This is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.
On this last day of Passover, I received an email invite to commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day at a Brandeis- sponsored conference, “The Shoah in Israeli Culture, Memory and Politics.” Featured speakers include Nobel Peace Laureate, Elie Wiesel, Dan Michman of Yad Vashem and Stuart Eizenstat, Special Advisor on Holocaust Issues for Secretary of State John Kerry.
The usual Holocaust suspects.
Wiesel is checking in by video. Will Eizenstat bring along a special message from our flailing (somewhat Jewish) Secretary of State?
There might be a few interesting twists and turns at the conference. The perennial accuser of Jews of Conscience, Alvin H. Rosenfeld, professor of Jewish Studies at Indiana University, has been hawking his tired wares for decades. His lecture “The Use of the Holocaust as a Form of Anti-Israel Rhetoric” will be like most sermons – when you hear the first sentence, the rest is easy to figure out. “The Embryonic Israeli Right, Fascism, and the Shoah,” by Colin Shindler, professor of Israel Studies at SOAS in London, promises to be a tad more interesting. At SOAS, his job is to keep the anti-Zionist internationalist barbarians at the gate long enough to allow Israel to get it right. At least he’s willing to face a challenging lecture audience.
But balancing the right with the left – painting the extremes as a way of holding the occupation middle together – doesn’t do much anymore. It’s an outdated concept whose sole purpose is to move the goal posts and buy time for Israel’s occupation regime.
I doubt the proceedings at Brandeis will be monitored like the One-State conference at Harvard was a few years ago. This might be the rub as Passover comes to a close.
Neither Holocaust remembrance nor the one-state hope is going anywhere in the immediate future. The Holocaust is already in our rear-view mirror. Its days are numbered. The one-state hope isn’t even on the horizon. Right now any positive one-state future is blocked by the one-state panorama already in place – Israel in control from Tel Aviv to the Jordan River.
These endless Holocaust conferences testify to the money that the Jewish establishment has and is willing to spend to prop up Israel’s occupation. And to censor Israel’s critics. It’s their last ditch attempt to keep the tide of Jewish history from being overwhelmed by the Jewish prophetic.
Remembering the Holocaust is used to keep our Jewish heads above water. The Holocaust has become our lifeboat.
The Holocaust/Israel/Palestine issue continues to widen the divisions in the Jewish community. The division: Jews with money, influence and political power versus Jews of Conscience without money, influence or political power. In the middle is apathy and flight. Most Jews today don’t want to get near any of it. No wonder Passover has become vacuous.
Some Jews I’ve known mock the Easter-driven “He is Risen” church billboards which, surprisingly, aren’t much different from the Facebook postings by our more enlightened Christian comrades in arms. Our thoughts: Christians can’t help themselves. They’re on self-congratulatory auto-pilot. But then, how do our Passover liberation greetings sound to those outside the Jewish community?
Easter auto-pilot. Passover auto-pilot. The prophetic barred entry. Until the next round of holy days?