Gilad Atzmon, 13 March 2010
Back in 2007 the notorious American Jewish right-wing organization, the ADL (Anti-Defamation League) announced that it recognised the events in which an estimated 1.5 million Armenians were massacred as “genocide.” The ADL’s national director, Abraham Foxman, insisted that he made the decision after discussing the matter with ‘historians’. For some reason he failed to mention who the historians were, nor did he refer to their credibility or field of scholarship. However, Foxman also consulted with one holocaust survivor who supported the decision. It was Elie Wiesel, not known for being a leading world expert on the Armenian ordeal.
The idea of a Zionist organization being genuinely concerned, or even slightly moved, by other people’s suffering could truly be a monumental transforming moment in Jewish history. However, this week we learned that the ADL is once again engaged in the dilemma of Armenian suffering. It is not convinced anymore that the Armenians suffered that much. It is now lobbying the American congress not to recognize the killings of Armenians as ‘genocide. This week saw the ADL “speaking out against Congressional acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide, and is, instead, advocating Turkey’s call for a historical commission to study the events.”
How is it that an event that took place a century ago is causing such a furor? One day it is generally classified as ‘genocide’, the next, it is demoted to an ordinary instance of one man killing another. Was it an ‘historical document’ that, out of nowhere, popped out on Abe Foxman’s desk? Are there some new factual revelations that led to such a dramatic historical shift? l don’t think so.
The ADL’s behaviour is a glimpse into the notion of Jewish history and the Jewish understanding of the past. For the nationalist and political Jew, history is a pragmatic tale, it is an elastic account. It is foreign to any scientific or academic method. Jewish history transcends itself beyond factuality, truthfulness or correspondence rules with any given vision of reality. It also repels integrity or ethics. It by far prefers total submission, instead of creative and critical thinking. Jewish history is a phantasmic tale that is there to make the Jews happy and the Goyim behave themselves. It is there to serve the interests of one tribe and that tribe only. In practice, from a Jewish perspective, the decision whether there was an Armenian genocide or not is subject to Jewish interests: is it good for the Jews or is it good for Israel.
Interestingly enough, history is not a particularly ‘Jewish thing’. It is an established fact that not a single Jewish historical text has been written between the 1st century (Josephus Flavius) and early 19th century (Isaak Markus Jost). For almost 2 thousand years Jews were not interested in their own or anyone else’s past, at least not enough to chronicle it. As a matter of convenience, an adequate scrutiny of the past was never a primary concern within the Rabbinical tradition. One of the reasons is probably that there was no need for such a methodical effort. For the Jew who lived during ancient times and the Middle Ages, there was enough in the Bible to answer the most relevant questions to do with day-to-day life, Jewish meaning and fate. As Israeli historian Shlomo Sand puts it, “a secular chronological time was foreign to the ‘Diaspora time’ that was shaped by the anticipation for the coming of the Messiah.”
However, in the mid 19th century, in the light of secularisation, urbanisation, emancipation and due to the decreasing authority of the Rabbinical leaders, an emerging need of an alternative cause rose amongst the awakening European Jews. All of a sudden, the emancipated Jew had to decide who he was and where he came from. He also started to speculate what his role might be within the rapidly opening Western society.
This is where Jewish history in its modern form was invented. This is also where Judaism was transformed from a world religion into a ‘land registry’ with some clearly devastating racially orientated and expansionist implications. As we know, Shlomo Sand’s account of the ‘Jewish Nation’ as a fictional invention is yet to be challenged academically. However, the dismissal of factuality or commitment to truthfulness is actually symptomatic of any form of contemporary Jewish collective ideology and identity politics. The ADL’s treatment of the Armenian topic is just one example. The Zionist’s dismissal of a Palestinian past and heritage is just another example. But in fact any Jewish collective vision of the past is inherently Judeo-centric and oblivious to any academic or scientific procedure.
When I was Young
When I was young and naïve I regarded history as a serious academic matter. As I understood it, history had something to do with truth seeking, documents, chronology and facts. I was convinced that history aimed to convey a sensible account of the past based on methodical research. I also believed that it was premised on the assumption that understanding the past may throw some light over our present and even help us to shape a prospect of a better future. I grew up in the Jewish state and it took me quite a while to understand that the Jewish historical narrative is very different. In the Jewish intellectual ghetto, one decides what the future ought to be, then one constructs ‘a past’ accordingly. Interestingly enough, this exact method is also prevalent amongst Marxists. They shape the past so it fits nicely into their vision of the future. As the old Russian joke says, “when the facts do not conform with the Marxist ideology, the Communist social scientists amend the facts (rather than revise the theory)”.
When I was young, I didn’t think that history was a matter of political decisions or agreements between a rabid Zionist lobby and its favorite holocaust survivor. I regarded historians as scholars who engaged in adequate research following some strict procedures. When I was young I even considered becoming an historian.
When I was young and naive I was also somehow convinced that what they told us about our ‘collective’ Jewish past really happened. I believed it all, the Kingdom of David, Massada, and then the Holocaust: the soap, the lampshade*, the death march, the six million.
As it happened, it took me many years to understand that the Holocaust, the core belief of the contemporary Jewish faith, was not at all an historical narrative for historical narratives do not need the protection of the law and politicians. It took me years to grasp that my great-grandmother wasn’t made into a ‘soap’ or a ‘lampshade’*. She probably perished out of exhaustion, typhus or maybe even by mass shooting. This was indeed bad and tragic enough, however not that different from the fate of many millions of Ukrainians who learned what communism meant for real. “Some of the worst mass murderers in history were Jews” writes Zionist Sever Plocker on the Israeli Ynet disclosing the Holodomor and Jewish involvement in this colossal crime, probably the greatest crime of the 20th century. The fate of my great-grandmother was not any different from hundreds of thousands of German civilians who died in an orchestrated indiscriminate bombing, because they were Germans. Similarly, people in Hiroshima died just because they were Japanese. 1 million Vietnamese died just because they were Vietnamese and 1.3 million Iraqis died because they were Iraqis. In short the tragic circumstances of my great grandmother wasn’t that special after all.
It Doesn’t make sense
It took me years to accept that the Holocaust narrative, in its current form, doesn’t make any historical sense. Here is just one little anecdote to elaborate on:
If, for instance, the Nazis wanted the Jews out of their Reich (Judenrein - free of Jews), or even dead, as the Zionist narrative insists, how come they marched hundreds of thousands of them back into the Reich at the end of the war? I have been concerned with this simple question for more than a while. I eventually launched into an historical research of the topic and happened to learn from Israeli holocaust historian professor Israel Gutman that Jewish prisoners actually joined the march voluntarily. Here is a testimony taken from Gutman’s book
“One of my friends and relatives in the camp came to me on the night of the evacuation and offered a common hiding place somewhere on the way from the camp to the factory. …The intention was to leave the camp with one of the convoys and to escape near the gate, using the darkness we thought to go a little far from the camp. The temptation was very strong. And yet, after I considered it all I then decided to join (the march) with all the other inmates and to share their fate “ (Israel Gutman [editor], People and Ashes: Book Auschwitz – Birkenau, Merhavia 1957).
I am left puzzled here, if the Nazis ran a death factory in Auschwitz-Birkenau, why would the Jewish prisoners join them at the end of the war? Why didn’t the Jews wait for their Red liberators?
I think that 65 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, we must be entitled to start to ask the necessary questions. We should ask for some conclusive historical evidence and arguments rather than follow a religious narrative that is sustained by political pressure and laws. We should strip the holocaust of its Judeo-centric exceptional status and treat it as an historical chapter that belongs to a certain time and place
65 years after the liberation of Auschwitz we should reclaim our history and ask why? Why were the Jews hated? Why did European people stand up against their next door neighbours? Why are the Jews hated in the Middle East, surely they had a chance to open a new page in their troubled history? If they genuinely planned to do so, as the early Zionists claimed, why did they fail? Why did America tighten its immigration laws amid the growing danger to European Jews? We should also ask for what purpose do the holocaust denial laws serve? What is the holocaust religion there to conceal? As long as we fail to ask questions, we will be subjected to Zionists and their Neocons agents’ plots. We will continue killing in the name of Jewish suffering. We will maintain our complicity in Western imperialist crimes against humanity.
As devastating as it may be, at a certain moment in time, a horrible chapter was given an exceptionally meta-historical status. Its ‘factuality’ was sealed by draconian laws and its reasoning was secured by social and political settings. The Holocaust became the new Western religion. Unfortunately, it is the most sinister religion known to man. It is a license to kill, to flatten, no nuke, to wipe, to rape, to loot and to ethnically cleanse. It made vengeance and revenge into a Western value. However, far more concerning is the fact that it robs humanity of its heritage, it is there to stop us from looking into our past with dignity. Holocaust religion robs humanity of its humanism. For the sake of peace and future generations, the holocaust must be stripped of its exceptional status immediately. It must be subjected to thorough historical scrutiny. Truth and truth seeking is an elementary human experience. It must prevail.
*During WWII and after it was widely believed that soaps and lampshades were being mass produced from the bodies of Jewish victims. In recent years the Israeli Holocaust museum admitted that there was no truth in any of those accusations.