Britain’s Academic Left Expunges Jews From the Holocaust
The late Lucy Dawidowicz once referred, decades ago in a letter to me, to the widespread practice of stealing the Holocaust from its European Jewish victims by a host of groups who not only hate but also envy Jews for having been destroyed.
“How dare the Jews,” she seemed to hear them complaining, “monopolize all that beautiful Holocaust suffering which other aggrieved groups would very much like to share, ex post facto, with them.”
We still hear that envious voice in the bitter pronouncements of “The Squad” in the Democratic Party.
Stealing the Holocaust from its Jewish victims began with small acts of relatively innocent distortion. We all remember the inflamed rhetoric of the civil rights movement of the sixties, calling curtailment of free-lunch programs in Harlem genocide, or describing Watts as a concentration camp. But why fuss about precision of language or intellectual delicacy when the exigencies of radical politics make it convenient to reduce persecuted Jews from the status of human beings to that of metaphors for other people’s suffering?
But this was an amateurish rehearsal for what was still to come. The most determined, sustained, and dangerous attempt to steal the Holocaust from its Jewish victims was begun by the Soviet Union and the Arab world after the 1967 war, and soon became, as it remains today, one of the most lethal weapons deployed against the land of Israel and the people Israel.
Making Jews into metaphors proved the prelude to making Zionism into the new Nazism, the Israelis into the new Nazis, and the Palestinian Arabs into the Jews. Fidel Castro, in speeches before the Third World conference in Havana, and at the UN in 1979, described Israelis as the Nazis of our time, who had driven the modern Jews (formerly known as Palestinians) off their land, committed genocide, and so on.
Student bodies in twelve British universities were inspired by the UN’s Zionism-Racism resolution of 1975 to ban Jewish student organizations. The Christian Science Monitor made it virtually a language rule and house “style” to refer to Palestinian Arabs as “the Jews of the Arab world,” living in a “Diaspora” but longing to be restored to Jerusalem. By the 1980s it became standard practice for journalists like Robert Fisk and Jessica Savitch and Alexander Cockburn (in The Wall Street Journal, no less) to discover the besieged Warsaw Ghetto in Beirut.
But now the official publication of Britain’s academic left, the University and College Union, has outdone them all in its recent call to members to “observe” Holocaust Memorial Day in January of 2020. It has achieved the ne plus ultra of stealing the Holocaust from its Jewish “monopolists” on behalf of those who would like, after the fact, to “share” in it. In its exhaustive (and licentious) list of “groups of Holocaust victims” put together for the promotion of the UK’s Holocaust Memorial Day, the UCU has omitted Jews altogether. Trade unionists are on the list; as are communists, gays and lesbians, prostitutes, and “non-Jewish Poles”(!)
When the predictable barrage of complaint arrived, the editors (very much in the manner, at once oleaginous and contemptuous, of The New York Times after it publishes antisemitic cartoons) blamed the indelicate omission of the only group selected by the Nazi regime for total annihilation on a “drafting” error. But which is more revealing of the lower depths of British academia, the conscious lie or the unconscious one?
Having for so long deceived the uninstructed with lies about the Holocaust — it may not have happened; or, it happened, but not only to Jews; or, the favorite exculpatory apologia, Western bad conscience about it led to the establishment of Israel, and so on ad nauseam — Britain’s leftist academicians, whether by intent or immoral thoughtlessness, now delete the Jews altogether.
In the long run, as Mahatma Gandhi once said, “the greatest deceiver is the self-deceiver.”
Edward Alexander is professor emeritus of English, University of Washington. His most recent book is Jews Against Themselves (Routledge).