Review: Why Do People Love Dead Jew? by Ellen Rubin
The thesis of the book People Love Dead Jews is that by showing respect for Jews who have been murdered, people are alleviating their guilt for effectively ignoring signs or signals of current antisemitism, as they do not wish to accept responsibility pertaining to annihilating this inhumane evil, nor confronting it in themselves. It appears as a dehumanization, this memorializing of people who have been murdered, but it provides a cover for people that are trying desperately to believe that by going to a memorial, anything that could have, should have, or might have been done to prevent the tragedies, but wasn’t done, can be used to alleviate them of any guilt.
People do not want to converse with Jews who are alive. It reinforces their guilt and their discomfort; they know that antisemitism is something that can be annihilated only by being openly addressed. It must be a current concern, not just one which created a disaster which has ended, but as an ongoing menace to living people who are continuing to face it both physically and emotionally. Horn states that facing living Jews forces people to think about what they may have done, or probably are doing, to perpetuate this hatred, which is so much harder than spending some time looking briefly at a monument to a past event. Dara Horn's book does resonate, as it describes people with all of their imperfections, but doesn’t let them off the hook for their failings.