• Home
  • Parashah Insights
  • Ask the Rabbi
  • Festivals & Fasts
  • Articles
  • Books
  • About
  •  

    Banalising the Holocaust – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. I am constantly disturbed that people like President Obama seem to cheapen the Holocaust and more or less invite other peoples to compare themselves to our k’doshim. Am I right to feel upset?

    Rookwood Holocaust Memorial SydneyA. Totally. Every people has its story of shattering experiences and no two are the same. Relating the Holocaust to other tragedies takes away from its uniqueness.

    Without trying to characterise or diminish other tragedies, I doubt whether one can one say of them as Elie Wiesel has said of the Holocaust, “At Auschwitz man alone did not die, but the very idea of man… The Holocaust has marked more than its victims: in a certain sense, society gave itself over to death at Auschwitz”.

    Those who glibly quote the Holocaust as the prototype of all and every people’s suffering are guilty of an absurdity. Precisely because the comparison does not work, they have served the reduction of all evil to something banal. It doesn’t make it better when they use (and often mispronounce) the Hebrew name “Sho’ah”.

    Nor does it improve matters when people like President Obama, with all their good intentions, imply that Israel is a sop to the Jews after the Holocaust. What happened to the Zionist vision of the Biblical prophets and to two thousand years of Jewish attachment to Zion? Further, those who throw around the accusation that Israel has unleashed a holocaust on the Palestinians know nothing about the Holocaust, or Israel, the Jewish people, or the Palestinians themselves.

    Comments are closed.