December 1, 2008
Modern day Israel and the Jewish community are strongly influenced by the memory and horrors of Hitler and the Holocaust. In his book, The Holocaust is Over; We Must Rise From Its Ashes, Avraham Burg argues that the Jewish nation has been traumatized and has lost the ability to trust itself, its neighbors, or the world around it. He seeks to show that this is one of the causes for the growing nationalism and violence that are plaguing Israeli society and reverberating through Jewish communities worldwide. Burg uses his own family history to inform his views on what the Jewish people need to do to move on and eventually live in peace with their Arab neighbors and feel comfortable in world at large.
The distinguished historian Omer Bartov, author of Hitler's Army: Soldiers, Nazis, and War in the Third Reich, will be in conversation with Avraham Burg to address some of these claims:
- The Holocaust is Over is very critical of Zionism as it was implemented in Israel and Jewish nationalism more generally. Is Burg in general an opponent of nationalism, or does he simply think that it negates the historical role he envisions for Jews?
- Burg is critical of the nationalist myths upon which Zionism was founded; at the same time he professes a strong commitment to Jewish history going back to Biblical times. How does Burg square the circle of basing his anti-Zionist stance -- whereby he opposes fascist-like mythologies of blood and soil -- on a belief in Jewish destiny, fate, and universal mission. Does Burg consider himself a patriot?
- Burg seems to imply that Israel?or the Jews?should fulfill the role of being a beacon to the nations. Does this mean he sees Israel not as a normal state and the Jews not as a normal nation, but as a chosen people?
- Burg argues that Israel should stop speaking about the Holocaust as a political tool and drop the rhetoric of "never again." What role does he attribute to the rhetoric of "never again" vis-a-vis the numerous genocides that have occurred since 1945 and are still going on today, and does he think that Jews and Israelis have a special duty to fight against such mass murders?
- Burg implies (like Tony Judt) that while Israel was created with the intention of removing the main cause for antisemitism it has now become the main reason for it. What to his mind would effectively remove the causes of antisemitism?
photo of Avraham Burg by Roni Burg
About Omer Bartov
Omer Bartov is the John P. Birkelund Distinguished Professor of European History at Brown University. He has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Academy in Berlin, the Guggenheim Foundation, and others. He is the author of Hitler's Army: Soldiers, Nazis, and War in the Third Reich, The "Jew" in Cinema, and Erased: Vanishing Traces of Jewish Galicia in Present-Day Ukraine. He is currently writing a history of the town of Buczacz in Eastern Galicia.
About Avrum Burg
Avrum Burg is the author of The Holocaust is Over; We Must Rise from its Ashes, which Tony Judt has called "An important book by a very courageous man." A former Speaker of the Knesset in Israel, he has been active in politics as a leader in the Labor Party and the One Israel party. His article in The Guardian entitled "The End of Zionism" was widely read and debated. He lives with his wife in Nataf, a small village outside Jerusalem.