Ron Rosenbaum, Writer

March 9, 2007

I Just Woke Up From a Strange Dream…

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 5:21 am

It’s 5 in the morning New York, and I thought I’d share this dream I just woke up from with you. Maybe the context of the day before had something to do with it. I’d taken a train up to Yale where I’d been an undergraduate, and where I’d been asked to speak to a seminar in a series sponsored by the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism.

The title I’d given my talk was “Thinking About the Unthinkable: Rhetorical Strategies of the Holocaust Deniers and the Prospect of A Second Holocaust”. Cheerful stuff, I know. I met the seminar’s organizer, Prof. Charles Small, at one of my favorite places in New Haven, the Atticus Bookstore and he told me he’d asked me to speak after reading the anthology I edited %%AMAZON=0812972031 Those Who Forget the Past: The Question of Anti-Semitism%%. We proceeded to an old lecture hall I knew well, Linsley-Chittenden. Nobody showed up.

It was like a bad dream. Finally we realized we’d both deceived ourselves into thinking the seminar was being held at the site of the previous week’s seminar, and then raced up to Prospect Street to the actual site, where everyone had been awaiting us at a new building devoted to a new Yale Institute for Social Policy studies.

The attendees at the seminar were well informed. I said a lot of controversial things, some of which I’d written about here before, about the relationship between Holocaust denial’s new strategy for delegitimizing the State of Israel and the attempt by those in Iran trying to lay the groundwork for a second Holocaust. Very pessimistic. The discussion after my talk was thought-provoking, but if anything even more pessimistic, focussing on nuclear deterrent strategy. On the train back I’d was re-reading Saul Bellow’s %%AMAZON=0141001763 Ravelstein%%, my favorite one of his, and one I was reading trying to get into the mood for doing some upcoming teaching on a fellowship at the University of Chicago in the upcoming quarter. I was reading it when I got back as I was falling asleep and this is the dream or the part of it I remembered:

I was doing a public reading of something from Bellow (not sure if it was Ravelstein) and people were into it until someone in the back of the room relayed something he’d heard from outside the lecture hall about the Red Sox going ahead in an important game. Suddenly everyone stopped listening to me and began paying attention to the game. I think it was an optimistic dream, though. I’ve never been a Red Sox fan, but I can see that with their long struggle to get to the promised land they might represent the Jews of baseball. (Red Sox=Red Sea?)

Good news for the Jews? No need for further Bellovian pessimism from me? I’d be happy to trade the latter for the former. Unrealistic wish fulfillment? Well that’s what dreams are for.

Go Sox.



  1. “Red Sox…might represent the Jews of baseball.”

    I’ve always thought of the Red Sox as the Palestinians of baseball. Engaged in a very long, historic one-sided “rivalry,” that isn’t really one. A self-identity defined primarily by a hatred for an enemy whose power is entirely blown out of proportion…an “Evil Empire” if you will. Forever trying to reverse the curse brought on by a great catastrophe many years ago, when their power was taken from them by their enemies.

    When you actually look at the two sides rationally, one is a successful and unified “tribal” organiztion run by family members concerned with preserving a historical legacy, and the other is large cooporate conglomerate more concerned with making a profit for it’s multiple owners than actually winning.

    The Brooklyn Dodgers are/were the Jews of baseball if you ask me.

    Comment by Shmuel — March 9, 2007 @ 9:24 am | Reply

  2. Do you even remember the Holocaust? At age 50, born 1956, I do not.
    I remember The Killing Fields (1975-78). And Rwanda’s Hutus in 1994. And I’m aware of the UN promise “Never Again”.
    And I see, occassionally, a note about Darfur — some 200 000 and counting in slo-mo genocide.
    Isn’t your own focus on Jews and the Holocaust a way to deny “shelf space” to the real and continuing genocides occuring during the lives of many voters?

    On the other hand, I see Iran getting nukes, giving some to terrorist (or “allowing” it), and Tel Aviv going mushroom.
    I have nightmares, not dreams about it.

    Hitler and the Holocaust and the past drive out more full consideration of the present and the future. There’s been enough, if not too much, of Hitler — not enough on Stalin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Pol Pot; the Hutu and Janjaweed leaders (I don’t even know their names!).

    Do you know the current Janjaweed leader’s name? If not, why not? Perhaps because Hitler, dead for 60 years, is more interesting/ fun/ safe?
    Bah. Shame.
    Get more relevant — relate Hitler and the past to the present.

    Comment by Tom Grey — March 9, 2007 @ 7:14 pm | Reply

  3. “Isn’t your own focus on Jews and the Holocaust a way to deny “shelf space” to the real and continuing genocides”

    I always find this line of reasoning rather insulting and creepy.

    First, Jews “focus” on Jews, because they are just like everyone else. (The double meaning of this statement is intentional.)

    Second, your specific claim about Jews diverting attention away from current genocides with remberance of the holocaust is empirically untrue. The community centers, and publications that are sponsoring Darfur relief and encouraging military action to end the carnage in Darfur tend to be Jewish ones.

    Whatever impulse could motivates one to write a comment like yours? It makes you seem very creepy.. Extra creepy is your use the word “real” in the sentence I reproduced above. (I.e. the holocaust isn’t real?)

    Comment by Shmuel — March 11, 2007 @ 7:27 am | Reply

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