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The Second Coming of Holocaust remembrance

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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 Holocaust Remembrance Day, 2015, what should Jews remember? What should Christians in the West remember? Palestinians?

On Holocaust Remembrance Day, Gaza remains unreconstructed. Settlements continue to expand. The Israeli populace moves farther and farther to the right. The churches continue to write documents against the occupation that mean little. Jews who enabled the occupation for decades and now come out against it are honored. Are they honored for finding their voice when it’s already too late?

The interfaith ecumenical deal continues unabated. Here Jews are empowered and Christians are supposed to repent – and remain silent about what Jews are doing to Palestinians. Thus the many posts from Christian remembering the Holocaust. Are these posts strategic? Most of this Holocaust grief has become rote, a credential played so that support for Palestinians can’t be seen as a form of anti-Semitism.

The Holocaust has assumed a religious significance. Like Easter and Passover it comes around every year without doing much of anything except encouraging outrageous conduct among those with access to power.

When will this Holocaust remembrance – with injustice continuing – charade end?

Many years ago I encouraged Christians to halt their religious services because the words they uttered and the doctrines they signed onto meant little if anything in the real world. Is it now time to halt remembrance of the Holocaust for the every same reason?

What Jews – and Christians – would do without the Holocaust as a signifier of absolute grief is difficult to know. Yet, since absolute grief has other destinations, including Gaza, it is time to turn our attention elsewhere.

Perhaps, then, the remembrance of the Holocaust will return as an authentic attempt to grapple with unmitigated evil. One thing is for sure: As Jews continue to oppress Palestinians, making a holy day for Holocaust remembrance only delays the more authentic second coming of Holocaust remembrance.

Note: Marc chose to change the title of this piece from The Second Coming of the Holocaust out of concern that some misunderstood. –Ed.

Marc H. Ellis
About Marc H. Ellis

Marc H. Ellis is Professor of History and Jewish Studies and Director of the Center for the Study of the Global Prophetic. His latest book is Finding Our Voice: Embodying the Prophetic and Other Misadventures.

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16 Responses

  1. Mooser
    Mooser
    April 16, 2015, 6:35 pm

    “As Jews continue to oppress Palestinians, making a holy day for Holocaust remembrance only delays the more authentic second coming of the Holocaust.”

    “more authentic second coming of the” remembrance of the Holocaust. Okay, now I see, the remembrance referred to in the first sentence in the paragraph.
    Threw me for quite a while. Who doesn’t want to delay a Holocaust, if they can? But I see the author meant, (if I can take the liberty of paraphrasing) ‘only delays the more authentic second coming of remembrance of the Holocaust’. And that more authentic remembrance should not be delayed.

  2. JWalters
    JWalters
    April 16, 2015, 7:14 pm

    Remembrances of Washington and Lincoln have been combined into “Presidents Day”. Perhaps remembrances of the Holocaust and the Nakba could be combined into “Inhumanity Remembrance Day”.

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      April 19, 2015, 10:03 pm

      “could be combined into “Inhumanity Remembrance Day”.”

      You know, the memorial period might have to be more than one single day, and the remembrance may include much more than just those two episodes, but you know, I think there’s a lot in what you say. It’s a good idea.

  3. ivri
    ivri
    April 17, 2015, 4:27 am

    Trivializing the Holocaust by comparing it to events that, even if painful, are in another league altogether will only act to remove an important warning sign for Humanity. The Holocaust has many aspects that are unique to it – there is no need to repeat them as all are aware of that – which, in turn, had profound consequences on many.
    The continent of Europe, which for a millennium dominated the world, has lost its center-podium status. Germany, which was a center of cultural and an academic power, has lost both. Europe now has to struggle with a vast population of immigrants that don`t accept its own core values (as different from the Jews that use to be there), it has had to accept the general lead of the US (to where the Jews from Europe fled and contributed meaningfully to its rise) and recognize that without it, it has little in the way of defense against an once again ambitious Russia. The Holocaust was a key factor in the establishment of Israel and that had a big impact on the region that it is in and indeed beyond – likely, a big part of that is still to come.
    And let`s not forget: it was the Holocaust that motivated a group of Jewish scientists, pacifists in personal inclination, to get into the development of The Bomb so as to try to stop Nazi Germany in Europe . The Bomb may still get us all.

    • talknic
      talknic
      April 17, 2015, 11:31 am

      @ ivri ” The Holocaust has many aspects that are unique to it – there is no need to repeat them as all are aware of that – which, in turn, had profound consequences on many”

      Indeed. Based in large part on what befell our Jewish fellows under the Nazis, the International Comity adopted laws and the UN adopted rules, codified laws, adopted conventions designed to protect all civilian, under occupation and those of the Occupying Power, from the highly likely violent consequences of occupying another people and their territory.

      It’s quite bizarre It’s *&^%$# criminal that Israel actively disregards the safety of Israelis by purposefully encouraging them to illegally settle in Occupied Territories in contravention of GC IV. Inflicts collective punishment by with holding Palestinian taxes and destroying vital infrastructure and then denying the means to rebuild. Confines civilians to a war zone by having all border crossings closed including, under the 2005 agreement and the Israel Egypt peace treaty, those between Gaza and Egypt. Bombs undefended towns and villages. Disregards hundreds of UNSC resolutions reaffirming and emphasizing binding law, UN charter (binding in its entirety) and relative binding conventions and affording Israel hundreds of opportunities to comply.

      “The Holocaust was a key factor in the establishment of Israel”

      The colonization of Palestine was planned in 1897 by a bunch of Zionists who weren’t even of the region. From the Roman era Jewish folk in the diaspora could have gone to live in Palestine, acquired legal citizenship, bought land and settled anywhere in the Jewish People’s historic homeland in Palestine, alongside fellow Jews who had an actual historical tie to the land. Herzl could have in his lifetime. He didn’t bother nor did his family.

    • eljay
      eljay
      April 17, 2015, 11:37 am

      || ivri: Trivializing the Holocaust … ||

      …is what hateful and immoral Zio-supremacists do every time they use and abuse the Holocaust to defend their past and on-going (war) crimes.

      || The Holocaust has many aspects that are unique to it … ||

      Other genocides have many aspects that are unique to them.

      || The Holocaust was a key factor in the establishment of Israel … ||

      One act of injustice and immorality used to justify and perpetuate another.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        April 19, 2015, 10:05 pm

        Trivializing the Holocaust … “

        is what you just did, “ivri”. With a generous helping of falsehood and bigotry thrown in for good measure.

    • truth2power
      truth2power
      April 21, 2015, 6:03 am

      The only ones trivializing the Holocaust and belittling its importance as a warning sign to Humanity are the Zionists who have abused their neighbours, the Palestinians, since Israel’s birth and even more so since 1967. They have dishonoured their families who died in the camps and made a mockery of the rest of the world’s attempts to repair the damage of the Holocaust. The hypocrisy of this is truly sickening – Israel is revisiting those sins now as the perpetrator – not the victim.

  4. Elisabeth
    Elisabeth
    April 17, 2015, 4:47 am

    “Many years ago I encouraged Christians to halt their religious services because the words they uttered and the doctrines they signed onto meant little if anything in the real world.”

    :-) !!!

    I guess we didn’t listen to you.

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      April 19, 2015, 10:07 pm

      “Many years ago I encouraged Christians to halt their religious services because the words they uttered and the doctrines they signed onto meant little if anything in the real world.”

      It was just like in “The Graduate”!

  5. Citizen
    Citizen
    April 17, 2015, 6:43 am

    All I can think of for some reason is, what would a cigar store jew look like? I think a missing Seinfeld episode?

    What does “Never Again!” mean these days?

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      April 19, 2015, 10:10 pm

      “what would a cigar store jew look like?”

      Easy! SJ Perelman worked in a cigar store during his Brown College years. And he had a face like an angel, hair like the raven’s wing, and a Body by Adonis. Also was button-cute, rapier-sharp, and wafer-thin.
      Yes, before they made SJ Perelman, they broke the mold.

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      April 19, 2015, 10:12 pm

      “What does “Never Again!” mean these days?”

      Well at one time, it meant a girl had been on a date with me, but I’ve been married for a while. So now it’s my wife saying it.

  6. just
    just
    April 17, 2015, 8:28 am

    Never really mentioned are the homosexuals, people with disabilities, political dissidents, 3 million Poles that were not Jewish, communists, millions of Soviet POWs, Slavs, and Roma that were victims, too.

    11 million precious lives were savagely taken~ including ca. 6 million Jews. Right now, the state of Israel is continuing their savage Occupation and ethic cleansing of the Palestinian people. Right now, survivors of the Holocaust who live in Israel are living in substandard conditions. I agree with Mr. Finkelstein~ it’s become an industry, not a lesson.

    “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” — Elie Wiesel

    When did anyone hear Wiesel speak out for the Palestinians?

    “Wiesel lauds settlers for ‘strengthening the Jewish presence in Jerusalem’ — and expelling Palestinians” – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2014/10/strengthening-expelling-palestinians#sthash.60ze31jl.dpuf

    It’s time for many to have a look in the mirror. Thanks, Marc.

    • eljay
      eljay
      April 17, 2015, 8:40 am

      || just:

      “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” — Elie Wiesel

      When did anyone hear Wiesel speak out for the Palestinians? ||

      Mr. Wiesel is a typically hateful and immoral Zio-supremacist who believes that acts of injustice and immorality are wrong:
      – especially if they are being committed against Jews;
      – but not if they are being committed by Jews.

      The world needs a lot less people like Elie Wiesel and a lot more like Tzvia Thier and Lillian Rosengarten.

  7. just
    just
    April 17, 2015, 9:24 am

    “Why was Palestinian suffering forgotten on Holocaust Remembrance Day?

    What, exactly, was remembered during Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day this week?

    Not the victims of Israel’s latest slaughter in Gaza, where more than 2,200 civilians were killed less than a year ago. In the propagandistic world of “Holocaust memory” only Jews can be victims, so mainstream media marginalize the hundreds of Jewish Holocaust survivors and their descendants who publicly condemned “the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza” (their words). Instead, a leading Israeli newspaper informed us this week that “adult children of Holocaust survivors in Israel tend to be more anxious than their peers…about the Iranian nuclear threat” — even though Iran has no nuclear weapons and has never attacked Israel.

    The erasure of Palestinian suffering from public memory is a particularly ironic aspect of “Holocaust remembrance.” Amid pleas for the preservation of Holocaust history, mainstream media still avoid any reference to the public comments of a senior Israeli officer who, during the second intifada, urged the Israeli military to analyze and internalize the lessons of how the German army fought in the Warsaw Ghetto.

    A similarly selective silence surrounds the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Several governments represented at an Auschwitz commemoration in January sent troops into that slaughter, so eerily reminiscent of Germany’s criminal invasion of Poland in 1939. “People forget what Auschwitz was,” said Halina Birenbaum, who was in the notorious death camp as a child, “and that terrifies me, because I know to what kind of hell it leads.”

    We should be doubly terrified, it seems to me, when such an event is used to promote precisely that kind of forgetfulness, at least where Arab deaths are concerned.

    The Israeli writer Boaz Evron warned years ago that “Holocaust awareness” is now “an official, propagandistic indoctrination…the real aim of which is not at all an understanding of the past, but a manipulation of the present.” Anyone doubting these words need only listen as world “leaders” emphasize the sort of wrongs whose memories they want to preserve — while noting the atrocities they ignore. …

    That it has infected so much contemporary Jewish discourse only proves that Israel’s memorials of the Nazi genocide serve no decent purpose. Until we are prepared to turn its lessons inward — where all moral lessons belong first and foremost — it would be far more respectful to the victims if we could simply resolve, in the words of Norman Finkelstein, “to preserve their memory, learn from their suffering and let them, finally, rest in peace.””

    http://electronicintifada.net/content/why-was-palestinian-suffering-forgotten-holocaust-remembrance-day/14435

    Read the whole thing. Lesher is spot- on.

    And this is also included:

    “…But nowhere in her column did Lipstadt even mention Ukraine, the one country in Europe — probably in the world — where a political movement linked to genocidal anti-Semitism really has made a comeback.

    If anti-Semitism had been her real subject, Lipstadt could hardly have missed a target so obvious. But the neo-Nazis in Ukraine are supported by the United States and haven’t been condemned by Israel, so — well, enough said.”

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