The Jewish Holocaust as a Powerful Political Instrument

The Jewish Holocaust as a Powerful Political Instrument: Confessions of a Noted Writer

The following are direct quotations from Phillip Lopate, a noted Jewish-American film critic and writer [From: Testimony: Contemporary Writers Make the Holocaust Personal, Edited by David Rosenberg. 1989. Times Books.]

“In its life as a rhetorical figure, the Holocaust is a bully.” (p. 288).

“It had a self-important, strutting air…the Holocaustians used it like a club to smash back their opponents…one ethnic group tries to compel the rest of the world to use as a token of political respect.” (p. 287).

“There are other reasons besides chauvinism why Jews might be loath to surrender the role of chief victim. It affords us an edge, a sort of privileged nation status in the moral honor roll…” (p. 300).

“We Jews own the Holocaust; all others keep your cotton-picking hands off… (p. 288).

“The Holocaust is a jealous God; though shalt draw no parallels to it.”  (p. 289).

“Holocaust monuments seem to me primarily a sign of ethnic muscle flexing….” (p. 296).

“Will the pope single out sufficiently the tragedy of the Jews in his remarks about World War II? If not, the Jewish organizations are quick to get on his case. There is something so testy, so vain, so diva-like about this insistence that we always get top billing in any rite of mourning…all our monitoring and suspicious rebuttal only leaves the impression of a Jewish lobby seeking to control, like a puppeteer, the language of politicians and popes.” (p. 295).

“Sometimes I see the Jewish preoccupation with the Holocaust, to the exclusion of all other human disasters, as uncharitable, self-absorbed, self-righteous, and, well, pushy.”  (p. 307).

“I find it curious for people to speak of the murder of six million Jews as a ‘mystery’ and the murder of several million Cambodians a more run-of-the-mill, open-and-shut affair. The truth is, unfortunately, that there are few things less mysterious and unique in the history of the world than genocide.” (p. 289).

“A good deal of suspicion and touchiness reside around the issue of maintaining the Holocaust’s privileged status in the pantheon of genocides. It is not enough that the Holocaust was dreadful; it must be seen as UNIQUELY dreadful.” (p. 289; Emphasis is Lopate’s).

“I cannot help but see this extermination pride as another variant of the Covenant; this time the Chosen People have been chosen for extraordinary suffering. As such the Holocaust seems simply another opportunity for Jewish chauvinism.” (p. 299).

“The hostility toward anything that questions the uniqueness of the Holocaust can now be seen as part of a deeper tendency to view all of Jewish history as unique, to read that history selectively and use it only insofar as it promotes a redemptive script.” (p. 307).

“What disturbs me finally is the exclusivity of the singular usage, THE Holocaust, which seems to cut the event off from all others, and to diminish, if not demean, the mass slaughters of other peoples—or, for that matter, previous tragedies in Jewish history.” (pp. 287-288; Emphasis is Lopate’s).

“I find it hard to escape the conclusion that those piles of other victims are not as significant to us North Americans as Jewish corpses…When it comes to mass murder, I can see no difference between their casualties and ours.” (pp. 292-293).

“In the meantime, is it not possible for us to have a little more compassion for the other victimized peoples of this century and not insist quite so much that our wounds bleed more fiercely?” (p. 300).