Monday, August 06, 2007
Raul Hilberg Dies
2. My first thought when hearing that Raul Hilberg had died
was that alas now I will never get to punch him in the mouth.
Hilberg of course was a leading Holocaust historian, one often
mindlessly dubbed by the media "The Dean of Holocaust Studies," whatever
that means. Hilberg had once done important work on the Holocaust.
There is a big HOWEVER, with a capital H. Hilberg in recent years had
become an apologist and lobbyist on behalf of Neo-Nazi pseudo-scholar
Norman Finkelstein, and had repeatedly endorsed Finkelstein's hate-filled
"books" and rants against Jews and Israel. Hilberg had been trying to
help Finkelstein get tenured at DePaul University, and may well have died
this week of a broken heart after Finkelstein got canned. (Well, aside
from having cancer.) Hilberg had also been increasingly mouthing
anti-Israel rhetoric in recent years (e.g.,
Why would the "Dean of Holocaust Studies" go out streetwalking for
Norman Finkelstein? Part of the story may have been that he was far more
upset that the "Jewish Establishment" did not give him the respect he
thought he deserved. Alan Dershowitz suggested to me a more plausible
explanation though. Hilberg in recent years was obsessed with engaging
in a personal vendetta against Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, a prominent
historian of German and of anti-Semitism. Hilberg evidently thought
Goldhagen was stealing Hilberg's own thunder. He attacked Goldehagen
endlessly and viciously, in an ad hominem way.
Because Norman Finkelstein also attacked Goldhagen, Hilberg decided to
endorse the Fink, in his own Vermont application of the Middle East.s
slogan holding that the enemy of my enemy being my friend. Hilberg in his
last years seemed to have been far more angry at the "Jewish
Establishment" than he was at Neo-Nazis and anti-Semites.