JEWISH WEEK NY: Pat Buchanan

by Menachem Z. Rosensaft
Special To The Jewish Week

The fatal shooting at Washington

JEWISH WEEK NY: Pat Buchanan

by Menachem Z. Rosensaft
Special To The Jewish Week

The fatal shooting at Washington




Chancellor Merkel and I have just finished our tour here at Buchenwald. I want to thank Dr. Volkhard Knigge, who gave an outstanding account of what we were witnessing. I am particularly grateful to be accompanied by my friend Elie Wiesel, as well as Mr. Bertrand Herz, both of whom are survivors of this place.

We saw the area known as Little Camp where Elie and Bertrand were sent as boys. In fact, at the place that commemorates this camp, there is a photograph in which we can see a 16-year-old Elie in one of the bunks along with the others. We saw the ovens of the crematorium, the guard towers, the barbed wire fences, the foundations of barracks that once held people in the most unimaginable conditions.

We saw the memorial to all the survivors — a steel plate, as Chancellor Merkel said, that is heated to 37 degrees Celsius, the temperature of the human body; a reminder — where people were deemed inhuman because of their differences — of the mark that we all share.

Now these sights have not lost their horror with the passage of time. As we were walking up, Elie said, “if these trees could talk.” And there’s a certain irony about the beauty of the landscape and the horror that took place here.

More than half a century later, our grief and our outrage over what happened have not diminished. I will not forget what I’ve seen here today.

I’ve known about this place since I was a boy, hearing stories about my great uncle, who was a very young man serving in World War II. He was part of the 89th Infantry Division, the first Americans to reach a concentration camp. They liberated Ohrdruf, one of Buchenwald’s sub-camps.

And I told this story, he returned from his service in a state of shock saying little and isolating himself for months on end from family and friends, alone with the painful memories that would not leave his head. And as we see — as we saw some of the images here, it’s understandable that someone who witnessed what had taken place here would be in a state of shock.

My great uncle’s commander, General Eisenhower, understood this impulse to silence. He had seen the piles of bodies and starving survivors and deplorable conditions that the American soldiers found when they arrived, and he knew that those who witnessed these things might be too stunned to speak about them or be able — be unable to find the words to describe them; that they might be rendered mute in the way my great uncle had. And he knew that what had happened here was so unthinkable that after the bodies had been taken away, that perhaps no one would believe it.

And that’s why he ordered American troops and Germans from the nearby town to tour the camp. He invited congressmen and journalists to bear witness and ordered photographs and films to be made. And he insisted on viewing every corner of these camps so that — and I quote — he could “be in a position to give first-hand evidence of these things if ever in the future there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to propaganda.”

We are here today because we know this work is not yet finished. To this day, there are those who insist that the Holocaust never happened — a denial of fact and truth that is baseless and ignorant and hateful. This place is the ultimate rebuke to such thoughts; a reminder of our duty to confront those who would tell lies about our history.

Also to this day, there are those who perpetuate every form of intolerance — racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, xenophobia, sexism, and more — hatred that degrades its victims and diminishes us all. In this century, we’ve seen genocide. We’ve seen mass graves and the ashes of villages burned to the ground; children used as soldiers and rape used as a weapon of war. This places teaches us that we must be ever vigilant about the spread of evil in our own time, that we must reject the false comfort that others’ suffering is not our problem and commit ourselves to resisting those who would subjugate others to serve their own interests.

But as we reflect today on the human capacity for evil and our shared obligation to defy it, we’re also reminded of the human capacity for good. For amidst the countless acts of cruelty that took place here, we know that there were many acts of courage and kindness, as well. The Jews who insisted on fasting on Yom Kippur. The camp cook who hid potatoes in the lining of his prison uniform and distributed them to his fellow inmates, risking his own life to help save theirs. The prisoners who organized a special effort to protect the children here, sheltering them from work and giving them extra food. They set up secret classrooms, some of the inmates, and taught history and math and urged the children to think about their future professions. And we were just hearing about the resistance that formed and the irony that the base for the resistance was in the latrine areas because the guards found it so offensive that they wouldn’t go there. And so out of the filth, that became a space in which small freedoms could thrive.

When the American GIs arrived they were astonished to find more than 900 children still alive, and the youngest was just three years old. And I’m told that a couple of the prisoners even wrote a Buchenwald song that many here sang. Among the lyrics were these: “…whatever our fate, we will say yes to life, for the day will come when we are free…in our blood we carry the will to live and in our hearts, in our hearts — faith.”

These individuals never could have known the world would one day speak of this place. They could not have known that some of them would live to have children and grandchildren who would grow up hearing their stories and would return here so many years later to find a museum and memorials and the clock tower set permanently to 3:15, the moment of liberation.

They could not have known how the nation of Israel would rise out of the destruction of the Holocaust and the strong, enduring bonds between that great nation and my own. And they could not have known that one day an American President would visit this place and speak of them and that he would do so standing side by side with the German Chancellor in a Germany that is now a vibrant democracy and a valued American ally.

They could not have known these things. But still surrounded by death they willed themselves to hold fast to life. In their hearts they still had faith that evil would not triumph in the end, that while history is unknowable it arches towards progress, and that the world would one day remember them. And it is now up to us, the living, in our work, wherever we are, to resist injustice and intolerance and indifference in whatever forms they may take, and ensure that those who were lost here did not go in vain. It is up to us to redeem that faith. It is up to us to bear witness; to ensure that the world continues to note what happened here; to remember all those who survived and all those who perished, and to remember them not just as victims, but also as individuals who hoped and loved and dreamed just like us.

And just as we identify with the victims, it’s also important for us I think to remember that the perpetrators of such evil were human, as well, and that we have to guard against cruelty in ourselves. And I want to express particular thanks to Chancellor Merkel and the German people, because it’s not easy to look into the past in this way and acknowledge it and make something of it, make a determination that they will stand guard against acts like this happening again.

Rather than have me end with my remarks I thought it was appropriate to have Elie Wiesel provide some reflection and some thought as he returns here so many years later to the place where his father died.

Mr. President, Chancellor Merkel, Bertrand, ladies and gentlemen. As I came here today it was actually a way of coming and visit my father’s grave — but he had no grave. His grave is somewhere in the sky. This has become in those years the largest cemetery of the Jewish people.

The day he died was one of the darkest in my life. He became sick, weak, and I was there. I was there when he suffered. I was there when he asked for help, for water. I was there to receive his last words. But I was not there when he called for me, although we were in the same block; he on the upper bed and I on the lower bed. He called my name, and I was too afraid to move. All of us were. And then he died. I was there, but I was not there.

And I thought one day I will come back and speak to him, and tell him of the world that has become mine. I speak to him of times in which memory has become a sacred duty of all people of good will — in America, where I live, or in Europe or in Germany, where you, Chancellor Merkel, are a leader with great courage and moral aspirations.

What can I tell him that the world has learned? I am not so sure. Mr. President, we have such high hopes for you because you, with your moral vision of history, will be able and compelled to change this world into a better place, where people will stop waging war — every war is absurd and meaningless; where people will stop hating one another; where people will hate the otherness of the other rather than respect it.

But the world hasn’t learned. When I was liberated in 1945, April 11, by the American army, somehow many of us were convinced that at least one lesson will have been learned — that never again will there be war; that hatred is not an option, that racism is stupid; and the will to conquer other people’s minds or territories or aspirations, that will is meaningless.

I was so hopeful. Paradoxically, I was so hopeful then. Many of us were, although we had the right to give up on humanity, to give up on culture, to give up on education, to give up on the possibility of living one’s life with dignity in a world that has no place for dignity.

We rejected that possibility and we said, no, we must continue believing in a future, because the world has learned. But again, the world hasn’t. Had the world learned, there would have been no Cambodia and no Rwanda and no Darfur and no Bosnia.

Will the world ever learn? I think that is why Buchenwald is so important — as important, of course, but differently as Auschwitz. It’s important because here the large — the big camp was a kind of international community. People came there from all horizons — political, economic, culture. The first globalization essay, experiment, were made in Buchenwald. And all that was meant to diminish the humanity of human beings.

You spoke of humanity, Mr. President. Though unto us, in those times, it was human to be inhuman. And now the world has learned, I hope. And of course this hope includes so many of what now would be your vision for the future, Mr. President. A sense of security for Israel, a sense of security for its neighbors, to bring peace in that place. The time must come. It’s enough — enough to go to cemeteries, enough to weep for oceans. It’s enough. There must come a moment — a moment of bringing people together.

And therefore we say anyone who comes here should go back with that resolution. Memory must bring people together rather than set them apart. Memories here not to sow anger in our hearts, but on the contrary, a sense of solidarity that all those who need us. What else can we do except invoke that memory so that people everywhere who say the 21st century is a century of new beginnings, filled with promise and infinite hope, and at times profound gratitude to all those who believe in our task, which is to improve the human condition.

A great man, Camus, wrote at the end of his marvelous novel, The Plague: “After all,” he said, “after the tragedy, never the rest…there is more in the human being to celebrate than to denigrate.” Even that can be found as truth — painful as it is — in Buchenwald.

Thank you, Mr. President, for allowing me to come back to my father’s grave, which is still in my heart.

JPOST: MSNBC's deafening silence on Buchanan's Holocaust denial forum

Jun. 3, 2009
More than three weeks ago, I outed Patrick Buchanan, the former senior White House official in the Nixon and Reagan administrations, erstwhile candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and now a highly paid political commentator on MSNBC, for sponsoring a Holocaust denial forum on his Web site. Within hours of this disclosure in a New York Daily News article, the forum in question, entitled “Disinformation, Deception and Other Tricks: Discussion About ‘The Holocaust'” (with The Holocaust in quotes, of course), mysteriously vanished from and the link to it was disabled.

The Buchanan Web site’s forum followed the standard Holocaust deniers’ playbook, complete with such gems as “Most historians believe it was logistically impossible to gas 6 million Jews and reduce their bodies to ashes”; “We have known for some time that the Auschwitz myth is of an exclusively Jewish origin”; “The same blinded people that believe that the Germans intentionally killed Jews – also believe the myth of the Anne Frank diary”; and “Rightly or wrongly – the Jew was blamed for a lot of the problems that Germany suffered. The Jews were given years of warnings that they were unwelcome in Germany. A lot of Jews fled Germany in the late 1930s. The United States was not very anxious to accept very many. This was when white Christians still had a little control of our nation.”

ONE MIGHT have expected the disclosure of this forum to at least raise some eyebrows at MSNBC. After all, two years ago the news channel summarily fired talk show host Don Imus for making a racially insensitive remark about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team. Sponsoring a Holocaust denial forum on one’s Web site strikes me as no less offensive. But not a single MSNBC executive has deigned to publicly address Buchanan’s association with anti-Semites, white supremacists and other assorted bigots.

Since Buchanan’s Holocaust denial forum became public, he has appeared repeatedly on at least three MSNBC programs: Morning Joe, Hardball with Chris Matthews and Andrea Mitchell Reports. Neither Joe Scarborough nor Mika Brzezinski, the cohosts of Morning Joe, asked Buchanan to explain why he provided a platform for Holocaust deniers. Chris Matthews did not ask Buchanan whether he approved of or agreed with the Holocaust denying screeds that were posted on Andrea Mitchell did not ask Buchanan how and why the Holocaust denial forum was so suddenly removed from his Web site.

Matthews would never have remained silent in the face of slurs directed at Irish-Americans, or Scarborough at Southern conservative Christians, or Brzezinski at Polish Catholics, or Mitchell at women. Holocaust denial by definition is toxic, and Buchanan’s MSNBC colleagues have an obligation to confront him on their shows with the vitriol he allowed to be disseminated under his auspices.

MSNBC’S AUDIENCES for the most part have no idea that Buchanan is not just another affable, well-spoken if arch-conservative pundit. They do not know that he has compared John Demjanjuk, the Nazi guard at the death camps of Sobibor and Majdanek who has just been deported from the US to stand trial in Germany, to Jesus Christ. They do not know that he wrote in his March 17, 1990, syndicated column that Jews could not have been murdered in the gas chambers of Treblinka, and dismissed the Holocaust survivors’ experiences as “group fantasies of martyrdom and heroics.”

They do not know that Buchanan has referred to Capitol Hill as “Israeli-occupied territory” and called Israel “a strategic albatross draped around the neck of the United States.” They do not know that he told the Christian Coalition in 1993 that “our culture is superior. Our culture is superior because our religion is Christianity and that is the truth that makes men free.”

They do not know that Buchanan has actively lobbied on behalf of Nazi war criminals like Demjanjuk, Karl Linnas and Arthur Rudolph. They do not know that he called for the abolishment of the US Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations, which prosecutes and seeks to deport Nazi war criminals from the United States, because he considered the unit to be “a shark force… running down 70-year-old camp guards.” They do not know that he once wrote that “though Hitler was indeed racist and anti-Semitic to the core, a man who without compunction could commit murder and genocide, he was also an individual of great courage, a soldier’s soldier… a political organizer of the first rank, a leader steeped in the history of Europe, who possessed oratorical powers that could awe even those who despised him.”

Patrick Buchanan has no greater credibility or respectability than David Duke, the former imperial wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, or Louis Farrakhan, the grotesquely anti-Semitic leader of the Nation of Islam. That is why the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants is calling on Holocaust survivors, members of their families and the Jewish community as a whole to write to MSNBC president Phil Griffin to express their collective outrage. If MSNBC’s executives insist on retaining Buchanan as a fixture on their news channel, he must be clearly identified as an enabler of Holocaust deniers and a defender of Nazi war criminals whenever he appears on the air.

The writer is vice president of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants, general counsel of the World Jewish Congress and adjunct professor of law at Cornell Law School.

American Gathering Calls for Protests Vs. Buchanan, letter writing campaign to NBC

New York, May 20, 2009. Sam Bloch, Roman Kent, Max Liebmann, Menachem Rosensaft and the Executive Committee of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants, has called on the Jewish community and the American people as a whole to join the Holocaust survivors and their descendants in contacting the president of MSNBC regarding the news channel


One week ago, I outed Patrick Buchanan, the former senior White House official in the Nixon and Reagan administrations, erstwhile reactionary candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, and now a highly paid political commentator on MSNBC, for sponsoring a Holocaust denial forum on his website. Within hours, the forum in question, entitled “Disinformation, Deception and Other Tricks: Discussion about ‘The Holocaust'” (with The Holocaust in quotes, of course), mysteriously vanished from, and the link to it was disabled.

The Buchanan website’s forum followed the standard Holocaust deniers’ playbook, complete with such gems as “Most historians believe it was LOGISTICALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO GAS 6 MILLION JEWS AND REDUCE THEIR BODIES TO ASHES;” “We have known for some time that the Auschwitz myth is of an exclusively Jewish origin;” “The same blinded people that believe that the Germans intentionally killed Jews — also believe the myth of the Anne Frank Diary;” and “Rightly or wrongly — the Jew was blamed for a lot of the problems that Germany suffered. The Jews were given years of warnings that they were unwelcome in Germany. A lot of Jews fled Germany in the late 1930s. The United States was not very anxious to accept very many. This was when White Christians still had a little control of our Nation.”


NYTimes: Recap of Pope Benedict XVI trip to Israel

Published: May 15, 2009


"Just like defending the KKK is racist, Knowingly defending a Nazi is antisemitic"

Defending a Nazi
“Just like defending the KKK is racist,
Knowingly defending a Nazi is antisemitic”

By Fred Taub

There are two types of people who have stood in defense of Nazi John “Ivan the Terrible” Demjanjuk, people who have fallen for the lies of the Demjanjuk family, and anti-Semites. The latter includes Holocaust deniers, most of whom mask their anti-Semitism under the guise of freedom for the Nazi on humanitarian grounds, the same freedoms Demjanjuk denied the Jews he murdered.

First, let’s remember that in U.S. federal courts, Demjanjuk’s past was proven to be the sadist Nazi death camp guard who took so much pleasure murdering Jews at the Sobibor death camp, that he was promoted to murdering children in Treblinka, the Nazi death camp built specifically to murder children. As of today, all of the evidence, including his Nazi ID card which states he volunteered to serve as a Nazi guard, stands affirmed as authentic is both U.S. and Israeli courts. Also, in direct contradiction to the claims of his family, Demjanjuk was not acquitted in Israel, but rather released from his sentence, not the conviction, due to a technicality in Israeli law. In Israel, Demjanjuk’s sentence was overturned after he threw a last-minute wrench into the proceedings by admitting to being a Nazi, but a different Nazi. Germany wants to put Demjanjuk on trial for exactly what he admitted to in Israel, which should not be difficult at all.

I can understand the Demjanjuk family standing up for their patriarch, but what I cannot understand are those who defend Nazi Demjanjuk despite knowing he lied. Take for instance Pat Buchanan who recently wrote an article claiming Demjanjuk is not guilty, yet that can only be possible if, according to Buchanan, the Holocaust never happened, which we all know is a lie propagated by people what to see another Holocaust. The fact is that knowingly propagating a lie in order to defend a Nazi is antisemitic. While not all anti-Semites are Holocaust deniers, all Holocaust deniers are antisemites – Buchanan is both.

I can understand the Cleveland media wanting to stand up for their home town underdog battling governments, yet the Cleveland media did not stand up for pornographer Ruben Sturman when he was on trial. In Demjanjuk’s case, after the Nazi was exposed by the U.S. Department of Justice for faking an illness to avoid being deported for health reasons, Cleveland’s Fox affiliate continually showed Demjanjuk faking that illness while the local NBC affiliate showed Demjanjuk faking being ill, despite knowing that illness was faked.

Then there are the national media reporters such as Philip Terzian, the Literary Editor of The Weekly Standard, who, in a Facebook blog with columnist Debbie Schlussel said “Wasn’t he a Ukrainian who was impressed into the German army and served as a concentration camp guard? And didn’t the Israelis decide he wasn’t ‘Ivan the Terrible’?”

After being pressed on the fact that he was 100% wrong on about the Demjanjuk case, Terzian then showed his true colors when he responded “I’m not ‘defending’ John Demjanjuk but suggesting that his case seems ambiguous and that, in 2009, it seems like a tremendous waste of resources to pursue a half-dead nonagenarian when there are more pressing human rights problems in the world.”

Terzian went from falling from propaganda from the Demjanjuk family to defending a Nazi, despite claiming the exact opposite. Terzian was not only defending Nazi Demjanjuk, but stated he felt prosecuting the single biggest mass murderer of our day is a “waste of resource.” If we are going to prosecute people like Jeffrey Dahmer or Charles Manson, then we surely need to prosecute Demjanjuk who took pride in murdering thousands of times more people than Mason, but Terzian apparently does not agree. Defending a Nazi is antisemitic, yet Terzian did not even feel the need to retract his hate.

There is no statute of limitations on murder, and the reason we need to prosecute Demjanjuk is not only to pursue justice, but also to send a message to future generations that there is no hiding from the law, as well as to teach the world that we will never allow a Holocaust to happen again.

Just like defending the KKK is racist, Knowingly defending a Nazi is anti-Semitic. When people want to excuse Nazis for their murders by passing on their prosecution, they are not doing it out of love for anyone. Rather, they are extending wishes of a long and comfortable life to Nazi murderers, and here Demjanjuk specifically, a volunteer Nazi who took an oath unto death to Hitler. Terzian is anti-Semitic at the very least, and when cornered, he responded with name calling by insulting Schlussel, a technique used by weak people who still want to defend their own words despite being cornered with their lies.

The prosecution of Nazi Demjanjuk is testimony that the world will never forget, and that we all must stand tall against those would find justification for hate or even worse, act on that hate to murder, be it one, six, or six million. We live in a very scary world and I, for one, will never be silent. Will you?