Kommentar

Jonathan Freedland hadde en artikkel om Norman Finkelstein i forbindelse med bråket rundt The Holocaust Industry, som gikk som artikkelserie i The Guardian. Freedland er moderat, avbalansert, klarsynt.

Thoughtful Jews have been questioning for a while the wisdom of making the Holocaust the centre of Jewish identity. Peter Novick?s landmark book, The Holocaust in American Life, makes this case far more powerfully than Finkelstein. He offers a moving plea for today?s Jews to define themselves as a people with a rich, vibrant culture – rather than as a ghost-nation, a walking version of the corpses of Auschwitz and Treblinka.

Novick is just as appalled by Holocaust theme parks and Auschwitz tourism as Finkelstein. But there?s a crucial difference – which explains why Novick?s book was welcomed for posing some awkward but necessary questions, while Finkelstein?s has been dismissed or condemned. Novick wrote as a Jew, concerned that his fellow Jews were taking a path that could only end in harm. This new book has none of that sensitivity or human empathy – surely prerequisites of any meaningful debate about the Holocaust. It asks some legitimate questions, among them whether the Shoah was used unfairly to immunise Israel from criticism. But it reads like a rant, with splenetic attacks on individuals, many of them survivors, and vast generalisations about the whole of world Jewry.

In a telephone call to Brooklyn yesterday, I asked Finkelstein why he reserved his most scathing language for his fellow Jews – much harsher than any words he had for the Nazis themselves. ?If I was writing a book about the Nazis, I?m sure I?d use scathing language about them,? he said, rather feebly. It is perhaps too easy to write off a critic like Finkelstein as a self-hating Jew, but it is striking to hear someone who appears to have nothing but contempt for his own people. He issues the same call sent out by David Irving in the high court this year – that Jews should not simply condemn anti-semitism, but examine their own role in provoking it. Like Irving, Finkelstein sees Jews as the authors of their own suffering. He claims that Jews have made up stories of persecution and that there are too many survivors to be true – another Irving favourite. In fact, what this claim amounts to is the fair statement that Jews expanded their definition of survivor to mean not just those who were held in camps, but those who fled or hid from the Nazis. But to put it like that would be to give Jews the benefit of the doubt. And Finkelstein, like Irving, is not in that game.

Konklusjonen er knusende:

Finkelstein sees the Jews as either villains or victims – and that, I fear, takes him closer to the people who created the Holocaust than to those who suffered in it.

An enemy of the people

Norman Finkelstein’s book shows him as a Jew who doesn’t like Jews