Philip Weiss: The Holocaust’s Shylock
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As a founder and the namesake of the anti-Zionist Website Mondoweiss, Philip Weiss has become a global icon of Jewish conscience regarding the depredation of Palestine and Palestinians by the colonialist theocracy called Israel. As an observant Jew in his own right, Weiss has since 2006 occupied and well served an enterprise that exemplifies Jewish morality.
Thus it comes as a disappointment to note his utterances at the National Summit to Reassess the U.S.-Israel Special Relationship at the National Press Club Washington, DC on March 7. On that occasion, Weiss, who may have been the moderator of a question-and-answer session of the conference though he was seated at one end of the dais, ended an exchange that had begun five minutes earlier with a question from an unidentified woman in the audience who asserted that legislative mandates of teaching of the Holocaust [mainstream version] were a “violation of Constitutional rights.” From the panel, the major response to this assertion was delivered by Jeffrey Blankfort, who recounted his experience as a teacher in a California school system, in which he and his colleagues were required to subject their students first to reading Anne Frank’s Diary and, the following year, to reading Elie Wiesel’s Night, while giving comparative short shrift to genocide and oppression of Americans by Americans in conflicts with Native Americans and in the institution of slavery.
But the entire fracas came to an end as Philip Weiss closed the subject with the following pronouncement: “The West incurred a debt toward the Jews from the Holocaust, and the Palestinians paid for that … the West also has a debt to the Palestinians.” The entire exchange is in this five-minute clip see:
That Weiss should be inferring “debt” on anyone’s part from purported dealings with Jews is unfortunate enough in view of the traditional content of anti-Semitic complaints—immortalized by Shakespeare in his character Shylock—but it is compounded by Weiss’s own Jewish identification. All these particulars of charge and countercharge invite a consideration, these 69 years after the fact, of the entire notion of any debt, on anyone’s part, to any victims of the Holocaust—real or feigned—in the present day and, if any such debt be acknowledged, how it might somehow, someday, be paid off, by whom, to whom, and with what third party(ies) acting to enforce it in the event the debtor(s) might somehow be reluctant to discharge it.
To begin with, the passage of seven decades has introduced a “generational offset” both as to those who “incurred the debt” and necessarily also as to those entitled to receive, so to call it, “service” (interest and principal) of the debt. Shylock and his children and grandchildren in time would be mightily pleased to know that their progenitor’s claims on his debtor Antonio, whether for a pound of flesh or any other good and valuable thing, would pass down the generations to Antonio’s children and grandchildren and so on. Shakespeare’s play does not allude to any such provision in the debt instrument in question, and such provisions are today universally unenforceable in “the West” in any case.
Weiss might object, with some basis, to the technicalities discussed above in connection with “debt.” He might assert that the “debt,” or “obligation,” or “liability”—choose the word you prefer—does not have any principal, such as whatever amount Shylock originally loaned Antonio, nor even an interest rate, but it does, he might say, have heritability, such that I, whose first birthday came after the end of the Holocaust, owe some kind of debt to the Jews, or to the Palestinians in their turn, because of my birth in “the West” to “western” parents.
The entire notion makes me wonder whether I may have inherited other debts, to other people, from the circumstances of my birth, and/or whether I may have been born with a silver spoon in my mouth in the form of due bills collectible from still other groups/countries/religions around the world. In fact, could Philip Weiss, even unknowingly, be a member of some group that owes something to some group that I might claim membership in (I once heard that I had an Algonquin great-grandmother)? I think I might send him a statement, just to see if he cares to at least bring his account current.
There lingers, whether the debt alleged here be moral, financial, temporal, or whatever, the question of how (by whom, when) such a debt might be paid down, if not paid off altogether. One wonders whether the self-appointed talliers of these debts, and the payments on them, reckon, for example, the stupendous, continent-wide cataclysm of destruction wreaked upon Europe to “stop the Holocaust” by Western (American, British) bombers and armies counts as any sort of payment on that debt. This devastation entailed massive outlays of both treasure and blood on the part of those delivering it. Both perpetrators and victims of the carnage were arguably “Western.” Surely their sacrifices, willing and otherwise, might count against whatever debt arose from this Holocaust that Philip Weiss incants about.
Then, of course, there are those billions of dollars, deutsch-marks, euros, whatever, handed over by the contrite (surviving) taxpayers of Germany and Austria to Israel, Jewish organizations, and individual Holocaust “survivors” worldwide ever since the treaty enacting these was negotiated in 1952. There are, further, those billions in economic and military aid funneled by the US and other governments to Israel ever since that state was created by the United Nations out of whole cloth in 1948. But much, if not most, of this aid might be counted by Tallier-in-Chief Weiss against the payors because Israel has demonstrably employed perhaps the bulk of it against his current clients, the long-suffering Palestinians of the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights, and even Israel proper.
Weiss would seem to enjoy considerable latitude in his reckonings of this matter, if indeed he has at all troubled himself to reckon anything beyond the interests of his cause, and the career he has attached to that cause.
The quibbles go on and on. How, for example, did “the East” get forgiven this debt? By far the vast majority of those finally attaining refuge in Israel, or parts of “the West,” came from areas east of Germany. It was in those countries, and not in countries to “the West,” that Jews returning from wartime displacements encountered squatters who had appropriated their properties and perfected their claims thereto with the local authorities. It was in those Eastern countries, exclusively, that returnees faced not only dispossession, but hatred and fear such as that taking place most-famously in Kielce, Poland in 1946, in which the fears of returning Jews were realized in mob violence and bloodshed. Perhaps Weiss finds the “pockets” of his Eastern debtors not as deep as those of the “Western” ones he duns.
Debt, on anyone’s part, to any creditor whatsoever, arising from German National Socialist treatment of Jews from 1933 to 1945, is today nothing but a canard. That Philip Weiss manages to make something of a career of the notion, even in behalf of receivers such as the Palestinians, is but one more symptom of the plague of guilt that, by agency of self-interested actors, continues to infect the overburdened consciences of people who inhabit the more prosperous countries of this world.
However deserving Philip Weiss’s clients may be, the entire conception of anyone in today’s world owing a debt to anyone else in today’s world in respect of anything your grandparents are alleged to have done to my grandparents (or vice-versa), is nothing more than the stuff of which tomorrow’s wars are made.
I wish something better than eternal war for my children, and their children.
And yours, too.
Additional information about this document
|Title:||Philip Weiss: The Holocaust’s Shylock|
|Sources:||Smith's Report, No. 205, May 2014, pp. 1-3|
|First posted on CODOH:||May 13, 2014, 7 p.m.|