Natalie Portman was born to Israeli parents and was raised in the US from age 3. An American Jew, she actively identifies with Israel in the issues and trials the Jewish state faces in the region and the world. For that she deserves to be recognized. Many American Jews have no understanding at all of the importance, indeed the purpose Israel was created to perform as refuge to an endangered Diaspora. Still, as the case of many (most?) American Jews she seems to have little awareness of the significance of Diaspora history on that recent attempt to erase Jewish existence from the world which we call the Holocaust.

In her recent interview with Britain’s, The Independent she is quoted, "I think a really big question the Jewish community needs to ask itself, is how much at the forefront we put Holocaust education.” For Natalie all genocides are equal. And as regards the tragedy genocide does represent she is correct. But viewed within the context of Diaspora history her conclusion fails, indeed represents a threat to Jewish survival. 

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Follows is my correction to Ms. Portman’s insufficient appreciation of the history of our people in the Diaspora. And while her heart may be “in the right place,” as the case of her Israeli counterpart Avraham Burg (The Holocaust is over, we must rise from its ashes) her position regarding Jewish survival dulls those “gut feelings” many Jews feel that all may not be as it appears, feeding Jewish Denial.

My “correction” to well-meaning critics of “Never Again!”

“There is a clear divide between the genocidal effort experienced by the Jews and other genocides. The obvious difference lies in the persistence of effort which inspired "the Holocaust (Shoah) and the other superficially similar events. "Holocaust" joins two Greek words, holos (entire) and caustos (burning). The first such "holocausts" targeting Diaspora Jews occurred in the tenth century when they were rounded up, collected in town centers and set ablaze. The campaign spread across Europe as towns emulated one-another. But precedence alone does not describe the difference between the twentieth century Shoah and the Armenian and more recent "genocides." The Crusades came on the heels of the town holocausts. For three centuries crusaders slaughtered Jewish communities under the imperative, "kill the enemy closer at home," the enemy in the Holy Land being the "Moors." (Note that radical Islamists, including the West's new ally Iran, refer to the Christian West as the "crusaders," the ultimate enemy. For some, historical wounds never heal, while others never learn the lesson!)

“In fact "the Jews" were formally marked for "disappearance" by St. Augustine in the late fourth century. In his treatise the City of God he explained that God allowed "the Jews" to survive (the four canonical gospels describe "the Jews" as Christ-killers, guilty of murdering Jesus) as punishment: to eternally wander the earth homeless and destitute. Augustine insists that Jewish survival is tolerated only as "proof" of Christian "truth," that 'the Jews" will finally announce Jesus as messiah and convert to Christianity. Which, of course, never happened. It is the survival of Jews that remained through history Christianity's Jewish Problem; that inspired continuing persecutions throughout the centuries costing millions of Jewish lives before the twentieth century's failed effort to solve the "problem" with finality.

“It is this, Natalie, that describes the difference between the uniquely Jewish Shoah, two-thousand years of effort at eliminating "the Jews" by conversion (preferred) or murder from all other genocides. It was this Jewish "problem" that, under the leadership of its charismatic leader, Germany sought to finally "solve" in the twentieth century: the Final Solution to the Jewish Problem.

“It is this historical inheritance that remains most obviously as stereotypes in Western culture, usually submerged but available to again target "the Jews" at times of extreme social stress. It is this that explains the most recent return of that which Moshe Kantor, head of the European Jewish Congress and Abraham Foxman, retired head of America's Anti-Defamation League described as the highest levels of antisemitism since the years before Auschwitz. And while antisemitism today is still below pre-genocidal levels, the Shoah still represents the failed "solution" to the Jewish Problem.

“All genocides, all murders of innocents are tragic. But Natalie, as so many Jews and Christians today, is naive to lump "all genocides" with a "genocide" that spans two-thousand years.”
 
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