THE Holocaustby Saul Levine February 27, 2017
Like many of you, I lost family members in THE Holocaust. I don’t say this to garner sympathy, but rather to point out that I remember that atrocity with pain and horror. While I don’t “wear it on my sleeve,” it has left an ingrained sadness in a part of my soul.
You no doubt noticed that I just referred to that infamous genocide which killed millions of Jews as “THE Holocaust,” because the label has recently come under some bizarre and hostile criticism. It was that terrible tragedy which befell us, and in reality the entire world, some 70 years ago. It was THE Holocaust which killed six million of our brothers and sisters, and many millions of other innocent people.
I emphasize this point because I was astounded to read an opinion piece which strongly stated that the Jewish concept of “THE Holocaust” is overused and overblown by the Jews of the world. The provocative author of these opinions is an American man named Richard Spencer, who feels that the concept of the Holocaust is being over-utilized by Jews.
His perspective is that Jews have been for too-long and too-intensely preoccupied with their post-Holocaust pain and suffering. He feels that they are disingenuously using it as a regressive symbol of their perpetual hurt, as a strategy to gain sympathy for themselves, and worst, to manipulate others.
Richard Spencer happens to be the leading ideologue of the new “alt-right” movement. He has evidently always enjoyed playing the role of being an enfant terrible and “agent provocateur.”
Mr. Spencer is an unabashed “nativist,” pro-white flag-bearer and spokesman, as well a fervent supporter and now advocate of Donald Trump.
Mr. Spencer applauded the recent statement issued by President Trump when he was (supposedly) commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day. That official statement, you may recall, had not a single mention of either Jews or anti-Semitism. In defending that latest bit of presidential wisdom, Mr. Spencer supported the intentional omission in the text (“Judenrein!” at last!)
He then went on to refer to the importance of the “de-Judification of the Holocaust” as a constructive and worthy goal. The late Elie Weisel, THE Holocaust survivor, esteemed author and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and the Presidential Medal of Honor, is undoubtedly spinning in his grave.
Jews do not claim the “rights of ownership” to genocidal victimhood. If anything we are acutely aware of other horrific genocidal massacres and conflagrations which have occurred throughout history. Over just the past century, we have witnessed mass atrocities in countries such as Indonesia, Rwanda, Darfur, Armenia, Serbia, Cambodia, Russia, China and many others. Jewish people have always been on the forefront of condemning mass murders, and have been among the most sensitive, empathic and generous to victims in response to any of these terrible actions, with or without Jewish victims.
Nor do Jews claim exclusive rights to the usage of the word “holocaust,” which was included in English dictionaries long before The Holocaust occurred in World War II. It was (and still is) defined as “a mass slaughter or killing of human beings in a fire or wartime.” But there are few if any dictionaries anywhere which will not add an asterisk, denoting “THE Holocaust” as the singular planned genocidal operation instituted by Hitler and the Nazis to eradicate Jews from their midst. (We vividly remember “Yudn Raus!”)
Richard Spencer is a take-no-prisoners agitator, a White Supremacist, and the “original” alt-rightist. He is not a constructive social thinker, and he is wrong, if not malevolent, in his close-minded assumptions.
This is not a “contest” as to who has the “bragging rights” as to having suffered the most, or whose tragedy was the greater. Victims and their families share identical loss and pain. Just as there are numerous Holocaust Memorials around the world which focus on “THE Holocaust,” there are memorials to the victims of many other genocides, or holocausts.
The horror of THE Holocaust has made me more pensive about human existence, religion, and the enigma of our indecencies coexisting with our inspiring behaviors. These opposing propensities reflect the benevolence and bestiality resident in all of us, including, I am sad to say, thee and me.
THE Holocaust should serve as a reminder to all of humankind that we are capable of such wanton brutality. There have been many holocausts, but there has only been one “THE Holocaust.”