Path: news.nnrp.ca!newsfeed-tor.nnrp.ca!newsfeed-tor.nnrp.ca!nntp.cs.ubc.ca= !freenix!sn-xit-01!sn-post-02!sn-post-01!supernews.com!corp.supernews.com!n= ot-for-mail From: "Me at home"
Newsgroups: talk.politics.mideast,soc.culture.usa,soc.culture.jewish,soc.cu= lture.canada,soc.culture.europe Subject: The Holocaust Industry by Dr. Norman G. Finkelstein=20 Date: Fri, 26 Apr 2002 10:14:32 -0400 Organization: Posted via Supernews, http://www.supernews.com Message-ID: X-Priority: 3 X-MSMail-Priority: Normal X-Newsreader: Microsoft Outlook Express 5.50.4133.2400 X-MimeOLE: Produced By Microsoft MimeOLE V5.50.4133.2400 X-Complaints-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Lines: 295 Xref: news.nnrp.ca talk.politics.mideast:47036 soc.culture.usa:71454 soc.cu= lture.jewish:46141 soc.culture.canada:13285 soc.culture.europe:14540 Subject : The Holocaust Industry by Dr. Norman G. Finkelstein **New Review** What sort of Truth is it that crushes the freedom to seek the truth? Finkelstein singles out Elie Wiesel, a concentration-camp survivor and celebrity commentator on moral issues, for his role as an industry insider. He "is the Holocaust" (p. 55), according to Finkelstein. It was Wiesel who systematically applied the word holocaust to the Jewish experience. He subsequently gained recognition and fortune by lecturing about the holocaust, commanding speaking fees that Finkelstein reports to be upward of $25,000 plus a limousine. Finkelstein criticizes the fuzzy aphorisms Wiesel uses to characterize the holocaust<"noncommunicable," "we cannot talk about it," and "the truth lies in silence" www.independent.org/tii/content/pubs/review/books/tir63_finkel2.htm l Historian Norman Finkelstein, the son of Jewish Auschwitz survivors, argues that the holocaust has been hijacked for political and economic purposes with the help of international bullying by the United States. Although his economic analysis is ad hoc, Finkelstein=B9s documentation of exploitation, extortion and de jure political correctness opens the door for further analysis of a highly sensitive subject. Title The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering Author Norman G. Finkelstein Published New York: Verso, 2000. Pp. 150. Pages 160 Reviewer James A. Montanye The suffering of European Jews during the 1930s and 1940s gave rise to a stock of moral capital that was a measure not of exceptional moral actions by Jews as a group, but of acts committed by their Nazi oppressors. The holocaust label evokes that suffering and those acts. The Holocaust, distinguished by initial capitalization (a distinction I maintain throughout this review), is an ideology that has grown up around these interactions. The holocaust created moral capital. A "Holocaust Industry" exploits it by making a market in the suffering of "needy holocaust survivors." The disadvantages of moral capital are that it is less productive than most other forms of capital and that its value depreciates quickly as memories fade and the public sense of guilt and compassion wanes. Its highest value lies in its capacity to be transformed into more enduring political (rent-seeking) capital. The transformation process requires entrepreneurship as an input and spawns an industry that produces entrepreneurial returns for its creators and patrons. These points are the foundations of historian Norman Finkelstein's slim volume, The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering. The book complements a short list of recent works by Jewish scholars (several of which Finkelstein critiques) that reflect on the upturn of interest in books, movies, and television documentaries about the holocaust and that ask (some skeptically): "Why here, and why now?" (See, for example, Peter Novick, The Holocaust in American Life [Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1999].) Finkelstein argues, against the grain, that this interest is "a tribute not to Jewish suffering but to Jewish aggrandizement" (p. 8). He documents economic exploitation by the Holocaust Industry, which he calls an "outright extortion racket" (p. 89). He also documents the U.S. role in facilitating the extraction of holocaust rents (which he inexactly terms "profits"). He argues that the Holocaust Industry would not exist without international bullying by the United States, which is why this country is not a target of rent extraction despite having a record on holocaust issues that is scarcely distinguishable from that of the recently extorted Swiss. A positive economic analysis of this aspect of postwar economic behavior has yet to emerge. Not even the "revisionist" literature analyzes the public economic behavior of Zionist groups and other Jewish factions. This lacuna is puzzling. Economists have tackled other aspects of religious organization using the positive method of industrial organization and public choice (see, for example, Robert Ekelund and others, Sacred Trust: The Medieval Church as an Economic Firm [New York: Oxford University Press, 1996]). Surely the existence of Holocaust rents has not entirely escaped the notice of economic historians and theorists. It may be that the holocaust's enhanced presence today represents nothing more than market maturation. But without a positive theory with which to examine the industry's structure, conduct, and performance, it is impossible to know. Finkelstein's book will probably disappoint readers hoping for an economic analysis along the lines of that by Ekelund and others. Finkelstein uses a historical approach that is like descriptive political economy. Accordingly, he develops no positive theories whose implications can be tested against the anecdotal evidence he has amassed. The result in places is a patchwork of ad hoc explanations leading to conclusions that are not obviously superior to those he criticizes. Nevertheless, the book is provocative and brimming with recent historical detail. With a bit of luck, it will attract the interest of academic economists. The gravamen of Finkelstein's argument, which is shared by an increasing number of Jews and others worldwide, is that "the current campaign of the Holocaust Industry to extort money from Europe in the name of 'needy Holocaust victims' has shrunk the moral status of martyrdom to that of a Monte Carlo casino" (p. 8). Although such blasphemy would normally be attacked as an anti-Semitic diatribe, Finkelstein escapes such treatment as the son of Jewish Auschwitz survivors. Even so, he reports being called a "garbage man," an "anti-Zionist," and a "notorious ideological opponent of the State of Israel" (pp. 65=AD66) at various times in his scholarly career. Critics disparage his book, however, by associating it with those allegedly anti-Semitic officials and private individuals who express agreement with the author's brief. These sympathizers include, among others, citizens of western European countries who see themselves as being extorted by the Holocaust Industry, even as the Palestinian victims of Zionism remain uncompensated for their continuing loss of life, land, and liberty after decades of subjugation and subordination. Occasional proposals to compensate Palestinians out of Holocaust Industry rents wither quickly and die quietly. (Palestinians simply lack the entrepreneurial skills to press their claims successfully.) The author reports the fear in some quarters that Holocaust Industry activities will provoke a dangerous wave of bona fide anti-Semitism. Finkelstein notes that the threat of indiscriminate, ad hominem slanders for alleged anti-Semitism has long been an effective deterrent to the public discussion of Holocaust Industry issues, which may help to explain the lack of a robust economic literature in this area. A few countries (Canada, France, and Germany, for example) have adopted laws that limit or otherwise chill public discussion. Several U.S. states presently require "approved" holocaust studies in public schools. The value of these public policies, from the industry's perspective, lies in preventing uninhibited discussions that would dissipate Holocaust rents. Holocaust Affairs offices within the White House and the Departments of Justice and State, staunch political support in Congress, and U.S. support at the United Nations are further indicia of successful rent seeking by the Holocaust Industry. Viewing history through an economic lens shows how "the Holocaust" has become a proprietary trademark. The murder of between three and six million Jews (industry estimates usually exceed historical estimates) was not intrinsically unique to a century that witnessed the wholesale slaughter of many ethnic groups, including the Nazis' systematic killing of Gypsies, homosexuals, and physically and mentally disabled individuals. The twentieth century's body count ran into the hundreds of millions, with many victims in the latter years being killed by Israeli-made weapons. Even so, the Holocaust Industry has created a property right in the "uniqueness" of the holocaust. This right is defended aggressively. Every application of the Holocaust label to other large-scale atrocities, most recently to the systematic killing of Muslims in Kosovo, is actively opposed. (Governments that sponsor atrocities also oppose the application of this label in order to soften the public perception of their actions.) Xerox opposes the generic labeling of document reproduction as xeroxing for exactly the same reason. The aggressive defense and maintenance of the Holocaust brand have been so successful that even a few gentiles have gained wealth and notoriety by masquerading as Jewish holocaust survivors
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