Diner (American Jewish History/New York Univ.; The Jews of the United States, 1654 to 2000, 2004, etc.) hurls a passionate, well-delineated attack on the conventional view that postwar Jews and survivors wanted to forget the Holocaust rather than memorialize the tragedy.
Responding to what she considers the “slipshod scholarship” of works such as Peter Novick’s The Holocaust in American Life (1999) and Norman Finkelstein’s The Holocaust Industry (2000), the author summons considerable evidence to support her thesis. Scouring the archives of synagogues, schools, Jewish organizations, newspapers, periodicals, radio and TV programs and government agencies, she uncovers a rich and varied history of how Jews have incorporated and made sense of the Holocaust. She marshals her research into two groups. The first is remembrance of the Holocaust internally generated by Jewish sources, including the erection of memorials, additions to the Jewish liturgy and calendar, textbooks, articles, plays and pageants enacting the Warsaw uprising. The second is the commemorative culture driven by global events, such as the creation of Israel and the settlement of Displaced Persons, the Cold War, the publications of The Wall by John Hersey and The Diary of Anne Frank, the clamor for German responsibility and restitution and the trial and execution of Adolph Eichmann. Diner is particularly compelling in her exploration of how the postwar Jewish liberal agenda—transformed by the experience of the Holocaust, immigration discrimination and anti-Semitism in America—boldly embraced the civil-rights crusade.
A work of towering research and conviction that will surely enliven academic debates for years to come.