I just finished reading “The Holocaust Industry” by Norman Finkelstein, sent to me by my friend Gaurav Ahuja a while back.
Both of Finkelstein’s parents had survived the Warsaw ghetto and both of his parents were the only ones, of their families, who had survived the war. In spite of this, or perhaps because of this, his perspectives are refreshingly different from what we have come to expect from the leftist elite.
The first part of the book, which I did not find especially interesting, explains the evolving relationship between American Jewry, Israeli Jewry and the Nazi Holocaust. I am certain that many other readers would find it quite interesting. As for me, politics make my eyes glaze over.
Toward the middle of the book, Finkelstein shows us how powerful Jewish elites harnessed the tragedy of the Holocaust for their own monetary and political gain. He shows us how shady and powerful Jewish organizations extorted millions of dollars from governments and banks – and then used the money for their own pet projects (and for their own personal wealth) rather than transferring it to actual survivors. He cites several examples of dubious Holocaust history and scholarship and how, once those works were exposed as fraudulent, the Holocaust industry continued to lend them credence anyway.
Finkelstein names many names in his book, and slaughters a lot of sacred cow – so it is no wonder that he lost his job, as assistant professor at DePaul University, and is the target of threats and intimidation. Finkelstein is a leftist and he annoyingly reminds us of this periodically in his book. I wonder if this has given him any additional armor against his critics. Somehow I doubt it; the Left is not known for being gracious or merciful.
For me, one of the most interesting paragraphs in the book was the following (pg. 127):
As the Holocaust industry plays with the numbers to boost its compensation claims, anti-Semites gleefully mock the “Jew liars” who even “huckster” their dead. In juggling these numbers the Holocaust industry, however unintentionally, whitewashes Nazism. Raul Hilberg, the leading authority on the Nazi holocaust, puts the figure for Jews murdered at 5.1 million. Yet, if 135,000 former Jewish slave laborers are still alive today, some 600,000 must have survived the war. That’s at least a half-million more than standard estimates. One would then have to deduct this half-million from the 5.1 million figure of those killed. Not only does the “6 Million” figure become more untenable but the numbers o fthe Holocaust industry are rapidly approaching those of Holocaust deniers. Consider that Nazi leader Heinrich Himmler put the total camp population in January 1945 at a little over 700,000 and that, according to Friedlander, about one-third this number was killed off by May. Yet if Jews constituted only 20 percent of the surviving camp population and, as the Holocaust industry implies, 600,000 Jewish inmates survived the war, then fully 3 million inmates in total must have survived. By the Holocaust industry’s reckoning, concentration camp conditions couldn’t have been harsh at all; in fact, one must suppose a remarkably high fertility and remarkably low mortality rate.
In their zeal to inflate the numbers and suffering of Jewish victims, the Holocaust industry has sought to belittle the suffering of other ethnic groups. Finkelstein relates how the Holocaust industry used its political clout to disparage victims of the Armenian holocaust and the mass murder of Gypsies by the Nazis. More famously, Finkelstein opines that the Holocaust has been used as a tool for the oppression of Palestinians in Israel.
I think it all boils down to greed and the attempt to enforce a hierarchy of suffering – as in the saying of Plato, quoted by Finkelstein at the end of his introduction, “You can’t compare any two miserable people and say that one is happier than the other.”