Someone’s gotta say it. Few ever do. And really, in all fairness, only a Jew with Judaic credentials like mine can write this. So here goes:
The Shoah — the Hitler Nazi Holocaust — has become akin to a game show or board game. It no longer is a serious thing. It has been made into a joke, not any more serious a historical saga than TV’s Family Feud really connotes the appalling Appalachian pathos and tragedy of western West Virginian Hatfields and eastern Kentucky McCoys murdering each other.
I grew up in the 1950s and much of the 1960s relatively unaware of the Holocaust. In time, as I hit my teens and high school, I learned plenty — not from movies or TV but from books and from men and women with digits tattooed on their wrists. By my college years in the 1970s, those lessons impelled me to become active in the movement to free Soviet Jewry from the clutches of communism’s iron grip. My years during that decade fighting for Soviet Jewry would transmogrify me and played major roles in my becoming passionate about studying all pertinent history — especially Jewish history since the time of the Bible and American history with extra focus on the Civil War and the presidents — and in my deciding to become a rav (Orthodox rabbi) and to defer a previous law-school plan on the back burner.
I relate to the Shoah differently from others. For me it was and always will be not about whining about a past that I cannot change but a call to action for Jewish survival now. Moreover, for me it is not a universal matter. Rather, it is parochial, a uniquely Jewish matter that saw a maniac fixated on one people, scattered and dispersed among others, and determined to eradicate them. Yes, he also went after homosexuals, political opponents, and the Romani people (disparagingly called “Gypsies”), but he was fixated on eradicating Jews. Thus, for me, the lessons and ramifications of the Holocaust are personal and not universal. It impelled me to do everything I could when a moment in history came to pry open the iron bars of communism and to force Leonid Brezhnev and Alexei Kosygin to let my people go. It impels me still to do my part advocating for Israel.
Loyalty? I am American through and through. I not only stand at the “Star-Spangled Banner” when it is played at a sports event I attend in non-pandemic times, but I even stand in my family room when it is played on television. Loyalty? Because of Colin Kaepernick and the toxic pandemic of ingratitude and disloyalty that he spread, I — who had been the most insanely avid sports fan you ever will meet — stopped following all NFL games, even the Super Bowl, and all NBA games. I do not even watch the commercials, so Gillette can castrate American manhood but won’t touch me. I prefer to be unique rather than eunuch. I have not watched an NFL football game in four years, since the 2017 season. It now is completely out of my system. If not for my daily news feed, I would have assumed that Tom Brady either is dead by now or still plays for Bill Belichick with the Patriots. I take for granted that my hometown New York Jets still stink, but I no longer care.
And I no longer own a single clothes item manufactured by Nike.
I am an American conservative populist. I have no interest in Bush–McCain–Romney Republicanism. My conservatism no longer is linked to what George Will or Michael Gerson tells me. I support tariffs and do not agree with Republican blanket free-trade doctrines that saw our manufacturing move to Mexico, Japan, South Korea, and especially Communist China, while our industrial Midwest got wiped out, and we almost lost our ability to manufacture our own steel, aluminum, and cars. I do not believe that we have any business wielding our military to export our democracy and values to dictatorial Arab Muslim polities who barely understand it, will not want it, and will use fool-hardy American adventurism to suck us dry of the assets we invest there, especially our most precious: human tears, sweat, and blood. I was Tea Party long before I discovered the herbal flavors that made that British stuff drinkable. Though the slogan may have been adopted with other meanings in the 1920s, one of my two favorite memes now is “America first.” (The other is Ben Shapiro’s “Facts don’t care about your feelings.”)
So that is where the Holocaust fits into my values system. I am an intensely patriotic American, but I never can forget that 2,000 years of Roman exile also teaches me as a Jew what exile is: ever in peril, ever at risk that it all can change overnight. The same England, France, and Germany that welcome warmly can turn on a dime and launch Crusades, blood libels, and Black Death massacres as national policy culminating in expelling all Jews. When they thereupon collapse financially, they welcome us back, and then expel us again after recovering. England 1290 through 1648. France 1182, and later welcome back, then 1306, then welcome back, then 1394. Spain 1492. Portugal 1497. Amid the bubonic plague pandemic that ravaged Western Europe in the mid-14th century and then led to massacres built on Big Lies about poisoning wells, Poland welcomed us under blessed King Casimir III. Eventually, though, there were the mid-17th–century Chmielnicki Cossack pogroms, and later Hitler built his most heinous death camps in that same Poland, in places like Oswiecim: Auschwitz-Birkenau. Russia, too, initially welcomed the 14th- and 15th-century eastward migrations from Western Europe, but that embrace changed soon enough. The repressions of Catherine the Great came — and later the Tsarist pogroms. And then Stalin, the bloodiest murderer of all.
For a Jew who has studied his or her history, the Shoah has very deep and clear meaning, as do the words “Never Again.” A believing Jew knows that indeed it can happen again because the future, like the past, is in G-d’s hands. But one vows at least that we never again will go down as popularly portrayed in 1940s images: herded uneventfully into train cars like cattle and then led like sheep to the slaughter. “Never Again” means that, if there must be images, they will be the images evocative of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the Treblinka uprising, the Sobibor uprising, and even the Auschwitz-Birkenau uprising. It means that, if the ayatollahs in Iran ever dare try actualizing their intentions against the only Jewish-majority country in the world, then all that will be left of their Holy City of Qom will be a holey city — one big hole where it once stood. And if Biden–Harris meander in the face of such peril, then Israel will go it alone. She is ready and prepared. That, too, is what the Holocaust teaches — that Masada will not fall again.
But can Judaism be primarily or even significantly about the Holocaust? Absolutely not. It must not be because it cannot be. Judaism, rather, is about the Word of G-d, the Sinaitic Oral and Written Torah laws and values that changed the course of human history and gave rise to other monotheistic faith systems derived from it, more than 3,000 years of a richly flourishing culture and history built on love of the Promised Land and two millennia of the faithful teachings of our Sages of Blessed Memory, who transmitted and interpreted those teachings and values to govern our contemporary times. I always have looked askance at an American Jewish secular community that erects Holocaust museums and Holocaust statues all over the place rather than build and supportively maintain Jewish educational institutions — elementary yeshiva day schools and high schools — to ensure that future Jewish generations will know their Torah and Talmud and Rashi and Tosafot and other scholarly rabbinic commentaries, their Hebrew language and the laws and customs and observances of traditional Jewish life and Judaic practices. Because without that Torah foundation, American Jews sink to the pathetic ignorance of an oblivious Doug Emhoff, whose daughter publicly declares herself not Jewish and whose non-Jewish wife, the descendant of slave-owners, rambles foolishly about the Chanukah she does not comprehend, manifesting as much ignorance as a citizen of Inner Mongolia explaining the rules of American football to an Outer Mongolian (and vice versa).
Instead, the Holocaust has become a joke. One walks into a multi-million-dollar Holocaust museum, and a docent gives a lecture about “misogyny” or transgender rights, while exhibits politically promote a kinder, gentler FDR than the cruel villain who kept this country’s immigration quotas from being filled. One encounters a Holocaust statue and sees pigeons nesting while Jewish teens and adults walk past, not only unaware of the monument but of their heritage and culture. The only ones who seem to notice the statues memorializing those who fought Hitler are the Jew-haters in Black Lives Matter who desecrate them. And instead of teaching the Shoah’s deepest lessons, the Holocaust instead becomes a game and an enterprise. And there’s no business like Shoah business.
If you want to make it in Hollywood, at some point you have to direct or produce a Holocaust movie. As this list demonstrates, we don’t have enough such movies, and any new one will be a shoo-in for a Best Picture nomination. More importantly, you then have paid your dues. Having produced, directed, or even appeared in one, you now have the right to attack Israel and BDS Israel. But there is so much more to the “Game of Holocaust.”
It is fair to hate Trump if that is one’s political inclination. That is called freedom. But to call Trump an “anti-Semite”? A Nazi sympathizer? That is outside the pale of decency, civility, and fairness — but it is an acceptable maneuver in the Game of Holocaust. No sooner had Trump become our president than a rabid leftist gay rights activist showed up on CNN as a spokesman for the name of Anne Frank, and was there as an “expert” tying the name of Anne Frank to his rant that Trump promoted anti-Semitism. History’s truth is that Trump soon after proceeded to reverse Obama’s anti-Semitism and eight-year anti-Israel agenda, recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, move our Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan region, deem Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria (the so-called “West Bank”) as perfectly legal, pull out of anti-Semitic UN agencies like the “UN Human Rights Council,” close down the Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington, D.C., stop funding the anti-Jewish United Nations Relief and Works Agency and even the non-sovereign Palestine Authority, and craft the “Abraham Accords.” Yet, by the rules of the Game of Holocaust, not only did this rabid leftist invoking Anne Frank get CNN airtime but even got featured in major left newspapers like the anti-Semitic New York Times, spouting garbage like this: “The president-elect has shown the grossest possible insensitivity to survivors of the Holocaust before he even takes office.” Pure unadulterated garbage. The Game of Holocaust.
Or remember this one? When Laura Ingraham spoke at the 2016 Republican convention, she waved to the cheering crowd. Someone photographed her wave at a split second when her greeting arm was outstretched. Soon, all over the increasingly depraved mass-communications vehicles we call “Facebook” and “Twitter,” Holocaust Game contestants were sharing the photo with their deranged comments that she was offering a “Sieg Heil” Nazi salute. Don’t believe me? Just Google “laura ingraham sieg heil” now, nearly five years later, and see the images that come up. The Game of Holocaust.
My colleague here at The American Spectator, Jeffrey Lord, is an incredibly decent person. He was a regular panelist at CNN, a rare breath of fresh air amid their political carbon monoxide. Then Jeffrey published an article here at The American Spectator about the bigots at Media Matters, who were engaged in trying to kill Sean Hannity’s show with an advertising boycott. He rightly accused them of engaging in fascist-style suppression of free speech. When the head of Media Matters followed with a tweet attacking Jeffrey further, Lord tweeted back, “Sieg Heil!” Obviously Jeffrey was making a point through hyperbole. But CNN finally discerned their opportunity to remove Jeffrey from their commentariat. The Game of Holocaust.
Illinois Rep. Mary Miller is a conservative Republican. Speaking to a crowd of “Moms for America,” she stated — absolutely correctly: “Each generation has the responsibility to teach and train the next generation. You know, if we win a few elections, we’re still gonna be losing unless we win the hearts and minds of our children. This is the battle. Hitler was right on one thing. He said, ‘Whoever has the youth has the future.’ ”
Mary Miller absolutely was and is right. But she did not know the rules of the Game of Holocaust. When conservatives and Republicans play Holocaust, they have to remember that Democrats, other leftists, and their mainstream media get to call you a Nazi and a Hitler sympathizer and then to demand you be removed, fired — canceled from society. In the Game of Holocaust, leftist Jews get to select a playing piece for the board — thimble, top hat, cannon, shank bone — and spin the wheel first. So Illinois’s leftist Democrat governor, J. B. Pritzker, got to be first to demand Miller’s resignation. Next to jump in was the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The ADL formerly was a Jewish defense organization, created in 1913 amid the Leo Frank Jew-hatred frenzy in Georgia that culminated in his 1915 lynching. But now it has evolved into an Obama association, led by a former Obama White House executive with a decidedly leftist agenda. So out came the leftists, Jewish and non-Jewish Democrats alike, gathering online like passengers awaiting boarding on Noah’s ark, calling for Mary Miller to resign. It took only, oh, 1,500 Orthodox Jewish rabbis to stand alongside Rep. Miller and to urge her to stand her ground. But while the leftist mainstream media reported heavily on the leftist Democrat attacks against Rep. Miller, they blacked out all coverage of the 1,500 Orthodox rabbis who supported her and the point she was making — the Game of Holocaust.
Notice, by the way, that in the Game of Holocaust, the Left — progressives, Democrats, their mainstream media — enthusiastically support the actual Jew-haters in Congress, the Rashida Tlaibs and Ilhan Omars and their cohort, including such Jewish apostates as Bernie Sanders, when those Jew-haters utter and tweet vile anti-Semitic bigotry aiming to destroy the only majority-Jewish country in the world. Thus, an Ocasio will snuggle politically with those blatant Jew-haters while she attacks compassionate professionals among Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for running “concentration camps.” The Game of Holocaust.
Most recently we watched the new board game version. The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), a significant annual conservative gathering hosted by the American Conservative Union and Young Americans for Freedom and led by the wonderful Matt Schlapp, met in Orlando, Florida, for several days of stirring speeches by the likes of Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and a guy named Donald Trump. It was a perfect opportunity to hear the conservative populist message that so often gets drowned out by Left’s mainstream media and suppressed by Facebook and Twitter. But this year, amid the pandemic, the Left decided to play the Game of Holocaust. Instead of debating ideas presented, the Democrats’ Left became obsessed with the contour of the stage: Did the CPAC runway layout somehow seem geometrically similar to the Odal Rune?
In the Game of Holocaust, it does not matter that more than 95 percent of American Jews, even among those who have studied the Holocaust academically and teach it at universities, never before heard of an odal rune. Indeed, what the heck is an odal rune? Is it a swastika? No. Is it those two lightning rods that Himmler’s SS, the Schutzstaffel, wore as insignia? No. The Totenkopf that was on the SS caps? Nope. Well, three wrong guesses, and the other side now gets to play Holocaust — “Three Days of the Contour” version.
It turns out that the Nazis also had another insignia, the odal rune, which was used as the badge of (i) the SS Race and Settlement Main Office, (ii) the Seventh SS Volunteer Mountain Division Prinz Eugen, and (iii) the 23rd SS Volunteer Panzer Grenadier Division Nederland. Well, OK. Yet the term and insignia do not even appear on the Wikipedia page on the Schutzstaffel (as of this writing). It is that esoteric. But the Game of Holocaust is not like a Parker Brothers Monopoly or Risk game based on common-sense rules. Rather, it is a Gotcha! game, reminiscent a bit of the old 1960s TV game show of Camouflage: contestants look for the image hidden under layers of camouflage. No one even knows it is there until some leftist tweets it on social media to share with intellectuals who swallow Tide pods.
The Game of Holocaust is played by Democrat leftists, and the targets exclusively are Republican conservatives: Trumps, Laura Ingraham, Jeffrey Lord, Mary Miller, CPAC and Matt Schlapp. Meanwhile, the real Jew-haters — Rep. Ilhan Omar, Sen. Raphael Warnock, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Al Sharpton, and their cohort — get free passes like the “Get Out of Jail Free” card in Monopoly. They cannot be touched in the Game of Holocaust. Instead, they get to offer Holocaust commentary, as when Rashida Tlaib tweeted that the Holocaust gives her a “calming feeling.”
Yes, folks, there’s no business like Shoah business. Ready for a calming afternoon with the family? Come one and all — and Let’s Play Holocaust!