My reflections below are inspired by “Anne Frank on the Reservation: A Native American Museum Hosts a Historic Exhibit” by Gabriel Sanders in The Forward | March 9, 2007.
Many of us were moved by the recent revelations of Otto Frank’s desperate efforts to reach safety in the US prior to the Holocaust, as depicted in the public release of his letters. This resonated with my own family history in that my father had tried to get out of Europe along with my mother and her aunt during this time as well, knocking on and being turned away from most doors. But after two to three years of effort, he finally did succeed in getting US immigration visas.
My parents were fortunate to be living in a not-yet-invaded Yugoslavia rather than their partitioned and occupied native land of Poland. And my father was clever enough, or the recipient of good enough advice, to circumvent a last-ditch bureaucratic attempt of the US consulate to delay physically providing the visas that had already been granted. This maneuver to make my father gratuitously gather proof of transit visas through countries that would be crossed en route to America was, as historians have discovered, in keeping with the orders of FDR’s anti-Semitic assistant secretary of state, Breckenridge Long, to obstruct Jewish immigration as much as possible.
I have a friend who is the daughter of a Jewish refugee mother from Germany and of a Cherokee father from Tennessee. She’s fiercely protective of Israel and Jewish rights and similarly concerned with the rights of Native Americans. She hates the fact that Andrew Jackson is on the $20 bill and considers him something like a Nazi for having forced the Cherokee and other tribes west to Oklahoma on a deadly forced march known historically as the Trail of Tears.
I’ve read and written about Ward Churchill’s “A Little Matter of Genocide” (mentioned in Sanders’ article) and I’ve also met him. He’s a brilliant polemicist but also a nasty extremist and not anything like a true scholar. He is a provocateur who couldn’t resist defaming the victims of the attacks on 9/11 as “little Eichmanns” — presumably for being cogs in the wheels of international finance and the US military at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
It’s curious that Churchill picks on Lipstadt, Katz and Bauer as Holocaust scholars who are – in his words – “Jewish exclusivists.” I would never have heard of Steven Katz except for Churchill mentioning his name, but Wickipedia indicates that he’s more prominent than I had thought.
It seems that Churchill attacks Deborah Lipstadt because, in the course of militantly confronting Holocaust deniers, she has focused appropriately on Jewish suffering. That he picks on Yehuda Bauer is bizarre; Bauer is a left-Zionist Israeli (an old Mapamnik who now supports Meretz) who is anything but an “exclusivist” on the issue of genocide. In fact, he very forthrightly – and perhaps overgenerously – classifies the experience of Polish Catholics in WW II as genocide. Bauer also very readily admits that all genocides are unique and should be studied on their own terms.