The Washington Post reported on April 6, 2017, the following statement by Israel’s former Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau:
Of course, this is a ‘shoah’ of the Syrian people and it did not start today. For the past six years since they have been living in a Holocaust,” said Lau, using the Hebrew word for Holocaust.
That is an outrageous claim and a distortion or obfuscation of the Shoah. Lau is a child survivor of Buchenwald. Buchenwald is close to Weimar and encapsulates what Germans believed to be their high culture during National Socialism. The idea to eradicate the earth from “the” Jew was a German idea. Anti-Semitism is based on conspiracy myths. Without finding every single Jew, even the “Jew inside,” as a leading German anti-Semitic author of the Nazi time (who later converted to Islam), Johann von Leers wrote, the world would not be “redeemed.”
There was no cui bono in the Shoah. No territorial gain, no military victory, no economic surplus was at the core of the Shoah. It was the eradication of an entire people, European Jewry, from the earth. Jews were killed because they were Jews and selected as such by the Germans (and their allies). Nothing like this happens today in Syria. Shocking war crimes are shocking war crimes – and no Holocaust. Not in the slightest.
Rubin Katz wrote on Facebook, April 6, 2017, after he had seen the statement by Lau:
I AM IN TOTAL SHOCK!
Former Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, fellow child survivor from Poland whom I had the honour of meeting in 2005 at the 60th anniversary of the end of the war, during an International gathering of survivors and rescuers at Latrun. I would have expected the eminent Rabbi with his background to have known better. It was unwise of him, of all people, to refer to the gassing of children in Syria as “another Holocaust.” It was reported that 15 children were among the Syrian victims of gassing, surely bad enough, but one simply cannot compare this with the 1.5 million innocent Jewish children who were gassed, burnt and turned into ashes, without any known resting place, simply for being born of Jewish parents. I thought that the term Holocaust was coined after the war in memory of the ferocious attempt by the German Nazis to murder every Jewish man, woman, and child in Europe.
Distorting and universalizing the Shoah is sports today. Post-colonialism denies the unprecedented character of the Holocaust and draws unscholarly and grotesque lines “from Windhuk to Auschwitz,” others call it “Kaiser’s Holocaust” (Aiming at German Kaiser Wilhelm II) and journalist Henryk M. Broder wrote in summer 2016, “Aleppo is worse than Auschwitz.”
Many use the distortion of the Shoah to defame Israel. Take filmmaker Udi Aloni from Israel and his film “forgiveness,” which abuses the memory of the Holocaust to equate it to horrible events like Deir Yassin in April 1948 with some 107 mainly non-combatants killed, as Benny Morris among many others has shown. But that is not in the slightest a Holocaust, as those who equate the “Nakba” to the Shoah insidiously and intentionally insinuate.
Rabbi Lau might want to overcompensate the right-wing Netanyahu’s rejection to take Syrian refugees in.
Rabbi Lau and all other Jews and non-Jews should think twice before comparing a shocking civil war in Syria to a war of annihilation against the entire Jewish people, the Shoah, by the Germans during the Second World War.
The Holocaust was not a Holocaust among others. Now it is time for Yad Vashem to take a clear stance against Rabbi Lau. Otherwise, his distortion of the Shoah goes viral and hurts Holocaust survivors and Shoah remembrance as such.
The mass murder regime of Assad has to be toppled and ISIS defeated.
Comparing the Shoah to today’s crimes in Syria, though, will only join the activities of those who embrace hurting Holocaust survivors and who love to distort and obfsucate the Shoah.
Post-colonial and post-Orientalist anti-Zionist activists, following Edward Said, the godfather of anti-Semitic forms of post-colonialism, are happy with Rabbi Lau. They know exactly that comparing the Shoah to whatever other event in world history will hurt Zionism and the Jewish state and will obfuscate what the Shoah was.
There is a huge number of scholars and activists outside, eager to have Jewish kosher stamps on Holocaust obfuscation.
Dr. Clemens Heni,is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Contemporary Antisemitism (JCA) by Academic Studies Press, Boston, US