"Old news" is perhaps the most dismissive way an editor can reject a suggestion from a reporter, or an outside contributor, about an issue that the media outlet should tackle.
San Diego Jewish World promises never to consider the Holocaust "old news," whatever form that news may come, be it in recollections of still-surviving Holocaust victims; the efforts of second and third generation survivors to measure the Holocaust's impact on their lives and those of their children; the novelists and playwrights who retell Holocaust stories; or the efforts of some in the academic world to minimize or distort the Holocaust.
In today's San Diego Union-Tribune, a story attributed to the Tribune News Service reported that one tenth of young adults surveyed by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany believe Jews caused the Holocaust, and another 10 percent think it may not have happened. Overall, according to Yahoo News, the survey found that 80 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 39 were ill-informed about the Holocaust.
From Syracuse University, we received word from Prof. Zachary Braiterman, whose research focuses on Jewish culture, that "reports about young American adults not knowing anything about the Holocaust or having weird ideas about the Holocaust are not surprising. Each passing decade puts more and more cognitive distance between people today annd the historical past about which they know only through platforms like Hollywood movies and social media platforms, now including Tik Toc. The Holocaust becomes more and more unreal, especially in a culture like ours that seems untethered from reality. Educators can only do so much in this current context."
Couple Braiterman's pessimism with the effort by anti-Israel activists to rewrite the story of Israel's founding and you can understand why Jewish defense organizations need be ever on the alert.
The AMCHA Initiative is one such pro-Israel group. Recently, under its auspices, representatives of 86 organizations protested the plan at San Francisco State University to invite Leila Khaled as a speaker on a Sept. 23 Internet presentation sponsored by SFSU's Arab and Muslim Ethnicites and Diaspora (AMED) program.
Khaled, as a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, participated in the hijacking of TWA Flight 840 from Rome to Tel Aviv in 1969 and an EL Al Flight from Amsterdam to New York in 1970. She is barred by the U.S. State Department from entering the United States because she is a member of a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization.
Nevertheless, SFSU Prof. Rabab Abdulhadi invited Khaled to be an Internet speaker, perhaps not surprising because Abdulhadi is a founder of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.
AMCHA and the other pro-Israel organizations posed this question to SFSU President Lynn Mahoney in their letter objecting to the terrorist's presentation:
"[W]hat if an invitation to speak to a class – in fact an entire event – is an endorsement of a point of view and a political cause? And what if the intention of the faculty member who extended such an invitation and organized such an event was not to encourage students 'to think critically and come to independent, personal conclusions about events of local and global importance,' but rather to promote the faculty member's own narrow political view and to weaponize students to be foot soldiers in the faculty member's own political cause? [D]oes academic freedom protect faculty who intentionally use their classrooms or other academic platforms not to educate their students but to indoctrinate them with propaganda consistent with their own political causes and to encourage their students to engage in political activism consistent with those causes?"
The question applies not only to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but also to the insidious field of Holocaust denial, which, no matter how great the documentation of the Holocaust, some professors believe is appropriate to present as an "alternative viewpoint" to their students.
Recently, one of our columnists, Rabbi Bernhard H. Rosenberg, suggested that the Holocaust should be written into the Jewish liturgy, not only on Yom HaShoah, but on every holiday and even every Shabbat.
Yes, but if only Jews learn about the Holocaust, then we are talking about a very tiny percentage of the American population. Efforts should be made to encourage congregations of other faiths to likewise augment their liturgies. Yet, with attendance at Houses of Worship declining in America, secular efforts, aimed at the broad expanse of Americans, with or without religious affiliation, also would seem in order. Perhaps Jewish organizations should be talking with representatives of groups that also have suffered murders and/or oppression — Blacks, Latinos, Indigenous Americans, Asian-Americans, Armenians, Cambodians, Rwandans, Romas, and Rohingyas, just to name a few — to press for a national day of mourning for victims of hate.