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August 28, 2014

The Moral Emptiness of Those Who Use the Holocaust to Libel Israel

hedy epstein.JPG

Alvin Rosenfeld, professor of English and Jewish Studies and director of Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism at Indiana University, addresses the disturbing phenomenon of self-proclaimed Holocaust survivors arrogating moral authority from their status as victims to turn public opinion against Israel. In his piece, "Moral Emptiness of Holocaust Survivors Who Took on Israel," appearing in the Forward, Rosenfeld discusses the recent advertisement in The New York Times by a group of "Holocaust survivors and descendants of survivors" who cast Israelis as the new Nazis, threatening genocide against the Palestinians.

Rosenfeld establishes that "Jews deriding and defaming other Jews" is not new and provides an anecdote about Hitler and his cohorts taking pleasure in observing such a spectacle.

Rosenfeld gets right to the point in exposing what motivated the Times advertisement,

Israel’s war with Hamas has exacted many casualties, but nothing remotely like “genocide�? is taking place in Gaza. Why, then, charge Israel with a crime of this kind and magnitude? Those who are on to the rhetoric of “anti-Zionism�? will instantly recognize this language for what it is: a collection of familiar political clichés employed time and again by the purveyors of anti-Israel vilification.

It is important to point out that only a portion of the 327 signators to the letter accusing Israel of Nazi-like aggression are actually Holocaust survivors, many more have tenuous connections.

Rosenfeld offers sage advice on how one can be alert to such twisted moral posturing,

Whenever someone begins a sentence with the words “as a Jew…,�? what follows is likely to be full of political posturing and should be met with skepticism. The same often holds true when someone opens a sentence with the kindred formula, “as a Holocaust survivor….�?

What should one take away from this grotesque misappropriation of conscience?

According to Rosenfeld,

Sanctioning such propaganda by stamping it with the moral authority that supposedly belongs to Holocaust survivors does not turn these lies into truth. What it does instead is expose as fraudulent the claims of certain Holocaust survivors and their kin to possessing an enlarged moral and political consciousness. In fact, it is unlikely that many people emerged from Hitler’s camps ennobled or enlightened. To believe otherwise and to arrogate to oneself as a “survivor�? or a relative of a “survivor�? some special access to wisdom and virtue is, as IJSN’s ad shows, little more than moral pretense.

Posted by SS at August 28, 2014 04:16 PM


Hedy Epstein survived the Holocaust in England. Calling her a Holocaust survivor really only means she's old and lived during the Holocaust.

Posted by: Julian at August 29, 2014 09:07 PM

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