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Politics : Obama Watch

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To: Crimson Ghost who wrote (279)6/7/2009 8:50:13 PM
From: LTK007   of 290
CG, here is an end of a long essay about TheShoah/Holocaust by Tony Judt, he dedicated this essay to Hannah Arendt for her relentless commitment to write "To Disturb The PEACE, to BREAK with Conventional Wisdom, and write things that caused outrage" Such as her essay on the Banality of Evil.

Here Judt dares to write it is time for the Jewish Powers to cease and desist screaming Holocaust CONSTANTLY when ever they think they are under attack, Judt even suggests that The Holocaust be withdrawn as a MANDATORY subject of of study.
He is dedicating this to Hannah Arendt as he is writing this in the NYRB and knows it will cause outrage, you can just imagine how AIPAC reacted to this article--whew!!!

well i will just here give Judt's words without comment, this from the 2/14/2008 NYRB.
i will just add this for those that do not know Tony Judt is Jewish, and once a firmly committed zionist.
and thus give this quote that starts his essay.

"The first work by Hannah Arendt that I read, at the age of sixteen, was Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil.[1] It remains, for me, the emblematic Arendt text. It is not her most philosophical book. It is not always right; and it is decidedly not her most popular piece of writing. I did not even like the book myself when I first read it—I was an ardent young Socialist-Zionist and Arendt's conclusions profoundly disturbed me. But in the years since then I have come to understand that Eichmann in Jerusalem represents Hannah Arendt at her best: attacking head-on a painful topic; dissenting from official wisdom; provoking argument not just among her critics but also and especially among her friends; and above all, disturbing the easy peace of received opinion. It is in memory of Arendt the "disturber of the peace" that I want to offer a few thoughts on a subject which, more than any other, preoccupied her political writings." Tony Judt

From his eassay The Problem of Evil in Post-Europe

<<But in recent years the relationship between Israel and the Holocaust has changed. Today, when Israel is exposed to international criticism for its mistreatment of Palestinians and its occupation of territory conquered in 1967, its defenders prefer to emphasize the memory of the Holocaust. If you criticize Israel too forcefully, they warn, you will awaken the demons of anti-Semitism; indeed, they suggest, robust criticism of Israel doesn't just arouse anti-Semitism. It is anti-Semitism. And with anti-Semitism the route forward—or back—is open: to 1938, to Kristallnacht, and from there to Treblinka and Auschwitz. If you want to know where it leads, they say, you have only to visit Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, the Holocaust Museum in Washington, or any number of memorials and museums across Europe.

I understand the emotions behind such claims. But the claims themselves are extraordinarily dangerous. When people chide me and others for criticizing Israel too forcefully, lest we rouse the ghosts of prejudice, I tell them that they have the problem exactly the wrong way around. It is just such a taboo that may itself stimulate anti-Semitism. For some years now I have visited colleges and high schools in the US and elsewhere, lecturing on postwar European history and the memory of the Shoah. I also teach these topics in my university. And I can report on my findings.

Students today do not need to be reminded of the genocide of the Jews, the historical consequences of anti-Semitism, or the problem of evil. They know all about these—in ways their parents never did. And that is as it should be. But I have been struck lately by the frequency with which new questions are surfacing: "Why do we focus so on the Holocaust?" "Why is it illegal [in certain countries] to deny the Holocaust but not other genocides?" "Is the threat of anti-Semitism not exaggerated?" And, increasingly, "Doesn't Israel use the Holocaust as an excuse?" I do not recall hearing those questions in the past.

My fear is that two things have happened. By emphasizing the historical uniqueness of the Holocaust while at the same time invoking it constantly with reference to contemporary affairs, we have confused young people. And by shouting "anti-Semitism" every time someone attacks Israel or defends the Palestinians, we are breeding cynics. For the truth is that Israel today is not in existential danger. And Jews today here in the West face no threats or prejudices remotely comparable to those of the past—or comparable to contemporary prejudices against other minorities.

Imagine the following exercise: Would you feel safe, accepted, welcome today as a Muslim or an "illegal immigrant" in the US? As a "Paki" in parts of England? A Moroccan in Holland? A beur in France? A black in Switzerland? An "alien" in Denmark? A Romanian in Italy? A Gypsy anywhere in Europe? Or would you not feel safer, more integrated, more accepted as a Jew? I think we all know the answer. In many of these countries—Holland, France, the US, not to mention Germany—the local Jewish minority is prominently represented in business, the media, and the arts. In none of them are Jews stigmatized, threatened, or excluded.


If there is a threat that should concern Jews—and everyone else—it comes from a different direction. We have attached the memory of the Holocaust so firmly to the defense of a single country—Israel—that we are in danger of provincializing its moral significance. Yes, the problem of evil in the last century, to invoke Arendt once again, took the form of a German attempt to exterminate Jews. But it is not just about Germans and it is not just about Jews. It is not even just about Europe, though it happened there. The problem of evil—of totalitarian evil, or genocidal evil—is a universal problem. But if it is manipulated to local advantage, what will then happen (what is, I believe, already happening) is that those who stand at some distance from the memory of the European crime—because they are not Europeans, or because they are too young to remember why it matters—will not understand how that memory relates to them and they will stop listening when we try to explain.

In short, the Holocaust may lose its universal resonance. We must hope that this will not be the case and we need to find a way to preserve the core lesson that the Shoah really can teach: the ease with which people—a whole people—can be defamed, dehumanized, and destroyed. But we shall get nowhere unless we recognize that this lesson could indeed be questioned, or forgotten: the trouble with lessons, as the Gryphon observed, is that they really do lessen from day to day. If you do not believe me, go beyond the developed West and ask what lessons Auschwitz teaches. The responses are not very reassuring.


There is no easy answer to this problem. What seems obvious to West Europeans today is still opaque to many East Europeans, just as it was to West Europeans themselves forty years ago. Moral admonitions from Auschwitz that loom huge on the memory screen of Europeans are quite invisible to Asians or Africans. And, perhaps above all, what seems self-evident to people of my generation is going to make diminishing sense to our children and grandchildren. Can we preserve a European past that is now fading from memory into history? Are we not doomed to lose it, if only in part?

Maybe all our museums and memorials and obligatory school trips today are not a sign that we are ready to remember but an indication that we feel we have done our penance and can now begin to let go and forget, leaving the stones to remember for us. I don't know: the last time I visited Berlin's Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, bored schoolchildren on an obligatory outing were playing hide-and-seek among the stones. What I do know is that if history is to do its proper job, preserving forever the evidence of past crimes and everything else, it is best left alone. When we ransack the past for political profit—selecting the bits that can serve our purposes and recruiting history to teach opportunistic moral lessons—we get bad morality and bad history.

Meanwhile, we should all of us perhaps take care when we speak of the problem of evil. For there is more than one sort of banality. There is the notorious banality of which Arendt spoke—the unsettling, normal, neighborly, everyday evil in humans. But there is another banality: the banality of overuse—the flattening, desensitizing effect of seeing or saying or thinking the same thing too many times until we have numbed our audience and rendered them immune to the evil we are describing. And that is the banality—or "banalization"—that we face today.

After 1945 our parents' generation set aside the problem of evil because—for them—it contained too much meaning. The generation that will follow us is in danger of setting the problem aside because it now contains too little meaning. How can we prevent this? How, in other words, can we ensure that the problem of evil remains the fundamental question for intellectual life, and not just in Europe? I don't know the answer but I am pretty sure that it is the right question. It is the question Hannah Arendt asked sixty years ago and I believe she would still ask it today.
That ends the Tony Judt esay.

[1] This article is adapted from a lecture delivered in Bremen, Germany, on November 30, 2007, on the occasion of the award to Tony Judt of the 2007 Hannah Arendt Prize.

[2] "Nightmare and Flight," Partisan Review, Vol. 12, No. 2 (1945), reprinted in Essays in Understanding, 1930–1954, edited by Jerome Kohn (Harcourt Brace, 1994), pp. 133–135.

[3] For a harrowing instance, see Jan Gross, Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland (Princeton University Press, 2001).

[4] For a fuller discussion of this shift in mood, see the epilogue ("From the House of the Dead") in my Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 (Penguin, 2005).

[5] To be sure, Catholic thinkers have not shared this reluctance to engage with the dilemma of evil: see, for example, Leszek Kolakowski's essays "The Devil in History" and "Leibniz and Job: The Metaphysics of Evil and the Experience of Evil," both recently republished with other essays by Kolakowski in My Correct Views on Everything (St. Augustine's, 2005; discussed in The New York Review, September 21, 2006). But in the metaphysical confrontation memorably portrayed by Thomas Mann, we moderns have typically opted for Settembrini over Naphta.

[6] Essays in Understanding, pp. 271–272.

[7] See Idith Zertal, Israel's Holocaust and the Politics of Nationhood, translated by Chaya Galai (Cambridge University Press, 2005), especially Chapter 1, "The Sacrificed and the Sanctified.">>
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