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A critical look at “the Holocaust” (Shoah business)

1. The devastating barb: “There’s no business like Shoah business” is, sad to say, a recognizable truth.
Leon A. Jick, “The Holocaust: its Use and Abuse within the American Public”, Yad Vashem Studies (XIV), Jerusalem 1981, p. 316.

2. In the case of the genocide of the Jews, it is obvious that one of the Jewish ideologies exploits the great massacre in a rather scandalous way.
Pierre Vidal-Naquet, Les Juifs, la mémoire et le présent, Maspero, Paris 1981, p. 215.

3. Many Israelis feel offended by the way in which the Holocaust is exploited in the Diaspora. They even feel ashamed that the Holocaust has become a civil religion for Jews in the United States. They respect the works of Alfred Kazin, Irving Howe, and Marie Syrkin. But of other writers, editors, historians, bureaucrats, and academics they say, using the word Shoa, which is the Hebrew for Holocaust: “There’s no business like Shoa business”.
Jacobo Timerman, The Longest War – Israel in Lebanon, translated from the Spanish by Miguel Acoca, Alfred A. Knopf, New York 1982, p. 15.

4. The Eichmann trial in 1961 […] was exploited in a cold-blooded way as “a means of practical policy, aimed at practical gains”. – One of the principal gains, [Boaz Evron] says, was to heighten the sense of guilt of the Germans: to put Germany in a situation of permanent disadvantage in the eyes of the world and to exploit this situation not only by extracting still greater payments in reparation for the crimes of the Nazis, but by insisting at the same time (quite rightly) that mere money could not compensate for the sufferings of the Jews […] moral blackmail […] moral blackmail.
Michael Adams [reviewing a long article of Boaz Evron published in Hebrew in the Tel Aviv literary journal Yiton 77], “About Use and Misuse of the Holocaust by the State of Israel”, Jewish Chronicle (London), 4 October 1982 [and in The Guardian].

5. I first heard the bitter pun “There’s no business like Shoah business” while working at YIVO [Institute for Jewish Research], an institution almost exclusively staffed by Holocaust survivors or their children. The joke acknowledged the seemingly limitless appetite for Holocaust materials, mainly as fund-raising tools within the Jewish community, but also as a source of identity – even a perverse ethnic pride – as well as the antidote to the fascination with Nazism outlined above.
J. Hoberman, “Film/Shoah Business”, Village Voice (New York), 28 January 1986, p. 65 [J. Hoberman supported Claude Lanzmann’s film against the critiques launched by Pauline Kael in The New Yorker].

6. [In a B’nai B’rith lecture in Jerusalem, Sir Imanuel Jakobovits, the British Chief Rabbi, said that the Holocaust was not] an event different from any previous national catastrophe [for the Jews] in spite of the existence of “an entire industry, with handsome profits for writers, researchers, film makers, monument-builders, museum-planners and even politicians”.
Haim Shapiro [Jerusalem], “Chief Rabbi assails Holocaust ‘industry'”, Jewish Chronicle (London), 4 December 1987, p. 3.

7. War and Remembrance […] only minimalizes the historical events and issues it is exploiting. The deliberate extermination of millions of Jews and the death and mutilation of many other millions in the Second World War are merely an expensive and logistically complex backdrop to the soap operatics of the plot, and the promotion of products sanctioned by author Herman Wouk. […] all the sufferings […] have once again been reduced to mere fodder for the merchants of conspicuous consumption.
John Haslett Cuff, “War and merchandising”, Globe and Mail (Toronto), 17 November 1988, p. A 18.

8. The newspaper Ha’Aretz (December 16) published an attack by a director of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Center on the Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. The displeasure of Yad Vashem over what it sees as the commercialization of the Holocaust by the Wiesenthal Center has long been known, but this is the most open attack yet […]. [Said the director :] “The Jewish people does many vulgar things but the Wiesenthal Center raised it to a complete level: The optimum use of sensitive issues in order to raise money”.
“Sad”, Jewish Press (Brooklyn, New York), 23 December 1988.

9. “[…] What I call Shoah business”
These words were pronounced by Jean Kahn, head of the European Jewish Congress, on 7 September 1989 in a national French TV debate (on the network La Cinq) with a Jesuit, Father Martelet, about the Auschwitz Carmel.

12. [Said Mrs Miller :] “I do not feel comfortable with the Holocaust being used as the vehicle for these huge fund-raising dinners for this [Simon Wiesenthal] centre, the “celebratisation” of the Holocaust. […] I think that using the Holocaust to raise money to sell Israel Bonds is not an appropriate way to contribute to those who died. I really don’t want to see the Holocaust become another fund-raising vehicle for any group. I’m not even comfortable with all these private, large donations to the US Holocaust Museum.” […] Mrs Miller resents commemoration being used not only as a fund-raising tactic, but in order to gain political support for Israel.
Andrew Silow Carroll, “How to Remember the Holocaust”, The Australian Jewish News, 24 August 1990. A. S. Carroll is a reporter for the Washington Jewish Week, where this article originally appeared. He talks here with American writer Judith Miller, author of a new book One, by One, by One: Facing the Holocaust, on appropriate – and inappropriate – ways of remembering the Holocaust.

13. Too many books are written on the Holocaust. There are too many films and television plays that exploit the subject such as […]. There is a fascination with the Holocaust and with Nazism. There may, in fact, be “no business like Shoah business”. The problem is that many of these productions, if not most, are historically inaccurate, sentimental, roma[n]tic, exotic, and hyperbolic and so they ultimately distort and cheapen the Holocaust. – The popularization and commercialization of the Holocaust is not only unhistorical but it is antihistorical […]. – There are still many survivors alive and already their past has been turned into falsification and fiction.
Michael N. Dobkowski (professor of religious studies), “German Reunification: a Jewish View”, Martyrdom and Resistance, International Society for Yad Vashem, New York, Sept.-Oct. 1990, p. 4.

14. Rabbi Dr André Ungar, of New Jersey, USA, writes: “[Professor Eugen Heimler] hated hype, hypocrisy, bullies and poseurs, academic jargon and psych-babble, and professional Holocaust mongers.”
[Obituary] “Professor Eugene Heimler”, Jewish Chronicle (London), 14 December 1990, p. 13.

15. “Das Shoah-Business ist die einzige wirkliche Wachstumindustrie der Vereinigten Staaten”, spottet Brewster Chamberlin, Archivar am Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington […]. Michael Lerner, Herausgeber der Zeitschrift Tikkun, orthodoxer Jude und notorischer Querdenker [sagte]: “Wir sollten langsam damit anfangen, uns eine Antwort auf diese Frage zu überlegen. ‘There is no business like Shoah business’ wird unsere schwarzen und roten Brüder nicht zufriedenstellen.”
Jewish author Henryk M. Broder, “Das Shoah-Business”, Der Spiegel, 19 April 1993, p. 249, 256.

September 13, 1993