The Left and Holocaust Denial

The so-called anti-Zionist Left long ago descended into outright anti-Semitism. So it is only matter of time before that debasement becomes complete and Left goes all in on the most pernicious modern anti-Semitic trope of all -- Holocaust denial.

There have long been Left-wing Holocaust deniers, willing to make common cause with their fellow nut-jobs on the extreme Right. It's no great insight to realize the extremes of either political wing are not far apart. Indeed, Nazism itself is the virtual embodiment of mixed Left-Right extremism.

But until to now, Holocaust denial has been a facet of the most extreme Leftists, denizens of the wackiest web forums and outliers among their fellow travelers -- which is not to say that they have been chastised by the Left. Extreme leftists might not be deniers themselves, but will associate with deniers who are also, of course, unremitting anti-Zionists. But in general, even loopy older malcontents like Ward Churchill don't question the Holocaust and are willing to attack the deniers. In the past at least, left-wing academics have disputed that you can be a leftist and a Holocaust denier at the same time. Not for long.

Israel remains an obsession for the modern Left, and 21st-century Leftists will let nothing stand in the way of delegitimizing the Jewish state, which stands for everything they oppose -- individual freedom, religious rights, free markets, economic success, military excellence, and most of all, Westernization. In the effort to delegitimize Israel, the Left has had some successes, some failures, and some efforts that remain uncertain, such as the BDS movement, which engenders (discouraging for the Left) pushbacks with each "achievement."

Perhaps the most notable success of the effort to delegitimize Israel is the widespread acceptance of the Leftist narrative that Israel was a creation of the Holocaust. No less an authority than President Obama declaimed this idea, centering Israeli legitimacy on the Holocaust as well as equating the plight of Palestinian Arabs with those of Jews during the Holocaust. In making this odious comparison in his famous Cairo address, Obama also staked out the standard position of the Left, asserting that denying the "fact" of the Holocaust is "baseless," "ignorant" and "hateful." But Obama's rejection of Holocaust denial was pro-forma -- necessary to counterbalance to his rhetorical (and morally and historically offensive) equivalency between the Holocaust and the so-called Palestinian nakba.

Today if you ask an average American whether Israel was founded as a result of the Holocaust, they would most likely say yes. I know my own Advanced Placement World History classes, students almost always posit the Holocaust as the founding basis of Israel, because this is what they have been told by teachers for ten years.

The problem for the Left is that despite the widespread acceptance of this false narrative, it does nothing to change the average American's mostly positive view of the Jewish state. Americans also learn in school, and through popular culture, about the singularly evil nature of the Holocaust. If as a result of this catastrophe a refuge for the Jews was founded in their biblical homeland, carved out of about 2% of the Arab-Muslim Middle East -- well, so what? And that feeling is likely reinforced every day Americans watch Arabs slaughter each other in places like Aleppo, Cairo, and Baghdad.

But what if even the Holocaust "narrative" is false? What if the narrative of the Holocaust as the very basis for the Jewish state is itself a scam, perpetrated by evil Zionists in order to drive poor indigenous Palestinian Arabs from their homes? Then even your average decent, even-keeled, right-minded American might come to see Israel as the evil transgressor.

Perhaps the first notable step has now been taken in that direction by Haaretz, a mainstream Leftist newspaper, (in Israel no less) with the recent publication of an article by somebody called Eli Gat, described as a Holocaust survivor, that calls the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943 a myth. Discussing Gat's article in Commentary, Eugene Kontorovich sees it as an attempt to drive a wedge into perhaps the last remaining Jewish consensus -- that the Holocaust produced Jewish victims and heroes -- as a way to undermine what's left of Jewish unity when it comes to Israel. No argument there, but it is likely only a first step what will be a continuing efforts to delegitimize the Holocaust itself, as a way to destroy Israel.

The Commentary piece, while decrying the article's intent (and Haaretz's by publishing it) gives the article's factual assertions far too much credit, disputing the interpretation of actions in the ghetto, rather than the factual basis of the author's claims. This is precisely the kind of opening that will be exploited by future Leftist deniers of the Holocaust.

In the Haaretz piece, Gat implies that the small groups of starving, ill-armed fighters that led the uprising condemned the remaining 50,000 people in the ghetto to death, because the Germans, in reaction to the uprising, razed the ghetto. Incredibly, he claims that there was "something of a change in the German policy toward the Jews" in the beginning of 1943, and appears to believe that Jews who worked in ghetto factories for the German arms industry would have continued to do so but for the uprising. The contingencies of history are alive with possibilities, but these are the fodder of novelists, not historians. Gat's claim is simply untrue.

In January 1942, three months before the actual uprising in April, the Germans attempted to deport 10,000 of the 50,000 remaining Jews in the ghetto, but were met with scattered resistance. After that, the SS agreed to transport some number of Jewish factory workers and their families to the Lublin district, where they supposedly would be spared in exchange for their labor. However, the workers by and large refused to go, having learned by then that the Lublin district, administered by the notorious mass murderer SS General Otto Globocnik, housed the death factories of Sobibor, Treblinka, and Belzec. The workers rightly figured that even if the Nazis spared them for a few months, they, and certainly their families, would eventually be gassed. Indeed, there is no evidence that the few foremen and workers who took the Nazis up on this offer survived.

A couple months later in the spring of 1943, Heinrich Himmler tasked SS General Jurgen Stroop with annihilating the ghetto. There was no "option" to keep the factories running. The SS planned to remove some workers if possible, but Stroop was happy to kill every Jew in place if he could. The uprising occurred only after the Germans entered the ghetto, the fate of the Jews there already sealed. Those who fought did not decide the fate of those who merely hid -- which was the main form of resistance. The Nazis intended to kill or deport every Jew in the ghetto, with or without an uprising.

Gat also tries to lessen the importance and heroism of the ghetto fighters by setting up and destroying straw men, claiming for instance that early accounts of the uprising told of hundreds of German dead or widespread fighting that lasted weeks. But outside the commonly heated recollections of combat veterans, or of movie or television treatments that sometimes show the fighting as more "conventional" than it was, this claim is also untrue. And besides, so what if the heroism of a few poorly armed fighters standing against impossible odds is sometimes exaggerated by participants -- when is it not? World War II combat pilots, the fittest, best fed and best rested of combatants, routinely overestimated enemy losses and their own accomplishments. Did this turn their achievements into myths? In the case of the ghetto, where the best fighter was hungry, untrained, and armed with a decrepit pistol, a few bullets and a homemade grenade, killing or wounding even a single SS man was a significant feat. Besides, even by SS General Stroop's own account, resistance in the ghetto lasted for nearly four weeks, and the Germans were still employing heavy artillery and tanks against ghetto fighters more than a week into the conflict.

This attack on the veracity of Jewish fighting accounts will only be the beginning. Ultimately, the accounts of Jewish victims, including those of more than a million Jewish children, will come under attack as well. By the Left's own twisted account of Zionist triumphs, eliminating the Holocaust is ultimately the only way to finally and firmly undermine and destroy Israel's legitimacy. This is likely only the start of that effort.

Jonathan Keiler's Israeli commando adventure novel Upfall is available at Amazon and other internet retailers.