When teachers, museums, activists, and other well-meaning people endeavor to teach children and adults about the Holocaust, they tend to do so hoping to instill certain lessons. Ben Poser and Naya Lekht have reason to believe these aren’t usually the right ones:
In 2018, Jewish students at a pluralistic community high school participated in a project called “We Will Not Be Silenced,” a week-long commemoration of the Holocaust. . . . The interactive project compelled students to write on small pieces of paper the things about which they would not be silent as a result of [having learned about] Kristallnacht. The following are examples of what students chose to write: on note cards bearing the heading “I will not be silent in the face of,” students wrote “homophobia,” “trans violence,” “gun violence,” “environmental degradation,” “rape culture,” “sexism,” “racism,” and “any hate.” Not one student wrote “anti-Semitism.” . . .
Holocaust curricula and Holocaust museums have transformed from spaces to commemorate the particularity of the Jewish story into temples dedicated to a universal story of human insensitivity—a mere allegory of anything unjust, now or then. The Museum of Tolerance, [created by the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles], indeed does offer exhibits on the subjects of “homelessness, LGBTQ+ issues, bullying, the challenges of policing,” and much else that has nothing to do with the Nazis’ Final Solution, including the January 6, 2021 Capitol riot.
Sadly, the Museum of Tolerance is not alone in this behavior. . . . Even the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the most prestigious institution of Holocaust education in America, has published material concerning how “climate change” has contributed to several modern-day genocides.
The best-case scenario is the abstraction of the Holocaust to such a degree that students do not even know that they are learning about the murder of Jews; the worst-case scenario is [that] universalization lends itself to accusing the only Jewish country, Israel, of crimes against humanity and the anti-Semitic canard of comparing Israel to the Nazi state.