The left-leaning Jewish daily Tablet found itself the target of an unexpected backlash last week after it published a shocking piece smearing Holocaust survivors as “villains masquerading as victims.” Commentary’s John Podhoretz called it “the most disgusting piece of anti-Semitism I think I’ve ever read outside of the arrant lunacy of schizophrenic letter writers.”
In a pop culture critique of the popular TV series Breaking Bad, called “Breaking Bad Karma” (with the eyebrow-raising subtitle, “How the cancer victim at the center of the AMC series justifies my skepticism of Holocaust survivors”), first-time Tablet contributor Anna Breslaw began with this distasteful personal confession. That section is worth quoting in its entirety, because every sentence is jaw-droppingly vile:
Since I was 12 I’ve had an unappealing, didactic distrust of people with the extreme will to live. My father’s parents were Holocaust survivors, and in grade school I received the de rigueur exposure to the horror – visiting geriatric men and women with numbers tattooed on their arms, completing assigned reading like The Diary of Anne Frank and Night. But the more information I received, the less sympathy the survivors elicited from me. Each time we clapped for the old Hungarian lady who spoke about Dachau, each time Elie Wiesel threw another anonymous anecdote of betrayal onto a page, I eyed it askance, thinking What did you do that you’re not talking about? I had the gut instinct that these were villains masquerading as victims who, solely by virtue of surviving (very likely by any means necessary), felt that they had earned the right to be heroes, their basic, animal self-interest dressed up with glorified phrases like “triumph of the human spirit.”
I wondered if anyone had alerted Hitler that in the event that the final solution didn’t pan out, only the handful of Jews who actually fulfilled the stereotype of the Judenscheisse (because every group has a few) would remain to carry on the Jewish race – conniving, indestructible, taking and taking.
First, a little background on Breslaw. Her previous writing experience ranged from recapping Real Housewives of New Jersey episodes for New York magazine, to contributing to a vapid sex-and-celebrity-gossip site called Jezebel (named after the Biblical idolater queen), to blogging about sex, love, and life for Glamour magazine online in short pieces with such self-parodic titles as “Is Your Dude More Into Legs, Butts, Or Boobs? Here’s What It Might Mean” and “What’s the Weirdest Thing You’d Trade for Sex?” So, an attempt at insightful pop culture commentary apparently took her out of her depth – and exposed her Jew-hatred.
Back in 2009 Breslaw thought dressing up as Anne Frank would make a killer Halloween costume. In a piece for a website called Heeb (a variation on an anti-Semitic slur), which describes itself with painfully self-conscious hipness as “a take-no-prisoners zine for the plugged-in and preached-out,” she explains,
I cut a Star of David out of a yellow cereal box, wrote “Juden” on it, taped it to a blazer and carried a Moleskine notebook around even though my mom didn’t want me to.
She notes that she felt an affinity for Anne Frank because, like the 15-year-old Jewish girl famous for the diary recounting her experiences hiding in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam, Breslaw too is “uncomfortable in small quarters.” Now that’s edgy humor! Anne Frank and her family were betrayed and she was shipped off to Bergen-Belsen where she narrowly escaped the gas chambers, only to die of typhus weeks before the camp’s liberation. So you can see how this would make for an hilarious Halloween gag.