The Russian-Backed Organization That Exploits the Holocaust to Support Putin

Feb. 10 2015

The Moscow-based “World Without Nazism” (WWN) purports to be an independent organization dedicated to combating anti-Semitism and neo-fascism in Europe. In reality, it is a Russian-backed propaganda tool meant to defame leaders of former Soviet republics as the legatees of Nazi collaborators. James Kirchick writes:

World Without Nazism’s name harks back to cold-war days, when Soviet front organizations took on anodyne titles like the World Peace Council [or the] World Federation of Democratic Youth, and embroidered themselves in the general cause of “anti-fascism.” Blundering disingenuousness, however, did not go away with the collapse of the Soviet Union. . . . WWN focuses its energies mainly on the former Soviet Union, and has a particular obsession with Ukraine and the Baltic States. . . . The agenda of WWN with regard to those countries is to defame their governments—all resolutely opposed to Russian influence—with the “fascist” label. . . .

The difficulties that some post-Communist countries have had in wrestling with their Holocaust histories have necessitated careful work by researchers, scholars, and witnesses alike. But by perverting and politicizing the memory of the Shoah—digging into the Stalinist playbook and labeling anyone and everyone who disagrees with them a “fascist” or a “Nazi”—WWN has in fact contributed to the very problem it was purportedly founded to combat: it has trivialized the Holocaust.

Read more at Daily Beast

More about: Anti-Semitism, Eastern Europe, Holocaust, Politics & Current Affairs, Russia, Vladimir Putin

On Thanksgiving, Remember the Exodus from Egypt

Nov. 27 2020

When asked to design a Great Seal of the United States, Benjamin Franklin proposed a depiction of Moses at the splitting of the Sea of Reeds, while Thomas Jefferson suggested the children of Israel in the wilderness after departing Egypt. These proposals, writes Ed Simon, tapped into a venerable American tradition:

The Puritans from whom Franklin descended had been comparing their own arrival in the New World with the story of Exodus for more than a century. They were inheritors of a profoundly Judaic vision, melding the stories of the Hebrew scripture with their own narratives and experiences. . . .

For the Puritans, Exodus was arguably a model for understanding their own lives and history in a manner more all-encompassing and totalizing than for any other historical religious group, with the obvious exception of the Jews. . . . American Puritans and pilgrims like John Mather, John Winthrop, John Cotton, . . . and many others placed the Exodus at the center of their vision, seeing their own fleeing from an oppressive England and a Europe wracked by the Thirty Years’ War to an American “Errand Into the Wilderness” as a modern version of the Israelites’ escape into Canaan. . . . [Thus the] Exodus . . . has become indispensable in comprehending the wider American experience. Through the Puritans, the story of Exodus became a motivating script for all manner of American stories. . . .

We read its significance and prophetic power in accounts of slaves who escaped the cruelty of antebellum plantation servitude, and who crossed the Ohio River as if it were the Sea of Reeds. . . . We see it in photographs of the oppressed escaping pogroms and persecution in the Old World, and in the stories of later generations of refugees. Exodus is an indispensably Jewish story, but what more appropriate day than Thanksgiving, this most American and Puritan (and “Jewish”?) of holidays, to consider the role that that particular biblical narrative has had in defining America’s civil religion?

Read more at Tablet

More about: American founding, American Religion, Exodus, History & Ideas, Thanksgiving, Thomas Jefferson