A Pensee On The Holocaust(Review on Sue’s Book Review “Dry Tears”)
***Author’s note: I write this review to provoke discussion about a Holocaust paradigm that views it only as a Jewish monopoly classifying other holocausts as illegitimate and inconsequential and denying other non-Jewish survivors to share the term Holocaust: “your catastrophe is less unique, comparable, comprehensible, and distinctive than ours.”
However, my review is not designed to discourage reading the book, “Dry Tears”, but remind the readers every saga has always two-sides story and the Holocaust story should not be hijacked by the vested interests like the Jewish organizations in America.***
Plato: “you cannot compare any two miserable people and say that one is happier than other,”
First of all, I am pleased to find that Sue Choi reads a book…I mean I thought most of youngsters nowadays would spend most of their times watching TV, playing games, chitchatting in chat-room or driveling on cellular phone day in, day out instead, sometimes, of perusing some books, any books except for the SAT. (Do you still have a history class in your curriculum?)
In her book review in November issue of the Church News Letter, Sue categorized the autobiography of the Holocaust Survivor, “Dry Tears”, an appropriate, excellent and good book for anybody of any age who would like to learn more about the Holocaust.
She also praised the book as it tells “all of the informational facts” about the Holocaust “to let other people re-live the Holocaust”.
Since I have not read “Dry Tears” written by Nechama Tec, I cannot give a detailed review on the book but critique about what Sue wrote about in her review.
The term holocaust derives from the Greek, meaning a completely (holos) burnt (kaustos) sacrificial offering to a god, and it has been used to refer to disasters or catastrophes. (Jews call the Holocaust “Shoah” meaning calamity in Hebrew.)
I assume that Sue understands the Holocaust exclusively as “Shoah”, the systematic Nazi state-sponsored extermination of 6 million Jews excluding millions of other victims as most of Americans accept it as well…that is, “The Holocaust” always or almost always refers to a Jewish genocide of Nazi murder program, “The Final Solution” by the Nazi regime.
Frankly speaking, I am very much skeptical that Sue would know there were about 5 million non-Jewish victims (Gypsies, Jehovah’s witnesses, Slavs, Polish Catholics, disabled peoples, etc) added to the 6 million Jewish Nazi victims in the 11 million rosters at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.
I cannot help but sympathizing her for not knowing it, since the Museum operates under the principle: “if you did not die as a Jew…6 million Jews, you died differently,” marginalizing the sufferings of other victims of The Holocaust.
Therefore, I believe Sue’s review on the book, “Dry Tears”, merits to be reviewed again, since the story is related only to “The Jewish Holocaust”, the only historical reference that resonates in the classroom in the US. (Many college professors testify that compared to Civil War, many more college undergraduates are able to place the Nazi holocaust in the right century and to cite the number killed.)
In other words, “The Holocaust” was such heavily Americanized that it became an American memory and as American as an apple pie, even though it had nothing to do with Americans…I mean it occurred in other country thousands miles away across the ocean.
However, “The Holocaust”, curiously for two decades, has not evolved becoming the American consciousness right after the World War Two. (The sad stories of the Holocaust did not spring up in American psyche until 1960s, as the New York Times did not even publish the first story of The Holocaust until 1959.)
Memories, like “Remember Pearl Harbor! Remember 911!”, have no sense of the passage of time; it denies the “pastness” of its objects, and insists on their continuing presence.
And “Remember the Holocaust!” is no exception…after another two decades of silence and the following memorialization through TV drama series about the Holocaust, it culminated in the opening of the Holocaust Memorial Museum and first screening of Spielberg’s Shindler’s List in 1993, institutionalizing the memory permanently in the heart and mind of American people.
Some argue that the Americanization of the Holocaust allows a foreign trauma becoming a central position in American consciousness in order to cover up the national tragedies like the genocide of Native Indian Americans and 200 years of the African American Slave System…that is, it is much easier, for Americans, to deplore the crimes of others than look at their own holocaust.
Others contend: the American Jewry put the Holocaust on the American agenda when they discovered that Holocaust memory seemed desirable and appropriate to acquire the victim status in the course of establishing the Jewish State of Israel in Palestine.
Aside from the American guilty feeling about their atrocities against the Native and Black people, the Jewish American leaders in postwar years did not look highly on the Holocaust survivors in the first place, saying that “those who have survived are not the fittest…but are largely lowest Jewish elements, who by cunning and animal instincts have been able to escape the terrible fate of the more refined and better elements who succumbed”, according to the Holocaust historian Peter Novick.
Even David Ben-Gurion, the father of the State of Israel, depicted the survivors in negative view: “they were people who would not have survived if they had not been what they were…hard, evil and selfish people.”
In other words, the Holocaust survivors right after the War were not termed in honorific way evoking sympathy, admiration, or even awe.
They were marginalized by the American Jewish elites who feared of recurring anti-Semitism in the US after the war, and the Holocaust victims were generally depicted in news media as DPs (Displaced Persons) in universal terms.
Then, how this European event, Holocaust, sprang up in the center stage of American life?
And why the Jews decided to upfront the Holocaust stories in the American culture?
The partial answer on this query is that Jews in America play a major and important role in Hollywood, TV industry, newspaper, magazine, and book (comic book too!) publishing sectors, and they were eager to get help from the ordinary Americans in the establishment of the State of Israel, casting itself a “victim” state.
The idea of victimhood has been a core of Jewish identity that formed by historical persecution and the Holocaust, and it became a sort of cult among Jewish people.
And this Holocaust victimhood became a beneficial ideological weapon to ward off all criticism and to justify the criminal policies of the Israeli government against the Palestinian Arabs.
In essence, what I want to argue here is that we seemed to have an incongruous, disfigured and distorted version of Nazi genocide, “The Holocaust” that serves the ONLY interest of the State of Israel...an ethnocracy of the Jewish State in which both 1.3 million Israeli Arabs inside the Israeli proper and 3.6 million Palestinians in occupied territories have been subjected to another holocaust of ethnic cleansing by, ironically and obscenely, the Judeo-Nazi-The-Holocaust-Victims.
The fact almost unknown to the world is that there are Israeli Arabs (one-fifth of Israeli population) who live as the Israeli Citizens but hold no nationality…they are guests in their own motherland, trespassers in their own hometown, and they are even NOT the second class citizens like blacks, Asians or Muslims in the US but the non-resident visitors destined eventually to go somewhere to live, when Jews find ways to kick them out permanently in order to make room for a Jew living in Brooklyn, New York City. (Even dying is a problem if you are an Arab in Israel, because almost all land, 93%, is owned by the State, there is no new cemetery available for the dead Israeli Arab citizens.)
In Gaza Strip where Israeli Government “disengaged” unilaterally from the military occupation, the Palestinians were corralled into an “open-air” concentration camp sans ovens by the Jews, summoning the “inverted” memories of The Holocaust.
For decades, these people have been terrorized on a daily basis by the Israeli Occupation Forces in roadblocks, incursions, checkpoints, and walled environment, they are subjected to air raids, artillery and tank bombardments, and the economic strangulation tantamount to slow pace of total extermination.
Of course, it is inspiring and amazing, as our Sue reviewed, that the Holocaust is examined through the eyes of survivors and it was a horrible and despicable historical event we all endeavor never to repeat it again.
However, if Jews show paranoia in insisting the uniqueness and distinctiveness of the Holocaust compared to other holocausts, it is a moral travesty that Jewish lives are more precious, beloved, esteemed, and valuable than others.
In other words, the claim of Holocaust uniqueness is equivalent of claiming the Jewish uniqueness, special status, and a distasteful secular version of chosen-ness.
Therefore, it is also despicable and abhorring claim that Jews have every right to protect themselves, however they see fit as in case in dealing with their archetypal enemy, the Palestinian Arabs, employing almost analogous Nazi-tactics that The Holocaust victims had been subjected to.
Unless Jews begin to realize that the sufferings of “The Holocaust” victims are no more painful, sorrowful, and abominable than other holocaust victim’s as they refuse to think of Palestinians as victims, they do keep committing the inhumane crimes against the helpless Palestinian Arabs.
Unless Jews begin to stop thinking that they possess solely a two-thousand-year-old title deed to the Palestinian land ordained by the Great Realtor, in other words, without the abdication of Jewish uniqueness, distinctiveness, and chosenness, they would not be able to listen Other’s voice or to take responsibility for their role in Other’s sorrow, pain, agony, misfortune, and sufferings.
In this perspective, the narratives of “The Holocaust” could not possibly and arbitrarily be monopolized by the Jew-only survivors, but its saga should be analyzed, shared, examined, disseminated, and memorialized by all of us, since we all are victims of holocaust.