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Autumn 2000 cover

National Observer Home > No. 44 - Autumn 2000 > Editorial Comment

The 'Holocaust' and the Twenty First Century

During the past century many large-scale killings have taken place. The most important were the killings of perhaps sixty million under the Stalin regime and sixty million under the Mao regime in China. Other important examples were the killing of perhaps one-third of the Cambodian population by the Khmer Rouge, the killing of some millions of Gypsies and Jews by Hitler, and large-scale killings in Africa, such as massacres by Hutus of Tutsis.

All of these episodes should be looked back on with concern that they should not be repeated, and those who survived them should be assisted to overcome the distress and traumas that they endured.

By far the most active and positive campaign, however, is that of Jewish communities in regard to what they have described as the "holocaust". The killing of Jews during the Second World War was a consequence of intense anti-Semitism or hatred of Jews in Germany, Austria, Russia, Poland, Latvia and other middle and east European countries. There seems little doubt that a residue of anti-Semitism is still to be found in all these countries. The strength of this residue is hard to assess. It is influenced by the events that take place, such as the extent to which Jewish people are perceived as acquiring greater wealth and financial resources than other members of the population and the extent to which Jewish people seek particular political or social ends.

One of these Jewish ends that is particularly relevant amongst a variety of countries is retribution for the mistreatment of Jews, especially the acts of Germany and associated countries during the Second World War. Jewish groups, commencing from the United States, began in the late 1940s and 1950s to exert pressure internationally for reparation and punishment. Many of the countries concerned resented this pressure, believing that in the interests of future peace and goodwill the various atrocities of the Second World War should be put to one side. However Jewish pressure increased, and in many countries Jewish organisations have been set up to initiate increased action, whether by pursuing those accused of war crimes, by seeking financial gains or by demanding apologies for what took place.

Obstacles to Assimilation

Unfortunately what has been described as the "holocaust" is now sometimes being used for other ends. Professor David Cesarini, himself Jewish and the professor of modern Jewish history at Southampton University in England, recently echoed general concerns when he stated,

"To retain authority, the leadership needed a make-over. Holocaust issues united the American Jews after the 1970s. Remembering those who died for being Jewish was an effective way of deterring assimilation. Although the growth of 'holocaust awareness' has many reasons, the role of U.S. Jewish organisations in fostering it is beyond doubt."

To the political purpose of preventing Jewish assimilation (such as intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews) referred to by Professor Cesarini there may be added the personal purposes of various paid numbers of Jewish organisations and of Jewish lawyers, whose financial and professional welfare depends in many cases on the prosecution of "holocaust" issues. The interests of these groups do not necessarily coincide with the interests of the wider Jewish community.

Disunity Among Ethnic Groups Within Australia

There is no doubt that in Australia the pursuit of "holocaust" retribution has caused much concern, leading to resentment, amongst various large groups of immigrants from various parts of Europe. Most recently some of this concern has also spread amongst more general parts of the Australian community, who do not wish social cohesion to be undermined by programmes in regard to events that took place in Europe many years ago.

There has been an unfortunate tendency in the Jewish community to criticise, often unfairly, those who do not in their view assist sufficiently Jewish attempts in Australia to further their "holocaust" policies.

This criticism highlights a danger for the Jewish community, that if they pursue vigorously "holocaust" policies and criticise unreasonably those who do not agree with them, anti-Semitism may be either engendered or, where it already exists, exacerbated.

This is not merely an academic matter. There are already indications that some Australians who are pressured under the explicit or implicit threat of being described as anti-Semitic   to assist in action which they view as retributive, view the Jewish community less favourably than if they had not been pressured. (Similarly, recent Jewish support for Aboriginal causes, often it seems against the interests of other Australians, also appears to be leading to criticism of the Jewish community and uncertainty as to their motives.)

Unfortunately, anti-Semitism in various forms has existed for many centuries. It must however be questioned whether  by their "holocaust"policies Jewish groups are reviving or building up further anti-Semitism in the future. Regrettably, it appears that this may be the case, not only abroad, but also in Australia.

These are matters that the Jewish community should properly consider. Professor Cesarini has asked of "holocaust" proponents, "Will anyone thank them for keeping alive the memory of the Holocaust as we head into a new century?" The answer suggested by him, a Jewish historian, is, No; and unfortunately the seeds of  further anti-Jewish sentiment are probably now being sown.

National Observer No. 44 - Autumn 2000