The "Holocaust" has become a Racket    
    Who says so? His name is Finkelstein    

FOR A LONG TIME, the suspicion has been growing in international circles - by no means all of them "anti-semitic" or "neo-nazi" that the legend of the so-called "Holocaust" (the alleged extermination of Jews in German-occupied Europe in World War II) is being turned into an unscrupulous racket, part of it to make money and part to exert political pressure.

We say "alleged" because historians are by no means unanimous about the events falling under the "Holocaust" heading. Some deny any programme of extermination of Jews under the Nazis. Others go to the opposite extreme and accept the whole package. Between these poles there are many variations of viewpoint. Some historians, like David Irving, endorse parts of the "Holocaust" theory while rejecting other parts.

In fact the "Holocaust" is not at all the simple issue that many would have us believe. It did not consist of one single big event; it has to be broken down into thousands of much smaller events, some of them related to each other, some not. Proving that one event happened does not prove that the others did. The whole issue is enormously complex, and if it is to be assessed fairly it must cover "all" inhuman acts which occurred, or were reputed to have occurred during the time it covers. This includes inhuman acts committed by belligerents of "all" the combatant nations in World War II, not just those of the Axis powers.

But for the purpose of this study we can leave aside the question of whether this or that event of the "Holocaust" took place or not. The relevant question is that of how we deal with the ":Holocaust" today. And here is where there are some extremely interesting developments.

Lies, greed and extortion

A book is appearing this month called The Holocaust Industry. It has already sent shock waves throughout the world by accusing those who exploit the "Holocaust" of telling lies, conniving in atrocities and being motivated by naked greed. It condemns the pursuit by Jews of reparations from Swiss bankers and others as "an outright extortion racket." Its author describes the permanent Holocaust exhibition recently opened at the Imperial War Museum in London as "a circus."

But the remarkable thing about this author is that his name is Norman Finkelstein, and he is Jewish - in fact the son of two Holocaust survivors. According to Dr. Finkelstein, his father never spoke of his experiences while his mother spoke of little else. Yet, he says, even she was disgusted at the rise of the Holocaust industry in America, where Finkelstein is a lecturer.

The spotlight on the Finkelstein book was put in a Sunday Times review by Brian Appleyard on the 11th June. Said Appleyard:-

‘If any of this had been written or said by a non-Jew with no direct experience of the Holocaust, it would have been savaged as anti-semitism or, worse, Holocaust denial. But Finkelstein is a Jew - though non-observant... His views make him an outcast among the American Jewish establishment and define him, for many, as an enemy of Israel.’

Speaking to Appleyard, Finkelstein said that after liberation in 1945 there were only 60,000 Jewish survivors from the concentration camps. Yet in the 1960s and 1970s many of his parents' friends started claiming to be survivors. Soon everybody was a victim. He continued:-

‘I'm not exaggerating when I say that one out of three Jews you stop in the street in New York will claim to be a survivor. And, since 1993, the industry has been claiming that 10,000 survivors have been dying every month. That is completely impossible. It would mean that there were 8 million survivors in 1945, but there were only 7 million Jews in German-occupied Europe before the war.’

Finkelstein, according to Appleyard, says that the Holocaust industry was born at the time of the six-day war in June 1967 - before that the Holocaust and Israel were scarcely mentioned in American public life. The American Jewish elite, says Appleyard...

‘... embraced the cause of Israel and created the contemporary image of the Holocaust. Finkelstein highlights the power of this elite by pointing out that Jewish income is almost double that of non-Jews. 16 of the 40 wealthiest Americans are Jews, 40 per cent of Nobel prize-winners in science and economics are Jewish, 20 per cent of professors at main universities are Jewish, as are 40 per cent of partners in law firms in New York and Washington.

Led by campaigners such as Simon Wiesenthal and Elie Wiesel - Finkelstein claims the latter gets a minimum lecture fee of $25,000 plus chauffeured limousine - the industry insists on the unique nature of the atrocity. It can be compared, they say, to nothing else. Finkelstein - rightly, I believe - identifies this as the intellectual heart of the matter.

Wiesel and others insist that the Holocaust stands outside history and rational discussion. The only final response is silent incomprehension. This position has become so extreme that any attempt to compare it with other episodes of human cruelty - Finkelstein mentions the deaths of 10 million Africans in the Congo as a result of the Belgian ivory and rubber trade - is often met with accusations of anti-semitism and Holocaust denial.’


Here Appleyard is, of course, putting his finger on a very real phenomenon of modern media propaganda, and he is to be praised for doing so. Though he is a thoroughgoing orthodox "liberal" who pays the usual lip service to the "Holocaust" theory, by saying as much as he has, and by quoting Finkelstein at some length on the matter, he has probably not done his career as a journalist any good. But he has not yet finished. He continues:-

‘The danger of the uniqueness argument is that it blinds us to the possibility of other forms of evil. People see the Holocaust museums and memorials, they see the face of Hitler, and they think that that is what evil is like. The truth is that evil also wore the masks of Stalin, Lenin, Mao and Pol Pot. And if we are convinced that evil must wear jackboots and a little moustache, we may not recognise it the next time round.’

Finkelstein, says Appleyard, adds that the leaders of the Holocaust industry use the uniqueness argument to convince themselves of their own virtue. And he goes on:-

‘... If this particular suffering and martyrdom were any worse than any other for the victims - including indirect victims such as contemporary Jews and the whole state of Israel - then who dare say a word against the moral stature of those who daily remind us?’

Who indeed - except those few who are prepared to put their careers and/or businesses on the line and cross the threshold to areas of debate that have been declared out of bounds in our contemporary "democracy"? Of course - though Appleyard does not state it - an important purpose of this atmosphere of carefully engendered hysteria, apart from those mentioned by Finkelstein, is to put the mockers on any seriously rational discussion of the power of Jewry in the modern world and the role it plays in influencing major national and international events. The moment a politician or journalist dares to venture onto this terrain, however moderate the language used, the telephone lines to party or editorial offices will buzz incessantly and he or she is quickly shut up. Should a word of dissent against this gagging process be uttered, the violins will immediately start to play, "survivors" will be wheeled on stage to relate their experiences (for the umpteenth time) and the dissenter will be accused of wishing to bring back the gas chambers!

Right or wrong?

Appleyard probably goes as far as it is possible for a professional writer to go in his nonconformism on this topic. He says of Finkelstein:-

‘So is he right? Well, in one key sense he must be... The idea that one historical event is different from all others is plainly irrational. It is also dangerous because it silences discussion and analysis of the Holocaust, and when that happens we lose our ability to learn anything.

The challenge today, "writes Finkelstein," is to restore the Nazi Holocaust as a rational subject of enquiry... The abnormality of the Nazi Holocaust springs not from the event itself but from the exploitive industry that has grown up around it...

But is he right that the Holocaust industry is entirely self-serving, corrupt and destructive? It is true that it has produced absurd fantasists like Binjamin Wilkomirski, who have persuaded publishers and scholars of the truth of their fabricated tales of survival under the Nazis. Many of the claims of those who pursue reparations are plainly outrageous, and I do not doubt that the political ruthlessness with which many of these claims have been enforced is, as Finkelstein says, encouraging a new wave of anti-semitism.

But there is, in his book, a serious problem of tone. It is a rant, and Finkelstein is a man obsessed. Those who know nothing of these matters are likely to doubt the scholarship that underpins such savagely expressed conviction...’

Well, maybe. But the "rant" description could be applied to some presentations of almost any theory of politics or history we may care to think of. There is ranting aplenty in many of the "orthodox books," newspaper and magazine articles, films and TV documentaries on the Holocaust theme. There will always be sections of people who will be put off an idea by the crude style of its advocacy, just as there will be sections who will be thus bullied into accepting it uncritically. The question of whether Dr. Finkelstein is right in the main drift of what he says should not be obscured by preferences in literary style. Perhaps here even Appleyard is allowing his own feelings to get the better of him, for it is very doubtful whether Finkelstein ever claimed that the Holocaust industry was "entirely" self-serving, corrupt and destructive. For every cynical exploiter of the theme, there are probably a hundred unthinking boobies who write about it out of quite genuine conviction, albeit not without the all-too-human craving to be in step with fashion.

In conclusion, we must hope that The Holocaust Industry is widely read. Coming from a Jew, it is certain to be taken far more seriously, in the current intellectual climate, than if the writer were a Gentile - in which case some suspicion of sinister "neo-nazi" motives, however unfounded, would no doubt cloud the judgement of many a reader and critic. As things are, it is by no means certain that Dr. Finkelstein's kosher pedigree will ensure that his book gets the circulation it deserves. We can confidently assert right now that "certain interests" will be pulling all possible strings to get it "burnt" (figuratively speaking) within the reviewing, retail and library networks. It will be a measure of the health of our free society whether they succeed or not.

The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering, by Dr. Norman G. Finkelstein. Verso. £16.00

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