Over the past month, a number of journalists have accused Sebastian Gorka, a deputy assistant to President Trump, of support for or membership in a far-right, anti-Semitic, pro-Nazi Hungarian organization and thus, by implication, of being a Nazi sympathizer. The accusations have now been picked up and echoed by major media outlets and even by a member of Congress. Having repeatedly argued that the case against Gorka consists of evidential crumbs and innuendo, Liel Leibovitz writes about what is at stake:
I’ve never met Sebastian Gorka and don’t know much about his work on Islam or terrorism. What I object to—and what my interlocutors [on this subject] maddeningly refuse to engage with—is the effort to use history and Jewish memory, in particular the crimes of the Holocaust, in the service of partisan political tricks. . . . To read the reporting [on Gorka], you’d believe that Vitézi Rend, the organization to which Gorka is accused—despite his repeated denials—of having “sworn” or “pledged” his “lifelong allegiance,” is an unequivocal stand-in for the SS. . . . But . . . Vitézi Rend was not a Nazi organization or even an organization made up [primarily] of Hungarians who favored the Nazis. . . .
The falsification of history, and especially the history of the Holocaust, is something that all Jews should object to because it is both the foundation and also the most frequent justification for Holocaust denialism. Indeed, it gives aid to Holocaust deniers—in Hungary and elsewhere in Eastern Europe—by using the same methods they do and giving credence to their loathsome rhetoric, which seeks to erase history by insisting that all crimes are the same, whatever their scale. . . .
Jewish history, memory, and identity are not and should never be allowed to become cheap political props. When activists take on the mantle of Anne Frank to bash the president, or when a reporter who traveled to Tehran at the Iranian government’s invitation and came back to report he’d found no anti-Semitism whatsoever lobs a manipulatively eliding accusation of Nazi affiliations against a public official, the sanctity of our past suffering is tarnished and our moral claim is reduced to a talking point. Nothing can be more dangerous or more loathsome. And nothing, regardless of your partisan orientation or feeling about Sebastian Gorka—or Donald Trump—should be resisted more fiercely.