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The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE - Me­lanie Phillips The End of the Holo­caust, Mo­saic Me­lanie Phillips is a colum­nist for The Times

ON HOLO­CAUST Re­mem­brance Day, Don­ald Trump said: “It is with a heavy heart and som­bre mind that we re­mem­ber and honour the vic­tims, sur­vivors, he­roes of the Holo­caust.” His state­ment did not men­tion Jews. Ac­cord­ing to a White House spokesman, the omis­sion was de­lib­er­ate and el­e­vated in in­tent. “De­spite what the me­dia re­ports, we are an in­cred­i­bly in­clu­sive group and we took into ac­count all of those who suf­fered”, she said.

This was very wrong. Although the Nazis tar­geted var­i­ous groups for per­se­cu­tion, only the Jews were sin­gled out for geno­cide. Be­ing “in­clu­sive” mis­rep­re­sents what the Holo­caust was. By down­grad­ing this unique vic­tim­i­sa­tion, it in­escapably di­min­ishes the Holo­caust it­self.

Nu­mer­ous Jewish groups have con­demned this omis­sion. It is, how­ever, in­vid­i­ous to sin­gle out the Pres­i­dent for cen­sure. Down­grad­ing the Shoah in this way been go­ing on for years and with Jews at the fore­front.

Within the am­bit of Holo­caust ed­u­ca­tion, there’s long been a trend to uni­ver­salise, rel­a­tivise and in­escapably triv­i­alise the Fi­nal So­lu­tion.

In his book Alvin Rosen­feld points out that the tragic real­ity of the Shoah is an­ti­thet­i­cal to the Amer­i­can mind, which as­sumes ev­ery­one must over­come ad­ver­sity and not cling to sor­row.

So the Holo­caust had to be re­cast for Amer­ica, which searched within that un­fath­omable dark­ness for he­roes and uni­ver­salised it into a mes­sage to im­prove hu­man­ity. Geno­cide of the Jews could not be al­lowed to stand for ever as the unique and ir­re­deemable hor­ror that it was.

“Holo­caust” be­came ap­plied in­stead to as­sorted abuses and so­cial ills, from AIDS to abor­tion. “Any evil that be­falls any­one any­where has be­come a Holo­caust,” said Ye­huda Bauer, who warned that the Shoah was in dan­ger of be­com­ing de-Ju­daised.

Rosen­feld ob­serves that the Anne Frank story has been re-framed to ar­tic­u­late the need to over­come racism and ho­mo­pho­bia, pre­vent mass mur­der and pro­mote tol­er­ance and kind­ness. But Jews like Anne Frank were wiped out not be­cause of a lack of tol­er­ance or kind­ness or through prej­u­dice, but be­cause of a de­range­ment beyond com­pre­hen­sion di­rected at one group of peo­ple.

In 1979, an­nounc­ing plans for the US Holo­caust Me­mo­rial Mu­seum, Pres­i­dent Jimmy Carter hailed the op­por­tu­nity to com­mem­o­rate “11 mil­lion in­no­cent vic­tims ex­ter­mi­nated, six mil­lion of them Jews”. Ac­cord­ing to Bauer, this 11 mil­lion num­ber was in­vented by Si­mon Wiesen­thal, “to make non-Jews feel like they are part of us” and thus “cre­ate sym­pa­thy for the Jews”.

Last Mon­day, that mu­seum is­sued a pointed state­ment em­pha­sis­ing the cen­tral­ity to Nazism of the elim­i­na­tion of the Jews. In a dev­as­tat­ing ar­ti­cle last year about Jewish mu­se­ums, how­ever, Ed­ward Roth­stein wrote that Holo­caust mu­se­ums flinched from em­pha­sis­ing the unique­ness of Jewish suf­fer­ing.

He de­scribed how vis­i­tors to the Los An­ge­les Mu­seum of Tol­er­ance had to choose be­tween two doors be­fore ac­cess­ing the gal­leries on Holo­caust his­tory. One door was la­belled “Un­prej­u­diced”, the other “Prej­u­diced”. Only the sec­ond opened. “Ev­i­dently”, said Roth­stein, “the guards at Auschwitz are not alone: we are all prej­u­diced”.

Be­fore be­ing al­lowed into the cen­tral ex­hi­bi­tion about the mur­der of six mil­lion Jews, vis­i­tors still had to ne­go­ti­ate a “Tol­er­an­cen­ter”, which strained to tie to­gether slav­ery, geno­cide, prej­u­dice, dis­crim­i­na­tion and hate crimes while ed­u­cat­ing school­child­ren in “the con­nec­tion be­tween these large-scale events and the epi­demic of bul­ly­ing in today’s schools.”

No Holo­caust mu­seum, Roth­stein wrote, could seem­ingly be com­plete with­out in­vok­ing other 20th-cen­tury geno­cides in Rwanda, Dar­fur or Cam­bo­dia. This process of rel­a­tivis­ing and uni­ver­sal­is­ing the Fi­nal So­lu­tion meant that Holo­caust=Dar­fur slid in­evitably into Holo­caust=bul­ly­ing.

If we are all guilty, though, then no one is guilty. Con­versely, if ev­ery­one can be a Nazi so, too, can the Jews. Holo­caust uni­ver­sal­ism has thus led di­rectly to the de­mon­i­sa­tion of Is­rael by peo­ple claim­ing to be anti-racist.

Uni­ver­sal­is­ing the Holo­caust has hap­pened for two rea­sons. The non-Jewish world wants to share the pro­tected moral sta­tus of be­ing vic­tims of the great­est crime in his­tory by claim­ing other evils are just as bad. And the di­as­pora Jewish world is ter­ri­fied of as­sert­ing Jewish unique­ness and its dif­fer­ence from ev­ery­one else, even over this.

Be­fore shout­ing at Don­ald Trump for down­play­ing the Jewish catas­tro­phe in Europe, the Jewish world should ad­mit he has merely fol­lowed its lead.

Only the Jews were sin­gled out for geno­cide

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