excerpts from the book

The Holocaust Industry

Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering

by Norman G. Finkelstein

Verso, 2000, paper


The US is the corporate headquarters of the Holocaust industry.

American Jewish elites did not shrink from sacrificing fellow Jews on the altar of anti-Communism. Offering their files on alleged Jewish subversives to government agencies, the AJC and the ADL actively collaborated -. in the McCarthy-era witch-hunt. The AJC endorsed the death penalty for the Rosenbergs, while its monthly publication, Commentary, editorialized that they weren't really Jews.

Fearful of association with the political Left abroad and at home, mainstream Jewish organizations opposed cooperation with anti-Nazi German social-democrats as well as boycotts of German manufactures and public demonstrations against ex-Nazis touring the United States. On the other hand, prominent visiting German dissidents like Protestant pastor Martin Niemöller, who had spent eight years in Nazi concentration camps and was now against the anti-Communist crusade, suffered the obloquy of American Jewish leaders. Anxious to boost their anti-Communist credentials, Jewish elites even enlisted in, and financially sustained, right-wing extremist organizations like the All-American Conference to Combat Communism and turned a blind j eye as veterans of the Nazi SS entered the country.

Then came the June [1967] war. Impressed by Israel's overwhelming display of force, the United States moved to incorporate it as a strategic asset. (Already before the June war the United States had cautiously tilted toward Israel as the Egyptian and Syrian regimes charted an increasingly independent course in the mid-1960s.) Military and economic assistance began to pour in as Israel turned into a proxy for US power in the Middle East.

For American Jewish elites, Israel's subordination to US power was a windfall. Zionism had sprung from the premise that assimilation was a pipe dream, that Jews would always be perceived as potentially disloyal aliens. To resolve this dilemma, Zionists sought to establish a homeland for the Jews. In fact, Israel's founding exacerbated the problem, at any rate for diaspora Jewry: it gave the charge of dual loyalty institutional expression. Paradoxically, after June 1967, Israel facilitated assimilation in the United States: Jews now stood on the front lines defending America - indeed, "Western civilization" against the retrograde Arab hordes. Whereas before 1967 Israel conjured the bogy of dual loyalty, it now connoted super-loyalty. After all, it was not Americans but Israelis fighting and dying to protect US interests. And unlike the American GIs in Vietnam, Israeli fighters were not being humiliated by Third World upstarts.

Accordingly, American Jewish elites suddenly discovered Israel. After the 1967 war, Israel's military élan could be celebrated because its guns pointed in the right direction - against America's enemies. Its martial prowess might even facilitate entry into the inner sanctums of American power. Previously Jewish elites could only offer a few lists of Jewish subversives; now, they could pose as the natural interlocutors for America's newest strategic asset. From bit players, they could advance to top billing in the Cold War drama. Thus for American Jewry, as well as the United States, Israel became a strategic asset.

Norman Podhoretz in his memoir 'Breaking Ranks' remembered that after June 1967 Israel became "the religion of the American Jews."

For Israel's new American Jewish "supporters," however, such talk bordered on heresy: an independent Israel at peace with its neighbors was worthless; an Israel aligned with currents in the Arab world seeking independence from the United States was a disaster. Only an Israeli Sparta beholden to American power would do, because only then could US Jewish leaders act as the spokesmen for American imperial ambitions.

It was not Israel's alleged weakness and isolation, not the fear of a "second Holocaust," but rather its proven strength and strategic alliance with the United States that led Jewish elites to gear up the Holocaust industry after June 1967. However unwittingly, Novick provides the best evidence to support that conclusion. To prove that power considerations, not the Nazi Final Solution, determined American policy toward Israel, he writes: "It was when the Holocaust was freshest in the mind of American leaders the first twenty-five years after the end of the war - that the United States was least supportive of Israel . . . . It was not when Israel was perceived as weak and vulnerable, but after it demonstrated its strength, in the Six Day War, that American aid to Israel changed from a trickle to a flood" (emphasis in original)." That argument applies with equal force to American Jewish elites.

... after World War II, Jews rose to preeminence in the United States. According to Lipset and Raab [Seymour Martin Lipset and Earl Raab, Jews arid the New American Scene (Cambridge: 1995)], per capita Jewish income is almost double that of non-Jews; sixteen of the forty wealthiest Americans are Jews; 40 percent of American Nobel Prize winners in science and economics are Jewish, as are 20 percent of professors at major universities; and 40 percent partners in the leading law firms in New York and Washington.

What an American Jewish child inherits, according to novelist Philip Roth, is "no body of law, no body of learning and no language, and finally, no Lord . . . but a kind of psychology: and the psychology can be translated in three words: 'Jews are better.'

Israeli journalist Danny Rubinstein

"According to most of the people in the Jewish establishment the important thing is to stress again and again the external dangers that face Israel . . . . The Jewish establishment in America needs Israel only as a victim of cruel Arab attack. For such an Israel one can get support, donors, money. .

As American Jews enjoyed greater secular success, they moved steadily to the right politically. Although still left-of-center on cultural questions such as sexual morality and abortion, Jews grew increasingly conservative on politics and the economy." Complementing the rightward turn was an inward turn, as Jews, no longer mindful of past allies among the have-nots, increasingly earmarked their resources for Jewish concerns only.

Holocaust awareness," the respected Israeli writer Boas Evron observes, is actually "an official, propagandistic indoctrination, a churning out of slogans and a false view of the world, the real aim of which is not at all an understanding of the past, but a manipulation of the present."

Cuban President Fidel Castro ... accused the capitalist system of regularly causing deaths on the scale of World War II by ignoring the needs of the poor.

"The images we see of mothers and children in whole regions of Africa under the lash of drought and other catastrophes remind us of the concentration camps of Nazi Germany."

"We lack a Nuremberg to judge the economic order imposed upon us, where every three years more men, women and children die of hunger and preventable diseases than died in the Second World War."

The reparations issue provides unique insight into the Holocaust Industry... aligning with the United States in the Cold War, Germany was quickly rehabilitated and the Nazi holocaust forgotten. Nonetheless, in the early 1950s Germany entered into negotiations with Jewish institutions and signed indemnification agreements. With little if any external pressure, it has paid out to date some $60 billion.

Compare first the American record. Some 4-5 million men, women and children died as a result of the US wars in Indochina. After the American withdrawal, a historian recalls, Vietnam desperately needed aid. "In the South, 9,000 out of 15,000 hamlets, 25 million acres of farmland, 12 million acres of forest were destroyed, and 1.5 million farm animals had been killed; there were an estimated 200,000 prostitutes, 879,000 orphans, 181,000 disabled people, and 1 million widows; all six of the industrial cities in the North had been badly damaged, as were provincial and district towns, and 4,000 out of 5,800 agricultural communes." Refusing, however, to pay any reparations, President Carter explained that "the destruction was mutual." Declaring that he saw no need for "any apologies, certainly, for the war itself," President Clinton's Defense Secretary, William Cohen, similarly opined: "Both nations were scarred by this. They have their scars from the war. We certainly have ours."'

Apart from Holocaust memorials, fully seventeen states mandate or recommend Holocaust programs in their schools, and many colleges and universities have endowed chairs in Holocaust studies. Hardly a week passes without a major Holocaust-related story in the New York Times. The number of scholarly studies devoted to the Nazi Final Solution is conservatively estimated at over 10,000. Consider by comparison scholarship on the hecatomb in the Congo. Between 1891 and 1911, some 10 million Africans perished in the course of Europe's exploitation of Congolese ivory and rubber resources. Yet, the first and only scholarly volume in English directly devoted to this topic was published two years ago.

Given the vast number of institutions and professionals dedicated to preserving its memory, The Holocaust is by now firmly entrenched American life.

It is much easier deplore the crime: of other: than to look at ourselves. It is also true, however, that were the will there we could learn much about ourselves from the Nazi experience. Manifest Destiny anticipated nearly all the ideological and programmatic elements of Hitler's Lebensraum policy. In fact, Hitler modeled his conquest of the East on the American conquest of the West. During the first half of this century, a majority of American states enacted sterilization laws and tens of thousands of Americans were involuntarily sterilized. The Nazis explicitly invoked this US precedent when they enacted their own sterilization laws.' The notorious 1935 Nuremberg Laws stripped Jews of the franchise and forbade miscegenation between Jews and non-Jews. Blacks in the American South suffered the same legal disabilities and were the object of much greater spontaneous and sanctioned popular violence than the Jews in prewar Germany.'

To highlight unfolding crimes abroad, the US often summons memories of The Holocaust. The more revealing point, however, is when the US invokes The Holocaust. Crimes of official enemies such as the Khmer Rouge bloodbath in Cambodia, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, and Serbian ethnic cleansing in Kosovo recall The Holocaust; crimes in which the US is complicit do not.

Just as the Khmer Rouge atrocities were unfolding in Cambodia, the US-backed Indonesian government was slaughtering one-third of the population in East Timor. Yet unlike Cambodia, the East Timor genocide did not rate comparison with The Holocaust; it didn't even rate news coverage.' Just as the Soviet Union was committing what the Simon Wiesenthal Center called "another genocide" in Afghanistan, the US-backed regime in Guatemala was perpetrating what the Guatemalan Truth Commission recently called a "genocide" against the indigenous Mayan population. President Reagan dismissed the charges against the Guatemalan government as a "bum rap." To honor Jeane Kirkpatrick's achievement as chief Reagan Administration apologist for the unfolding crimes in Central America, the Simon Wiesenthal Center awarded her the Humanitarian of the Year Award." Simon Wiesenthal was privately beseeched before the award ceremony to reconsider. He refused. Elie Wiesel was privately asked to intercede with the Israeli government, a main weapons supplier for the Guatemalan butchers. He too refused. The Carter Administration invoked the memory of The

Holocaust as it sought haven for Vietnamese "boat people" fleeing the Communist regime. The Clinton Administration forgot The Holocaust as it forced back Haitian "boat people" fleeing US-supported death squads.

Holocaust memory loomed large as the US-led NATO bombing of Serbia commenced in the spring of 1999. As we have seen, Daniel Goidhagen compared Serbian crimes against Kosovo with the Final Solution and, at President Clinton's bidding, Elie Wiesel journeyed to Kosovar refugee camps in Macedonia and Albania. Already before Wiesel went to shed tears on cue for the Kosovars, however, the US-backed Indonesian regime had resumed where it left off in the late 1970s, perpetrating new massacres in East Timor. The Holocaust vanished from memory, however, as the Clinton Administration acquiesced in the bloodletting. "Indonesia matters," a Western diplomat explained, "and East Timor doesn't."

Novick points to passive US complicity in human disasters dissimilar in other respects yet comparable in scale to the Nazi extermination. Recalling, for example, the million children killed in the Final Solution, he observes that American presidents do little more than utter pieties as, worldwide, many times that number of children "die of malnutrition and preventable diseases" every year." One might also consider a pertinent case of active US complicity. After the United States-led coalition devastated Iraq in 1991 to punish "Saddam-Hitler," the United States and Britain forced murderous UN sanctions on that hapless country in an attempt to depose him. As in the Nazi holocaust, a million children have likely perished.'* Questioned on national television about the grisly death toll in Iraq, Secretary of State Madeleine Aibright replied that "the price is worth ) it."

In late August 2000 the World Jewish Congress (WJC) announced that it stood to amass fully $9 billion in Holocaust compensation monies. They were extracted in the name of "needy Holocaust victims" but the WJC now maintained that the monies belonged to the "Jewish people as a whole" (WJC executive director, Elan Steinberg). Conveniently, the WJC is the self-anointed representative of the "Jewish people as a whole." Meanwhile, a black-tie Holocaust reparations banquet sponsored by WJC president Edgar Bronfman at New York's Pierre Hotel celebrated the creation of a "Foundation of the Jewish People" to subsidize Jewish organizations and "Holocaust education." (One Jewish critic of the "Holocaust-themed dinner" conjured this scenario: "Mass murder. Horrible plunder. Slave labor. Let's eat.") The Foundation's endowment would come from "residual" Holocaust compensation monies amounting to "probably billions of dollars" (Steinberg). How the WJC already knew that "probably billions" would be left over when none of the compensation monies had yet been distributed to Holocaust victims was anyone's guess. Indeed, it was not yet even known how many would qualify. Or, did the Holocaust industry extract compensation monies in the name of "needy Holocaust victims" knowing all along that "probably billions" would be left over? The Holocaust industry bitterly complained that the German and Swiss settlements allotted only meager sums for survivors. It is unclear why the "probably billions" couldn't be used to supplement these allocations.

Predictably, Holocaust survivors reacted with rage. (None was present at the Foundation's creation.) "Who authorized these organizations to decide," a survivor newsletter angrily editorialized, "that the 'leftovers' (in the billions), obtained in the name of Shoah victims, should be used for their pet projects instead of helping ALL holocaust survivors with their mounting health-care expenses?" Confronted with this barrage of negative publicity, the WJC did an abrupt about-face. The $9 billion figure was "a bit misleading," Steinberg subsequently protested. He also claimed that the Foundation had "no cash and no plan for allocating funds," and that the purpose of the Holocaust banquet was not to celebrate the Foundation's endowment from Holocaust compensation monies but rather to raise funds for it. Elderly Jewish survivors, not consulted in advance of, let alone invited to, the "star-studded gala" at the Pierre Hotel, picketed outside.

Among those honored inside the Pierre was President Clinton, who movingly recalled that the United States stood in the forefront of "facing up to an ugly past": "I have been to Native American reservations and acknowledged that the treaties we signed were neither fair nor honorably kept in many cases. I went to Africa ... and acknowledged the responsibility of the United States in buying people into slavery. This is a hard business, struggling to find our core of humanity." Notably absent in all these instances of "hard business" were reparations in hard currency.

... the pretexts invoked by the Holocaust industry to force a non-recoupable settlement on the Swiss banks were false, and that few actual survivors of the Nazi holocaust will directly - or, for that matter, indirectly benefit from the Swiss monies. A comparable analysis of other Holocaust industry settlements would presumably yield comparable results. Indeed, buried in the details of the Gribetz Plan is a nest egg for the Holocaust industry. Most of the Swiss monies probably won! be distributed until after all but a handful of survivors are dead. With the survivors gone, the monies will pour into the coffers of Jewish organizations. Small wonder that the Holocaust industry was unanimous in its praise of the Gribetz Plan.

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