“Why would any writer make up stories about the Holocaust?” asks Melissa Katsoulis on mainstream British media outlet The Independent (1).
Katsoulis has recently published a book about the history of literary hoaxes. She is interested in particular in a unique fictional genre; namely ‘the Holocaust hoaxers’.
On the one hand, she confesses that “special privilege must be given to those increasingly few witness-writers who survived the Second World War in Europe.” She is even willing to accept Elie Wiesel’s peculiar take on ‘truth and fiction’, that "some stories are true that never happened."
On the other hand she says, “those memoirists who think that they can pretend they were there when they weren't ought to remember that hijacking the experiences of others for selfish ends will only end in ignominy.”
Katsoulis suggests that perhaps what “readers seek in trauma stories is akin to what people look for in pornography: something edgy they have never seen before, followed by a spectacular resolution”. Very much like the case of pornography, the dedicated audience of Jewish pain “want to identify (safely) with what they are reading; to try on someone else's crisis for a while and see how it compares to their own.”
Katsoulis’ reference to ‘pornography’ is indeed interesting bearing in mind that, at the time of the Eichmann Trial in Jerusalem (1960’s), a new genre of S&M pornography namely Stalag emerged in Israel. It was a short-lived, highly sexualised fictional magazine that drew its imagery from Nazi exploitation of inmates in prisoner camps.
However, Katsoulis’ reference to ‘pornography’ may raise some questions. While pornography consumption can be realised as an attempt to seek libidinal pleasure through the imagery of others celebrating their symptoms, one may wonder, what kind of satisfaction anyone might seek from the repetition of a holocaust memory? Do we look for satisfaction? And if we do, what kind of satisfaction are we after exactly? What are the symptoms that are celebrated by the story tellers, and what are our symptoms consuming them?
Instead of a culture hooked on recycled images of degradation and suffering, I would actually expect a moral lesson to surface from the Shoa. I would hope for a genuine search for mercy and compassion. Evidently, this has never happened. Putting aside Israeli barbarism in Palestine, the West and the English speaking empire have never stopped igniting wars in the name of fake values driven by the Holocaust (democracy, liberalism, ‘universal’ human rights and so on).
Katsoulis stresses that the ‘hoaxers’ “had difficult childhoods but, feeling that their truth was shamefully small, they sought the grand signifier of the Holocaust to attract the compassion that they desired.” I urge you to read Katsoulis and if you have a spare moment, check out the comments that are no less revealing.
I myself recently saw two short videos that left me puzzled.
The first was an ABC News televised interview with Herman Rosenblat,
“The twinkly-eyed American pensioner who came forward with a story so magical that it lifted the heart of every cynic in New York,” was nothing but that of a compulsive liar. Once Rosenblat was confronted as a hoaxer he told the camera.
“It wasn't a lie. It was my imagination. I believed my imagination, I believe my mind, I believe it now”
“But you know it wasn’t true” he is challenged by the ABC interviewer. “Yes”, he answers, “But in my imagination it was true”.
I guess that no one can argue with such an advanced post modernist argument.
In another video clip; Irene Weisberg Zisblatt, whose testimony is showcased in Steven Spielberg’s documentary film The Last Days, is caught lying to the camera at least twice.
I am not judging Zisblatt’s dishonesty or her tendency to exaggerate. It is more than likely that this woman went through hell on earth. But I do challenge Stephen Spielberg who, for some reason decided to exploit this woman in his Holywoodian attempt to archive and depict what he calls the ‘truth’ of the holocaust.
The question we are left with is why. Why does she lie? Why does he lie? Why does anyone lie? And if they lie and are entitled to believe in their figment of imagination, where can we learn about the truth? What can we learn about the truth? What is truth? Is there any truth? And if we can ever be lucky enough to find the truth or even just ‘a truth’, can we announce it without being at risk of social exclusion or even losing our freedom?
Katsoulis exposes a perverse tendency in the midst of our Western discourse. It is proved beyond doubt that our freedom to speak, and even to think, is under severe assault. I would take it one step further and argue that the Holocaust religion is the biggest current assault against humanity and humanism. First, it stops us from revisiting and revising our own living memory. Second, it stops us from drawing a universal ethical lesson from history and third, it leads to more and more genocidal crimes.
Instead of a revenge-driven doctrine, what we really want is grace and compassion.
Rather than a singular monolithic belief system promoting a deceptive notion of freedom centred on Jewish pain, what we really want is real pluralism and tolerance that would accept more than just one truth and encourage belief systems to respect each other.
In fact, the Jews, should have been the first to grasp it all. As Emmanuel Levinas suggested after WWII, Jews should have located themselves at the forefront of the battle against evil and racism. Despite there being a handful of Jewish ‘self haters’ who are committed to the exposure of the Zionist crime, this never happened. Not only did it not happen, the Jewish state is the ultimate example of a racist nationalist terrorist state.
Katsoulis is far from being a Holocaust denier. She believes that the Holocaust happened, yet she writes about the robbery of its memory. “When a writer stands before other survivors and gives as scripture what is stolen from the memories of real witnesses, they can expect little sympathy.” Katsoulis offers some criticism of the “unregulated Holocaust "industry", where victimhood is rewarded by money and fame.”
However, I would like to extend Katsoulis’ quest. I would maintain that in fact we are the witnesses of an ongoing holocaust in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. We also witness Israel preparing itself to nuke Iran in the name of Jewish history and the Holocaust in particular. In front of our eyes we see the emergence of evil on a colossal magnitude, and we are somehow paralyzed by a historical chapter that, in comparison to contemporary Israeli crimes, has less and less significance or relevance.
Rather than being subject to an idolatry of an untouchable past, we better start to be concerned with the HERE and NOW, with the genocides that are committed in our names and under our nose by Israel and its supporters around the world.