Tuesday, May 24, 2005

When Is a Holocaust Memorial Too Jewish?

When it's in Europe, apparently.

In Berlin, a long-awaited Holocaust memorial is sparking controversy because -- brace yourselves, this is gonna be shocking -- it centers on the deaths of 6 million Jews.

Oh, the horror, the horror. Not Gypsies, not homosexuals, not communists, not people with disabilities ... Jews. Just Jews. Six million of 'em.

And for some reason this is controversial.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports reports that much of the uproar focuses on Lea Rush, the head of the foundation that will operate the $35 million memorial:

"She has been a lightning rod for criticism of the project, particularly its dedication only to Jewish victims. Yesterday's media coverage was harsh in its references to her.

"The paper Berlin Zeitung called her a 'professional Jew,' while Stern magazine called her a 'Holocaust Cassandra,' odd references given that German society in general is accepting of Holocaust memorials.

"Before the ceremony, Rosh appeared on German TV, defending the decision to focus on Jewish victims: 'Hitler's desire to eliminate the Jews was more central to him than even his desire to win the war.' "

Granted, the victims of Nazism extended far beyond the millions of European Jews who were slaughtered in Hitler's death camps. But so what? The critics of the memorial might pretend to be indignant on behalf of the Holocaust's non-Jewish victims, but that's a load of bunk. Sixty years after the end of Hitler and his Third Reich, the world has observed -- hundreds of times over -- the Jews, communists, homosexuals and everyone else who died to make way for the so-called master race.

One could perhaps argue the need for a publicly funded memorial, but these howls of outrage sound like good old-fashioned anti-Semitism, which has proven to be among Europe's most enduring sounds.


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