By Atara Beck, Senior Editor, World Israel News
The Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida has launched a new exhibit, “Uprooting Prejudices: Faces of Change,” which includes, as described by the museum on its website, “stunning images and powerful words captured in the aftermath of the George Floyd murder, at the scene, by renowned photographer and storyteller John Noltner.”
George Floyd, an African American, died last May during an arrest in Minneapolis, when a white police officer knelt on his neck for over eight minutes. The incident resulted in mass protests across the U.S., including rioting and demands to end police funding.
Famous Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff, director of the Israeli office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel branch, called the exhibit “totally inappropriate.”
“The death of George Floyd is obviously tragic and there’s no question that racism in the United States exists, and African Americans suffer from it. There are cases of police brutality, which should never take place, and the fate of the victims is a tragedy,” Zuroff told World Israel News. “But this is not anything that’s to be compared to the Shoah.
“You’re talking about the police in a democracy, which operates in a democratic way, rule of law. Sometimes it’s violated, and sometimes with tragic results. But this is not the Third Reich in the United States. That’s not what’s going on there. And to juxtapose that to the Shoah is simply totally inappropriate.
“We are facing a very serious problem of universalization when dealing with the Shoah, and this is something that’s very, very important that we fight against,” Zuroff continued.
It is important, he said, “to continue to preserve the accurate account of the Shoah and the fact that the Shoah would never have taken place if not for the Jewish victims. So the problem is the temptation in America in trying to make it relevant.” By doing so, however, “they really, in a sense, distort the history and to some extent alter the lessons…
“So this is a problem. We see in a lot of educational initiatives in the United States, and we have to be on our watch. We have to be careful and do whatever we can to ensure that these false comparisons are not propagated and not disseminated – certainly not in Jewish Holocaust museums.”
American novelist, essayist, and Distinguished University Professor Thane Rosenbaum is the son of two Holocaust survivors. He told World Israel News:
“The museum might believe that it has a broader mission to make the Holocaust relevant to the events of our day. But what it is doing instead is blurring moral boundaries and showing a profound disrespect for the dead–and I mean not just Jewish dead, but African dead. Have they hosted Exhibits on the genocides of the Congo and Sudan? If not, then once again, close your doors, because the George Floyd death, and what it has come to symbolize, is in no way a genocide, and to place it in the museum only serves to trivial actual mass murder.”
‘A specifically Jewish phenomenon’
The Shoah is a specifically Jewish phenomenon,” Linda Olmert, the daughter of Holocaust survivors and former board member of Yad Vashem for 22 years, said to World Israel News. “The Jews were targeted for universal extermination even if the choices they made included conversion and denial of their Judaism. The American police, no matter what their faults, are not Nazis, and no one could say that they are targeting the Black population for mass extermination.
“To include an exhibit of George Floyd in the Holocaust Museum in Florida is to completely miss the essence of the Shoah and its horrific particularism of the Jewish people as targeted by Nazi Germany. This is in fact nothing less than a false quest for universalism that criminally diminishes the intransigent uncompromising racism towards the Jewish people, and at the same time perpetuates and advances a criminal (willful?) misunderstanding of the permutations of Black racism in America today.”
End Jew Hatred, a grassroots U.S.-based movement, issued the following statement to World Israel News.
“End Jew Hatred has no position on the Black Lives Matter Movement in general, except that we are inspired by the passion of minority communities organizing to secure justice. However, we strongly question placing a George Floyd exhibit in a Holocaust museum. The type of systemic and genocidal hatred that targets Jews is fundamentally unlike the persecution faced by other minority communities. Jewish spaces should center the Jewish experience.
George Floyd is added to a Holocaust museum? That trivializes and distorts the Holocaust and its six million Jewish victims. And it grotesquely implies that American police are Nazis. pic.twitter.com/zNsG0bqyEe
— Ezra Levant 🍁 (@ezralevant) November 22, 2020