Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Was the Nazi Holocaust Uniquely Jewish? History and Tradeoffs

I once posted

"The allies we potentially lose are those interested in ending genocide in general who may have nothing invested in JUST saving a single minority for persecution

OTOH there was a unique anti-Semitic aspect. Pragmatically what is best? Eradicating anti-Semitism or eradicating all forms of genocidal tendencies and inhumanities?

That is what I ponder! What are the trade-offs!"

This issue can be approached from several distinct yet complementary positions.

A The factual history of the Nazi Holocaust

B. The current benefits to the victims and to the Jewish People

C The future legacy

Assumption 1

The Holocaust was a uniquely Jewish event and it virtually excludes Gentiles as victims.

A this may or may not jibe with the facts. Others were persecuted

B+C While it may elicit sympathy for Jews, it also means that only Jews have a vested interest. That means that Gentiles have no vested interest in countering Holocaust deniers. It also means that the future emotional investment would be exclusively a Jewish one.

Assumption 2

The Holocaust was not a uniquely Jewish event and it includes many other minorities

A Facts seem to support this

B Other Minorities will take ownership, too. Instead of centering upon Jewish victimhood, it focuses upon inhumanity.

C while this won't be an exclusively Jewish tragedy like Tisha B'av, it will resonate as a universal tragedy to remind all peoples about the evils of brutality and genocide

Thus it may lose its potency for us, but increase its longevity via a more universal appeal



1 comment:

Rabbi Ben Hecht said...

While it is true that there were other victims of the Nazis yemach shemam besides the Jewish People (which should not be aurprising as we would expect evil to expand and that anti-Semites would hate others aswell), there were still distinctions in how the Nazis treated Jews that do indicate that what is termed the Holocaust was a distinct evil against the Jews. There is no doubt that the Nazis were ruthless and cruel to many. They deserved to be censured in a universal way as should be done with any evil barbarian. But the Holocaust was not unique because of its horrible cruelty and barbarism. It was a formal and systemtic attempt at genocide. It was not its emotional energy that was most disturbing. It was its machine-like methodology that really made it stand out -- and that precision was directed specifically against Jews. This is not to take away from the Holocaust's horror and cruelty. But when one contemplates the organization created with this intent -- the transition of base evil into a system -- that is when one fully understands the depth of the depravity of this evil. It is Chanah Arendt's Banality of Evil. That is the Holocaust -- and that is why the term it particular to the Nazi treatment of the Jews.

After saying all this, though, Rabbi Wolpoe may still have a point when he states that presenting the Nazi cruelty in a more universal manner may have a potentially greater affect as a teaching lesson for the future.

Rabbi Ben Hecht