Why the Holocaust Was More Than a Genocide

Dec. 29 2017

The Shoah is generally thought of as the archetypal genocide, but to Dan Michman that term is inadequate for describing the plans and actions of the Nazis. Genocide—as defined by Raphael Lemkin, who coined the term—constitutes “a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves.” In an interview with Manfred Gerstenfeld, Michman says:

Hitler and an enormous number of his associates . . . believed . . . that the world was poisoned by the “Jewish” idea of human equality, which was carried over the ages by the Jews all over, and thus had penetrated into Christianity, liberalism, socialism and Communism, capitalism, democracy, etc. Through these political and religious systems, the pollution had also penetrated into other domains, such as the arts, science, and medicine.

[Thus the] Nazi goal went far beyond the physical murder of Jews. It aimed also at a Sisyphean struggle against all expressions of assumed Jewishness. In the Nazi worldview, that meant all ideas and political systems that are based on equality. In the Nazis’ fantasies Jews were the only group whose members were—or had an influence—everywhere in the world, and who were thus the binding element of all enemies of National Socialism.

Hitler indeed had a grand vision of restructuring the world along racial lines, as scholarship has demonstrated very well, but also of healing it—an aspect [of his thought that is] often neglected. In this context, the war against the Jews was a long-term central obsession. Already in 1919 he coined the expression Entfernung der Juden überhaupt, the total removal of the Jews. . . . Hitler’s view was shared by many lower-echelon functionaries [in the Nazi party]. . . .

[Thus] the Holocaust is much more than the murder of six million Jews. The mass murder (the Final Solution policy) was an essential part—yet only a part—of the much larger anti-Jewish campaign.

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Read more at Israel National News

More about: Adolf Hitler, Anti-Semitism, Genocide, History & Ideas, Holocaust, Raphael Lemkin

Reforms to Israel’s Judiciary Must Be Carefully Calibrated

The central topic of debate in Israel now is the new coalition government’s proposed reforms of the nation’s judiciary and unwritten constitution. Peter Berkowitz agrees that reform is necessary, but that “the proper scope and pace of reform, however, are open to debate and must be carefully calibrated.”

In particular, Berkowitz argues,

to preserve political cohesiveness, substantial changes to the structure of the Israeli regime must earn support that extends beyond these partisan divisions.

In a deft analysis of the conservative spirit in Israel, bestselling author Micah Goodman warns in the Hebrew language newspaper Makor Rishon that unintended consequences flowing from the constitutional counterrevolution are likely to intensify political instability. When a center-left coalition returns to power, Goodman points out, it may well repeal through a simple majority vote the major changes Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition seeks to enact. Or it may use the legislature’s expanded powers, say, to ram through laws that impair the religious liberty of the ultra-Orthodox. Either way, in a torn nation, constitutional counterrevolution amplifies division.

Conservatives make a compelling case that balance must be restored to the separation of powers in Israel. A prudent concern for the need to harmonize Israel’s free, democratic, and Jewish character counsels deliberation in the pursuit of necessary constitutional reform.

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Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli Judicial Reform