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Reactions of Jews range from denial to obsession. Both extremes are pathological, and both extremes coexist not only in Jewish society, but within individuals. Every person's thinking and emotions about the subject may contain elements of both pathologies, creating a constant inner struggle with the issues, and a fruitful field for development of guilt complexes and inferiority.
At one end of the spectrum, the Norman Finkelstein psychopaths rant about the "Holocaust Industry." There are many who minimize not only the Holocaust, but the entire history of anti-Semitism. At the other extreme there are Jews who insist that their identity is centered around the Holocaust, and that only when they visited Auschwitz or participated in the march of the living did they feel truly Jewish. And there are non-Jews who somehow can only relate to Jews as objected of pity. That sort of morose identity, in my view, is not worth having, and it is not worth perpetuating and bequeathing to our children. It is certainly wrong to expect a "free pass" for anything Jews might do because of the Holocaust or anti-Semitism.
There are Jews and non-Jews who insist that the entire history of anti-Semitism was invented by "Zionists" and that in reality, Jewish life in the Diaspora was mostly a wonderful story, punctuated by some "unfortunate indignities" and "incidents" that were similar to the fate of many nations and peoples. Or else there is an insistence that the "bad old days" are now passed. The optimist in every one of us wants to believe it. Forgetting and minimizing the past is convenient and less embarrassing for gentiles as well. Everyone wants to think of their ancestors as honored sages and men and women of valor. Nobody wants to dwell on grandpa and grandma running down the street to escape pursuers, hiding in hay stacks to save their lives.
I will burden you with only a few examples. In the town of Proskurov, in February of 1919, about 2000 Jews were murdered in a pogrom. The New York Times wrote
The first of a new series of events which leave the scope of ordinary pogroms and assume the character of slaughter occurred in a city which will forever be written in letters of blood on the pages of Jewish history.
But Proskurov was not remembered. It has been virtually forgotten. In fact, during the Russian Civil War, between 50,000 and 200,000 Jews were killed in pogroms in the area of the Ukraine and Poland. The Ukrainians insist that they didn't do it, it was the Russians. The Russians insist that it was the Ukrainians. The Jews mostly do not want to remember. As for Proskurov, it has been wiped off the map. Appropriately enough, with wry humor, the Ukrainian government renamed the town Khmelnitzky, after the Ukrainian national hero. celebrated in many monuments. Khmelnitsky'
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