mitchell’s response

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(N.B. Mitchell L commented the following comment on this post. I’m going to repost any comments that I feel valuable. Many have sent me insightful/touching/funny/outrageous emails that definitely deserve to be read; however, those were personal messages, and not of my business to publicly post. If you’d like to weigh in — and please do — either post a comment, or shoot me an email with permission.)

Mitchell responds

I can’t help but revel when the younger man is the more adult, but actually I think this is due to something Efraim alluded to. There really is a generational gap and it goes much deeper than an appreciation for levity, electronic noises in our music, or some kind of misconstrued “alibi”.

There aren’t many progressive minded young people, Efraim, who would wear the title of “hunter” so comfortably or brazenly as you do. Most people who study genocides today are keen on the notion of reconciliation and are not eager to go hunting even criminal human beings. I don’t mean to discount your truly noble efforts of bringing some of the worst criminals in history to justice, or for feeling angry when those efforts are being stymied, or even opposed, today. I wish you the best on your mission and as a Jew whose family died, like yours, in Lithuania, I cannot tell you how important I feel it is. But what I do mean to question is your feelings toward people, culture and practicality against the rather intangible and sometimes starkly unjust notion of justice. I believe even you would agree that the Nuremberg trials had a limit, and that sometimes, although incredibly painful, it is necessary to let someone “get away” with murder or at least complicity and allow for healing.

That said, is the discourse of double-genocide a dangerous and very real problem? Of course it is and Lithuania has been especially disturbing in their lack of confrontation (bordering on outright denial) of their own heavy involvement in the mass murder of Jews (just see the rhetoric of a commenter on your most recent response). Have the the people of Lithuania in any way dealt with their responsibility as they should have? Does a genocide museum devoid of reference to the Holocaust in the country with the highest kill rate in Europe disgust any self-respecting Jew? The answers to these questions are obvious for anyone who cares to look into them. And there is a long difficult fight for recognition of the uniqueness of the Holocaust, just as there is for the suffering of countless others across history and today (including, notably in this case, that of Lithuanians under Soviet/Russian rule). But sometimes fighting as passionately (and, if I may say, angrily) as you do, is not the only, or even the best way to climb this mountain. And I dare say it is not the way of my brother or Menachem.

Given your extensive involvement in these kinds of issues, is it really so wrong to have ANY kind of healing event, even if it seems trivial from afar and is run by two rather goofy gentlemen? Are you really so opposed to reopening the dialog by any means available? I call again for you to answer Menachem, what is the harm in breaking Jewish bread where our ancestors did for centuries? Rather than use informants to question their activities (re: “kids these days don’t care about anything!”), why not use your obvious plethora of local contacts to assist these two in their research (or even help shape it)?

Lives are full of inconsistencies and hypocrisies and dare I say it, yours is no exception Efraim. You are the last Nazi hunter, perhaps out of duty to our families or perhaps because you are angry and want some kind of revenge. But given your involvement in Rwanda’s post-genocide efforts, and as far as I know, no new title of genocidaire (certainly not French special forces) hunter, can you really say what you do is out of unflinching principle?

I stress again that what you do is quite admirable in a lot of ways and I feel obliged to thank you for your work in human rights in whatever way you found fit. It is no easy task and you’ve done more than most. But I hope, perhaps naively, that it is not the way of my generation; that we might strive for a more universal, reconciling, and frankly preventative way of mourning the death of innocents. I hope you can appreciate that as much as we respectfully appreciate your work.

Written by menachemkaiser

26 October at 22:50

Posted in bagel, rants

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