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Still Alive

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Peter Novick’s article by declaring that many people to the tune of  millions in number  lost their lives. This was not because they were killed accidentally in any war, but as a consequence of a well orchestrated and deliberate government policy. The victims, who either lost their lives or suffered in one way or the other, were not opposed to that regime, neither were they armed. But that did not make the perpetrators to spare even the vulnerable in the society like women and children. The perpetrators of the genocide were people who enjoyed massive protection of the state and used extensive resources available to the state. Unbelievably, the people who were responsible for this heinous extermination were never brought to book and instead went unpunished. Although the accurate data of the lost lives are still hard to come by, estimation put the numbers at between 30-40 million (Jean,18).

In understanding the aftermath of the holocaust, Novick wanted to answer some questions that really astonished him. First, he wanted to understand why the Holocaust became the center of the evil in the twentieth century.  He was also interested in unearthing the reason why Holocausts are considered the only common denominator of American Jewish identity. The article explained how just one serious and terrifying event came to be the major subject of discussion in the US of political evil. In fact, such grave centrality could not be realized in the periods 1945, 1945 or 1965. No one in American land could ever think of a museum mall in the capital city of Washington being built purposely to encourage the nation to reflect back on that evil. Ironically, the museum is situated on a capital which was built by the hard labor of slaves. According to Novic, this creates a force that affirms confrontation with what happened to foreigners in other continents, yet as the Holocaust continued to diminish, the more has its effects been reclaimed in people’s memory. In Europe, such paradoxes have reigned and continued to haunt the Jewish community much now than ever (Jean, 20).    

Novick is critical when he affirms that the consciousness of the Holocaust did not occupy a central position in the communal life of the Jewish community before the period of 1960s. Indifference and omissions existed before and intentionally shifted the attention of the regimes to communist perpetrated crimes while at the same time, overlooking those linked to Nazism. Fortunately, as the cold war came to closure in 1960s, Holocaust survivors gained confidence and began to narrate their story to an increasingly attentive audience making holocaust to be an integral component of the political discussion in America. In giving a deeper understanding of the aftermath of Holocaust, Novic does not focus on Holocaust as an event which merely took place between 1933 or 1939 ending in 1945. Instead he expounds on it by presenting an investigation on how Jewish-Americans viewed the destruction of mostly European Jewry and to a certain level, how that thought had been shaped, influenced and distorted (Jean, 21).

Through the article, Novic reignites a public interest to remember the events and experiences the Jewish people underwent in Nazi regime, which was faltering. With diminishing of ethnic differentiation, with  disappearance of neighborhoods dominated by working class individuals, with the growing inability of the synagogues to collect funds due from members who have defaulted in making subscriptions, and lastly with the increased disorganization in the Israeli politics which is linked with the coming into power of Likud in 1977, the Jewish civil service found themselves in a state of confusion hence resorting to lean towards the Holocaust as a way of unifying their fragmented community into one again (Jean, 46).   

After Edward Said finalized the Question of Palestine in 1978, many publishers declined to publish it claiming it was provocative. Beacon Press and Pantheon Books  for instance refused to take the manuscript. Another publisher from Beirut invited Said and only agreed to publish it in Arabic only if said removed the criticism contents of the book something he did not agree with. Fortunately however, Said found a publisher by the name Time Books who produced it in the year 1979. More importantly, Said carried out a thorough research on the history and the ideologies of Zionism rejuvenated a series of criticisms from different from fronts. Robert Wisrich who is a renowned Jewish critic particularly faulted as erroneous the link espoused by Said between Zionism and European colonialism (Wylen, 392).

Consequently, many Palestinians were of the view that Said was conceding too much ground, especially when people criticizing Zion ideals made attempts to end the imperial ramification associated with it. In return,  "Zionism from the Standpoint of Its Victims" greatly realized that Palestinians who stood as ‘the victims of victims’ occupied a central and important part in the entire history of Zionism. To make the matter more interesting, Said insisted in his book that they have to be given special consideration right within the Zion history , the same way Palestinians cannot be separated from Zionism. He also explained his approach by associating it with strategies that were imminent in “mutual recognition” as well as the “two-state solutions” of the rivalry that existed between Palestinians and Israel. To make Said to stand out from other scholars is the fact that he was the first Palestinian to rationally argue and advocate for a full political engagement between Palestinians and the Jews. This made his work to be a focal point for the explanation of the aftermath of Holocaust events (Tesler, 23).    

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