Op-Ed: Close the Anne Frank Museum
Giulio MeottiThe writer, an Italian journalist with Il Foglio, writes a twice-weekly...
Justin Bieber hopes Anne Frank “would have been a Belieber,” according to a message the teenage pop star wrote in the guestbook of the Amsterdam Museum dedicated to the late Jewish diarist.
And our hypocritical guardians of memory reprimanded the bad guy in unison.
Within the category of Nazi victims, no one is more in the foreground of world imagination than Anne Frank. She is nomen omen of the Holocaust. If people have read just one book about the Holocaust, it is "The Diary", which has been translated into sixty languages and published in more than 25,000,000 copies.
The Franks’ famous house on the Prinsengracht in Amsterdam, where the Frank family was hidden in a secret annex and where they were arrested in 1944, is the most frequently visited memory site in Europe (more than Auschwitz) and has had a major impact on how millions of people view Anne Frank.
But the Anne Frank Museum is also one of the reasons that Europe's conscience is so violently anti-Israel. According to Cynthia Ozick, Anne Frank's story has been “bowdlerized, distorted, transmuted, traduced, reduced, infantilized, Americanized, homogenized, sentimentalized, falsified, kitschified, and, in fact, blatantly and arrogantly denied".
The Anne Frank Museum is guilty not only because it sanitized Anne Frank’s story of almost all its Jewish references in order to project what it considered to be more important, the general theme of universal suffering and its transcendence through undying goodness and hope. Anne’s universalism has been intentionally emphasized by the Museum and Foundation in order to play down any threat of Jewish particularism.
The result is that the public is now completely desensitized to the unique catastrophe that was the destruction of European Jewry.
The Museum has also turned into a powerful source of criticism of Israel in Europe. I will give just a couple of examples.
In a recent report on xenophobia and racism written by the Anne Frank Foundation, it presented the Arabs’ conflict against Israel from a Palestinian Arab perspective: “There’s a balance between the random suicide attacks by the Palestinians and the fact that Israel isn’t worried about civilian casualties and collective punishment. Israel pushes Palestinians economically in a corner and humiliates them psychologically". This is what Anne Frank symbolized?
A photo of former MP Ariel Sharon alongside one of Adolf Hitler was exhibited at the Anne Frank Museum. The photos were presented as part of an exhibition on "borderline cases'" titled "Out of Line", aimed at testing the borders between freedom of expression and discrimination, according to the Museum's spokesman. Viewers were shown a video, in which demonstrators held a poster of Hitler and Sharon in protest over "Israel's policies in the Palestinian territories".
Natan Sharansky, then a minister in Sharon's cabinet, said it was further evidence of anti-Semitism in Europe. "When at the home of Anne Frank, one of the archetypal symbols of the tragedy of the Jewish people, Hitler, is compared to prime minister Ariel Sharon, it is not a debate on freedom of expression. It is showing contempt for the memory of the 6 million who were murdered in the Holocaust".
The Anne Frank Museum, like other similar Jewish institutions, first engaged in a process of dehistoricization (Anne was a human being, then a girl, and only incidentally a Jew), then in a kind of revisionist rehistoricization: the docile Jews, then criticism of the State of Israel and its stubborn citizens.
Last year the German EVZ Foundation financed two high school student programs which promoted hatred of Israel. In one program, Dutch Jewish anti-Israeli activist Hajo Meyer came to the Anne Frank High School in Gutersloh and equated Palestinian Arab suffering with Anne Frank and termed Israel a "criminal state." Then a Dutch public broadcasting network offered its viewers a board game featuring Israeli "settlers" who use “the Anne Frank card” to "colonize the West Bank".
Either close the Anne Frank Museum or change it back to what Anne Frank really signified. If not, one day we will wake up to discover that this radiant, gracious, innocent, untainted, defenceless and fun-loving Jewish girl was born not in Frankfurt, Germany, but in Nabi Saleh. And people will believe it.