Tag Archives: Holocaust

The NY Times, Antisemitism and Pure Hypocrisy

The purpose of journalism is supposed to be subjective. The reporter is supposed to report the facts as they are and let the reader or the viewer determine how they feel about that particular subject.

Supposed is the key word in that sentence. The problem is that the point of view of the article or the news report often depends on the point of view of the reporter and their employer.

Recently, the NY Times published what can only be described as an antisemitic caricature. The editorial board published an apology yesterday along with an article talking about the rise of antisemitism in the world.

Pardon my French, but that is f*cking hypocrisy.

The irony that makes me angry is that the family who owns the Times is Jewish. The paper’s original owner, Adolph Ochs, was the son of German Jewish immigrants.

During World War II, instead of placing the news about the slaughter of Europe’s Jews on the front page (as they should have), the news reports were buried deep in the paper. If the paper’s then owners were in Europe instead of New York, it is likely that they would have been part of the six million.

As far as I am concerned, the apology is empty and worthless. Not only should the cartoonist be fired, but the editor who approved the cartoon be fired as well. These cartoons not only legitimize antisemitism, they add fuel to the rising fire.

Good job, NY Times. I knew that there was a reason why I don’t buy your paper.

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Filed under History, New York City

Today is Yom Hashoah

Today is Yom Hashoah.

Today we remember the six million Jews who were tortured, starved and slaughtered merely because of their faith.

Over the years, we have said never again. But the phrase “never again” feels empty. Between the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue last fall and the shooting at Chabad of Poway synagogue this past weekend, I am reminded that antisemitism is alive and well in our world.

The same lies and hatred that killed my relations decades ago are responsible for the murders at both the Tree of Life and Chabad of Poway synagogues.

 

The picture above is from a memoir that my great-grandfather wrote about Dobromil, the shtetl that he grew up in. One of the reasons that my family is here today is because he immigrated to the United States in the early part of the 20th century. When he left for the United States, he left behind his widowed father, his siblings and their families. They all perished in the Holocaust.

I wish we could say never again. I wish that we could say that antisemitism or hatred/prejudice of any kind is the past. But it is still part of our present. Until we face this kind of hatred and erase it from our world, the phrase “never again” will continue to feel empty and worthless.

 

 

 

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Filed under History, National News

The Things We Cherished Book Review

Love and war are the two things that cause rational human beings to do irrational things.

In Pam Chenoff’s 2011 book, The Things We Cherished, lawyer Charlotte Gold is trying to shake off the scars of the past. The only child of a mother who survived World War II and the Holocaust because she was on the Kindertransport, the last thing Charlotte needs back in her life is her cheat of an ex-boyfriend, Brian. He pleads with her to taken on the case of Roger Dykmans. Roger Dykmans is a wealthy businessman and the brother of a man who was martyred in the Holocaust. He has been accused of leading the Nazis to his brother and the innocent people his brother tried to save.

Charlotte will be working with Brian’s estranged brother, Jack. While they have professional and potentially romantic chemistry, their job is hampered by Roger’s refusal to prove that he is innocent. The only evidence Roger will provide is in a clock that has not been seen for decades. While Charlotte and Jack try to prove Roger’s innocence, they run into a long-held secret: the mutual love between Roger and Jewish his sister-in-law, Magda.

Like all of Pam Jenoff’s books, I loved it. It’s hard to balance a historical narrative with modern characters who are going through a journey of their own. But she finds a way to do that while keeping the tension and making sure that the details are on point.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Karolina’s Twins Book Review

War can cause us to do things that we might not do in times of peace.

In the new novel, Karolina’s Twins, by Ronald H. Balson, the married couple (and soon to be first time parents) private investigator Liam Taggart and lawyer Catherine Lockhart are presented with an intriguing case. Lena Woodward (née Scheinman) is an elderly Holocaust survivor with a decades old secret.

Lena needs Liam and Catherine to help her keep a promise to a dying friend. Before the war, Lena and Karolina were best friends. But the war and the invading Nazis changed everything. In the ghetto, Karolina finds herself pregnant and needs a way to ensure that her children will live. She does only what a mother in desperate times would do. With her dying breath, Karoline asked Lena to find her children. While Lena is telling her story, her son Arthur is trying to prove that his mother is senile and no longer able to take care of herself. Can Liam and Catherine prove that Karolina had children and if she did, are they still alive?

My initial reaction to this book is that the author immediately uses back story within the first couple of chapters. Using back story immediately is like walking a fine line. Sometimes it works and sometimes it does not work. In this case it works. Mr. Balson also moves between the present and the past, a tactic that, like using back story immediately, may or may not work. What I enjoyed about the book was the mystery and the final twist.

I recommend it.

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The Last Survivor

The last survivor of Treblinka passed away on Friday.

Samuel Willenberg died at the age of 93.

A member of the “organizing committee”, Mr. Willenberg was part of the revolt by the prisoners in Treblinka.

It’s been 71 years since the end of World War II. The number of survivors still living is dwindling fast.

We are the last generation to hear the testimony of the survivors in person.

When we speak of the Holocaust, we say Never Again.

There are many in this world who question why we continue to speak of the Holocaust.

The reason we continue to say Never Again and repeat the testimony of the survivors is that I hope that one day, the phrase Never Again is unnecessary.

But the world we live in and history of our species is littered with stories of hatred, destruction and murder based on the external factors that were used as an excuse to kill innocent human beings en masse 71 years ago.

RIP Mr. Willenberg, may you be reunited with those who you lost all of those years ago.

May your memory be a blessing not just to those who knew you personally, but to the rest of us rely on you and your generation to remind us of the best and word of humanity.

Never Again.

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Filed under History, International News, Music, World News

Deaths-Head Revisited

Today is International Holocaust Memorial Day and the 71st anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

I’d like to put a new spin on the topic.

In November of 1961, The Twilight Zone aired an episode called Deaths-Head Revisited.

It was the story of former concentration camp commandant who revisits the camp 17 years after the war ended. He thinks it will bring about pleasant memories. What he actually experiences is completely different.

Unlike other episodes of The Twilight Zone, this episode spoke of the real life consequences of prejudice and hatred.

To borrow a quote from the end of the episode:

There is an answer to the doctor’s question. All the Dachaus must remain standing. The Dachaus, the Belsens, the Buchenwalds, the Auschwitzes – all of them. They must remain standing because they are a monument to a moment in time when some men decided to turn the Earth into a graveyard. Into it they shoveled all of their reason, their logic, their knowledge, but worst of all, their conscience. And the moment we forget this, the moment we cease to be haunted by its remembrance, then we become the gravediggers. Something to dwell on and to remember, not only in the Twilight Zone but wherever men walk God’s Earth.

We must remember. No matter what our skin color is, where our families have come from, what g-d we choose to pray to or not pray to, or any other labels we may use to define ourselves, we are ALL human beings. Period.

Never again.

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There Is No Comparison

In local news, mogul Russell Simmons has compared animal abuse to the Holocaust and slavery.

He has every right to speak his mind and I respect the fact that he is standing up for animals who have no voice.

But there is no comparison.

Both the Holocaust and slavery represents the worst of humanity. The scars of both still linger and will continue to linger with our culture.

I understand that Mr. Simmons needed to get his point across. But to use those specific comparisons  takes away from the issue and creates an unnecessary controversy.

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Blame

The definition of the word blame is as follows: assign responsibility for a fault or wrong.

For a millennium, the Jews have been blamed as the cause of the world’s problems.

The most recent accusation comes from the extreme right-wing Popular Orthodox Party (LAOS) and Golden Dawn groups coming out of Greece.  With the Grecian economy on an extremely southward downward spiral,  these groups have chosen an age old target to focus their rage and anger on: the Jews.

What is scary is that not only do these groups deny the Holocaust, but they would be more than willing to re-create it. Their mixture of lies and re-written history proves that history is once again repeating itself.

Assigning blame to one particular group (especially when the accusation is based on lies) is immature, childish and detrimental to our development as a species. It also signals, to me at least, that the lessons of the past have not been learned.

It’s time to be adults. We cannot keep throwing around unfounded accusations and think that once this group or that group is gone, the world will be a better place. The violence and destruction, is in my opinion, counterproductive.  If we want to make this world a better place for our children, we need to open our eyes and see that it is more multiple factors. In the case of the Grecian economy, the IMF, the European Union and the worldwide economy may have contributed to the country’s current economic status.

Assigning blame because it is easy helps no one. We need to open our eyes and use our brains before opening our mouths.

Simple as that.

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Now It’s Becoming Scary

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On May 29th, 1942, the Jews of Paris were forced to wear this sign on their outer clothing. Millions would go to their deaths wearing this symbol.

After the Holocaust, many have said “never again”. But “never again” has become “again” in a new and extremely scary way.

Antisemitism is growing throughout the world. Jewish students and professors are being banned from European universities. Bastions of learning, which are supposed to be educating the next generation are becoming bastions of hate.

It is not just colleges and universities that are experiencing increasing levels of antisemitism.

I have been extremely lucky to grow up in a country that protects the rights of all citizens, regardless of the religious beliefs or the labels  that one muse to define themselves.  But there is a downside to this the right to free speech. It gives a voice to those who would spread hate and lies.  But that is the price we pay to live in a free, democratic country.

The slippery slope that leads to mass murder is starting to tilt in that direction. I hope and pray that we have truly learned the lessons of the past, but I fear that we have not.

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Filed under History, International News, National News, World News

Farhud

Yesterday, I learned something new. I learned about the Farhud.

I pride myself on knowing the history of my people and my culture. I’ve heard many heartbreaking stories about the Nazi Holocaust.

The Farhud was news to me.

To make a long story short, the Farhud was a pogrom against Iraqi Jews on June 1st and 2nd, 1941. By the time the violence was quelled, approximately 200 Jews were dead, over 1000 homes and businesses had been looted, hundreds were injured and many women were raped.

What bothers me is that I never learned about this. In all of the years that I attended Hebrew school, while the Holocaust was part of the curriculum after a certain age, the Farhud was not discussed.

The suffering of the Jews who lived through the Farhud is on par with the Jews who lived through the Holocaust. It’s time that both were given the reverence and the spotlight equally.

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Filed under History, International News