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32570 non-Jews included

Remember the White House statement sent waves of dismay through the Jewish community, including among groups that have been supportive of President Donald Trump. By mentioning the “victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust” without mentioning the Jews, said a host of Jewish organizations, and risked playing into the hands of the European right, which includes factions that seek to diminish the centrality of the Jewish genocide to the carnage of World War II. Not so as President Trump referred to all Holocaust victims and there were till 1972 8 million non-Jewish killed in the concentration camps.

After 1972 it changed slowly after Simon Wiesenthal started to lower the 8 million to 5 million, as he explained to Yehuda Bauer in 1979 when he was challenged with figures. His (Simon Wiesenthal explanation was that sometimes you give to inflate figures to get the result for the things you think are essential. Yehuda Bauer was an Israeli Holocaust scholar. Simon Wiesenthal found that a low figure then that of the Jewish slaughtered in the concentration camps would look better, hence 3 million were excluded.

In defending the omission of Jews from the statement, a White House spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, said the Holocaust’s Forgotten Victims were included so that all Holocaust victims could be remembered. Sean Spicer, the White House spokesman, on Monday appeared to cite the same source, saying that the Nazis’ victims included Roma, gays, the disabled and priests. He called complaints about the statement “pathetic,” although some of those objections came from two groups that otherwise have been supportive of Trump, the Republican Jewish Coalition and the Zionist Organization of America. Then again whinging is the method to get attention.

In the wake of the controversy, the world’s two leading Holocaust museums, in Washington and in Jerusalem, issued statements emphasizing the centrality of the annihilation of the Jews to the understanding of the Holocaust; neither mentioned Trump, but they ignored completely the other half of the Holocaust victims as such we cannot put much trust in their statements.

The “5 million” has driven Holocaust historians to distraction ever since Wiesenthal started to peddle it in the 1970s. Wiesenthal told the Washington Post in 1979, “I have sought with Jewish leaders not to talk about 6 million Jewish dead, but rather about 14 million civilian’s dead, including 6 million Jews. Later it was lowered to 11 million to place the Jewish victims above the non-Jewish victims. Yehuda Bauer, an Israeli Holocaust scholar who chairs the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, said he warned his friend Wiesenthal, who died in 2005, about spreading the false notion that the Holocaust claimed 11 million victims – 6 million Jews and 5 million non-Jews.

Bauer and other historians who knew Wiesenthal said the Nazi hunter told them that he chose the 5 million number carefully: He wanted a number large enough to attract the attention of non-Jews who might not otherwise care about Jewish suffering, but not larger than the actual number of Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust, 6 million. It was President Jimmy Carter that first used the new figure of 5 million instead of the previous 8 million and it is since then peddled like that Deborah Lipstadt, a professor of Holocaust studies at Emory University in Atlanta, wrote in 2011 how the number continues to dog her efforts to teach about the Holocaust.

When I tell the organizers that they are engaged in historical revisionism their reactions range from scepticism to outrage. Strangers have taken me to task for focusing only on Jewish deaths and ignoring the five to eight million others. When I explain that this number is simply inaccurate, in fact made up they become even more convinced of my ethnocentrism and inability to feel the pain of anyone but my own people.

The IHRA statement is of the same standards the non-legally binding working definition includes illustrative examples of anti-Semitism to guide the IHRA in its work. These examples include classical anti-Semitic tropes, Holocaust denial and attempts to apply a double standard to the State of Israel who in effect is given a Carte Blanche to do what they like, when they like it and how they like it disagreeing means you are anti-Semitism.

Although internationally recognised by many groups, the working definition of anti-Semitism has been criticised by many as too broad and conflating anti-Zionism, anti-Israel with anti-Semitism. It is in many countries “forced down their throats” to accept it but in some countries there are logical objections as we can see in Britain’s Labour Party who correct object to give Israel a Carte Blanche.

A joint declaration, the Stockholm Declaration, was unanimously adopted. As German sociologist Helmut Dubiel notes, the conference "took place in an atmosphere informed by right-wing violence and spectacular success of rightist parties at the voting polls. Nonetheless, the end of the millennium and the anniversary of Auschwitz constituted a reference point for the foundation of a transnational union for struggle against genocide. It is therefore strange that countries who did accepted the controversial statement as a reference point to genocide are the daily supporters of the genocide in Yemen, Burma and Palestine.

The statement: We adopt the following non-legally binding working definition of anti-Semitism: “Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
 
Manifestations might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectively. However, criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic. Anti-Semitism frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity and it is often used to blame Jews for “why things go wrong.” It is expressed in speech, writing, visual forms and action, and employs sinister stereotypes and negative character traits.
 
Contemporary examples of anti-Semitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to: Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion. 

 


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