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August 25, 2015 2:14 pm

International Jewish Organization Blasts Israeli-Born Star Natalie Portman for Comments on Holocaust Education

avatar by Shiryn Solny

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Israeli-American actress Natalie Portman. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

A major Jewish organization rebuked actress Natalie Portman on Monday for saying in a recent interview that Jews put too much emphasis on teaching about the Holocaust relative to other genocides.

The Israeli-born movie star told the U.K.’s Independent that the Jewish community needs to examine how much focus it puts on Holocaust education over other issues. She said she was shocked when she learned that a genocide was taking place in Rwanda while she was in school learning only about the horrors of the extermination of the Jews at the hands of the Nazis.

In response, B’nai B’rith International pointed out that Holocaust study is an “extremely important” part of Jewish education, because the atrocity “is tied to our identity as a people.”

The group said: “Furthermore, the memory of the Shoah must continue to be perpetuated, especially as the number of survivors continues to diminish. The focus does not come at the expense of learning about other tragedies, such as those in Rwanda and Bosnia. The Holocaust is a necessary cornerstone in Jewish education because of its unique nature, and the universal message that untrammeled evil can lead to immense tragedies.”

The organization said it agrees with Portman that Jews must not be silent or ignore “contemporary genocides,” and must be empathetic to others who have also experienced hatred and violence, but “questioning the prominence of Holocaust education within a Jewish education is not the way to increase overall awareness of these heinous crimes.”

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  • She’s right ,I agree with Her, But remember ” We the Jewish People Control America “

    • Strom

      The point should be to stop looking backward and look forward.

      So long as even an event or a slight from history is your major focus things will not improve in your country and only plays into the hands of those on both sides seeking to capitalize on it.

      American BLACKS cannot get past slavery and see where it gets them?

  • hammersmith

    Interesting. I must say the Holocaust coverage and discussion has become somewhat “cognitive dissonance” as we learn more and more about the experience of the Palestinian people after and BEFORE the Holocaust–a seeming ancient myth versus present reality.

  • Dash

    Estimates of Non-Combatant Lives Lost During the Holocaust
    Ukrainians      5.5 – 7 million

    Jews (of all countries) 6 million +    
    
Russian POWs    3.3 million +  

    Russian Civilians       2 million +    
    
Poles   3 million +    
    
Yugoslavians    1.5 million +  
    
Gypsies 200,000 – 500,000      
    
Mentally/Physically Disabled    70,000- 250,000
Homosexuals     Tens of thousands      
Spanish Republicans     Tens of thousands      
Jehovah’s Witnesses     2,500 – 5,000  
Boy and Girl Scouts, Clergy, Communists, Czechs, Deportees, Greeks, Political Prisoners, Other POWs, Resistance Fighters, Serbs, Socialists, Trade Unionists, Others    Unknown
    The Nazis sought to annihilate all Jews and all enemies of the state. Every Jew was to be wiped out, but not necessarily every Russian, Serb, or Yugoslavian. That millions of non-Jews were also killed demonstrates the determination and magnitude of the Nazi extermination program to eliminate anyone who could even remotely be considered an enemy of the state. Current estimates based on documents from Nazi war records, and official government documents of various countries, place the death toll of people murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust as conservatively over 15 million non-combatant people. One official source estimates the number killed at 26 million. However, “with the mass graves on the eastern front, exact figures will never be known”.

    Arab and Muslim responses to the Second World War, and their role in the conflict, were enormously varied and include significant instances of glory, shame and ordinary survival. But, it is essential to remember and recognize that huge numbers of Arabs and Muslims fought in the war, and that – in spite of the constant misrepresentation, distortion or downplaying of this reality – they did so almost entirely on the ­Allied side and against Nazi Germany.
    From my place of origin under soviet flag 250,000 10% of the population died in glory.
    Watch a movie called (1900 by Bernardo Bertolucci, with De Niro and Depardieu) Not to be confused with the 1998 film, The Legend of 1900.

    We should allow people to hold a different opinion and voice it without fear of unknown.
    Are not we a little hitler ?

    • Arthur

      It is not hard to distinguish between civilian lives lost during wartime due to starvation, collateral damages caused by opposing (and even defending) forces fighting on their own soil, and deliberate cold-blooded murder by their own governments for no purpose other than to eradicate a race. Which, incidentally, was NOT an enemy of the state. All are tremendous tragedies, but that doesn’t mean they are all the same.

  • You are Wrong Natalie !!!
    Apologize for your lack of understanding about the teachings of, The History Of The JEWS.

    My Jewish Mother-In-Law said, the Holocaust could happen again. I replied, No, it couldn’t.
    This conversation took place in the 70’s.
    The way The World is today, I’m afraid she might be right.
    Nothing is being done to Protect The Jews in Europe or in Israel.

    Again, The World Is Watching & Doing Nothing to Protect The JEWS !!!
    What they don’t realize is, GOD is also Watching !!!

    • hammersmith

      It is about to happen again–to the Pasestinians.

    • Zvi Horovitz

      “The world is watching and doing nothing to protect the News!!!”
      And what exactly are the Jews doing in their own defence?

    • Zvi Horovitz

      Sorry, should be Jews in place of News.

  • she is so wrong to say that, she needs to admit she is wrong , she a good person, but wrong

  • lucifer69

    Portman, useful idiot. Just stick to your trade.

    • Theo

      Just one more example of a Jew trying to ingratiate herself to her audience
      One does not compare destructions of people lightly but Jews, a cultured and a holy people, were destroyed by another cultured and civilized people That is the difference Jews wherever they are or were ,as in Germany’ brought great benefits in their midst to their host land
      Then also anti Semitism is alive and well and is an ever present scourge

  • Jack Holan

    Ms. Portman the Bnai Brit explanation is pretty good. I will add that it was not the first Holocaust that we, as a people, experienced simply for be being Jews. What sets the the Shoah apart from all other genocides including our own from the past; this one was State organized, methodical, using full means of the civilian and military to accomplish and harvesting all collectible remains of the victims for use within the Reich including the Schorn hair of the women. No other Genocide, thank G-d, even approaches thed the evil of intent and purpose of the Holocaust the fact is that the Shoah did not occur in a vaccum one day by itself. Decades of villianizing,scapegoating and Anti-Semitic views helped to let this happen. So it is imperative for us as a People to Never Forget and education testimony and focus will keep it there Yes we need to speak up about any genocide as if it were our own. Protest if necessary THIS IS WHY I AM COMPELLED TO ANSWER YOUR CALL. ALL PEOPLE SHOULD CONTACT ACT FOR AMERICA BRIGITTE GABRIEL. CHRISTIANS ARE GOING THROUGH A GENOCIDE THIS VERY MOMENT. WHO IS UTTERING ONE WORD? IS IT BC THEY ARE NOT EXOTIC ENOUGH? 10s OF 1000s HAVE BEEN MURDERED!THEY ARE FROM AFRICA MIDEAST PAKISTAN MALAYSIA. OBAMA CAMERON HOLLANDE MERKLE PUTIN BAN FEDERICA ALL QUITE&BLIND. REFUGEES WELCOME IF MUSLIM NOT IF CHRISTIAN THEY ARE DENIED JUST LOOK AT THE STATS FOR THE US & EU AND WHAT THE UNHCR WANTS. AS JEWS MS PORTMAN THIS IS WHAT YOU SHOULD BE PROTESTING IF YOU WERE AWAKE DURING HOLOCAUST STUDIES.

    • Bindon Blood

      No ones trying to take any of the import away from the Jewish holocaust at the hands of National Socialism,it will always be a horror and it should always be remembered. There are other atrocities that should also be remembered and people should be educated about them too.The genocide of the Armenian Christians in the late 19th and early 20th century at the hands of Turkish Muslims is very rarely mentioned now and to my knowledge is not taught in schools. This was also state sponsored genocide against a harmless and helpless minority who had the most cruel atrocities committed against them simply because of their Christian faith.The Armenians have had very little if any redress from Turkey who refuses to accept it or talk about it.About 1.5 million Armenians were murdered out of a population of about 2 million.
      Under Ottoman rule the Armenians were “dhimmi”,second class citizens,strictly regulated and heavily taxed.They were always viewed as a subversive element and treated appallingly.During WW1 the Turks acted to solve the “Armenian Question”. Most able bodied men were massacred. The Armenians were driven from their homes, their property and possessions stolen by the state, forced to march to allocated districts in the Syrian desert where no provision was made for them. Some were packed into cattle trucks to be deported by rail. These convoys on foot of older men,women and children were constantly attacked en route by the Ottoman army,police and Kurdish bandits and butchered or the females taken into slavery;all were left to die of starvation, dehydration and disease.Corpses were piled everywhere,piles of severed heads proudly exhibited by the butchers. But no one ,apart from the Armenian diaspora, chooses to remember any of it.The Armenians originally were a populous people living in a substantial territory which was carved up by various powers over the years. The Armenian republic is now free of Russia and Turkey and seems to be a relatively thriving Christian land of just over 3 million with a Jewish minority and a few muslims and Yazidis.

  • DACON9

    REASON WHY NATALIE IS VERY WRONG IS:
    When I went to school the inquisition the conquistadors
    the king and queen of spain were romantics. It was history class if I remember correctly. We never learned of any atrocities by the xtian churches nor the kings of england. And the xtian poop in t he pedeophile den called the Vatican made queen Isabella into a saint for promoting the xtian causes.

    THIS IS HOW XTIAN TIMEFRAMES MAKES HEROS OF THE SATAN

    THEREFORE natalie portman married a goy and she should stay in france with the rest of the leotard ballet dancers…

  • snag

    Natalie, check who conceived and administrated Holodomor in Ukraine, the Gulags in Soviet Union the Great Leap Forward and so called Cultural Revolution in China and compare the number of victims with Holocaust.

  • Tod Zuckerman

    Portman, a J Streeter, objected to receiving pro-Israel emails during the last Gaza war, and campaigned in 08 and 12 for Obama. So, this idiotic comment was – for her – par for the course. A politically correct, useful idiot. What she lacks in intelligence, she makes up in cowardice and arrogance.

  • RiverKing

    Natalie: What genocide has been committed in Rwanda and elsewhere because of the victims’ religion? Try, non-Jews were murdered by the Nazis but the Jews’ religion was specified as the reason for their murder.

    • Joel Jacobson

      It was not religion. Jews were murdered because of their ethnicity. The Nazis also killed atheist and secular Jews.

    • Aughlin

      The “Holocaust” is publicized as a Jewish tragedy, which it was, but theirs is not the sole ownership of the term.. There are other holocausts. The Irish suffered multiple holocausts at the hands of the English over hundreds of years.. for their religion, amongst other reasons. Millions died.

  • Otto Schiff

    The term “Holocaust or Shoah” is not sectarian.
    Murder is murder, regardless of the exact race or religion
    of the victims.

  • Wolff Bachner

    There are 298 Bachers listed in the Roll of the Dead at Yad Vashem. As one of the last Jewish Bachners alive, I utterly reject Portman’s comments.

    The Shoah was the culmination of the longest ongoing persecution of a specific group of people in the history of the human race. 1900 years of death and genocide was visited on the Jewish people.

    The suffering of our people is unique and it is still ongoing. The only difference is that for the first time in our history, we are capable of defending our people and our beloved homeland, the Jewish nation of Israel.

  • American Jew

    Natalie Portman is partially correct. Her secular education should have included modern day genocides like Rwanda–but that is a secular education issue. It is not the responsibility of a Hebrew school with limited funds and limited time (2-5 hours per week) to focus on this issue. I learned about genocide of other peoples in my secular education classes.

    Also, the Jewish community should be focused on providing a good solid JEWISH EDUCATION more than educating about the Holocaust. We don’t need any more multi-million dollar Holocaust museums which seem to be coming at the expense of educating living Jews.

  • ESLombard

    I think that a better approach is to distinguish between war, indiscriminate killings, Shoach, and holocaust. I would search with the students to find what were the circumstances for tyrants to appear using old myths, prejudices, jealousies, tribal hatreds and economic hardships to launch charismatic leades such as Hitler,Franco, Napoleon, etc We blame the opportunistic leader instead of culture and well being of the citizenry. Do we ever ask ourselves how come a population of only 450,000 Jews intermarrying in 1933 at a rate of 50% could be persuaded that everything could be blamed on a tiny,loyal, obliging minority.

  • Natalie Portman, did your forbearers hail from Europe? If so, then how many of your close relations were murdered? Have you ever thought of saying Kaddish for them? Have you been on the March of the Living, seen the Death camps, the places where they were murdered, the mounds of their ashes, the remains of the gas chamber at Birkenau where 1,100,000 men, women and children were done to death, the majority of them Jews?

    Should this be your reaction to the resurgence of anti-Semitism worldwide, in Europe, Moslem countries, and the fact that the Holocaust is no longer taught in some Western schools lest it offend Moslems?

    Concentration camp survivor who suffered the loss of 40 members of his close family and whose task at the age of 14 was to remove the corpses from the barrack every morning.

    • American Jew

      Don Krauz, Natalie Portman was born in Israel and her family is from Europe. However…

      1) a woman does not say Kaddish
      2) and a person does not say Kaddish if their parents are alive

      I might be wrong, but I remember reading that she did do March of the living. But that has nothing to do with her comment. You are attacking her for something she did not say.

      Natalie Portman is correct about one thing, we spend way too much time focusing on a Holocaust that happened 70 years ago, and very little time on the Jewish educational Holocaust that we are perpetuating today.

      Less Holocaust museums and more money to Jewish education.

      • NYgal

        Well, Holocaust is not important to you, because you haven’t lost anybody in it…at least nobody that mattered to you. I was born and bred in Poland, so I didn’t received
        ‘Holocaust ‘ education. To the contrary, I was shielded from it. Jewish Holocaust didn’t officially exist in Poland, Auschwitz being a place of Polish martyrdom, not Jewish.
        Still, I knew intimately the meaning of the Holocaust, without Jewish education, which I did not received. Unlike my Polish friends, I didn’t have grandparents, just one uncle, who like my mother and father survived in the Soviet Union. All those who were in Poland, with an exception of two of my mother’s cousins, who as children survived, perished. My mother’s parents, her grandmother, her brothers, her tiny nephews all died in Opole Lubelskie, a place my mother couldn’t even bring herself to visit until many decades later.

        Nobody survived from my father’s side of the family, not his parents, not his siblings, not the siblings children or spouses, not even one cousin, uncle or cousin.

        Same goes for my father in law. His entire family perished, unlike my non- Jewish mother-in-law’s , whose both parents had survived the war, as well as most of her siblings.

        Don’t preach about other people Holocaust, no other people had lived with my family’s and mine. I don’t even have the photographs. And that goes for most survivors and their children.

        • Wolff Bachner

          May HaShem comfort you. My family too was annihilated. There were once more than 300 Jewish Bachners. Now than are less than 20 who follow the Jewish faith and obey the Torah.

          While preserving the memory of our murdered family members is essential, there is one rarely mentioned, overriding reason we need to commemorate the Shoah and make it a focal point of History and education the world over.

          What is the reason? There are powerful forces at work in nation after nation to change the Holocaust narrative, suppress the memory of the Shoah, and the are many nation that have outlawed teaching the Holocaust.The non-jewish world would be quite happy to relegate the Shoah to the dustbin of history, just like many of the nations of Europe that fought against Hitler would have been just as happy if he had managed to kill every Jew on earth before he was defeated.

          If the day ever comes when even the Jewish people are ok with Natalie Portman’s point of view about the Shoah, that will be the beginning of the end for Judaism and the last day for Jews will come rather quickly after that. When the world is able to finally ignore the Shoah, and claim it was just one of many episodes of extreme violence in human history, they will come for us again and finish the 2000 year war on the Jewish people.

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