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Shi'a Pundit

Devoted to the viewpoint of Islam of Muhammad SAW and Amir ul-Mumineen, Ali ibn Abi Talib SA, in the Shi'a Fatimi Ismaili Dawoodi Bohra tradition.

April 29, 2003

Holocaust remembered.

The english version of Ha'aretz has some important thoughts about how the Holocaust is usually remembered throughout the year - not as an occassion like yesterday (YOM HASHOAH) for solemn remembrance and honoring the fallen, but as political bludgeon, swung wildly by pro- and anti- alike. The piece noted the abuse of Holocaust imagery by fanatic muslims and other groups with political agendas, even including groups such as PETA. But it also presses the case in both directions:

The appropriation of the memory of the Holocaust is by no means the exclusive province of Israel's detractors.

On the morning of Holocaust Remembrance Day, 15 demonstrators from the outlawed Kach movement, an extreme right-wing, anti-Arab group founded by slain Rabbi Meir Kahane, staged a protest outside Yad Vashem, the national Holocaust memorial museum.

The demonstrators railed against the possibility that Israel's government could hold negotiations in the future with Palestinian Authority prime minister-designate Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), condemning an internationally sponsored peace initiative as a "Road Map to the Holocaust."

Interestingly, in the same issue, an opinion piece argues that it is indeed acceptable for Jews to invoke the Holocaust:

"Can humanity - not to mention the Jewish people - restrict itself merely to studying the most horrific event in its history, without trying to extrapolate from it some kind of lesson? If this were indeed the case, and we wouldn't dare to 'use' the Holocaust to draw conclusions and try to make the world a better place, it would be tantamount to desecrating the victims' memory and the survivors' suffering."

However, I find the argument by Emily Hauser to be definitive on the subject:

We take the easy way out when we conflate criticism of Israel's government with anti-Semitism. If all criticism of Israel comes from a place of baseless hatred (or, in the case of Jews who express it themselves, typical self-loathing) then we needn't consider it, hold it to the light and examine its contents. The accusation of anti Semitism thus consistently serves to paralyze thought within the Jewish community, as McCarthyism once did within American society.

To invoke the Holocaust, and cries of anti-semitism or blood libel, is to carry a heavy responsibility. It is to equate victimhood with the victims of Hitler. Those who use these terms are appropriating the most powerful imagery in recent human history - and usually for petty end.

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Nahj-ul Balagha

About Shi'a Pundit

Shi'a Pundit was launched in 2002 during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. The blog focuses on issues pertaining to Shi'a Islam in the west and in the Islamic world. The author is a member of the Dawoodi Bohra Muslim community. Bohras adhere to the Shi'a Fatimi tradition of Islam, headed by the 52nd Dai al-Mutlaq, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin (TUS).

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