Shining light on race hate better shows our empathy

Quotation in the exhibition at the Florida Shoah museum (Via Jewish News)
Quotation in the exhibition at the Florida Shoah museum (Via Jewish News)

I looked out of the window this morning and saw a black person.

 Then a white person walking & talking in French. Then a father and a couple of kids of Asian background on the way to school.

And do you know what? I don’t think any of them were Jewish. 

So with all the criticism of Florida’s Maitland Holocaust Museum, I think ‘Well, at least they’ve been looking outside the window’. For many years, the view would have been ghastly. Segregation, lynchings, men in pointy white hats.

Shouldn’t we always ask ourselves how we can be helpful to the communities we live in? Be true to ourselves whilst making our ‘self’ — our knowledge, our resources, our kindness — helpful to others in the present? In other words, Tikkun Olam. There are places of Holocaust remembrance in 32 US states and over 100 in total. There should be room for an exhibition like this in one of them — in theory.

In practice, however, the Maitland exhibition does seem a bit ‘so what?’

Over in Blighty at the UK’s National Holocaust Centre & Museum, every new exhibition or learning programme links to its core purpose. Intriguingly, it is the only place of Holocaust remembrance in the world founded by non-Jews (the remarkable Smith family).

It says things Jews cannot easily say. It teaches what Jews cannot easily teach about the 2,000 years of Christian Jew-hate which enabled the Holocaust… and which continues to be the reservoir of myths from which Jew haters continue to draw today.

I have the privilege of running this awesome place and to paraphrase Daffyd from Little Britain, I am the only Jew in the village of Laxton, where this treasure trove of testimonies, artefacts and interactive exhibitions uniquely resides.

At the UK’s National Holocaust Centre & Museum, every new exhibition or learning programme links to its core purpose. This is a picture of Shoah survivor Janine Webber who teamed up with rapper Kapoo to make a short film, ‘Edek’, challenging racism, with the NHC.

So if it were our museum taking a look at BLM, we’d be asking ourselves, ‘Can we as Holocaust educators and exhibitors bring anything relevant to the debate?’. Our answer might be to highlight:

1. The fake science of “Race Theory” and how it helped produce i) the 20th Century’s first genocide in black Africa (Namibia – perpetrated by Germany) and then ii) the Holocaust.

2. The Nazi world view, lifted directly from fake race theorists like Houston Stewart Chamberlain, not to mention people like America’s own Henry Ford, that ‘Aryan’ (or ‘Caucasian’) white people were the Ubermensch and Slavs, Roma, Sinti and Black people Untermenschen — with Jews being beneath even that.

3. The victimisation of Germany’s black community from 1933-45 including the stripping of their citizenship and the sterilisation of the so-called “Rhineland Bastards” born to German mothers and Afro-French fathers.

4. The fact that this Race Theory is alive and well today and unites right-wing nutters in their hatred of black and Jewish people alike today. They are called White Supremacists. They hate black people and march with fire torches in Charlottesville proclaiming “Jews will not replace us” — the White Displacement belief that “Aryan” land is being taken over by blacks and Jews. (Go tell that to the native Americans).

Maybe this would demonstrate empathy with our black neighbours in a more comprehensible way. Not by shallow virtue signaling but by offering historical information on which we are expert. By showing the bigger picture. And leaving the audience to work out if we believe black lives today matter or not.

I am dismayed that BLM UK, Wiley, Ice Cube and Louis Farrakhan wish to divide blacks and Jews. Maybe the meta ‘History of Hate’, shining a light on the lesser known aspects of Nazi ideology and White Supremacist empire building at the expense of both peoples, could help reunite. 

About the Author
Marc Cave is Chief Executive of the National Holocaust Centre & Museum in Nottingham, UK