Friday, February 12, 2021




Ruth Wisse, a scholar of Jewish history and culture, writes about what she sees as The Dark Side of Holocaust Education, that teaching about the Holocaust might not be the cure for antisemitism that some think it is. One of the reasons for Wisse's skepticism is the way that the teaching of the Holocaust has been universalized to include all victims of persecution.

And that is a trend that took a giant leap forward when Jimmy Carter was president.

Wisse points to Carter's surprising support for the construction of the Holocaust Museum -- surprising on account of his support for a Palestinian state and the sale of F-15 fighter aircraft to Saudi Arabia. In fact, when the suggestion was first made to Carter, in 1977, to establish the museum, the idea went nowhere. It was not until the following year after the suggestion was made a second time that 
Carter surprised a group of rabbis he was meeting in the Rose Garden by saying he had decided to appoint a commission to explore the construction of a Holocaust memorial.
A presidential aide suggested that the commission overseeing the project should not be composed only of Jews. It had to have members who represented all those who suffered at the hands of the Nazis. Otherwise, Congress wouldn't support it. For example, the aide insisted that the membership had to include Lithuanians because they were members of the resistance -- ignoring the fact that the Lithuanians had been a part of the problem. 

Wisse comments:
One should have appreciated the leverage this gave him to steer its mission in the universalizing direction he preferred. 
Eventually, Elie Weisel quit the committee because it became too politicized. And as it turned out, the only limit on universality was Carter's insistence that when it came to funding, that would have to come primarily from the Jewish community alone.

This universalization of Jewish persecution is still alive and well. 

In January 2019, New York Democratic representative Carol Maloney introduced the "Never Again Education Act," which was passed near-unanimously by both the House and Senate. On May 29, 2020, the bill was signed into law by Trump, authorizing $2 million annually in support of Holocaust education for 5 years. 

But just 3 months after Maloney introduced the bill, Democrats in Congress responded to antisemitic comments by Ilhan Omar by putting together a resolution condemning antisemitism generally, along with anti-Muslim discrimination and bigotry against other minorities as well.

Now, the generalizing of antisemitism is being taken one step further, that anyone can speak about and define antisemitism.

Linda Sarsour, who opined that “nothing is creepier than Zionism,” praised Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, and believes one cannot support the right of Jews to a homeland of their own and still be a feminist.
Perhaps they were just looking for the voice of experience.

Of course, if you can advise Jews on what is and isn't antisemitism, there is no reason to stop there:


In fact, why should Sarsour be the only non-Jew who can lecture Jews on what is -- and isn't -- antisemitism:


Appearing on the panel will be Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who supports a “one-state solution” in which Israel is replaced by an Arab state; Peter Beinart, the only Jewish panelist, who has openly rejected the existence of Israel in its current form; Marc Lamont Hill, who has publicly recited the slogan “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”; and Barbara Ransby, an academic who supports the antisemitic BDS movement.
And when the topic was described as dismantling antisemitism, the goal is to dismantle the claim of antisemitism:
The panel, billed as “Dismantling Antisemitism, Winning Justice,” claims in the event description that, “Antisemitism is used to manufacture division and fear. While anyone can fuel it, antisemitism always benefits the politicians who rely on division and fear for their power.”

“We will explore how to fight back against antisemitism and against those that seek to wield charges of antisemitism to undermine progressive movements for justice,” it states.??
Normally, identity politics dictates that members of a targeted group have shared life experiences which provide them with a special insight and understanding that outsiders don't fully understand when it comes to the racism that group suffers.

But if that does not apply to Jews, maybe it is no longer a thing. If non-Jews can now define antisemitism, maybe in this progressive age of intersectionality now all persecuted groups fully understand and identify with all other persecuted groups.

Not according to Sarsour.

When Marc Lamont Hill started tweeting earlier this week about BDS, he went so far as to claim that even the Palestinian Arabs themselves who work for Israelis and enjoy superior wages favor boycotts against Israel. 

Anila Ali, a Democratic activist and a Muslim, challenged him to debate the issue, a challenge Hill declined.



She's not Palestinian and she will never speak for us.
But Sarsour would have no problem with Ali speaking for Jews.

So according to identity politics, when minorities cry racism -- they are to be believed.
Yet when it comes to Jews, when they cry racism -- they are up to something.

And what could be more sneaky and underhanded than to describe what antisemitism looks like using the IHRA working definition of antisemitism? 

Rejecting a formal definition of antisemitism are those -- not even necessarily non-Jewish -- who warn Jews to just cut it out, because unlike those minorities whose claims of racism are initially assumed to be true,
By contrast, the Livingstone Formulation, named in 2006 after the then Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, is the standard articulation of the opposite assumption. The Livingstone Formulation says that when people raise the issue of antisemitism, they are probably doing so in bad faith in a dishonest effort to silence legitimate criticism of Israel. It warns us to be suspicious of Jewish claims to have experienced antisemitism. It warns us to begin with the sceptical assumption that such claims are often sneaky tricks to gain the upper hand for Israel in debates with supporters of the Palestinians. And this is the substantial position of the ‘call to reject’ the IHRA definition of antisemitism. [emphasis added]
Jews just cannot win:
Discussion of Jewish persecution must include all persecutions
Anyone can discuss and define antisemitism
o  When Jews insist they must define what antisemitism is, it's a trick
o  Antisemitism is being used as a way to deflect criticism of Israel
o  Anyone can define antisemitism, but not anyone can define how other minorities feel
o  Intersectionality is universal and encompasses all races, classes and genders into common discrimination -- except for Jews.
Maybe not all progressives are as anti-racist as they think they are.





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