About Those ‘Opposing’ Views on the Holocaust

A Texas school raised alarms that it had been infiltrated by Holocaust denial, but the problem is more subtle, and far more insidious

The dominant trend is no longer to outright deny the Holocaust happened, but to trivialize it, or paint it as a capitalist conspiracy. Photo: Nati Shohat/FLASH90

Last week NBC report that a “Southlake (Texas) school leader tells teachers to balance Holocaust books with ‘opposing’ views.” The headline rightly enraged many Americans who thought she meant offering the opposing views of Holocaust deniers.

The administrator apologized and explained that her remark about the Holocaust was given in the context of a new Texas law requiring that in the event of a teacher presenting in the classroom a “current event widely debated and currently controversial issue of public policy or social affairs,” they should “strive to explore [the] topic from diverse and contending perspectives without giving deference to any one perspective.”

But the explanation given on the Carroll Independent School District Facebook page shows that indeed the Holocaust has opposing views, so accepted now that they seem perfectly normal.

In this response, Superintendent Lane Ledbetter expresses a relativist view of the Holocaust that reduces it to “a terrible event in history.” That’s not surprising given that this is the UN’s official view expressed just last year by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who repeated the new relativistic narrative that speaks about “the six million Jews and many others who were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators during the Holocaust, and to re-commit to preventing any repetition of those crimes.”

This UN opposing view of the Holocaust was expressed in its resolution from November 27, 2005, which addresses another opposing view called Holocaust denial. But in condemning this view in no uncertain terms, the UN is “Reaffirming that the Holocaust, which resulted in the murder of one third of the Jewish people, along with countless members of other minorities, will forever be a warning to all people of the dangers of hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice.”

In other words, the Holocaust is not uniquely Jewish, despite the fact the “final solution” of the Wannsee conference held in January 1942 had only Jews in mind. And the final solution, to be precise, meant the extermination of all 11 million Jews who then lived in Europe. Though the UN acknowledges the Holocaust as a horrific antisemitic event, it asserts at the same time that antisemitism is just another form of hate and bigotry and racism and prejudice.

This view reflects that of Hanna Arendt. In her famous book Eichman In Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, she writes that “the explicit attempt done in this trail to unfold only the Jewish side of the story has distorted the truth, even the Jewish truth.” In all, her view came down to this, that the Holocaust was not uniquely Jewish, and that there can be a Nazi in each one of us. Accepted now as it is, this conclusion completely ignores the millions who fought the Nazis and the millions who died fighting them. It also ignores heroic figures like Oskar Schindler and countless “Righteous Among the Nations” gentiles who refused to become, according to Arendt, thoughtless people indifferent to evil.

To assert the uniqueness of the Holocaust, just to be perfectly clear, in no way belittles other horrific atrocities, each and every one of which is unique in its own way. Nevertheless, the uniqueness of the Holocaust is set apart in that in no other case in history was one people viewed as a menace to all humanity. No other country ever harnessed its best minds, finances and technology, its entire apparatus, to solve the problems believed to be created by one group of people alone. And never before was only one people destined in a premeditated manner for complete annihilation.

It is no coincidence that this dark uniqueness ascribed by the Nazis to the Jews and no one else, is the negative image of the uniqueness ascribed by the Bible to them, that which sees a world without Jews as hell on earth; a preview of which was seen in Europe during WWII. The relative opposing view of the Holocaust that trivializes its uniqueness, as the UN does, amounts to denial of Jewish uniqueness altogether. This is not surprising considering the leading contemporary trend that sees the Jewish state as a racist entity.

And, to its shame, Israel has accepted this relativist opposing view of the Holocaust. In a speech at the 7th Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism held in Jerusalem on July 13, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid turned antisemitism into nonsense by equating it with hate, any hate. “Antisemitism isn’t the first name of hate,” he said, “it’s the family name, it is anyone who hates so much that they want to kill and eliminate and persecute and expel people just because they are different.” The antisemites, he went on saying, “weren’t only in the [Nazis running the] Budapest ghetto.” Antisemites were also the slave traders, the Hutu who massacred Tutsis in Rwanda. And they are also Muslim fanatics and of course, antisemites are also those “who beat LGBTQ people to death.”

Lapid’s new take on antisemitism contradicts the so called Yad Vashem law legislated in 1953, that nowhere mentions the Poles, Russians, Gypsies, homosexuals or any other people or minority groups that have greatly suffered. The law as written obligates the commemoration of “the six million members of the Jewish people who died a martyr’s death at the hands of the Nazis and their collaborators.”

Lapid also contradicts the 2016 definition of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), which says that “antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

In a document dealing with Holocaust denial and distortion, diluted as it is, the IHRA still asserts that distortion also means the “use of the term ‘Holocaust’ to reference events or concepts that are not related in any meaningful way to the genocide of European and North African Jewry by Nazi Germany and its accomplices between 1941 and 1945.”

So far I have outlined two opposing views of the Holocaust: Flat-out Holocaust deniers and, for lack of a better term, Holocaust trivializers. Both of these opposing views on the Holocaust are forms of antisemitism.

And there is of course the Marxist opposing view on the Holocaust that sees the death camps as Capitalistic industrial factories designed to eliminate the unproductive proletariat. It is a shame that, yet again, many Jews are at the forefront of this particular opposing view on the Holocaust.

To mention just one, in the 2003 essay “Marxism and the Holocaust,” which specifically addresses the uniqueness question of the Holocaust, Alan Milchman (AKA Mac Intosh who passed away last August) reaches the conclusion that “millions of human beings were murdered in the factory-like setting of the death camps, and it is the image of those camps, symbolised by the smokestacks of Auschwitz, that has come to define the singularity of the Holocaust.”

“These orgies of frenzied killing,” writes Milchman, were “an integral part of the systematic mass murder organised by a modern capitalist state.” If follows that the Marxist explanation of the Holocaust has nothing to do with Nazism or antisemitism. It is all about an all-out war of evil Capitalism against righteous Socialism. The uniqueness of the Holocaust, then, also lies in the “fact” that it “opened a door into a death-world, and so long as capitalism exists that door will remain open.”

And lest one is tempted to see the Marxist opposing view on the Holocaust as representing an irrelevant minority, remember that while it’s not often identified today as Marxist, the Left worldwide is dominated by this viewpoint. The reason for this, I dare say, is that it is the most effective tool for finally putting to rest the Jewish problem, now embodied in the State of Israel. With antisemitism reduced to hate and with the proletariat transformed into a victimized multitude, Israel can be made out to represent all the evils of “the modern system of nation-states [that are] fundamental to European colonialism and economic expansion” (Michael Hardt, Empire).

Or as another important thinker said, “As it happens, the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories serves as a laboratory for a number of techniques of control, surveillance and separation that are today proliferating in other places on the planet” (Achille Mbembe, Necropolitics). Mbembe’s Necropolitics is what Milchman calls “death-world.” Israel thus is transformed into the prototype of the Nazi state that deserves nothing but total destruction.

Opposing views on the Holocaust of any kind, to sum it all up, is but a euphemism for antisemitism. And those who propagate these views, be they the superintendent of a small American school district, the UN secretary-general or Israel’s own Foreign Minister, are antisemites.

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