Lessons of the Shoah: Justice, or Just Us?

Yair Lapid, one of Israel’s most influential journalists, wrote an important opinion piece (link is to the English translation) last week on Ynet, the Web site of Yediot Ahronot, reexamining the meaning of the Holocaust in Israel today. He says it’s time to step back, if only slightly, from the usual response of anger and defensiveness that characterizes most Holocaust commemoration in Israel (and, we might add, in organized American Jewish circles as well) and begin reminding ourselves of its universal human lessons.

His argument won’t be unfamiliar to progressive Jews in America. What’s important is that Lapid is not a radical or dissenter. He’s decidedly centrist, born and raised in the bosom of Israel’s Ashkenazic elite, anchor of the influential Ulpan Shishi Friday night TV newsmagazine on Channel 2 and lead columnist in the Yediot Ahronot weekly magazine. He’s also the son of the late Tommy Lapid, justice minister, outspoken journalist, chairman of Yad Vashem and a leading spokesman for Israel’s Holocaust survivor community. There was some buzz last month that Yair, the son, might be starting a new centrist political party (as his father once did) and the polls immediately showed him coming in third in a theoretical election, trailing Likud and Kadima but trouncing everyone else on the map.

So when Yair Lapid starts publicly rethinking the Holocaust, it’s a sure sign that something serious is percolating in the mind of mainstream Israel.

Here are some key passages:

Written by

J.J. Goldberg

J.J. Goldberg

Jonathan Jeremy “J.J.” Goldberg is editor-at-large of the Forward, where he served as editor in chief for seven years (2000-2007).

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Lessons of the Shoah: Justice, or Just Us?

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