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When Victims Rule. 18 (pt. 1) THE HOLOCAUST AND GENOCIDE. https://archive.is/OiKrMIn 1961 only two of 31 discussants in a major Jewish magazine's symposium on "Jewishness and Younger Intellectuals" put any emphasis on the Holocaust effecting their lives. In that same year, another important Jewish magazine's theme of "My Jewish Affirmation" overlooked the Holocaust almost completely. [LINENTHAL, p. 8] Even as late as 1966, when Commentary published a forum on "Jewish belief" in its pages, "the Holocaust," notes Nathan Glazer, "did not figure in any of the questions, nor, it must be said, did it figure in the answers." [GLAZER, American, p. 172] In a collection of 1960s-era interviews with Israeli prime minister David Ben Gurion "the word Holocaust never appears." [STERNBERGER, I., 8-15-95]
The book that first attracted, and furthered, widespread interest in the particularly Jewish experiences of World War II was the diary of Ann Frank (The Diary of a Young Girl), a volume that a Jewish novelist, Meyer Levin, almost single-handedly pushed to fame. Levin urged the diary's publication in the American Jewish Congress Weekly; it was serialized in the Jewish magazine, Commentary. Doubleday eventually published it and Levin himself heralded its importance on the front page of the New York Times Book Review, his editors not informed about his own "vested interest" -- commercially and politically -- in the story. [BLAIR, p. 3] The volume has since sold over sixty million copies in fifty-one languages. [WHITFIELD, p. 72] (There appeared with such revelations a corresponding shame and guilt among diaspora Jews and a rising need to atone for their own sin of doing so little to help European Jewry during the Hitler era. [RUBENSTEIN, p. 24]) The diary of Ann Frank is so well publicized internationally that, note David Goodman and Masanori Miyazawa,
"Ann Frank's Diary of a Young Girl has sold over a four million copies
in Japan, more than any other country except the United States. So
beloved is Ann Frank in Japan that the first Japanese company to market
sanitary napkins designed especially for Japanese women called itself
Anne Co., Ltd., and sold its product under the brand name 'Anne's
Day' (Anne no hi), which quickly became a euphemism for menstruation
in Japan." [GOODMAN, p. 6]
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency noted continued popular promotion of Anne Frank in 2001, half a century after her death:
"A four hour miniseries, following Anne's life from her happy school days
through her two years in hiding in Amsterdam and to her final days in the
concentration camp, air nationally over ABC TV on May 20 and May 21.
The 20th Century Fox studio is developing a feature move based on
'The Diary of Anne Frank.'
A new edition of the diary, including five previously unpublished pages
describing her parents' difficult marriage, was released in March.
The Helos Dance Theatre premiered 'About Anne: A Diary in Dance'
in Los Angeles last month.
An interactive CDROM titled 'Anne Frank House: A House with a Story'
was released earlier this year, offering a virtual tour of the building and
the 'secret annex' where the Frank family hid.
In Boise, Idaho, ground has been broken on a $1.6 million Anne
Frank Human Rights Memorial Park." [TUGEND, T., 5-13-01]
In formal literature, "apart from the notable exception of [Saul] Bellow's The Dangling Man," says Theodore Ziolkowski, "it was not until the 60s with Edward Wallant's The Pawnbroker, Norma Rosen's Touching Evil, Susan Schaeffer's Anya, Arthur Cohen's In the Days of Simon Stern, and later works by Cynthia Ozick and Saul Bellow -- that the Holocaust became a genuine theme." [ZIOLKOWSKI, p. 599] By 1998, however, Sheila Schimpf noted that
"For 10 years Barry Gross has asked Michigan State University students
in his English classes how many have read or seen 'The Diary of Anne
Frank.' Almost every hand goes up. 'It has become almost the common
text for this generation of students,' Gross says." [SCHIMPF, p. E1]
In 1967, with the multiple-nation Arab war against Israel, worldwide Jewry snapped to a new kind of attention and consciousness, one that has since accelerated to our own day into deeply politicized Jewish obsessions with anti-Semitism, the hallowed specialness of the Holocaust, and the absolute sanctity of Israel. During the 1967 Arab war, Jews everywhere (as it is told and retold in Jewish scholarship) imagined the prospect for another Holocaust. "It would be impossible to understand the present Israeli stance toward the Arabs without taking full account of the Holocaust," says Jay Gonen. [GONEN, p. 151] In the Arab armies Jews saw Nazi storm troopers. In the PLO leadership of Yassar Arafat, they stamped the face of Hitler. "Israel," says Melvin Urofsky, "made it possible [for Jews worldwide] to endure the memory of Auschwitz. Were Israel to be destroyed [by Arabs], then Hitler would be alive again, the final victory would be his." [UROFSKY, M., 1978, p. 351]
The old Jewish self-identity of weakness and victimization -- based on the Jewish martyrological tradition of death, destruction, and terror -- became now a conviction of armor, militantly wielded, shaped with the very shame and horror of the Holocaust. The resultant Israeli victory over the Arabs meant a symbolic return to physical power, along biblical lines even, for many Jews, redemption. It also meant the springboard for a new Holocaust-centeredness, aggressive in its character, hostile and embittered to non-Jews everywhere around them. And it was adept in milking communal guilt from comfortable Jews in America who experienced nothing of the risks of 1967 Israel nor the European Holocaust years. A victorious Israel rising up out of ashes of the Holocaust became the cornerstone of Jewish self-conception. The Holocaust was no longer shamefully harmful to the Jewish self-image. It was now a much-heralded building block for the state of Israel and impassioned Jewish vigor, everywhere discussed, everywhere publicized.
Jews who paid little attention to the Jewish annihilation during World War II, and in the early years after, two decades later were increasingly consumed with it. "A profound sense of their status as survivors seized world Jewry," notes Jacob Neusner. [NEUSNER, Holo, p. 976] "The question," adds Hanno Loewy, "which constantly recurs is, 'Why did I of all people survive?' -- a question which pursues the survivor and to which there is no answer." [LOWEY, p. 240] "Every time I attend a gathering of Jewish children," wrote well-known lawyer Alan Dershowitz in 1991, "at a family event, at a Bar Mitzvah, at Simchath Torah -- I imagine SS guards lining up these children for the gas chambers." [DERSHOWITZ, p. 178]
And now, what we have:
Most important part of being Jewish: Remembering the "Holocaust"
-- Herbert Spencer
'We don't need evidence, we have survivors' - israeli politician
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