Antisemitic fliers were found on three buildings at the Princeton University campus in New Jersey, including the building used by Princeton’s Center for Jewish Life. The fliers had the website URL and phone number for a white supremacist group, although the university has not disclosed the name of the group. This follows another recent antisemitic incident affecting the Princeton University community. To mark Adolf Hitler’s birthday yesterday, the antisemitic group Vanguard America tweeted a message directed at Jewish Princeton students and faculty. The message was accompanied by an image of Adolf Hitler in a birthday hat.
This incident pertains to our course material in that it is reliant on antisemitic rhetoric based on the legacy of the Holocaust. The memory of the Holocaust has served as fodder for antisemites in modern times despite some of those targeted by these hateful words being two or more generations removed from the generation of Jews that endured the Holocaust. While most American Jews are descended from people who immigrated to the US prior to WWII and thus may not be aware of extended family that died in the Holocaust, Holocaust based antisemitic rhetoric targeting these people still has a powerful emotional effect. The legacy of the Holocaust weighs heavy on anyone of Ashkenazi Jewish-descent because it represents the physical destruction of their heritage. Someone who is of Italian descent can still go back to Italy and reconnect with their culture in a way that is not possible for European Jews. There is no Vilna, only Vilnius. While many American Jews do go on “heritage trips” where they visit the physical spaces their ancestors lived, they are experiencing the memory of a place. While many Americans Jews feel a connection to Israel, and find visiting Israel meaningful, most are not and will never be Israeli. That is why Holocaust based rhetoric is and will continue to be effective, the memory of the Holocaust still hurts.
Article originally posted on 4/21/17