultural richness and cheap rents. And for some it is a way of of recovering a tradition that was stolen from them.
In the week of the UK’s Holocaust memorial day (Friday January 27th) Robert Cohen writes a letter to Anne Frank’s spirit, wondering what she would make of a cruel legacy in which ‘The Holocaust has been used to explain and justify every aggression’, Palestinians have been dispossessed and every criticism of these acts has been called antisemitic.
Haredi Jews, whose pressure to confine women and girls has prompted strong disapproval in Israel, dressed their children in striped prison clothes and wore yellow patches in a demonstration on Saturday. The claim that they are the Jews and other Israelis are the Nazis has caused outrage
Carlo Strenger, liberal commentator on Haaretz, declares 2011 the year the two-state solution died. He takes hope from the community who share his values and will continue, at least, to stand for civil and human rights and stop their further erosion in Israel
The uniqueness of the holocaust of Jews in Europe has long been the mainstay of Israeli ideology, beyond discussion or comparison. Now the Knesset is considering appointing another holocaust memorial day – for the Armenian people systematically killed by Turks 1915-18. Why? because Turkey is Israel’s ‘new enemy says Richard Silverstein.
Norman Finkelstein, a Jewish American, has gained fame – and notoriety – for his intellectual work on, amongst other things, how contemporary Jews and others have exploited the Holocaust and anti-semitism in ways he regards as dishonourable and dishonest. Hear his views on Israel/Palestine at venues round England.
Two weeks of moving memorial days in Israel have been turned into a kitsch denial of the country’s secular and socialist past, and of the Palestinians’ nakba
MJ Rosenberg follows up his analysis of Aipac (posted earlier in the week) with this piece in the Huffington Post. Here he deals with the latest contribution by David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker and arguably the most influential Jewish American journalist writing today. Having traditionally given Israel the benefit of the doubt Remnick has now moved decisively against the “Israel First” brigade…
“Only a few years ago, many of Europe’s far-right politicians were openly anti-Semitic. Now some of the same populist parties are embracing Israel to unite against what they perceive to be a common threat.” A disturbing account by Stefan Theil of how some members of the extreme far right in Europe are cosying up to Israel. Those invited to visit Israel by right-wing Israeli Chaim Muehlstein, included a Belgian politician known for his contacts with SS veterans, an Austrian with neo-Nazi ties, and a Swede whose political party has deep roots in Swedish fascism. They even went to Yad Vashem, to the evident horror of many who work there. But Nissim Zeev, a member of the Knesset who met with the visiting Europeans, was not bothered. “At the end of the day, what’s important is their attitude—the fact they really love Israel,” says Zeev, who represents Shas, an Orthodox right-wing party…
Events are taking place too quickly and in too many countries for anyone to have a comprehensive, informed overview of developments. We’ve put together a few links to what we hope are useful articles dealing with Libya, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan…
If you read just one thing let it be As’ad AbuKhalil’s 300-word contribution.
Updated Sat 26 Feb 10.4am
On 5 November Der Spiegel online reported that the Jewish community in Germany was ‘outraged’ by the choice of Alfred Grosser to give the Reichskristallnacht memorial talk at the Paulskirche in Frankfurt. His crime? He has criticised Israel for its treatment of the Palestinians. He has said: “As a Jewish boy in a Frankfurt school, [...]
Henry Siegman argues that progress in the peace talks depends on President Obama’s willingness to submit parameters for peace that the US Congress is currently dead opposed to. They also require an effective Palestinian interlocutor – that means an opening to Hamas.
“If the Obama administration will not lead an international initiative to define the parameters of an Israeli-Palestinian agreement and actively promote Palestinian political reconciliation, Europe must do so, and hope America will follow.”