Machlokes / Controversy

Jewish World Review Feb. 15, 2000 /9 Adar I, 5760


Inspector Abe (Foxman) is hot
on the trail. But to where?
Inspector Clouseau of the Yad Vashem Gendarmerie: The Case of the Wily Dictator


By Sam Schulman

http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT that the Holocaust Establishment had done its worst to trivialize the shoah, put it in competition with other massacres in the victimization marketplace, and make the world loathe the very word, something comes along to make you sit up and take notice.

In last Wednesday's New York Times, 25 of our great and good, including Elie Wiesel, Emile Fackenheim, Abraham Foxman, and Franklin Littell, put their signatures to a bold appeal to the President of Syria, Hafez al-Assad.

Econophone Suppose you were invited to take your place on the list of signatories (which you won't be. You're not good enough!). Now, let's say that writing a check to the Sulzbergers for upwards of 40 grand were to attract the undivided attention of Assad-which it wouldn't. What would you say to him, if you knew he would read the 300 words you might write?

Would you ask him to stop supporting Hizbullah's terror campaign against your fellow Jews in Israel? Would you ask him to instruct his diplomats at least to shake hands with Barak's diplomats, considering that the Barak government is doing its best to trade the Golan Heights for nothing in particular?

Might you suggest that he please consider not shelling women and children in Kiryat Shmona, Israel, where 36 civilians have died and 339 been wounded? How about a plea to release the people of Lebanon from his occupation of their land? Or ending his policy of imprisoning and murdering his political opponents? Might he be asked to ease up on the secret police's grip on Syrian life? Ending his quest to acquire weapons of mass destruction? How about an apology for killing 20,000 innocent civilians in Hamas in 1982?

Trakdata But the chance to ask Assad these questions would not be interesting to you if you are a Holocaust professional, like Saul Friedman, Zsusanna Ozsvath, or Michael Berenbaum. What rouses such men and women to take hold of the ends of the earth that the wicked might be shaken out of it? It's not murder, not terror, not war, but holocaust-denial. President Assad has allowed Tishrun, the official Syrian government newspaper to call the Holocaust "a myth." And - what's more-this isn't the first time! The signatories of the letter are awfully sore at President Assad-so angry that they don't hesitate to denounce this outrage "in the strongest possible terms."

Like Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau, these worthies appear on the crime scene-so concerned with showing off their competence that they fail to notice another dead body in the closet. Has our obsession with the Holocaust obliterated every other consideration? Even the principle for which the Holocaust has become so professionalized-that the Jewish people be allowed to survive in their own homes?

We've reached a milestone, I believe, marked by this advertisement. Holocaust-denial-denial has on this occasion finally surpassed in importance whether actual Jews survive. I may be extreme-for I believe, like Rabin did, and as Barak did until he became an unpopular politician, that anyone who would "give up the Golan would be guilty of sacrificing Israel's security." So I would prefer to surrender the Holocaust-and keep the Golan Heights. And in a very real sense, it is the opposite choice which our wise men and women propose. Swallow anything from Assad-except Holocaust-denial! Never mind that the position of Tishrun may be utterly concocted. If I were opposed to the survival of a Jewish state, and I were clever enough to know that these people are smart, tough, and well-armed, but if you tease them about the Holocaust it demoralizes them and unfocusses them-then I bloody well would proclaim that the Holocaust never happened, whatever I actually believed. The 'sanctity of historical truth' is not very high on the agenda of people who wish to kill you and obliterate your homeland.

The Assad regime is waging effective psychological warfare against what we have proclaimed as our weak point. The good burghers of Calais who signed the Times' ad last week are casualties of this war. So is Tom Friedman, the mind of the New York Times on foreign policy, who tried to psychoanalyze the regime last week. He said "The Syrian regime self-righteously insists that Israel give back the Golan, without even deigning to shake hands with Israeli negotiators, precisely because this Syrian regime has lied to itself about what it did in 1967 and about what it is today -- a brutal dictatorship that doesn't even shake hands with its own people." No, Tom, the Syrians aren't lying to themselves. They're lying to you! And their lies, thanks to our Holocaust-hysteria, are far more effective than the Syrian's rusting weapons.

They aim to irritate, to draw Jewish eyes away from the ball, and to unbalance. They have succeeded admirably in their aims.

The Holocaust establishment has finally established that the safety of living Jews is morally equivalent to an argument with Holocaust-deniers who, for all we know, aren't even sincere about their denial-but are certainly in earnest about their desire to destroy the Zionist entity and get the better of it in any diplomatic negotiation.

I think it's time to say it aloud: There are things in the world that are worse than denying the Holocaust.


JWR contributor Sam Schulman is deputy editor of Taki's Top Drawer, appearing in New York Press, and was formerly publisher of Wigwag and a professor of English at Boston University. You may contact him by clicking here.

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