27 September 2010

Holocaust teaching beyond the "The"


As now as the next breath but one,
as everywhere as air:
Remember Us, Remember Us.
The Holocaust and milking it is hot hot hot.
The Mother of all Victims rules aloof
her jewelry of numbers blue
not earned by other victims too insignificantly nothing
to tattoo.

Enough already of Never Again.
If this sounds like a fart in shul
maybe I better bubble out again
until I fill the holy space of ark and torah scrolls with gas enough
to force a flight outdoors
and down the marble steps
into the arms of ghosts of dead
Armenians Cambodians Tutsis Balkans mixed
Ebos as remembered as a swarm of gnats long dead.
Lebanese abandoned. For their friendship with the Jews they'll disappear
but please don't concern yourself.
Of Diasporas, again there's only one.
Not Palestinians as freshly wronged as your last breath
by the helluva rousing echo of the Song of Lebensraum.

Who can talk?
We, who must.
Those of us who are
the tribe itself.
My great-grandfather rabbi stirs.
Sing, he says. For why is our might different than
any other's might when used so wrongly?

For We
, he says,
are not the only ones pogrommed against,
the only Unwilling Wanderers,
the only holocaust worth a flame.
Holocausts aplenty simmer now.

Swiss banks weep now. Stolen artworks creak.
But of those who sole possession was: themselves,
not even individuals but groups of bugs exterminant
how do lawyers settle the worth of life?
They don't. Never a gain.

My great-grandfather's name was Soloveichik –
In his name I sing today
a short and many-noted Kaddish for all the Holocausts that were,
lit by tribal hate or maniacal despotism towards a people by their own.
And now, Enough Already for the dead, all equal in their tragedy of death.
With all the power of one little throat
I lift my voice for all the Holocausts to come.

NOTE: I wrote this poem in 2000. It appeared in the November/December 2002 issue of Tikkun Magazine. I would have preferred to have it published first in a venue where I wasn't preaching to the choir, but "balanced" media wouldn't touch it. The tragedy, however, is that Nightingale Kaddish is now more relevant than ever.

The Myth of 'Never Again' by Kofi Annan in The Elders, (first published in the International Herald Tribune)

Kofi Annan's Holocaust Problem by Moshe Phillips in Intellectual Conservative (first published in American Thinker)

The widely reprinted piece by Moshe Phillips has so many problems that I recommend reading about the conference / initiative that Phillips trashes: “The Global Prevention of Genocide: Learning from the Holocaust” held at the Salzburg Global Seminar, in Austria, in cooperation with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The project has an advisory board whose members include:

* Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations (Honorary President)
* Yehuda Bauer, Professor of Holocaust Studies, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
* Francis Deng, Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide
* David Hamburg, President Emeritus, Carnegie Corporation of New York
* Yehudit Inbar, Director, Museums Division, Yad Vashem
* Klaus Müller, Representative for Europe, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
* Gregory Stanton, Founder and President, Genocide Watch

Why Salzburg?

"A thousand non-Jewish lives are not worth a Jew's fingernail." Dov Lior

The Salzburg Global Seminar is a unique institution (formed to be "the Marshall Plan of the Mind") that brings together leaders, teachers, policy makers and developers, students, the famous and the very unknown—to face, come to grips with, and attempt to devise solutions to the world's most difficult problems. Partisan thinking and posing has no place in this non-press-corps venue where public enemies and cultural strangers spend long hours, day after day with each other and eat literally elbow to elbow. Since the early days of the Cold War, the Seminar has enabled communication between public foes, on a level that exists nowhere else. Often participants learn that there are valid points of view and life experiences that they never before considered possible. I know. The place has opened my eyes to continents'-full of my own ignorance and undermined a lot of basic truths I knew that turned out to be merely a mess of assumptions. The people I have met have enriched my life immeasurably, coming from different places physically and mentally. Deep friendships have a way of forming where one least expects. I have only respect and awe for this organisation and the space it makes where the narrow-minded have no place, twisters of fact are not respected; and where bigots, no matter how powerful, aren't worth a fingernail.

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