Folk stories about vampires provide readers with various remedies to the calamity of a ghoulish attack. A fistful of graveyard dirt is favored, garlic is beneficial, and the cross is most efficient. But these remedies don’t always work. In Roman Polansky’s hilarious horror comedy, The Fearless Vampire Killers, the hero tries to scare off a Jewish vampire by a sign of the cross. The Jew smiles at him with a kind understanding smile, straight from Fiddler on the Roof, and bares his fangs. The cross does not ward him off. Polansky’s work comes to mind as I follow the new wave of Holocaust controversies.
The “revisionist historians”, who are considered by their adversaries to be “Holocaust deniers”, are currently meeting in Beirut to compare their notes on Nazi genocide. The American Jewish establishment, including the Zionist Organization of America and the Anti-Defamation League, has demanded a ban on the conference. The ZOA is not against revisionism as such. This organization pioneered the art of denying history and published, at the expense of American taxpayer, a booklet called “Deir Yassin: History of a Lie”.
Deir Yassin was a peaceful village the Jewish terrorist groups Etzel and Lehi attacked on the 9th of April 1948, and massacred its men, women and children. I do not want to repeat the gory tale of sliced off ears, gutted bellies, raped women, torched men, bodies dumped in stone quarries or the triumphal parade of the murderers. Existentially, all massacres are similar, from Babi Yar to Chain Gang to Deir Yassin.
ZOA revisionists have utilized all the methods of their adversaries, the “deniers”: they discount the eye-witness accounts of the survivors, the Red Cross, the British police, Jewish scouts and other Jewish observers, who were present at the scene of massacre. They discount even Ben Gurion’s apology, since after all, the commanders of these gangs became in their turn prime ministers of the Jewish state. For ZOA, only the testimony of the murderers has any validity. That is, if the murderers are Jews.
If the Jews are the victims, these same American Zionist organizations spare no effort in challenging revisionism. This morally dubious position was no doubt of great comfort to those who gathered in Beirut. By their flawed logic, if the Israelis are telling a tall tale about what happened in 1948, perhaps the Jewish memories of the Holocaust are also flawed. It is misplaced energy. Sure, they scored a few hits, and the tales of soap manufactured from human fat or Wieselâ€™s fiery furnaces were laid to rest. But these Revisionists also question the actual number of Jewish victims. If only a thousand Jews or Gypsies were murdered by the Nazis, it was a thousand too many. It is hardly an important issue, as the very definition of victim is based on interpretation.
A good example of “victim definition” was provided in last weekend’s Haaretz. When the Gulf war ended in 1991, there was one reported Israeli victim of the war. Today, there are officially one hundred Israelis who are recognized as victims of the Gulf war, and their dependents receive a pension at Iraqi expense. Some of the victims died of stress, some could not remove their gas masks and suffocated. The Haaretz article asserted that many more claims were declined by the Israeli authorities. That is why Michael Elkins, the ex-BBC Jerusalem correspondent and an Israeli citizen is correct in arguing that the number of victims, whether there were six or three million dead is not an issue.
The “revisionists” risked their lives and fortunes trying to undermine what they call “the Myth of the Holocaust”. One can understand their interest. Nowadays, one may openly doubt the Immaculate Conception or (maybe) challenge the founding myths of Israel. Yet the cult of the Holocaust retains a unique, court-enforced prohibition against any investigation that might cast a doubt on its sacred dogma. Dogmas have a way of attracting critical minds. Still, behind this red muleta, the charging bull’s horns meet thin air. The arguments on gas chambers and soap production could be very interesting, but they are quite irrelevant. Where then is the matador?
A courageous step was taken by Dr Norman Finkelstein in his best-selling expose “The Holocaust Industry”. There is, however, an important distinction between Dr Finkelstein and the “revisionist historians” gathered in Beirut. Dr Finkelstein, a son of holocaust survivors, stayed away from the possibly illegal statistical controversy and concentrated on the ideological construct of the Holocaust cult.
A fat lot of good it did him. A Jewish organization called “Lawyers without Borders” has already sued him in France. These lawyers were at perfect peace, when the Israeli legal machine pronounced a six months probationary sentence on a Jewish murderer of a Gentile child. They did not move a finger when a 15-year-old girl Suad was placed in solitary confinement, refused legal aid and subjected to mental torture. They are visibly absent from Israeli military courts where a single Jewish officer can mete out long imprisonment sentence to a Gentile civilian based on undisclosed evidence. Apparently, these lawyers are aware of certain borders.
Finkelstein set out to explore the secret of our discrete Jewish charm, a charm that opens American hearts and the coffers of Swiss bankers. His conclusion is that we do it by appealing to European and American guilt feelings. “The Holocaust cult has proven to be an indispensable ideological weapon. Through its deployment, one of the world’s most formidable military powers, with a horrendous human rights record, has cast itself as a victim state, and the most successful ethnic group in the US has acquired victim status”. Finkelstein carries out a brilliant analysis of the Holocaust cult, and comes to a startling discovery: it is but a shabby construct of a few clichés stitched together by the sorrowful voice of Elie Wiesel in a limo.
Finkelstein is not aware of the magnitude of his discovery, as he still believes that the Holocaust cult is a great concept, second only to the invention of the wheel. It solved the eternal problem of the rich and influential, warding off the envy and hate of the poor and exploited. It allowed Mark Rich and other swindlers to cheat and steal, it allowed the Israeli army to murder children and starve women with impunity. His opinion is shared by many Israelis. Ari Shavit, a well-known Haaretz writer, expressed it best in 1996, when the Israeli Army killed over a hundred civilian refugees in Kana, Lebanon: “We may murder with impunity, because the Holocaust museum is on our”. Boaz Evron, Tom Segev and other Israeli writers have articulated the same notion.
One can sum up the thesis of Dr Finkelstein as follows. The Jews succeeded to square the circle, and solved the problem that befuddled aristocracy and the run of the mill millionaires. Namely, they disarmed their opponents by appealing to their compassion and guilt feeling.
I admire Dr Finkelstein for his continued belief in the good heart of his fellow Man. I trust he also believes in fairies. In my own estimate, compassion and guilt feelings can maybe get you a free bowl of soup. Not uncounted billions of dollars. Dr Finkelstein is not blind. He noticed that the Gypsies, another victim of the Nazis, received next to nothing from a “compassionate” Germany. The capacity of Americans to feel collective guilt towards their Vietnamese victims (5 million killed, one million widows, Coventry-style destruction laced with Agent Orange) was recently expressed by Defense Secretary William Cohen: “There is no place for apology (let alone compensation). A war is a war”. Despite having all the facts at his disposal, Dr Finkelstein grasps his cross and tries to frighten the vampire away.
What is the source of power that fuels the Holocaust Industry? This is no idle or theoretical question. The making of yet another Palestinian tragedy is now in high gear, with the slow strangulation of its cities. Every day, a tree is uprooted, a house is demolished, a child is murdered. In Jerusalem, the Jews celebrated Purim by a pogrom of Gentiles, and it made page six in the local papers. In Hebron, the Kahane boys celebrated Purim at the tomb of the mass murderer Goldstein. This is no time to pussyfoot.
In The Sirens, Bloom expresses the feelings of his creator James Joyce towards the bloody concept of Irish liberation by farting at the epitaph of an Irish freedom fighter. My grandparents, my aunts and uncles died in the WWII. But I swear by their memory, if I thought that guilt feelings over the Holocaust cult caused the death of a single Palestinian child, I would turn the Holocaust memorial into a public urinaire.
The shabbiness of the Holocaust cult and the ease of its victories in sucking billions is solid proof of the real power behind this industry. This power is obscure, unseen, ineffable, but quite real. It is not a power derived from the Holocaust, but rather, the Holocaust cult is a display of raw muscle by those who wield real power. That is why all efforts of the revisionists are doomed. The people, who promote the cult, could promote anything, as they dominate all public discourse. The Holocaust cult is just a small manifestation of their abilities. This power would just smile in the face of Dr Finkelstein’s revelations.
1. Dr Finkelstein distinguishes between “holocaust”, the historical event, and the Holocaust, the ideological construct. I took the liberty to rename it “the Holocaust cult” in the interests of lucidity.
(Mr. Israel Shamir, is one of best-known and most respected Russian Israeli writer and journalist. He wrote for Haaretz, BBC, Pravda and translated Agnon, Joyce and Homer into Russian. He lives in Tel Aviv and writes a weekly column in the Vesti, the biggest Russian-language paper in Israel.)