Minimizing the Holocaust at the “New Yorker”

In a brief review of the French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy’s recent The Genius of Judaism, an unnamed author at the New Yorker points to the “real contradiction” between Lévy’s insistence that the Holocaust was a “crime without parallel” and his objection to the recent fad of “competitive victimhood.” James Kirchick assails the shoddy and “sinister” thinking behind this comment:

The New Yorker has it backwards. The competition for victimhood wasn’t started by Jews but in reaction to them. The issue is not minimizing other historical tragedies in relation to the Holocaust but minimizing the Holocaust in relation to other historical tragedies. This is not just the realm of Holocaust deniers, but increasingly of progressives who, whether through conscious malice or sheer naiveté, speak of the Holocaust (when they’re not speaking of “holocausts”) as but one unfortunate episode among many, not a world-historical crime that singled out Jews first and foremost. . . .

If those like the New Yorker’s anonymous book critic believe that Lévy is engaging in unseemly “competitive victimhood” simply by claiming that the Holocaust, in both nature and degree, was worse than any other crime in human history, that’s because [the critic] falsely interprets such claims as entries into a victim competition—when, in fact, it is those challenging the singularity of the Holocaust who are responsible for creating this obscene contest. . . .

The review’s sinister element comes in its accusation that Jews like Lévy are responsible for corrupting the commemoration of history and not, say, the Muslim propagandists who frequently invoke the Holocaust to equate Israelis with Nazis or the British student activists who voted against recognizing Holocaust Remembrance Day because doing so “prioritizes some lives over others.” As the British sociologist David Hirsch observes, “When people get competitive about the Holocaust, they do it by accusing the Jews of being competitive.” Not even in talking about something so grave as the Holocaust can the Jews avoid being pushy, it seems.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Bernard-Henri Levy, History & Ideas, Holocaust, Holocaust inversion, New Yorker


Can President Trump Break Free of Conventional Wisdom about the Peace Process?

President Trump arrives in Israel today on the heels of a series of seeming fissures in his administration’s promising relationship with the Jewish state. First, a low-level American diplomat stated that the Western Wall is not part of Israel; when asked, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster then declined to express an opinion on the issue. Thereafter, Prime Minister Netanyahu was reportedly requested not to be on hand at the president’s upcoming visit to the Western Wall. Lee Smith comments:

Donald Trump was elected because he was going to drain the swamp, and there is no fouler cesspool in U.S. foreign policy than the peace process. It’s an industry that creates a lobby of many thousand creeps around the world who have a vested interest in prolonging a pointless exercise regardless of how many Israeli, Arab, or American lives are sacrificed along the way so they can go on mouthing platitudes at Davos. Trump is not going to walk away from the peace process because the swamp will drag him in—it already has. . . .

Trump is the guy who was supposed to have seen through this garbage and was determined to back his words with actions. Being a good ally—as Trump promised—means supporting the Israelis 100 percent in international fora, sharing intelligence, and arming Israel’s fighters to the teeth so that they can send to the next world as quickly as possible as many terrorists as it takes to ensure peace. So what does Trump think now? That the millions of American children, Jewish and Christian, who read the Bible in Saturday or Sunday school learn that Jerusalem isn’t actually the capital of the Jewish people and the center of their religious and national yearnings for 3,500 years—no, it’s a mere detail that will have to be settled in final negotiations.

But what about the peace process? Isn’t that important to Israel’s future—indeed, to its very survival? Here’s another news flash: Israel is doing fine. Its economy is booming. . . .

One of the reasons Trump isn’t moving the American embassy to Jerusalem, at least not now, as he promised, is that he doesn’t want to upset other American allies, like Saudi Arabia. It’s good for America that Trump wants to reinvigorate the American alliance system in the Middle East, . . . but let’s be serious: what are the Saudis going to do if their American protector decides it’s moving its embassy to the Israeli capital? Retaliate by losing $5 billion out of the $100-billion arms deal the Saudis [were] cutting with Trump this weekend for the sole and explicit purpose of making sure the president’s mind is focused on Iran?

Read more at Tablet

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Donald Trump, Israel & Zionism, Peace Process, Western Wall