Archives for posts with tag: Holocaust Denial
Chamber Door courtesy of USHMM

A door to a “de-lousing” chamber in Auschwitz. Sign says: Harmful gas! Entering endangers your life. Photo: Courtesy of USHMM

 

Imagine this: Your 14-year-old son says his history teacher told him that the gas chambers in the Nazi concentration camps weren’t intended to kill Jews.

Really? What were they for then?

Per The News-Gazette in Champaign, Illinois, the town where this incident occurred, the teacher (who has not been publicly identified) said, “These concentration camps were horrific places due to cruelty from the guards, little to no food, as well as extreme overcrowding that led to the rapid transmission of deadly diseases in those conditions, such as typhus.”

He explained that this is based on his own research of the subject. What are your sources Mr. Teacher? Are they fact-based and reputable? Well, here’s a fact: The gas that came out of the showers killed lice, for sure, but it also killed the host, the HUMAN BEINGS that carried the lice. What you read is propaganda, that the ‘showers’ were to clean the prisoners, when in reality, they were to extinguish them, to choke the life out of them, to MURDER them. These are facts, witnessed by people who are still alive (!) and archived in legal documents around the world.

I don’t know what is going to happen to this teacher, and I don’t need to know his name or anything about him. Going forward, I just want him to share historical facts, not propaganda.

cynthia voelkl John Dixon The News-Gazette

Cynthia Voelkl. Photo: John Dixon/The News-Gazette

 

Thank you for saying something, Cynthia Voelkl. It’s easy to spout outrage, but to actually do something and attempt to effect change, well, that’s to be commended.

I think she sums it up best with this line: “I know it’s a complicated issue, especially with laws about free speech, but I don’t think historical facts are a matter of opinion.”

 

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subway seat graffiti

I take my children to school each day via the subway. One morning a week or so ago my six-year-old daughter excitedly told me I had just sat upon a square and to stand up so she could show me. And this is what I saw: a swastika in black permanent marker. But at second glance, I saw something else. Some other subway rider had whipped out her ballpoint pen and filled in the corners of the swastika to make it look like a square. And then she added peace symbols and hearts in the quadrants.

“What’s wrong Mommy? You don’t like the picture?”

Here’s what my first-grade daughter knows and understands so far:

  • She is Jewish
  • Her father is Israeli
  • Her mother (me) is writing a book about her Savta’s extraordinary life (savta is Hebrew for grandmother)

“This is a swastika,” I said. “It’s a symbol of the nazi party.”

(I just now decided that I will not capitalize the “n” in nazi because it somehow legitimizes them; it’ll be capped in my book though, I’ll make sure my editor makes sure of it…).

“The nazi’s wanted to kill all the Jews and they succeeded in killing a lot of us, including some of your relatives. That’s why I’m writing a book about your Savta.”

“How come you never work on the book anymore?” she asked.

How could she have known? (Kids always know). I had spent the last few days contemplating whether or not to leave my job as an editor at BBC to work fulltime on my book. I had taken the position in December 2013 and have barely touched the book since. I miss it. I crave it. I really, really, really need to get back to my book.

“Well, I work fulltime and my life is really busy. I’d like to get back to writing my book,” I said. “What do you think? Should I leave BBC to work fulltime on my book?”

She looked away and then down at the ground.  I could see that she was really thinking about how to respond. And then, “I think it’s a decision you have to make, Mommy.”

Well knock me over with a feather! Holy sh*t! I laughed and hugged her and said, “Thank you my oh-so-wise daughter.”

A week or so later I resigned from the BBC. I’m exhilarated about this decision and as of May 8 I will have a new fulltime job: to complete the manuscript for “What Happened to That Baby.”

For those of you who have been on this intermittent journey with me, please continue to check back. I will try to post somewhat regularly. For those of you who are just joining, welcome! I hope you’ll come visit once in a while too. I encourage discussion on these pages, but I do moderate all comments before posting. Please be respectful and no ad hominem attacks. These are very charged topics but there are ways to engage without resorting to intolerance and hatred.

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peace and love

David Draiman, lead singer of Disturbed

Rich Cohen is going to have to add this guy to his list of Tough Jews.

No, he’s not a 1930s Jewish gangster, he’s 21st century rock star David Draiman, the gravel-voiced lead singer of popular heavy-metal band Disturbed. And he comes by his musical talent honestly:

The person that they say I get my voice from was my great-grandfather who was the head cantor of the Gerrer Hasidische bes medresh in Jerusalem. I basically spent 17 years studying the Talmud and the Tanach, and Judaism in general, and was probably about, I would say, two or three years away from smicha, from being ordained.”

A piece in The Jerusalem Post last year describes him as, “one of the few high-profile hard rock singers who are defiantly Jewish – imagine a young Ozzy Osbourne as the spokesman for the Jewish Defense League.”

When asked how he deals with the inevitable skinhead fans of Disturbed, he replies,

I’m incredibly defiant against neo-Nazis and skinheads…I’ve always been very proud of my heritage and where I come from, and I’ve defended it to the extent of being bloodied on many occasions. In fact, most of the fights I’ve [had] in my life – and there have been many – have been because I was defending my family or my faith. And I don’t apologize for it.”

All I can say is this guy is one bad-ass Jew. Glad he’s on my side.

Let me leave you with this little gem from his podcast with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum:

I think I do enough good as an individual in terms of setting tens of thousands of people, hundreds of thousands of people free and making them feel stronger than they did when they came in the building, on a relatively nightly basis. So, there you go. That’s God’s work.”

Credit: Pat Bagley


Facebook
has an ethics problem. It denounces hate speech but not Holocaust denial. Isn’t antisemitism at the very root of Holocaust denial?

Facebook doesn’t think so. In fact, its spokesperson, Simon Axton, says, “We recognize people’s right to be factually wrong about historical events.” Wonder if he was able to say that with a straight face.

Holohoax, a Facebook page with 58 active members, describes its mission as “Putting some sense into the Holocaust story.” Lovely. There’s also, I Deny the Holocaust, which has 42 “likes,” and its very own t-shirt. (See below).

From Facebook's "I Deny the Holocaust"

The Anti-Defamation League, Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance, and a whole host of other global organizations, have repeatedly asked Facebook to remove the offensive pages. Unfortunately the pages remain.

In an email to MSNBC last month, Andrew Noyes, Facebook’s public policy communications manager, wrote:

“We have spent considerable time internally discussing the issues of Holocaust denial and have come to the conclusion that the mere statement of denying the Holocaust is not a violation of our terms.

“We think that there is a meaningful difference between advocating violence against a group of people and expressing an opinion on a policy, set of beliefs, or historical event — even if that opinion is factually wrong, or is outrageous or offensive to most people.”

Noyes also mentions that although many employees at Facebook have personal connections to the Holocaust, “We believe in Facebook’s mission that giving people tools to make the world more open is a better way to combat ignorance or deception than censorship, though we recognize that others may disagree.”

In other words, “let’s agree to disagree,” one of the most frustrating argument-enders of all time. That one never feels like a period at the end of a sentence to me but rather this: #@*!%#*.

I’ll end with something a tad more lighthearted. Per Lloyd Grove of The Daily Beast, “TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington, who noted that while Facebook was meticulously removing photos of breast-feeding women, it was allowing the proliferation of Holocaust-denial pages. His mordant headline: ‘Jew Haters Welcome At Facebook, As Long As They Aren’t Lactating.'”

I spurted milk out of my mouth while reading that this morning at breakfast. And no I’m not lactating. It was from my bowl of shredded oats.