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The Role of the Uniqueness of the Holocaust in two Jewish religious responses to the Holocaust - Essay Example

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Summary
Rabbi Jacobs’ Contemporary Jewish Religious Responses to the Shoah covers most of the arguments of Jewish theologians, and this essay will rely heavily on his work to bring these issues to the fore…
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The Role of the Uniqueness of the Holocaust in two Jewish religious responses to the Holocaust
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The Role of the Uniqueness of the Holocaust in two Jewish religious responses to the Holocaust

Download file to see previous pages... His priority is to document and explain the Jewish experience of the Shoah evaluating its impact on Judaism. Jacobs begins by describing the ‘holocaust’ as murder, debunking the historical connotations that word has of a ‘burnt sacrifice’. He prefers Shoah which means ‘total destruction’. He considers this to be an important distinction given that it was not Germans who were sacrificed, but Jews who were put to death. Jacobs refers to the Shoah as ‘unprecedented’ rather than ‘unique’. 'unprecedented' rather than 'unique'.
It was Katz1 who first referred to the 'unique' intentionality of the holocaust, distinguishing
'genocide as the intent to destroy the national, religious, or ethnic identity of a group'
from
'the intent to destroy physically all persons who identify with and are identified by a given national, religious or ethnic identity'.
Denialists argue that this mystifies and removes the event from its place in history, denying the historical fact that others were subjected to similar genocide, and -- ironically - to make all those who experienced the Shoah less human.
"those Jews who suffered did not think of themselves as victims of a "Holocaust." Nor did [they] use such terms as "Churban" or "Shoah," . Rather, one typically spoke about the "recent Jewish catastrophe," or the "disaster."2
Denialists claim that the original goal was resettlement in Madagascar or Russia; it shifted to extermination for expediency. What, they argue, is 'unique' about that Ethnic cleansing is quite common. Look at the Interahamwe of Uganda, the Bosnian Serb paramilitaries led by Karadi and Mladi, or the anti-independence militias of East Timor.
American - Indian Ward Churchill views Steven Katz as a member of an exclusive tribe of Jewish historians who
"argue the uniqueness of Jewish victimization"
and who consequently
"downgrade and shunt into historical oblivion"
the suffering
"not only the victims of the many genocides occurring outside the framework of Nazism, but non-Jews targeted for elimination within the Holocaust itself,"
specifically Gypsies and Slavs.
Jewish theologians continue to disagree with the Denialists, since
"it was never the quality of [the Shoah's] sheer terror or unlimited suffering that set it aside from other catastrophes but the meaning of this suffering, its causes and effects, what has been called the intentionality of the Holocaustt"3.
Katz responds to Particularists (eg Jacobs) and Universalists (eg Denialists) as follows:
'the Nazi program of genocide, if understood as a war against a self-conscious Jewish identify, is neither unique in Jewish historical terms nor world historical ones'4
Further,
'Quantity and proportion are not sufficient by themselves to establish a judgment to uniqueness pro or contra'5
Why then do Jewish theologians believe that the Jews were intentionally treated differently from other proscribed races Hitler said;
'If with the help of his Marxist creed, the Jew is victorious over the other peoples of the world, his crown will be the funeral wreath of humanity and this planet will, as it did thousands of years ago, move through the ether devoid of menby defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting the work of the Lord.'6
The Nazis dehumanized Jews and embellished their own rhetoric with demonic ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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