Tablet Magazine's Ghastly Attack on Holocaust Survivors


Well, Tablet, a Jewish magazine with which I was formerly involved (discerning Goldblog readers know that I didn't end-up moving the blog there, as was my plan a while back), has achieved greatness: It has brought together Commentary's John Podhoretz and the Nation's Katha Pollitt. How did it achieve this rare feat? By publishing a vicious attack on Holocaust survivors for surviving. No, I'm not kidding.

 It was Podhoretz who first brought to my attention to the article, which is ostensibly a review of "Breaking Bad" by a writer named Anna Breslaw. This is what John wrote: "(A)fter spending years calling out anti-Semitism committed primarily by paleoconservative publications and anti-Zionism on the part of liberal Jewish publications of a kind all but indistinguishable from anti-Semitism, I decided it would be improper for me to be silent on something published by Tablet. It is, without question, the most disgusting piece of anti-Semitism I think I've ever read outside of the arrant lunacy of schizophrenic letter writers, and the fact that it was written by a Jew trumpeting her connection to the Holocaust only makes it all the more repugnant."

Pollitt, when she read the Tablet piece, tweeted: "Oh dear. I actually agree with @jpodhoretz about something: that ghastly Anna Breslaw piece in @tabletmag."

Just how ghastly is this ghastly piece? Podhoretz, being a refined sort, wouldn't post the relevant passages on his Commentary blog, but I have no problem doing so. Here are the thoughts of Anna Breslaw, brought to you by a Jewish magazine:

Since I was 12 I've had an unappealing, didactic distrust of people with the extreme will to live. My father's parents were Holocaust survivors, and in grade school I received the de rigueur exposure to the horror--visiting geriatric men and women with numbers tattooed on their arms, completing assigned reading like The Diary of Anne Frank and Night. But the more information I received, the less sympathy the survivors elicited from me. Each time we clapped for the old Hungarian lady who spoke about Dachau, each time Elie Wiesel threw another anonymous anecdote of betrayal onto a page, I eyed it askance, thinking What did you do that you're not talking about? I had the gut instinct that these were villains masquerading as victims who, solely by virtue of surviving (very likely by any means necessary), felt that they had earned the right to be heroes, their basic, animal self-interest dressed up with glorified phrases like "triumph of the human spirit."

I wondered if anyone had alerted Hitler that in the event that the final solution didn't pan out, only the handful of Jews who actually fulfilled the stereotype of the Judenscheisse (because every group has a few) would remain to carry on the Jewish race--conniving, indestructible, taking and taking. My grandparents were not excluded from this suspicion. The same year, during a family dinner conversation about Terri Schiavo, my father made the serious request that should he fall into a vegetative state, he would like for us to keep him on life support indefinitely. Today he and I are estranged for a number of other reasons that are all somehow the same reason.

As one of the commenters on the piece wrote, "I can't imagine the pain of having a child or grandchild like this."

Breslaw clearly needs help. Tablet needs to ask itself why it would publish such a horror. It also needs to provide evidence to back-up Breslaw's insinuation that Elie Wiesel has manufactured incidents of betrayal. If Tablet can't do this, then it needs to apologize to Wiesel. While Tablet is at it, it should apologize to those victims of the Nazis who remain alive today -- those "race-conniving, indestructible, taking and taking" Jews of Breslaw's demented imagination. And no, this doesn't count.

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. Author of the book Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror, Goldberg also writes the magazine's advice column. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. Previously, he served as a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward, and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

His book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. Goldberg rthe recipient of the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism. He is also the recipient of 2005's Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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