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August 07, 1987 - Image 43

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-08-07

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

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"Germans were brainwash-
ed" allowed people to "pay lip
service to the Holocaust but
to avoid confronting the basic
fact that good husbands and
good fathers carried it out."
The Eichmann Trial of
1961, after which Hannah
Arendt wrote of "the banali-
ty of evil," gave impetus to
serious historical research.
But it was the period of the
late 1960s that saw a real
change in the Holocaust con-
sciousness of American Jews.
"This was a time of ethnic
pride and one when question-
ing and protest were ac-
cepted," Mais said. Feeling
permission to question the
establishment on civil rights
and Vietnam, American Jews
came to feel they could also
question the establishment
about the Holocaust. The Six-
Day War of 1967, replete as it
was with Holocaust
analogies, was also an impor-
tant factor.
But what finally got the
Holocaust into American con-
sciousness, he said, was the
miniseries of that name
which aired on U.S. television
in 1978. Even with all its pro-
blems, 220 million Americans
"came to terms with the word
Holocaust!'
Because it would not have
been aired had receptivity not
been anticipated, the series
was an important "signpost,"
he said.
While Israelis had long
hoped the Holocaust would
penetrate American con-
sciousness, they are concern-
ed about its being trivialized
and misused. "We can't be
blind to the Holocaust or be
blinded by it," Mais said. One
instance of being blinded by
it occurs when people say, "I
must remain Jewish because
of what the Nazis did to the
Jews:' Here everything is
"seen through the prism of
the Holocaust and it is
overemphasized to the point
of becoming a surrogate
Jewish identity or religion."
Another instance of being
blinded by the Holocaust oc-
curs when people say, "Israel
has the right to exist because
of the Holocaust." This
"obliterates Zionism and its
tangible expression," ignor-
ing the fact that Jews have a
right to their own country
and worked for it in the
1890s, in the 1920s and
1930s.
Using the Holocaust to
legitimize Israel makes
Zionism appear to be a post-
Holocaust response and
phenomenon, "and if so,
where did the infrastructure
that allowed the survivors to
be absorbed come from?" It is
also ideologically dangerous,
Mais continued, because

Arab propagandists can and
do argue that "Europe spit
the Jews up and we have to
pay the bill."
However, he said, there is a
direct historical connection
between the Holocaust en-
ding in 1945 and Israel's crea-
tion in 1948 in that the need
for a refuge for 300,000 DPs
the world would not accept
eventually led to the UN par-
tition vote of 1947.
Furthermore, "one cannot
understand Israel without
understanding the
Holocaust!' Mais said. "It's
part of our collective
memory?' Israelis share the
consensus that Jews cannot
afford to be in a situation of
"hopelessness, helplessness
and powerlessness" and that
"there's only one country in
the world that puts Jewish
survival as its number one
priority?'
This is reinforced, said
Mais, when you walk out of
Yad Vashem. "You walk out of
the building, out of the
darkness, and you see the
sun. You see Israeli soldiers
and you walk into the
sunlight of Jerusalem?'

Jewish Telegraphic Agency

NEWS

Caesarea
Dig Resumes

Tel Aviv (JTA) — The ar-
chaeological excavation at
Caesarea, halted last week by
pressure from ultra-Orthodox
zealots, was resumed without
incident Sunday morning.
But the dig was being con-
ducted by Israeli ar-
chaeologists instead of the
American volunteers headed
by Prof. Robert Bull, of Drew
University in Madison, N.J.
The excavation was halted by
Drew University president
Paul Hardin because of
pressure exerted on him by
ultra-Orthodox elements in
the U.S.
A small force of police were
present at the dig site but
were not called on to take any
action, as no representatives
of the Atra Kadisha (protec-
tion of Jewish burial sites)
group appeared.

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

43

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