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May 04, 1984 - Image 16

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-05-04

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.


Frib14, May




. .



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Continued from preceding page

quickest pseudo-spiritual bang that
American Jews can get without
studying. That means that the obses-
sion serves several purposes: It
allows a new generation to say that
we're better than our predecessors
because we would fight back. And
they're full of baloney. They didn't
fight back on an issue that would
have cost them very little; the issue of
the Jerusalem embassy. They've run
to cover. The American Jewish estab-
lishment wishes the issue of
Jerusalem could go away. It's mak-
ing them uncomfortable."
Rabbi Hertzberg said that one of
the reasons he returned to the com-
mission' was that he hoped he could
end the obsession with the Holocaust.
He also wanted to place American
Jewry's reaction to the Holocaust in
the perspective that there was not
much more that could be done to help
the Jews in Germany once Hitler got
things rolling.
"As everyone knows," he said,
"the Nazi murders were unprece-
dented: It was death as an industry.
There had been large-scale pogroms
before, but there had never been
death as an industry. Up until 1938,
it was more than arguable that the
situation of the Jews in Poland was
worse than that of the Jews in Ger-
many. That is why. the Jews in Ger-
many thought, This is a pogrom.
This is uncomfortable, this is bad, but
it will go away.' Jews had outlived
this kind of thing before.
The crucial years for this period
are 1942-1943. Those are the years of
the major mass killings. I am saying,
`Yes, American Jews could have done
more, but don't blame them for rea-
sons that have very little to do with
the actual historical situation.'
But the real question is, If the
Nazis came to America, what lessons
do we derive from the Shoa?'
If the Nazis were already in
place, if they already ran the police
station in Southfield, then I think the
one lesson we have derived from the
Shoa is the one that everyone ex-
coriates Hannah Arendt for: The only
thing to have done is never to have
allowed them to organize aJudenrat.
"Remember, all of the Jewish
representatives under the Nazis
were organized on the idea that you
were giving the pogromchiks an or-
ganized body that somehow could
shame a bit, buy, off a bit, do business
with. That's our ancestral experi-
ence. But with the Nazis you can't do
business. Therefore, don't have any
communal organizations. Leave
Jews to hide individually. They'll be
better off.
"The only thing we've learned
from the Shoa is that under the kind
of stress we should instantly disband
the Anti-Defamation League, the
American Jewish Committee, the
American Jewish. Congress and all
the rest. Let there be absolutely no
collaboration. Let there be no organ-
ization to collaborate with. Under the
Nazis, you simply disappear. Any-

body that represents the Jewish
community in such an extreme situa-
tion is essentially a body that is going
to be used by Nazis against Jews.
The second lesson is that on an
international plane, powerlessness is
a disaster. And that's one of the rea-
sons that I am a Zionist. The fact that
Israel exists means that the Jewish
people have a central power some-
where, a place where the guns are
stashed. And therefore, on an int ,-
national plane, we are not tot e
Most important, the fundamen-
tal lesson that I derive from the
Holocaust is that Jews are safe in
untidy, moderate regimes.Ideologi-
cal regimes of either the right or the
left, regimes that want to create a
new heaven on earth, are inhospita-
ble to Jews because Jews are always
the square peg in the round hole.
"That being so, we have a pro-
found stake in an American society
in which tensions among classes are
not exacerbated.
"The chief lesson of the
Holocaust is that once it's on, you
can't affect it. Once the goyim have
gone crazy, you can't affect them. Our
job is to keep them from going mad."
Rabbi Hertzberg believes that

. . . Every time some
stupid kid puts a swastika
on somebody's door, you
spend another 100,000
bucks of ADL money .. .

"there are two kinds of chief insanity
about anti-Semitism abroad in the
Jewish world. One is that it's not our
problem. It's the problem of the
goyim because they are the anti-
Semites. Wrong. It is our problem. If
there are raving dogs around it's our
problem to keep others from becom-
ing raving dogs.
"The second insanity is that
every time some stupid kid puts a
swastika on somebody's door, you
spend another 100,000 bucks of
Anti-Defamation League money to
deal with the incident. That's not
where the action is. The action is
within the very fabric of the society.
"If America is pulled apart by
the ideological conservatives on one
side and the unwashed on the other,
we'll catch it. We have a stake in a
society that doesn't commit suicide. I
believe that I have a stake in creating
more Charlie Rangels and me
Andy Youngs, even if I don't ag.
with them, so that there are fewer
possible followers for the Jesse
In other words, every guy who
acquires a stake in the system is one
less potentially angry, semi-
educated redneck, leading some king
of storm troopers. We have a stake in
seeing to it that they don't get so
hungry that they want to kill us.
If the society goes mad, it will
find us first. Every society in the
West that has gone mad has found us

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