In a “Slip,” British Academics Eager to Commemorate the Holocaust Neglect to Include Its Jewish Victims

October 8, 2019 | Edward Alexander
About the author: Edward Alexander, professor emeritus of English at the University of Washington, is the author most recently of Lionel Trilling and Irving Howe: A Literary Friendship (2009) and Jews Against Themselves (2015).

In a recent issue of its official publication, the University and College Union (UCU)—the UK’s major professional organization for faculty and graduate students at institutions of higher learning—called on its members to join in next January’s observance of Holocaust Memorial Day. The statement included a long list of victims of the Nazis, including trade unionists, Communists, homosexuals, prostitutes, and “non-Jewish Poles.” Absent from the list were Jews, Polish or otherwise. Incidentally, the UCU in 2011 endorsed a cultural and academic boycott of Israel. Edward Alexander comments:

The late [historian] Lucy Dawidowicz once referred . . . 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.” . . .

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 and people of 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. . . .

When the predictable barrage of complaint arrived, the editors [of the UCU journal] blamed a “drafting” error for the indelicate omission of the only group selected by the Nazi regime for total annihilation. But which is more revealing of the lower depths of British academia, the conscious lie or the unconscious one?

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