Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Giving the Holocaust a competitive edge

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In 1992, New Star Books of Vancouver published Chronicles of Dissent, David Barsamian's collection of interviews with Noam Chomsky.

Chapter 13, titled "World Orders: Old and New", contains the following exchange between Barsamian and Chomsky, which, according to the chronology, occurred on November 18, 1990 [p. 217]:

BARSAMIAN: In a conversation I had with you a couple of years ago at UCLA you said something that I've always wanted to ask you about. We were talking about the Armenian genocide and you made the observation that Israel 'didn't want anyone elbowing in on the Holocaust business.’

CHOMSKY: Israel has been very strongly opposed to efforts to bring the Armenian genocide into consideration. The extent of this is really astonishing. I keep learning new things about it all the time. For example, in 1982 there was a  conference on genocide in Israel... The conference was dealing with all kinds of genocide. The Israeli government put pressure upon it to drop the Armenian genocide. They allowed the others, but not the Armenian one. The honorary chairman was to have been Elie Wiesel, and he was pressured by the government to withdraw, and being a loyal commissar as he is, he withdrew from the conference because the Israeli government had said they didn't want Armenian genocide brought up.

Just recently, a well-known Holocaust historian in Israel, Yehuda Bauer, told the Israeli press that Wiesel had called him from New York at that time pleading with him to drop out of the conference because the Israeli government didn't want it because it was dealing with the Armenians, and he agreed to that and felt very bad about it in retrospect. That gives an indication of the extent to which people like Elie Wiesel were carrying out their usual function of serving Israeli state interests, even to the extent of denying a holocaust [sic], which he does regularly.

Why are they [the Israelis] so fixated on denying the Armenian holocaust? That's very simple. Part of it is that they want to monopolize the image for their own purposes, but the other part of it is that this is the Armenians. They were massacred by the Turks. The Turks are allies, and you don't want to alienate allies, because that's much too important. So if they happened to carry out a genocide, that's not our business. They're our allies. Therefore you don't talk about the Armenian holocaust.

What Noam Chomsky was saying is, many exclusionary Holocaust promoters, including Elie Wiesel, can be charged with unconscionably adopting a stance which they themselves routinely and vociferously denounce: Namely, that of indulging in a variant of "holocaust denial". In a way, ironically enough, becoming holocaust deniers at war with alleged holocaust deniers of another stripe; of being Holocaust monopolists, if you will, anxious that their "competitors" should not get to share too much of the historical limelight with them.

In short [says Chomsky], the Jewish promoters and merchandisers of their own World War II tragedy, which they guard and defend with all the zeal of profiteering corporate suits, don't take kindly to any upstart competition.

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