Friday, June 29, 2007

Soap, Lies, and "The Scar of David"

In a recent and otherwise good Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends vigil report, my friend Henry Herskovitz writes:
... Perhaps many readers like this writer remember stories being told of the Nazis making bars of soap out of the bodies of Jewish cadavers, as part of a continuing effort to vilify not only the Nazi regime, but the German people as well.

Well, according to arch Zionist professor Deborah Lipstadt (Emory University), we can throw that old tale into the garbage bin of Zionist propaganda, and reduce somewhat the sword and shield of Israel that protects if from criticism. Referencing her book "Denying the Holocaust" (1993), she writes (p. 188) "It is also accurate that scholars have long written that despite wartime rumors to the contrary, the Nazis apparently did not use cadavers for soap".

So chalk up a slam dunk for that lie that still seems to find its way into mainstream discourse. Makes a person wonder what else Jewish Zionists lied about...
I think Henry missed a great opportunity to point out and critique the excessive privileging of Jewish voices on the 'holocaust' narrative. I'm referring to the leaders and minions of what Dr. Norman Finkelstein aptly labels as the "Holocaust Industry" and Lipstadt is without a doubt one of its leading voices. Germans--scholars and others--have, undoubtedly, been saying for decades that no soap was made from Jews or anyone else but in the United States it seems we have to hear it from a Jew or two before it's considered 'safe' to say or believe it. The same phenomenon exists concerning the Nakba with Arab narratives being only slightly more acceptable after receiving affirmation from Benny Morris and other Jewish Israeli 'new historians'.

Incidentally, Lipstadt's use of the word "apparently" is, shall we say, interesting. Also interesting is that according to an article in Moment, Michael Berenbaum, former director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) research institute, "believed 'it was obviously the case' that the Nazis produced soap from [Jewish] fat" when he "began putting the USHMM exhibit together". Unlike Lipstadt, Berenbaum is now unequivocal on the soap question: "But after a thorough search, he adds, 'I didn't find any evidence of it. I found evidence for everything else that ... the Nazis did and worse.' " What could be worse than making soap from the bodies of their dead victims, Berenbaum does not say nor does he explore why he thought the soap story was so "obviously" true. (For what it's worth, this writer was a charter member of the USHMM).

Henry also writes "Deir Yassin Remembered Board of Advisors co-member Susan Aulhawa [sic] has written a book that in this writer's opinion does for the Palestinian community what Leon Uris' Exodus did for the Jews." Really, Henry, does Abulhawa's The Scar of David fill people's heads with lies and racist stereotypes about Jews the way Exodus propagated lies and anti-Arab racism? Here's what Finkelstein says about the Uris book in Beyond Chutzpah (pp. 2-3; note 4).
Putting aside its apologetics for Zionism, the sheer racism of Uris's blockbuster bears recalling. The Arabs, their villages, their homes—to the last, they're "stinking" or engulfed in "overwhelming stench" and "vile odors." Arab men just "lay around" all day "listless"—that is, when they're not hatching "some typical double-dealing scheme which seemed perfectly legitimate to the Arab," or resorting to "the unscrupulous ethics of the Arab ... the fantastic reasoning that condoned every crime short of murder," or "becom[ing] hysterical at the slightest provocation." As for Palestine itself before the Jews worked wonders, it was "worthless desert in the south end and eroded in the middle and swamp up north"; "a land of festering, stagnated swamps and eroded hills and rock-filled fields and unfertile earth caused by a thousand years of Arab and Turkish neglect. ... There was little song or laughter or joy in Arab life. ... In this atmosphere, cunning, treachery, murder, feuds and jealousies became a way of life. The cruel realities that had gone into forming the Arab character puzzled outsiders. Cruelty from brother to brother was common." Truth be told, not much has changed in official Zionist propaganda (Leon Uris, Exodus [New York, 1959], pp. 181, 213, 216, 227, 228, 229, 253, 334, 352---53).
No doubt, since Exodus was published there has been no shortage of Arabs who were able and more than willing to expose Uris' lies and racism. Unfortunately, in the short course of writing this post, I was unable to locate any of them online and, so, I include Finkelstein's remarks because they are on point and because they are readily available (I transcribed them some time ago for inclusion in someone else's review of Beyond Chutzpah). This, of course, also just underscores my point about the need to critique the overwhelming dominance of, and deference to, Jewish voices on the holocaust and the Nakba.

In any case, the main issue is that an important distinction needs to be drawn between Uris' and Abulhawa's books--The Scar of David does not traffic in lies and racism. Having glanced at the book and spoken with Henry at some length about it, I am sure he agrees with me on this point. Perhaps, we'll find out for sure in his next report.

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You are a racist. Plain and simple. You don't sound like you want peace, which is funny for somene in the "peace movement."
In addition to the comments you make re: Uris' blatant use of racism, Kathleen Christison informs us (because Zionists never will) that Uris did not come by the idea to write 'Exodus himself. She writes, in Perceptions of Palestine, p. 103 "But few pieces of fiction have had as deep an impact on the U.S. public as did the 1960 movie Exodus and the 1958 Leon Uris novel on which it was based. The idea for the book began with a prominent public relations consultant who in the early 1950's decided that the United States was too apathetic about Israel's struggle for survival and recognition, selected Uris, and sent him to Israel with instructions to soak up the atmosphere and create a novel"(My emphasis)

Whether Uris was called upon for additional Arab-bashing duties in 1984 is not made clear by Christison, when she writes (p. 227) about Uris' The Haj "As in Exodus a quarter century earlier, The Haj's anti-heroes were cowardly, ignorant, sexually deviant, and unmotivated be any sense of nationalism"
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