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The Holocaust, Palestine and Israel
The murderous treatment of European Jews during the Second World War has become almost legendary in its depiction as a unique and singularly important example of bigoted inhumanity, carried to barbarous extremes. No other experience from among the overwhelming number of historic cases of mass brutality has ever achieved such status in western consciousness, partly because most of the other slaughters were of third world, non – white people. But despite this specific outrage being portrayed as an unparalleled tragedy, injustice, bigotry and mass murder have been practiced and gone relatively unquestioned since its occurrence, contrary to the lessons supposedly learned from its example. Given this contradictory impact, it should be permissible to look, as clearly as evidence will allow, at exactly what took place, what its moral lesson could be, what its political use has been, and how it has helped perpetuate rather than end notions of racial superiority and division that have dogged the world for millennia.
The patriarchal belief systems on which Judaism, Christianity and Islam are all based depend on faith, far more than material evidence. What historic evidence exists is subject to human interpretation, and as an example of how varied that interpretation can be, we have these three religions. All are founded on the same original story, with similar scriptures, prophets, and the alleged word of god. God's words apparently say different things to different people at different times. Religious history, in which faith and interpretation loom large, is really not that different from secular history.
The original story of the United States, for instance, was one of European discovery, heroic conquest, incredible development and national triumph. That was from the standpoint of the official historians, before the revisionists had their say. A more modern interpretation of that story includes the near physical and cultural genocide of the native populations of the continents which Europe discovered, even though people had been living on them for thousands of years. A newer view of American history also saw chattel slavery as something beyond an unfortunate economic arrangement which led to civil war and racial misunderstanding, and more as an experience of murderous human degradation carried to inhuman marketing extremes, with social repercussions still apparent and still not fully understood.
Historic views and re-views of the past are taken by those with possible preconceptions based on their education, training and belief systems; historians can find selective truth in the material evidence at hand, while creating immaterial evidence as well, often doing so unconsciously, without any balance, and even stressing extremes. In doing this they are not substantially different from religious believers who pick and choose from what material evidence exists, if any, to fit into the belief system. God and the accepted prophets are sited to back up whatever is seen as good, righteous and just, and a satan, with demonic assistants, is created to account for the evil, craven brutality that is the darker side of human development. Substitute us for God, and them for Satan, and we have much secular history.
The religious or scientific system produces its historians, who are responsible not only for interpreting the evidence according to the preconceived rules of faith and politics, but in many cases, for the creation of evidence to fit within the mental structure that thereby strengthens and reinforces the system's foundation.
This is not unique to one religious or national group, but is common to all which have an established story of origin, and a following interpretation of history to neatly fit into the original premise. Given the dualism of western religious science, logical materialists who claim physical objectivity as their basis supposedly have nothing in common with the magical imaterialism of religion. But despite age old battles between secularists and deists, neither side in this either-or conflict really knows any more than what is believed, accepted, and verified by the evidence that solidifies the foundation of its system of belief. Anyone who contradicts that evidence is either disregarded, or tossed out of the realm of accepted reality. In the most extreme cases, the contradictor is either imprisoned, or burned at the stake.
It is in the serious questioning of rigidly held belief systems that humanity – sometimes – advances beyond simple duality, arriving at a relatively reasoned interpretation based on objective study of material evidence, free of previously learned bias. In these cases, divine good and demonic evil are left to the immaterialist community, and the attempt is made to learn from previous experience and hope for a better future that does not repeat past mistakes. That hope is nonexistent when free thought and critical appraisal are denied. It is in particular danger today, more so than in the darkest ages of our past, when wanton slaughter may have been the order of the day, but the weapons to affect it were infinitely more primitive.
In the aftermath of the Nazi assault on European Judaism, we have seen a modern form of biblical interpretation evolve out of an historic event. This interpretation is based almost as much on faith as on verifiable fact. What should be at least fairly conclusive according to examined evidence has become a religious belief system in which no examination or question of evidence is allowed unless it strengthens the already existing and accepted story. The event is not only treated as unquestioned as the word of god, but if dared to be questioned at all, punishable as blasphemy. Such is the modern burden of what is called The Holocaust, having even its name reflect a biblical sounding event, like The Creation.
A terrible price was paid by the Jews of Europe in the experience of this awful episode of history, but a heavy price is still being paid, in some sense by the whole world, but mostly by Palestinians, who played no role in these atrocities, though they have paid dearly, and unconscionably, in their aftermath.
The affect of the Holocaust on 21st century life continues to be as profound, and dangerous, as its impact on the previous century. What is euphemistically called "The Middle East Problem" was really created by the western holocaust, and dumped on the people of the Middle East. The solution to this problem involves the West confronting its own responsibility, and ending its punishment of the Arab world, especially the Palestinians, who have absorbed generations of abuse and had a horrific, biblical vengeance visited upon them for something they never did. Further, the accepted story of the event, seemingly free of any material forces or consequences save depravity and hatred of age old origin, invites a fatalism which accepts ancient beliefs in a natural evil at the core of humanity. Or at least, a majority of humanity, which seems historically predisposed to persecute and murder a specific minority.
There might be no better place to begin seeking a solution than at the very event that has served to help create the problem. But any attempt at reconsideration of this particular tragedy in a way that questions some of the accepted story is treated as sacrilegious, insane, unthinkable anti-Semitism, and in the most extreme cases, as a crime punishable by jail or deportation. This was the case with Ernest Zündel, one among many Holocaust Revisionists who dare to challenge religious and political orthodoxy by questioning our understanding of a human disaster which has helped perpetuate human disaster.
Zündel and other revisionists are called "holocaust deniers" by those who label them in discriminatory fashion in order to remove them from any serious consideration. The denigrating label makes it seem as though they deny that any Jews were murdered, or that Jews did not suffer terribly at the hands of Nazis and their supporters. Calling these people names in order to reduce them as beings is a bigotry no different, in essence, from using derogatory labels like nigger, spic, kike or redneck. The label's purpose is to belittle and deform, reducing people to caricatures and worse; beings outside the realm of acceptability and not worthy of consideration by "normal" people.
There may be unsavory and bigoted types among those who call themselves holocaust revisionists, but such people exist in business, government and religion; do we entirely dismiss those worlds because some of their practitioners may not meet our standards for acceptability? Some who claim to be revisionists simply change the pejorative "nazi" to the pejorative "communist" and charge the same wholesale slaughters and incredible death tolls, only with different victims and different murderers. Far more important are the revisionists unmotivated by anything more than a sense of human inquiry, who simply attempt to confront and question accepted history with as much or as little bias as the official historians.
Zündel should be free to present his viewpoint and entertain his beliefs, however unpopular they may be to those who often know nothing more than what they have been told. This biased telling of the story of individuals and events is a problem not only of the historic past, but one we experience in everyday life. We are fed tales which provoke bloody warfare and are devoutly believed and supported by some, and just as devoutly disbelieved and opposed by others. But neither school of thought is, as yet, proposing that all opposition to its belief system be completely silenced, totally disregarded or jailed. Some have indeed suffered such a fate, but they are still the exception and not the rule. Unfortunately, among holocaust revisionists, the rule is persecution; first, of the very idea, and next, of the person expressing the very idea.
Our political economy of religious science depends on the double standards of dualism, but the issue of free speech tends to be revered by people from all sides of the political and social spectrum. It would be better for us all if we were less selective about where, when, and on what subjects such freedom could be exercised.
Revisionists try to make the murderous history of the Holocaust an aspect of reality, rather than a religious experience of unquestioned worship and sorrow. This is their sin, but it is not only they who suffer; all who profess a belief in freedom of expression, speech and thought pay a price. Yet, the attack on Zündel's free speech was barely noticed by the general public. Even though it took place in Canada, it received no criticism from an American civli liberties community which would be totally aroused if such blatant suppression occurred in almost any other area of life, and in any country. But that is not the case in the area dubbed "holocaust denial", where any outrage against free speech and free thought is not only allowed, but righteously supported and even vindictively applauded, wherever it occurs.
The double standard regarding this issue is among the most troubling of our social hypocrisies. One can easily imagine those depicted as demons, like Saddam Hussein or Slobodan Milosevic, being regarded as heroes, had they persecuted alleged holocaust deniers instead of operating against Israeli and American interests, for which they now face trial as war criminals.
Zündel may be the best known among many who are critical of the holocaust story, but who hardly deny that Jews were viciously persecuted and murdered by the Nazis. He has been dogged for years because of his expressed doubts regarding many aspects of the accepted history, and as a result suffered physical attacks, the firebombing of his home, and costly court cases finally leading to his imprisonment. Among his blasphemous thought crimes he dares to believe that all Germans were not uniquely evil, inhuman monsters, as they are depicted in much of the holocaust story. Germany has been the main financial backer of Israel, contributing billions of dollars in retribution payments, and has been most fierce in smothering free speech when it comes to this issue. But there are still many who believe that Germans should be judged as unparalleled among humans for their collective sin, and this has been internalized by their government. In keeping with its guilt driven policies, Germany locked Zündel in jail as soon as Canada expelled him for his crime. And what was this offense? Under cover of visa problems and alleged influence on potentially violent groups, Zündel was really guilty of daring to express doubt in the official story of the Holocaust, that doubt usually being not only about the number of dead, but also concerning the plan and method of carrying out mass murder. His is only the most serious and recent attack on a revisionist. Many others have suffered loss of jobs, physical attacks, and been imprisoned. In several nations, it is a punishable, criminal offense to dare question the Holocaust in any ways that displease the keepers of its official history.
The horrendous treatment of european Jews, their forced exodus from national homelands to concentration and slave labor camps, and their further brutalization and murders, are believed part of a centrally planned process of annihilation. This historically unique crime was industrialized, with an around the clock production line of transport, gas chambers, crematoria and almost unimaginable cruelty. That is the brief outline generally accepted by most of the world, or at least the western world, which might as well be the whole world given the power balance. Of course, gas chambers were not alleged to be the only method employed for these mass murders, and the basic crimes were known of before that aspect of the story was established. But though official records and scholarship account for many deaths attributable to other causes and methods, the popular acceptance of the phrase "six million died in the gas chambers" is hardly ever discussed as being impossible. In fact, there is almost as much use of the dreadful sounding "six million died in the ovens", with many believing that six million living human beings were actually thrown into mass fiery pits. The world was witness to the awful films of the liberated camps, the emaciated survivors, and the piles of skin and bone corpses. It is as if these sickening images were not enough, and even more ghastly ones have to be created in order to identify this as history's most terrible crime.
That such an incredible murderous deed, of such massive proportions, was concealed from the world until long after it took place is barely acknowledged as worthy of any question. Several histories of the war were written at its end which made no mention of this particular horrendous crime. Some survivors of the concentration camps wrote of their terrible experiences, with no mention of gas chambers. Are we to believe that all these writers, including Eisenhower and Churchill, were simply anti-Semites?
This awful scheme for exterminating an entire people was ordered by passionate zealots who were motivated by irrational hatred. Yet, conversely, it was organized by a core of dispassionate, bureaucratic clones, and then carried out by a stoic force of robotic killers. And this hideous production was performed while Germany suffered devastation in the war, with many of its people going hungry, its economy sorely lacking industrial supplies and its imminent defeat looming. Might there be legitimate cause for questioning at least some parts of the generally accepted story? Should critical reappraisal be completely forbidden, given that this insane act of collective murder was the major rationale for the displacement and destruction of another people, the Palestinians, far removed from any connection to Europe save for their domination by its colonial power?
And considering the depiction of Germans as a collection of homicidal monsters, couldn't one of these satanic sadists have considered a photograph of his, and their, horrendous work with gas chambers? Is there any wonder that the same bureaucratic number crunchers who tabulated every single person rounded up and sent to a camp, were unable to tabulate the actual murders? And since all gas chambers were allegedly destroyed by the Germans – who seemed anxious to get rid of all evidence of the crime, but were extremely careless about leaving alive participants in committing the crime – isn't it worthy of question that their existence is based on stories and confessions after the fact, with no one actually witnessing these mass murder machines in action?
It should not be a crime to wonder why not one actual photo of a gas chamber exists, that all were destroyed and only reproductions of them are offered as evidence. The only photos are of doors or passages leading to such chambers, and showers said to have served as gas chambers, but these all defy logic and only serve belief. Would we accept explanation for the atomic bombing of Hiroshima or Nagasaki by being presented with photos of roads leading into town? Or the testimony of survivors and participants in the bombings, but with no other evidence except their testimony that the cities were devastated by such a weapon?
Given the overwhelming evidence that clearly verifies the persecution and murder of so many, why is it that this major part of the story is so reliant on after the fact memories or detective work? That several million people were killed this way and that not one photo exists is certainly worthy of questioning, given that so much else was recorded in photos and film. We have abundant pictorial evidence of the dreadful conditions of the camps, the horrible images that have been imprinted on us over the years. Yet, none of these showed a gas chamber, its ruins, or recorded comments about its existence. How can it be a sin and why should it be a crime to question this story? Is it odd that some might see the denial of that freedom as part of a political program to insure that Israel is above any criticism and kept a safe place for world Jewry, even though its reality has been quite the opposite? The record of an earlier episode of inhuman brutality in the United States offers an uncomfortable contrast.
During the wretched era of American lynching, more than two thousand blacks were dragged from their homes or prison cells and publicly hanged, often having their bodies literally torn apart after killing. These bestial events were sometimes viewed by hundreds of people in an often festive atmosphere of collective madness. Countless photographs exist of these bizarre, barbaric affairs, with families proudly posing, even smiling, in front of a brutalized black body hanging from a tree. There may be legend and myth surrounding much of this period, but there is undeniable evidence of the bloody deeds in these photos, some of which were made into postcards and mailed to friends and families, later becoming exhibits at museums and galleries.
Should this terrible episode of American history be offered as proof that we were the most beastly race on earth? Far worse than later Germans, who didn't gleefully photograph their atrocities and happily share those photos with friends? Why not try to learn more about this sordid past, rather than simply see the atrocities as acts of a deranged people, having no basis in material history save as a description of mass psychosis, based on age old biblical hatred of...Africans? After all, we have no historic verification for how many Africans were murdered during what was called, less biblically, "the passages", when slaves were stuffed onto ships like animals, and beaten, starved and drowned while crossing the Atlantic Ocean, with death toll estimates ranging from a few to many millions. Has it been blasphemy to examine that history, as closely as evidence will allow, in order to arrive at something approximating what actually took place? Does any reexamination of this brutal period, including a revisionist pointing out that some slaves lived in more material security than some workers, indicate a form of "slavery denial"?
We certainly cannot change the fact of inhuman chattel slavery in our past, nor the tremendous impact it has had on our national development. But confronting our past might help us change the present. Nearly half the prison population of the USA is black, and ghettos and poverty wracked communities still number black residents in the hundreds of thousands. That should be reason enough to want to learn more about that past and how it affects our society today. Really confronting such questions and seeking answers based on social justice and humanitarian values could mean social revolution, but even if we don't go that far, knowing more can at least help us mythologize less.
We would not make the crimes committed by the Nazis any less horrid by removing myths, legends and emotional slander from the very real pain and suffering they caused. What of the many alleged tales of their ghastly practices, like making soap from the body fat of dead Jews, stuffing pillows with their hair or making lamp shades from their skin? Some of these are still repeated by those who simply accepted any tale of German degeneracy, no matter how mindless sounding or lacking any basis in fact. The generally accepted and horrendous enough toll of a million deaths at Auschwitz was once believed to be more than four million. These inflated death toll figures and tales of bizarre brutality are no longer tolerated by anyone with claims to serious scholarship, with agreement here between revisionists and the official historians of holocaust studies.
Survivors are no less cursed with memories of an awful reality when these kinds of exaggerations are faced as fabrications born of panic, gullibility, and retaliatory hatred. This at one time unquestioned parade of inhuman horrors became part of accepted history and helped lead to the birth of a new nation, Israel, established as a haven for the persecuted survivors of this bloodcurdling, genocidal campaign conducted by the Nazis.
israel's existence since its origin in 1948 has remained critically unquestioned by the mainstream west and its officially sanctioned political opposition, mainly because of the horrors the world learned about the Holocaust. And learned, and learned, and relearned. Hardly a day passes that some TV program, film, workshop, museum display, lecture or school curriculum is not dealing with what took place, in horrifying detail. People are gripped and shaken by the vicarious experience of this tragedy, recreated in veritable theme parks of misery and suffering. They are compelled to wonder how people could perform such contemptible violence, and how it could have happened without outside intervention. But these same people still support doctrines of racial supremacy and the mass murder of war ; they draw no connection to the lesson supposedly learned from the holocaust tragedy, since that lesson seems specific only to that single experience and its relation to the unquestioned need for Israel as a haven for Jews.
State organized violence, human persecution and bigotry continue, and civilized populations still tolerate racial and colonial policies that treat people and their homelands as worthless, unless owned, occupied or exploited by superior beings. These matters are relatively unquestioned by many who are moved to tears by the story of the Holocaust, since that event is treated as an almost separate reality from human history, let alone the sub category of Jewish history, whose thousands of years seem reduced to about five during the war. And Israel is still perceived by many as a home for people rejected by the world, with no place else to go. This is a gross simplification, but so is the larger story. Israel did not just "happen" in 1948, though that might as well be the case given popular ignorance of its history.
In the late 19th century, when the european zionist movement for a jewish homeland was established, most Jews wanted no such home. They were content being citizens in the nations where they had become part of the fabric of life, having worked hard to overcome bigotry that saw them as "other". Many of them took serious issue with zionism, which existed long before most nazis were born, let alone in power. This historic fact is not just overlooked, but is unknown to people who think of zionism only in its socialistic form of the kibbutz, and see Israel as something that happened purely because of the nazi assault on european Jews.
Among several proposed sites, Palestine was the biblical real estate most desired by many Zionists as a national homeland, since it was believed to be their source, even by allegedly secular Jews who claimed to be atheists. That contradiction still prevails; one can strongly assert no belief in god, while accepting a homeland for Jews in israel, because that land was promised to them by...god. The Holocaust helps make it possible to overlook this contradiction by siting the jewish tragedy at the hands of the nazis as verification for the need to create Israel. And even though most of the world's Jews are moved to at least psychologically support Israel's existence, they have never been there and have no plan to even visit, let alone become settlers.
The fact that as late as 1942, some Zionists and Nazis were discussing the island nation of Madagascar as a possible homeland for Jews – with as little concern for the native people there as in Palestine – is another little known aspect of the relationships between two groups proposing the same alienating idea, along decidedly different lines; that Jews did not belong with "others" and should be living in their own, separate country.
With no consideration for some of these matters, we inherit a history with little if any context, negating any awareness of events that lead to or connect from one to the other in any understandable, if occasionally mind boggling way. Things suddenly happen, with no explanation for events other than their being caused or provoked by saintly angels or demonic monsters. Are there material, worldly reasons for these events? Where do these situations and creatures come from? We are not to ask once the story, the gods and the demons have been established. That is, if we wish to remain helpless creatures shaped by history, rather than active beings who play a conscious role in its creation.
The revision of all history, literally to look at it again, is necessary if we wish to create a future without repeating past mistakes. The maligned school of Holocaust Revision could make a contribution towards understanding and peace, rather than represent a criminal assault against political religious belief, as it is portrayed. Taking a new look at any part of history, recent or past, may lead to greater awareness of material forces which are controllable by humans. This contradicts the fatalistic view of humanity as inherently beastly and in need of control by elites, which are usually working for god. This biblical notion at the core of many human acts of mass murder flies in the face of real human experience and calls for more, not less questioning of what we are told about anything.
Whether it is fed to us as legend, myth or alleged fact, nothing should be treated as unquestionable. Facts are too often based on as little proof as the legendary and mythological. For a recent, obvious example, we need look no further than "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq. Thousands of people are dead and a government was destroyed because of those alleged weapons, which do not, and did not, exist.
The suffering of the Jews in Europe during the second world war would not become less tragic under critical appraisal, though its political impact might change, and this is the major reason for its being kept an untouchable topic. In order to maintain Israel's position as a special nation, the myth of the jewish people as a forever endangered species is perpetuated. The Holocaust is seen as the culmination of a long history of murderous persecution of Jews by the rest of the gentile world, with no allowance for anything but continued misery and eternal threat. This incredibly negative and narrow view estranges people from humanity, and in so doing helps create a warped history of isolation. A contradictory ideological need to be separate and different from "them", while humanistically desiring similarity and equality with "them", can only prolong the problem of what is called anti-Semitism, despite that language confusion which so labels Europeans who are no more Semites than are people from Finland or Nigeria.
Given the verifiable history of Jewish persecution in the past, can that possibly justify the persecution of Palestinians in the present? Assuming that there was indeed a plot by european gentiles to murder all the Jews of the continent, why should people who have no real or fictional connection to such a sin be the ones to pay the awful price of its atonement? And even if it is necessary to insist that one inhuman episode was unique and different from others, that one suffering was more painful than another, how can any benefit be gained by causing still more suffering? No horror experienced in Europe should serve as rationale for punishment inflicted on people other than Europeans, if any at all are to still be paying for this experience of inhuman slaughter among, sadly, many such historic experiences. A more recent human disaster can offer several comparisons, even if only in the treatment of the story.
As an example of how closer examination of events which take on near legendary proportions can lead to better understanding, consider the disastrous day Americans remember as "911". It did not become less tragic when investigation revealed that the original estimated death toll of nearly 7,000 was actually just over 3,000. The bereaved were no less saddened, the nation no less shocked. Nor, unfortunately, were political forces swayed to change their policies based on this lowered figure. But history was served in moving the story from exaggeration, arrived at during chaotic moments when all matters were barely verifiable, to the actual human cost and impact of all those deaths. Lowering the death toll was not a form of 911 "denial", and it did nothing to change the essence of the event.
Many still believe it was the worst thing to ever happen, if limiting the area of events to the USA. But far more people have been killed in bombings in other countries than died that day in America, and to acknowledge that fact – still generally unacknowledged – might help to better understand why this act of terrorism might have taken place, rather than viewing it as a gesture of sadistic madmen who didn't like our style of dress, our democracy, or our social behavior patterns. Were they simply "anti-americans", for some ancient, irrational biblical reason? Or were there social and political as well as religious motivations for their murderous attack? Would it hurt us to move beyond simplistic, reductionist explanations in order to arrive at some understanding of material reality that might help our relations with the rest of the world?
The reexamination of 911 did not overlook the enormous cost in death benefits and the number of hustlers who rushed to claim money, posing as kin of those who allegedly perished. In this, it bore a relation to what some call the "holocaust industry", referring to the money making aspects of that tragedy that entice scam artists as well as legitimate victims. Finding an actual, verifiable death toll saved money for insurers, but the material evidence was examined not only to save money, nor to hurt the memory of survivors, but to help see the disaster from a more reality based perspective. We are still learning about the poorly reported and even more poorly explained 911 events, and the wars and further terrors they have unleashed in Afghanistan and especially Iraq. Many still believe that Arabs had nothing to do with them, and that they were organized and executed by the U.S. government. Others claim it was the Israeli Mossad, and some believe it was the act of a vengeful god, punishing us for whatever sins these divinely oriented conspiracy freaks perceive. But none of these theories, though they may be argued, laughed at or ridiculed, are forbidden. Nor are those who entertain them threatened with jail. This is as it should be, but isn't, where the Holocaust is concerned.
Israel's seemingly spontaneous "immaculate conception" in 1948 is no more materially verifiable than the older religious legend, but is as devoutly believed by a community of the faith. The Palestinian people who lived in what later became Israel were conveniently removed from material or critical consideration. They were denied as a people and never considered as humans of any importance, so it was easy to buy them out, kick them out, or wipe them out if they resisted. Their painful history of injustice has outraged most of the world, as evidenced by countless votes in the United Nations which go against continued theft of Palestinian land and brutalization of the Palestinian people. But the nature of their suffering receives hardly a blink from the center of global power in the USA, where real Palestinian Deniers are an infinitely greater problem than any alleged Holocaust Deniers.
The American government and major opinion shaping institutions have participated in the creation of Israel as a lily-white land of suffering inhabitants, first escaping the horror of the Nazis, and then preyed upon by the dreadful Arabs, portrayed as bloodthirsty demons anxious to "push Israel into the sea", as one of the favored slogans has it. This colorful defiance of geography and politics may have actually been expressed as a desire by some witless opponent; more likely, it came from an Israeli and has become useful to repeat in provoking fear and anxiety among Jews all over the world, as the horrible holocaust story is rerun in their imaginations each time a threat to Jews is perceived or alleged. And these threats usually seem to happen in a social vacuum, occupied by an innocent people in a rarified world befitting a fairy tale as much as a physical reality.
The contradictory notion of Jews as a historically blessed, special, privileged sector of humanity, and at the same time as a historically scorned, hated and brutalized group as well, is reinforced by the conflicting histories of Israel, Palestine, the Holocaust experience and the status of Judaism in the world today. To say that a people hated and persecuted by the gentile world – which means just about everyone else – for thousands of years, and then slaughtered in the worst pogrom of them all, could become powerful enough to hold sway over governments and public opinion is dismissed as just another form of anti-Semitism. The mere mention of Jewish power, exercised in obvious fashion and so acknowledged by many Jewish groups and publications, reduces not only zionists but large segments of the gentile world, including its left wing, to screeching charges of anti-Semitism at those who defiantly refer to "the power that dare not speak its name". But the U.S. government and media and their global subordinates do not hesitate to follow the story so outlined, perpetuating the myth that becomes reality when so many not only believe it, but act on that belief.
Jewish ethnic and cultural gifts to the arts and sciences have made incredible contributions toward making the human community whole. Biblical and ideological Judaism contradicts that wholeness by treating the rest of the world as "other" and insisting on its own uniqueness. Much of the world is drawn to the warm, humanistic culture, while it is repelled by the cold, alienating ideology. Just as mainstream science and much non-biblical religion reject difference and see humanity as one race with common origins, a biblical fundamentalist view holds to an ancient notion that divides us into a deity's less or more favored races. The political, economic and psychological burdens of maintaining such older belief systems are at the root of a global crisis. In an all too real sense, we continue struggles with believers in immaterial legend and fable, while reality demands that we wake up and face a material world threatened by our wasteful and destructive divisions. These ancient belief systems might be beneficial if their humanitarian messages of equality for all took precedence over their patriarchal teachings of the superiority of only some. We face failure the longer we continue paying halfhearted lip service to the wisdom of their most loving prophets, while we incur the cost of paying wholehearted debt service to the deceit of their most hateful profiteers.
Human suffering and brutality are a sad part of our history, but we needn't mythologize their experience or make them special; rather, we need to understand that they impede our development. We can learn from our most terrible mistakes, but not if we fetishize and treat them as unique, almost divorced from history rather than representing a terrible example of our worst behaviors, practiced in the selfish, short sighted ignorance that continues to rule our relations. Our bloody past and present make it clear that It is possible to slaughter hundreds, thousands, even millions of people, without an extermination plan or gas chambers.
History is full of wholesale massacres, of people being regarded as worse than insects or rodents, and barbarically murdered in horrendous acts of brutality. Some of these were perpetrated over many years, some over a few weeks, some a few days, and some, instantly. During the same war that killed so many European Jews, the cities of Dresden and Tokyo, among many others, were reduced to ashes in firestorms that killed tens of thousands of people in a matter of minutes. These poor souls were indeed, burned alive, and there was no need to deliver them to death camps or crematoria; the crematoria were delivered to them. Yet these and other brutal acts of mass murder were written off as excusable acts of war that killed "the enemy", said enemy deserving such a fate for being part and parcel of the war. Had the outcome been different, how many allied generals would have been tried for these mass murders, and executed as war criminals?
Why does one horrible slaughter receive an unending stream of commemorations and reparations, while hundreds of others are barely a drip in the brain pan of humanity? Why does the Holocaust loom so large, and yet serve as a rationale for the brutalization of a people who had absolutely nothing to do with Nazis or Europe? And who can certainly not be guilty of anti-Semitism, In as much as they are, unlike the ashkenazi Jews of Europe, Semites themselves? Could a better understanding of what happened to the Jews of Europe, and of the underlying causes that brought about fascism, help the world to better understand itself?
It can't possibly hurt us to learn what was at the root of the Nazis' blind hatred of communism, democracy and judaism, and why they linked those hatreds, rather than continue accepting ridiculous notions that reduce world history to perverse psychosomatic disorders. What role did material events play in the creation of national socialism in Germany, and how widely was it supported by other nations? Contrary to simplistic belief, which has it that the world instantly opposed the demonic evil of the Nazis, many western powers were quite fond of their rabid anti-communism and their strengthening of German finance capital. It is possible to learn more about a terrible episode of history without denigrating those who suffered, but also by not making a totally different kind of human out of them, thereby perpetuating a dangerous myth of original difference, when we most need to acknowledge that we are all members of the same human race.
Fear of present victimization because of past history, whether based on fact or fiction, is not healthy for any human individual or group. Rising above our past mistakes, our legends and our superstitions in order to deal with real problems can contribute to growth in knowledge and assurance of a future possibility for all of humanity. That assurance is a necessity for the success of the human race, and not just one nation, sect, religion or clan.
Seeing the rest of humanity as historically bent on persecuting and eventually murdering all Jews is hardly the healthiest way to sustain religious, ethnic, national or personal survival. One has to major in the inhumanities to entertain such dreadful thoughts. When carried for generations, they cannot help but lead to more suspicion, misunderstanding and divisions which help create the inhuman mental and physical horror that was the reality of the Jews in Europe, and is the reality of the Palestinian people now. Bigotry and murder do not need commemorative death tolls or special killing machine techniques to make them worse or better; they need to stop.
The revisioning of the Holocaust might help Israel, Palestine and Judaism itself by confronting contradictions based on ancient beliefs which have no place in the modern world, and which help create murderous misunderstanding the longer they are accepted. Controversies involving which war, which mass murder, or which act of totalitarian brutality was worse than another can only make it seem that some were better than others. But it is all acts of brutality that must be seen as the problem, and not just one in isolation, if we are to arrive at a solution.
If we do not learn from history, it is said that we are condemned to repeat it, and that has been the case with the Jewish experience of one war, and the resultant Palestinian suffering that could lead to a greater war. Coming to grips with what was called the final solution could bring about confrontation with what could be humanity's final problem of racial and ethnic hatreds which are used to help perpetuate ideologies of domination. We need a peaceful "final solution" in confronting the greatest problem humanity has ever faced. Nuclear and biological weapons have replaced the more primitive bloody tools of the old political testaments and while we have seen what those weapons could do, we have not yet fully realized the lesson of their creation. They are products of age old biblical inhumanity, brought to modern technological perfection in exercising mass murder in post biblical fashion. We have to become a civilized people and learn to work together, before we revert to primitive savagery and literally blow ourselves apart.
The Holocaust was representative of the darkest side of humanity, but unfortunately, it still covers many with its shadow. Bringing light to such darkness involves much more than rethinking one episode of history, but given its enormous impact on collective consciousness, this one issue could have an affect on many more. They may seem an unlikely source, but Holocaust Revisionists could help bring about an enlightenment that enables us to see through inherited doctrines of ignorance and bigotry, kept alive by political and biblical systems of superstition which contribute to furthering the danger to humanity.
Confronting the real tragedy of what was done in the past, and the role it has played in furthering human suffering and injustice in the present, will be necessary for us to end such suffering in the future. The hateful anti-Semitism that was at the core of Nazi treatment of Jews cannot be forgotten, but it shouldn't be remembered by developing a ridiculous philo-Semitism that places one event, nation or people above critical reproach. Like the Zionists and Nazis who agreed that Jews were different from everyone else, this is either/or dualism at its worst. Just as past bigotry and brutalizing of Jews has scarred humanity, so does present bigotry and brutalizing of Palestinians disfigure us all. And just as we demythologize the American story and create a more hopeful future by doing so, we need to demythologize the mass injustice in Europe, and the mass injustice it brought about in the Middle East. Two wrongs do not make a right, any more than two lies can make a truth. And while the truth may not set us absolutely free, it could certainly help us move closer to relative freedom.
© 2005 by Frank Scott. All rights reserved.
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|Title||The Holocaust, Palestine and Israel, Revision, Denial and Myth|
|Dates||published: 2005-01-01, first posted on CODOH: June 29, 2005, 7 p.m., last revision: n/a|