What Price Holocaustomania? The Specter of Hitler That Drives Washington’s “Israel First” Mideast Policy

If Adolf Hitler were able to look up to earth from the depths of hell, a broad smile would break out on the F�hrer’s face. Far from being forgotten 53 years after his demise in a Berlin bunker, Hitler stands at the world’s epicenter. All roads that once led to Rome now lead to and from his Holocaust.

This phenomenon sustains America’s “Israel First” approach to the Middle East. The simplistic “Get Saddam” solution to our resulting troubles there flourishes with the help of media-drawn similarities to Hitler and the crying need of opinion molders and politicians to find a new villain, now that the Evil Empire no longer exists.

The threat Saddam allegedly presents to “little” Israel is widely portrayed in media photographs showing Israelis trying on gas masks. Such media-engendered emotionalism aims to conceal from American taxpayers the $600 million cost of the latest U.S. military buildup against Iraq, which certainly poses no threat to the United States.

Saddam’s defiance of the U.N. resolution authorizing the search for possibly hidden Iraqi chemical and biological “weapons of mass destruction” has found wide support in the very Arab countries which, under American leadership in the 1991 Gulf war, intervened to reverse the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

Albright’s Failure

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s late January 1998 tour of Arab countries to win support for a U.S. military strike against Baghdad was an abysmal failure, although through adroit language she tried to cover over the series of rebuffs. In a Feb. 4 press statement, the secretary said that “none of the Arab leaders urged me to tell the president not to use force.”

Portraying proverbial Arab politeness (Arabs almost never say “no.” Instead they say “Inshallah”-if God wills it-which can mean anything, or nothing.) as equivalent to support was about as credible as her “surprise” on learning that not one, but all four of her grandparents were Jewish and that three had died in the European Holocaust. The result was that on his follow-up visit, faced with the refusal of all Arab countries but Kuwait to permit U.S. usage of their air bases for tactical strikes against Iraq, Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen was obliged to state publicly that he would, after all, not request the Saudis for such usage.

Unlike the 1990-91 Gulf crisis, when Saddam Hussain’s forces had invaded a fellow Arab state, in 1998 both Arab intellectuals and the Arab masses openly expressed sympathy for the Iraqi people, though not for Saddam Hussain. This forced other Arab leaders to refuse participation in any move against Saddam which might cause civilian casualties.

Washington’s Double Standard

Arabs also unanimously questioned obvious U.S. double standards-seeking to punish Iraq for having defied one United Nations Security Council resolution while condoning 50 years of innumerable broken U.N. resolutions by Israel, which also makes no serious effort to conceal the fact it possess all three forbidden categories of weapons of mass destruction: nuclear, chemical and biological.

One of this writer’s friends of long standing, a Jordanian, asked me why the U.S. stood aside and permitted a great wrong to be visited upon the Palestinians by the Israelis, allegedly to right the original wrong “committed not by the Arabs, but by the Nazis under Hitler against the Jews.” He, of course, perfectly understood the psychosis behind the unwavering, unchallengeable support given to the Israeli state since its promulgation in 1948 by the U.S. and, for a time, many other Western countries as well. It was motivated by deep-seated Christian feelings of guilt for the Nazi extermination of so many Jews. As CBS commentator Howard K. Smith has cogently noted, “The American public has formed its judgment of the Middle East conflict not on the relative merits of the Arab and Israeli cases, but rather on the basis of Christian-Jewish relations.”

Ergo, Christian guilt had, at all costs, to be kept alive and constantly tapped by Israel-leaning publishers, editors, writers, and, in Hollywood, producers and directors. And, of course, woe to those who seem to threaten this state of mind that is so vital to the very existence of Israel. [This brings to mind Oscar Wilde’s Ballad of Reading Gaol: “The man threatened to kill the thing they loved and so he had to die.”]

Keeping the spirit alive involved focusing the attention of U.S. opinion molders and the public on the many sins committed against Jews-from the World War II genocide to the European anti-Semitism that gave birth to it-by injecting Holocaustomania into politics, religion, the arts, and the entertainment world. Then surely no one would ever be able to make a reasoned, logical judgment as to how best to bring about peace in the harried Middle East and how best to safeguard American national interests in that area.

Through the near-total Zionist control over Hollywood, the television networks and the printed media, this obsession is forever kept alive. Thus we have “Exodus,” “Shoah,” “Schindler’s List,” and tens of thousands of visitors pouring into the Holocaust Museum in Washington and other Holocaust centers around the country.

Day in and day out, some new facet of Nazi genocide is brought forcibly to public attention through highlighting by the media or television. It may be the arrest and trial in France or Italy of alleged Nazi war criminals (now in their nineties), or it may appear in the “Arts Section” of The New York Times where a new play or movie is reviewed. Television, the press and book publishers have brought us an endless array of Holocaust survivors, sons and daughters of Holocaust survivors, “righteous gentile” rescuers of Holocaust survivors, and now the grandchildren of Holocaust survivors searching through Eastern European cemeteries for their “roots.”

During the past year The New York Times prominently featured more than 65 reports on the dispute over the assets of Holocaust victims in Swiss banks. This included full-page listings of the names of claimants and also of the names in which unclaimed accounts were opened.

The name of the game is simple-never, ever permit the words “Nazi” or “Holocaust” to slide from the consciousness of readers and viewers. In April of 1997, one Washington, DC PBS outlet devoted two programs on two successive weekends-a total of six hours-to the trial of Adolph Eichmann, Nazi arch-criminal, and to additional commentary concluding the programs.

Lest readers misunderstand this writer, he would make one thing unequivocally clear: Nazi genocide was an indescribably gross and horrible tragedy. At this point it is not of any real consequence whether the number of Jews killed was six million-the widely accepted figure which by now has been held even by Zionist writers to be far too high-or four million, the number which is closer to historic substantiation, or even lesser numbers of human beings who were exterminated just because they were Jews. It was one of the worst abominations committed against humanity, made even more tragic and incomprehensible by the fact that it occurred in the heart of “enlightened” Europe at the hands of leaders whose nation previously had been almost synonymous with scientific progress and “high culture.”

But, certainly, this horrible crime ought not to be permitted to cloud our judgment as to what constitutes justice in the continuing Palestinian-Israeli-Arab conflict, which is taking place in a totally different place and at a different time. Nevertheless, The New York Times competes with The Washington Post daily in dredging up material to deepen our sense of guilt, not over what’s happening today in Jerusalem but what happened more than half a century ago in Berlin.

On Jan. 25 the headline, “Neo-Nazis Battle German Leftist Over Anti-Nazi Exhibit” appeared in the “Arts Section” of the Times, together with a lengthy article dealing with the deportation during World War II of Jews from Bordeaux. At approximately the same time, The Washington Post’s normally moderate Stephen Rosenfeld attempted to insinuate that charge of anti-Semitism into the words “Jewish clique” as used by a Palestinian newspaper discussing the Monica Lewinsky case in Washington. Yes, ironically, even Arabs can be labeled “anti-Semitic,” although in fact they are Semites and do not have to link any claim to the Holy Land to descent from seventh-century converts to Judaism, as do the Ashkenazi Jews of Europe from whom half of the Israelis and most American Jews, including this writer, are descended.

Endless attention is being drawn to one aspect or another of the Holocaust. In October, The Wall Street Journal reviewed “Seven Years in Tibet,” a beautiful, riveting and timely film with unparalleled, lovely scenery as well as a good performance by leading actor Brad Pitt. However, in the very first paragraph of his review, Joe Morgenstern wrote at length about the pro-Nazi views of Austrian author Heinrich Harrer, whose life in Tibet is the basis of the film. Morgenstern noted that Harrer had served in Hitler’s SS. Added as a voice-over to the soundtrack during post-production were two brief updates on Harrer’s Nazi past.

If this had been a film about Austria, Europe or World War II, this exposure of Harrer’s past might have been relevant. But the connection is fragile, at best, between the recent Tibetan adventures screened in the film and the Austrian demagogue who became Germany’s leader 65 years ago. This is a film about contemporary Tibet, including important references to its long fight against occupation and oppression.

In January of this year, New York Times columnist Anthony Tommasini wrote a piece for the “Arts Section” reviewing the telecast of Richard Strauss’ fascinating opera, “Capriccio,” starring gifted soprano Kiri Te Kanawa. In conclusion, Tommasini criticized the composer for “living amid Nazi brutality” and “producing a work so seemingly disconnected from reality.”

In a caustic letter to the Times journalist, I expressed my concern over this criticism of Strauss and angrily queried, “What did you wish this gifted composer to do? Put on sackcloth and ashes, or perhaps write a musical sequence to the Diary of Anne Frank?”

Replying promptly, Tommasini denied “berating” Strauss. To my charge that he and his colleagues at The New York Times are affected with Holocaustomania, he responds, “That is your take.”

This lamentable virus has, unfortunately, spread to Canada. On Jan. 26, the Toronto Globe and Mail carried an attack on anti-Zionist Professor Norman Finkelstein of New York’s Hunter College for daring to write that there is a “Holocaust industry” exploiting, for its own purposes, the slaughter of European Jews during World War II.

Such a characterization of Zionist activity was first made by United Kingdom Chief Rabbi Immanuel Jacobovitz in a 1985 sermon, in which he referred to the “vast, successful fund-raising machinery whose principal weapon is the recital of the Holocaust saga.” This keeps alive a plethora of organizations and skilled publicists whom the British chief Rabbi accused of “subordination of humanistic, ethical Judaism to the ethos of Zionism.”

Rabbi Jacobvitz was deploring the fact that, since World War II, part and parcel of being a Jew, in contrast to believing in Judaism, seems to be the worship of the State of Israel, fostered by the ceaseless recantation of the Holocaust. He called for a “shift in emphasis from the survival of Jews to the survival of Judaism.”

Fortunately, the second U.S. war against Saddam Hussain has been averted, at least for the present. But we can be sure that Zionist control over the media will never permit the image of Hitler to vanish.

Dr. Alfred M. Lilienthal is the author of The Zionist Connection, What Price Israel? and other major works.