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September 6, 2018 9:33 am

Off-Broadway Play Shines a Bright Light on Holocaust Denial

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avatar by Barry Levey

The Hoaxocaust! logo.

My off-Broadway comedy Hoaxocaust! shines a satiric light on Holocaust denial. During a previous run of the show — before we moved off-Broadway — I told Algemeiner readers 10 things I had learned about Holocaust denial.

Since then, the main tenets of Holocaust denial haven’t changed, but its prevalence in our culture unfortunately has. Here are 10 new things that we have learned about Holocaust denial since then. And I hope that you will come see all that I’ve discovered about Holocaust denial during our off-Broadway run, which is currently playing at the 14th Street Y Theatre in Manhattan.

1. Fake news. When I first wrote my play, “fake news” wasn’t a buzzword, and it wasn’t acceptable reporting on mainstream news sites. Now Holocaust deniers peddle their falsehoods in the company of Sandy Hook deniers, 9-11 conspiracists, and Pizzagate liars on mainstream media platforms to large audiences. Meanwhile, I can’t even figure out how to get likes on Instagram. The bad guys are winning.

2. Neo-Nazis are emboldened. When I last wrote for The Algemeiner and warned about neo-Nazis, there hadn’t yet been a Charlottesville, where modern Klansman marched through the streets shouting “Jews will not replace us” before killing an innocent woman. Remember when the Klan didn’t feel so comfortable in the mainstream that they waltzed through the streets without hoods? 

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3. The rise of right-wing antisemitism in America and left-wing antisemitism in Britain. While there has been increasing antisemitism across the world, Holocaust denial has been a particularly strong dog-whistle employed by American right-wing antisemites as they tag any Jewish journalists on social media. The Jeremy Corbyn scandals in Britain are also alarming, but I’ll let a British Jewish playwright tackle that issue.

4. Denial. When I last wrote here, my play featured an interview with a then-unknown David Irving. He has blown up since, “starring” opposite Rachel Weisz (okay, playing Deborah Lipstadt) in the movie Denial! He was also just cited as a source of a Kris Kobach column for Breitbart. Kris Kobach is currently running for governor of Kansas. Isn’t it great that our politicians’ coalitions feature diverse viewpoints?

5. Claims Conference Survey. Since I last did my play, a new survey revealed that 25% of American millennials hadn’t heard of the Holocaust. On the bright side, now you have another reason to hate millennials.

6. Bigots on the ballot. When I last wrote for The Algeminer, zero avowed White Nationalists were running for the US Congress. Today, there are at least eight! This isn’t the kind of progress we mean when we talk about expanding the electorate.

7. Totalitarian Despots. Here are some who have emerged — or grown in power and cunning — since I last wrote: Orban, Putin, Duterte, Kim Jong-un, and Erdogan. My play explores issues closer to home. Send your guesses to [email protected]!

8. Mass Murder continues. The last time I wrote, I felt guilty saying “never again” while Assad slaughtered Syrians. Today, the Syrians are still being slaughtered, and we can add many more groups to that list, including the Rohingya Muslims. It’s cliche to ask if we will ever learn the lessons of history, so I will just ask: The lessons of history; learn them ever will we?

9. The Israeli Nationality Law. Israel struggled with its democratic versus religious identity when I last wrote, amid demographic change and the security concerns of the 2014 Gaza war. This summer, the country took a decisive step toward self-definition, aligning itself with the global zeitgeist. The parts of its identity it may lose with this definition are explored in the play, in an argument between the narrator and his mother. Arguing with your mother then putting it on stage: what’s more Jewish than that?  

10. Roseanne. Remember when Roseanne made racist tweets, then said that it was OK because she was Jewish? It wasn’t even a year ago, but you’re forgiven for forgetting. A lot has happened since.

For ticket information on Hoaxocaust!, please click here.

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