Last week, Harold Kasimow, a retired professor of religious studies, came to Benedictine University in Illinois to speak about his experiences surviving the Holocaust as a child. At his talk he was confronted by a member of the school’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) who wanted to know if he supported or condemned “the establishment of the Zionist Israeli state”; the student eventually walked out after he refused to give the answers she hoped for. Video of the incident has been making the rounds on social media. Jonathan Tobin comments:
Kasimow wasn’t there to talk about Israel or [even to argue that] the history of oppression in the Diaspora that culminated in the Holocaust justified the quest to create a Jewish state. But in spite of his narrow, apolitical agenda, . . . SJP was still in effect ready to “cancel” him unless he didn’t merely condemn Israeli policy but agree that Israel needs to be erased.
Now it is not enough to demand that Jews acknowledge the tragedy of the Nakba for Palestinians. A Jewish refusal to treat the Arab disaster as morally equivalent to the Nazi “final solution” apparently justifies a walkout from a talk by an apolitical Holocaust survivor. The support [the student] gained on the Internet for her crude [attack on] Kasimow provides a troubling context for the incident.
Israel’s enemies have thus gone beyond Holocaust inversion—the claim that Jewish “oppression” of the Palestinians is equivalent to the Nazis’ attempted extermination of the Jews—to what Tobin terms “Nakba supersessionism”: the idea that the “catastrophe” entailed in the creation of a Jewish state should overshadow or replace any discussion of the Holocaust.