Holocaust Day is frequently presented by Holocaustians as a day that should be celebrated universally by world Jewry and preferably the entire world, for the sake of both. But it is neither a Jewish holiday nor a secular ecumenical one, though it is frequently promoted as both. It is a Zionist construct.
Jews will often feel pressure to respect this “holiday,” at least nominally. Holocaustians in particular will attempt to guilt trip at least tokens of public respect from the affiliated Diaspora Jewish community and from gentile political leaders for their High Holiday. But while some Holocaustians are not intentionally acting as the enforcer of the Zionists (though many certainly are), they are still responding to their directives.
Ben Gurion, the first prime minister of Israel, was looked upon as a secular messiah by many in the secular Jewish community. Consequently, he was able to cross a shul/state division like no other secular Jewish leader in history.
Ben Gurion acted as a one man Sanhedrin, instituting new Jewish “holidays,” including Holocaust Day. He did not do so because of a perceived theological need for such a holiday. In fact, Ben-Gurion could have done much more than he did to mobilize pressure for the rescue of European Jewry. But actively fighting the Holocaust on a broad scale wasn’t a main priority for Ben-Gurion during the war. It became a more public priority after the war ended. This may have not have been particularly helpful to the Jews who were killed, perhaps, but political expediency has its own time line.
Ben-Gurion had no right and no authority to create a new Jewish holiday (beginning at nightfall of course, like all major Jewish holidays, thank you) celebrating the Holocaust, but he certainly had a great sense of timing. He placed his Yom HaShoah eight days (he knew we’d like that number, it’s laden with Jewish symbolism) before the Israeli Independence Day.
“Out of the ashes,” indeed.
Elie Wiesel – The “voice of a generation” is frequently portrayed as a humanist and a universalist. On some level he certainly is. Certainly when on TV, and in eloquent speeches with very important people in attendance. But perhaps it is not quite that simple and liberal with this brilliant, tortured writer from a chassidic background. A closer look at his writings suggests something else; a man very angry at God, with a broken, if not shattered faith, who has little hope that the nations of the world will ever desist in hating Jews. I don’t really believe that the Holocaustian Godol Hador was ever so naïve to think that Holocaust museums or chanting “Never Again” would stop genocide globally anymore than WWI was “The War to End All Wars,” even if he did hope it might mitigate it. I don’t believe that he ever believed the organized cruelty he witnessed at a tender age would have been prevented if only the assailants were once recipients of educational supplements on historical Jewish suffering.
It seems more likely that this man who worked for the Zionists, the right-wing Zionists, is at heart a nationalist, and his museum and focus perhaps are not only dedicated to preventing and ending genocide, but ultimately for the more limited and attainable goals of reminding Jews (more than gentiles) of their vulnerability without the apparatus of a Jewish state, and to teach the gentiles (as well as Jews) that siding with Israel’s enemies is usually a form of anti-Semitism, and should be called out as such.
If so, this is admittedly a brilliant strategy. But this means that although he fashioned this war plan against anitsemitism from excruciating pain, and though he certainly has sympathy for others facing a similar fate to the one he endured, Wiesel does not lead Holocaustism primarily to stop genocide, but to promote Zionism. Sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly, through his attempted intervention in parallel genocides, an involvement that if led by Jews, underscores the continued need and justification for supporting Israel.
But the same battle plan, no matter how brilliantly layered, cannot be employed over and over again without your opponents eventually getting wise to your maneuvers.
Tisha B’Av – As Menachem Begin protested at the time of the creation of Holocaust Day, we already have a day of national Jewish mourning. It is filled with specific, awful events throughout Jewish history, including events this past century, and the start of something much more horrifically inclusive to the real tragedy of both the Holocaust and the Warsaw Ghetto than the celebrated uprising whose starting date was originally chosen for Holocaust Day.
While the technology employed added a horrific dimension to this tragedy in terms of cruelty and horror, there were other very significant and extensive eras of death and destruction for the Jewish people. We just don’t have them on video.
There is no need for another day of mourning. The fact that Tisha B’Av didn’t fall eight days before the creation of the modern State of Israel and can’t be usurped by the Zionists is unfortunate, but Jewish history occasionally has its disappointments.
Still Too Soon – It is never a good idea to set policy according to emotionalism. When it comes to tragedy, it takes time to put it the tragedy in perspective. This is certainly true for a national tragedy as well, and the larger the tragedy, the more time it takes.
Many Jewish people still have trouble setting policy without caving to Holocaustian hysteria when it comes to the Holocaust. If you can realistically attach the word “Holocaust” to any cause or policy, it is all but a blank check for almost anything, especially one also promising the elixer of education. Never enough Holocaust education. Skepticism of any present or planned initiative, no matter how valid the concern or criticism, is still reacted to as if the skeptic is a Holocaust denier.
Like any religion, Holocaustism is axiomatic. But Holocaustism is also addictive. The effects of the current dosage alway wear off, and greater quantities must be ingested. Taking their ultimate goal straight from Samuel Gompers, the motto should not be “Never Again,” but “More, more, more.”
How long will the Jewish community act as an enabler and flip the bill for this costly habit? How long will gentile Americans continue to pretend they accept the idea that Holocaustism is their national responsibility to honor, support, and continually expand?
Museums and public memorials are still being built by Holocaustians with no regard to their incremental value versus their opportunity cost, never mind the ever more dubious choice of locations.
Education programs for gentiles are implemented without considering possible adverse reactions. Ethnic groups that suffered domestic tragedies are pushed aside and under our European tragedy. The scope of our emotionalism is so public and extensive that even movies that add very little new insight continue to be awarded Oscars, because there is no business like the Shoah business.
We are an ancient civilization. We remain a vibrant one in some sectors, but we are risking our identity by insisting on a death camp culture, or a reaction to our death camp culture. Liberal and secular youth with nominal Jewish identities and education are not at risk at forgetting the Holocaust. Such fears are unreasonable, the opposite of the reality. They are at risk of not remembering anything else before the Holocaust. We are implicitly advocating a response of either militancy or victimology, both particular and universal.
The Labor-Zionists by and large weren’t concerned about the potential problems they created through their critical contributions to Holocaustism including Yom HaShoah, in part because they believed it. For them, the Diaspora is a death camp, and Zionism is the only path “out of the ashes.”
But for those of us who do not believe there is only one path or one solution, and do not accept the simplistic view of dystopia assigned to the last two thousand years of Jewish history in its entirety, rejecting Yom HaShoah is critical, both for Diaspora and Israeli Jews.
Our response will take much more time.
Acquiring the necessary distance for a proper perspective is prolonged by the visual documentation so frequently played from this time period. We are still reeling. There are still new Jewish support groups especially tailored for the younger descendants of the survivors.
It is still too early to add a substantial amount of new prayers on Tisha B’Av. The nominal prayers added to Lamentations are a reminder that the Holocaust will be dealt with comprehensively when we are finally able to have perspective.
We must wait at least another couple of generations longer.