By Israel W. Charny
Jerusalem Post Magazine
May 27, 2016
We all know sadly how often Jews are hated in this world, but would you ever have dreamed how far they would go in distorting history?
Polish born Mordechai Fox, an 89-year-old Holocaust survivor, wears a yellow Star of David on his jacket during a ceremony marking Holocaust Remembrance Day. (photo credit:REUTERS)
In my recent study, “Holocaust Minimization, Anti-Israel Themes, and Antisemitism: Bias at the Journal of Genocide Research,” more than half of a group of Holocaust and genocide scholars and students rated the journal as biased toward minimization of the significance of the Holocaust and anti-Israel, and one-third of respondents rated the journal as publishing anti-Semitic themes.
And now, to add icing to the cake, the International Network of Genocide Scholars, the journal’s parent organization, is coming to town, holding its international meeting in Jerusalem in June.
It’s important to note that the journal is only a part of INOGS and that undoubtedly there will be many significant presentations on the Holocaust and genocide at the conference – in fact, I too will be speaking at this conference.
In an effort to see how genocide scholars view selected articles in JGR, I assembled a series of excerpts of seven articles, including quotations from their authors and put them into a questionnaire.
Readers were asked to choose as many of five options that they felt applied to each article, whether it was a legitimate criticism of the Holocaust, a minimization of the significance of the Holocaust, an anti-Israel statement, an anti-Semitic statement, or none of the above.
After evaluating the seven articles in this way, the respondents were also asked a summary question about the journal as a whole, where they were presented with the same options: Does the journal publish legitimate critiques of the Holocaust and its significance? Is it a journal that minimizes the significance of the Holocaust? Does it have an anti-Israel bias? Does it have an anti-Semitic bias? Altogether 76 responses were received – via a survey company which also was responsible for tallying the results. As reported in the full professional summary of the study in the Journal for the Study of Antisemitism, the results couldn’t be stronger: 59 percent defined JGR as minimizing the significance of the Holocaust, 59% said the journal showed an anti-Israel bias, and 36% identified the journal as showing an anti-Semitic bias.
The results are unequivocal and even dramatic. One senior genocide scholar calls the results “a devastating critique.”
Another distinguished genocide scholar wrote, “Thank you for taking on the anti- Israel, anti-Semitic leftists who have taken over editorship of the Journal of Genocide Research and have always been the leaders of INOGS.”
Among the seven articles in JGR that were evaluated by readers in this study, we read two articles in which genocide scholars insist that the Holocaust was in no way a major contribution to the United Nations Convention on Genocide or to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – both of which emerged in the years immediately after World War II and are known to have been deeply influenced by the Holocaust.
In another article we are told that the Jews of Hungary who were transported to their deaths in Auschwitz in the last months of the war were not victimized specifically as Jews but were victims of a broader pattern of Hungarian discrimination against minorities. Moreover, says the author, this understanding also opens the door to an entirely different understanding of the Holocaust. Does one dare joke bitterly that, no doubt, Hungarian Jews would have had a calmer train ride to Auschwitz if they had known this? We all know sadly how often Jews are hated in this world, and in recent years with a new intensity by many so-called liberal academics, but would you ever have dreamed how far they would go in distorting history? In another article, also in JGR, which was published too late to be included in the study, we find one of the ultimate crazy reinterpretations of the Holocaust. The author claims that the Wannsee Conference was not about Jews! His cover story is that Wannsee was the Nazis’ plan for all minorities in Europe. Do you get it? The Holocaust was a side effect. It wasn’t passionately and especially against the Jews. The Jews should stop taking it all so personally.
As for the State of Israel, from the outset – says a famous British academic, Martin Shaw, in another of the articles – the War of Independence was a fulfillment of Zionism’s “incipiently genocidal mentality towards Arab society.”
When this article was originally published in 2010, I wrote a public critique of it, for which I was chastised by some in the academic genocide establishment for an ad hominem attack on a distinguished colleague.
Another statement by two other genocide scholars is that the Holocaust and the “Nakba” (Arabic for catastrophe, the Palestinian view of Israeli independence) were cut from the same cloth.
They “structurally share… the same type of dangerous political rationale.”
In both of the above two articles attacking Israel, little to nothing at all is said of the fact that the newly founded State of Israel was attacked from within and also on all borders by the Arabs, and that the small Jewish community was literally fighting for its life.
Where are these abusive distortions of history to be found? As noted, they all appear in the bona fide academic publication Journal of Genocide Research, which is the official journal of the INOGS, a competitor organization to the International Association of Genocide Scholars, which was founded some years earlier. There is no doubt that JGR, which is published by a leading American publisher, also does produce many significant studies of genocide, but over the last few years studies such as the above have been more and more prominent.
No less disturbing is the fact that some of the articles cited above were written by Jewish scholars who hold teaching positions here in Israel.
I am reminded of a time when I was visiting Australia and discovered a magazine devoted to human rights that produced a great deal of meaningful material about issues that I care about deeply, but then, lo and behold, deep within the issue, there was a whole bunch of malarkey that there never was a Holocaust, there were no gas chambers, no huge ovens, and so on – the most primitive denials of the Holocaust.
It remains to be seen how the professional world will react to the powerful results of the present study.
The writer is the executive director of the Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide in Jerusalem, was editor of the Encyclopedia of Genocide, and is author of the forthcoming The Genocide Contagion (Rowman & Littlefield).
Jerusalem Post Magazine
Letters to the Editor
June 17, 2016
We, the undersigned scholars of the Holocaust and other genocides, were shocked by Israel W. Charny’s “Genocide scholars who minimize the Holocaust – and some who are coming to town” (Opinion, May 27) and deplore your decision to publish it. We support the eminent Journal of Genocide Research and stand behind the scholars who publish their research in it.
Our field enjoys a range of perspectives and methodological approaches, and this diversity is key to its vitality and continuing relevance.
Far from advancing scholarship, Charny chills the room with character assassination.
PROF. ALON CONFINO
PROF RENEE POZNANSKI
PROF. NIZA YANAY, Ben Gurion University of the Negev
PROF. ERIC D. WEITZ, City College of New York
PROF. TANER AKCAM
PROF. DEBORAH DWORK
PROF. THOMAS KUHNE, Clark University
PROF. EMERITUS DOMINICK LACAPRA, Cornell University
PROF. DANIEL BLATMAN
PROF. EMERITA SIDRA DEKOVEN EZRAHI
PROF. EMERITA DALIA OFER, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
PROF. MARK ROSEMAN, Indiana University Bloomington
PROF. FEDERICO FINCHELSTEIN, New School for Social Research
PROF. TOM LAWSON, Northumbria University
PROF. ALEX HINTON, Rutgers University, Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights, UNESCO Chair in Genocide Prevention
PROF. NORMAN M. NAIMARK, Stanford University
PROF. ELISA VON JOEDEN-FORGEY, Stockton University
PROF. YEHOUDA SHENHAV, Tel Aviv University
PROF. JURGEN MATTHAUS, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
PROF. VLADIMIR SOLONARI, University of Central Florida
PROF. DONALD BLOXHAM, University of Edinburgh
PROF. ZACH LEVEY, University of Haifa
PROF. MICHAEL ROTHENBERG, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
PROF. ADAM MULLER, University of Manitoba
PROF. GEOFF ELEY, University of Michigan
DR. MELANIE O’BRIEN, University of Queensland
PROF. MARK LEVENE, University of Southhampton
PROF. UGUR UMIT UNGOR, Ultrecht University
PROF. TIMOTHY SNYDER, Yale University, member, Committee on Conscience, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Jerusalem Post Magazine
Letters To the Editor
June 20, 2016
In the study reported in the Jerusalem Post Magazine on May 27, 2016, “Genocide scholars who minimize the Holocaust – and some who are coming to town,” the judgments of the articles in the Journal of Genocide Research and of the journal as a whole were made by 76 Holocaust/genocide professionals (including a few students) and not by the researcher. It is the readers’ voices speaking in response to the summaries and direct quotes from the articles that they were given to read.
Of course, the study originated because of a judgment that there were articles that were seriously biased on the subjects of the Holocaust, the State of Israel, and the Jewish people — as indeed the striking results show the subjects also judged them to be.
In the rejoinders since published by the Post, not a single critic has addressed the specific examples of bias that were given including such as that the Hungarian Jews shipped to Auschwitz were not singled out as Jews, the Israel War of Independence was a fulfillment of an inherent genocidal ideology from the outset of Zionism, and that the Wannsee Conference was not specifically directed at a “final solution” of the Jews.
One veteran scholar has since written in response to the study: “The examples he gives are so potent as to make the case.”
When so many readers judge articles to be biased toward minimizing the Holocaust, anti-Israel, and/or even antisemitic, the professional failing cannot be waived off as a slander of colleagues. The study is about articles in a professional journal and not about individual scholars.
The full study can be read in the Journal for the Study of Antisemitism at www.jsantisemitism.org or on the website of the Institute on the Holocaust & Genocide, Jerusalem www.ihgjlm.com/breaking-news/. The full texts of responses to the questionnaire can be seen at https://www.surveymonkey.com/results/SM-26BHWS3W/.
Prof. Israel W. Charny
Letter from Dr. Gregory Stanton to the Jerusalem Post
|Prof. Charny has done a service to the profession by highlighting the creeping anti-Israel bias that has overtaken global academia, and even invaded the field of genocide scholarship.
Jerusalem Post Magazine
With regard to readers’ comments from June 17 and June 10 (“Holocaust ‘minimized,’” Letters) in reaction to Israel W. Charny’s “Genocide scholars who minimize the Holocaust – and some who are coming to town” (Opinion, May 27), Genocide Watch published links to Prof. Charny’s piece. We did so because we consider selected articles from the Journal of Genocide Research to be notable for an expressed antipathy toward Israel and Zionism.
Publishing such polemical attacks in a journal that is purportedly a scholarly journal of genocide research demonstrates how far JGR has fallen from the scholarly standard it had before it was taken over by the International Network of Genocide Scholars. If the articles had been critically reviewed, they would have been rejected as unworthy of publication.
Prof. Charny never claimed to have conducted an exhaustive study of every article published in JGR, but the survey he conducted demonstrates that a majority of the genocide scholars he surveyed viewed the chosen excerpts as anti-Israel and anti-Zionist.
There was nothing wrong with Prof. Charny’s methodology. The survey went out to every scholar who subscribes to the list serve of the International Association of Genocide Scholars. He never claimed that he used a random sample or some other research method. He used a neutral third party to tally the results. He got a respectable rate of return, enough to permit statistically significant conclusions.
Prof. Charny has done a service to the profession by highlighting the creeping anti-Israel bias that has overtaken the global academia, and even invaded the field of genocide scholarship.
Gregory H. Stanton
The writer is Research Professor in Genocide Studies and Prevention at the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution of George Mason University, and found president of Genocide Watch.