Anatomy of a Slander

Efraim Zuroff, Director of the Israel Office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, is greatly disturbed by the conduct of the religious settlers opposed to the Gaza withdrawal. In a September 1 piece in the Jerusalem Post, he hurls his ultimate thunderbolt at the settlers: they remind him of charedim in their “political and cultural norms.” Who do their long peyos and large kippot remind you of? Their consultation with rabbinical authorities? Their encouragement of refusal of army offers to uproot settlements? The charedim, of course.

Zuroff, whose animus for the charedi public knows no bounds, even manages to connect charedim to the settlers’ appropriation of Holocaust symbols for their cause – yellow stars, prison camp uniforms. Somehow Zuroff links that misuse of the Holocaust to the charedi attitude towards history, which he describes as “purely instrumental, with historical accuracy of no inherent value.”

Over the last five years, Zuroff and I have clashed frequently, both in public debates and print, over historical issues, in particular his claim that “ultra-Orthodox rabbis” showed themselves indifferent to the fate of millions of murdered Jews during World War II and concerned themselves solely with the rescue of a handful of yeshiva scholars. Our debates concerning this scandalous charge attracted considerable attention over the years, and I have now summarized the controversy in an article in the last issue of The Jewish Observer entitled “Anatomy of a Slander,” to which could be added the words “Case Closed.”

I invite all those who are interested in the controversy, or who have participated in discussions of the issue on other websites, to both read the article and also circulate it on other websites.

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5 Responses

  1. MJB says:

    I fear that your professional denoument of Zuroff veers very close to Loshon Hora – we don’t like what he does and says, we have no right to assume his motives and expose them. I guess I might be over sensitive, but did the JO editorial Board ask a shailoh?

  2. Micha says:

    Isn’t the chareidi attitude toward history “purely instrumental, with historical accuracy of no inherent value”? Isn’t that why our “biographies” are really hagiographies, why a large variety of acceptable Torah opinions somehow get ommitted, why books (even translations of works by respected and well-known ba’alei mesorah) get banned?

    On that one side point, the attack struck a real problem.

  3. Yaakov Rosenblatt, Dallas says:

    I, for one, am so ‘depressed in the left’ – a movement that has nothing to offer but the disrobing of its Jewish values to a cheering, secularized Europe – and their ability to spread a message of malign so effectively and consistently, that I a led to give up, stop reading newspapers, and make believe it doesn’t exist. Thank you Jonathan for giving us hope.

  4. Joe Socher says:

    There is an error in the article: KTAV is not “Yeshiva University’s;” it is independent.

    Otherwise, good article.

  5. Edvallace says:

    Jonathan,

    I read your piece in the JO and the only reason I didn’t find it more enlightening was because I’ve been following this for some time so I was familiar with the bulk of the info. The best part however, was in the last footnote, which I think ought to be highlighted for all to see. Zuroff is so far off base in his position that he needs to be exposed every chance we get.
    Keep up the good work!