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Responding to Readers

On Anna Breslaw, survivors, and Tablet

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I’m used to our pieces eliciting strong emotions. But the reactions to Anna Breslaw’s article have been exceptional. For some readers, her piece explored the consequences of growing up in one specific family touched by an enormous Jewish tragedy, and publishing it asserted the message that young people needn’t express only safely held conventional wisdoms to be involved and engaged with Jewish life. But others saw in it a blanket condemnation of all Holocaust survivors—an impression that caused many to wonder why Tablet published it. Quite a few expressed extreme hurt. That was never anyone’s intention and, for this, we are deeply sorry.

I am posting this response late—by Twitter standards, anyway—because I believed that the controversy kicked up by this piece required that we take some time to interrogate our own reactions to it, as individuals and as a staff. Certain staffers thought the piece was an honest attempt by a young writer to use Jean Amery and Breaking Bad to better understand her own painful family history; a number did not—with a few arguing forcefully that it should not have been published. But the conversation stretched beyond this one article, and raised a number of vital questions for Tablet as a journalistic enterprise: What—if any—is the communal responsibility to the children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors? Do we have a duty to hear them out, even when their thoughts are—as Breslaw described her own—“unappealing and didactic,” or worse? And what of other writers looking to explore other painful questions about their Jewish identities? What does the intense response to this piece say about what the rules here should be, about what precisely the red lines are in Jewish communal discourse?

What we all did agree on is that it is our duty to more vigilantly and responsibly engage with all of these questions, and with our readers’ legitimate concerns. We pride ourselves on Tablet’s existence as a place for expression of a breadth of ideas and opinion that—in their engagement with the complex people, events and ideas of the Jewish past and present—help us as a community pave the way for a Jewish future. We hope this episode ultimately reaffirms our commitment to that ideal.

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To paraphrase a popular song:

Come with me, stay the night (your apologia I mean . . . I’ll sleep on it)
You say the words but boy it don’t feel right (Self explanatory)
What do you expect me to say? (That I haven’t already shared numerous times).
You know it’s just too little too late. (That should be clear to you by now)

AnonCritic says:

For me, this doesn’t begin to address reader concern over the poorly-written and feeble-minded Breslaw piece. To suggest that her article should at least be credited with starting up a “debate” among readers is just a shoddy way of clearing yourself of responsibility. This was neither a needed nor helpful ‘debate,’ but rather a collective and fairly unanimous cry against the libelous trash that Breslaw had penned and that you had published. As readers, we expect that you recognize that such a uniform response from us requires that you take on a less equivocating position than the one articulated here. Anything short of a full-out apology will not suffice.

Which justifies calling all holocaust survivors ‘judenscheiß’ how exactly?

Which justifies calling all holocaust survivors ‘judenscheiß’ how exactly?

AmHistorian76 says:

The notion that anything is worthwhile for consumption within the marketplace of ideas is silly and ultimately does not (as mentioned below) address reader concerns. As someone who visits and reads Tablet frequently, I do appreciate the site’s wide spectrum of contributors and ideologies, even those that I vehemently disagree with (for example, though I vehemently dislike the politics and public persona of Norman Finkelstein, the interview published a few weeks back was still worthwhile and fairly enlightening). This piece, however, jumped past any realm of value and could only hurt and enrage. Frankly, I thought that the site had better editorial standards and an understanding of the necessary limits on discourse. Apparently I was, unfortunately, wrong.

CygnusA81 says:

Wow….what a pathetic non-apology apology. It’s seems to me
nothing is out of bounds taste and reflection from the 99% assimilated secular
‘Jewish’ left. I rarely agreed with the essays that your website has posted
because of your ideological slant, but I came over anyway because unlike the
editorial board, I do believe in the freedom of ideas.

But then there was Anna’s essay that Tablet decided to post a few days ago. Out
of all of your Ivy League’s undergrad and master’s degrees put together, I
can’t believe that you couldn’t see that this woman is a sickly disturbed
person who hates herself general and the Jewish people in particular.

Since the editor, Alana Newhouse can’t apologize for being wrong then I guess
they don’t need my web traffic either. Whoever owns Tablet Magazine should make
the executive discussion to remove Ms. Newhouse since she has shown poor judgment.

ra1991 says:

I hated Breslaw’s article for many reasons, but I commend Tablet for publishing it. The idea that certain topics should never, ever elicit debate is ridiculous.

AmHistorian76 says:

Why? I am legitimately curious. Would we be ok with an article debating the logic of the ideologies of white supremacists? Would we sit idly by with an article that was Islamophobic in nature? The notion that all ideas are of equal value and thus worthy of exchange and debate is frankly an excuse to justify the vapid, and more importantly pernicious nature of the article. And people really are justified in wondering as to why it was published in the first place.

ra1991 says:

I would, because that’s the trade-off of living in a democracy supported by free speech and a free press. Tablet can publish whatever they damn well please, and the day the editors kowtow to an offended mob is the day I stop reading.

I assure you, I found her article just as reprehensible as you; I’m just not calling for blood.

AmHistorian76 says:

Absolutely, we have no disagreement here. Tablet certainly can publish whatever they want, and certainly should. However that also does not mean that there aren’t implications and consequences to their editorial decisions. And claiming that the article can spark debate isn’t justification enough, in my most humble opinion, for running the piece.

Rob26 says:

Following on the heels of Adam Chandler’s lame non-apology apology (and trading childish insults with a commenter), this is just more of the same. I have no problem with exploring “communal discourse,” but Breslaw’s piece was so far outside “the red lines,” it simply astonishes me that the only discourse we have so far from other Tablet staffers is vague wishy-washy pablum like this. Here’s an idea: let one of your staffers who was “arguing forcefully,” against publication have a go. Let them forcefully criticize Breslaw as she so richly deserves.

And I’m sorry, I think the ONLY person who “thought the piece was an honest attempt by a young writer to use Jean Amery and Breaking Bad to better understand her own painful family history,” was Anna Breslaw herself. Defenses such as this only succeed in straining the miniscule credulity Tablet has left from this breathtaking display of journalistic and editorial incompetence.

Dave4321 says:


For some readers, her piece explored the consequences of growing up in one specific family touched by an enormous Jewish tragedy, and publishing it asserted the message that young people needn’t express only safely held conventional wisdoms to be involved and engaged with Jewish life. ”

Think about this sentence and then think about the following quotation:

“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. ”

Anna wonders Hitler realized that after he murdered 6 million Jews the only one’s left would be those Anna thinks were worthy of Hitler’s genocide. Yes, well, that certainly isn’t a “safely held convention.” I applaud the Tablet for publishing a piece saying that all Jews who survived genocide are “conniving, indestructible, taking and taking.” Such avant garde thinking only an artist like Hitler could appreciate it.

Dave4321 says:

You have a facile understanding of what free speech and free press means. It doesn’t mean that private organizations have to publish every single piece of trash that comes across their desk in order to not violate someone’s right to free speech. It means the government can not abridge anyone’s right to free speech and the free press. Under your twisted logic, the New York Times could start a conversation on the reintroduction of slavery in the US and it would be perfectly fine because “the idea that certain topics should never, ever elicit debate is ridiculous.”

ra1991 says:

That’s completely fair, but every Jew in the world has been affected by the Holocaust in a different way. Since Tablet bills itself as a magazine exploring all aspects of secular Jewish culture and politics, the fact that they’re willing to explore unpopular interpretations of the Holocaust shows a lot of editorial chutzpah.

I’m deeply offended by that sickening strain of Holocaust theology that says that God allowed 6 million Jews to die so that He could “punish” us or “teach us a lesson.” I would not, however, condemn Tablet for publishing an editorial on such a subject.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, take issue with Breslaw for writing a lousy article, not with Tablet for publishing it.

I’d be more astounded by how weasely this non-apology is if I could forget that this is presumably the same editor who approved its publication in the first place. Accepting that the author doesn’t understand the difference between edgy and offensive, isn’t the job of the editor precisely to have a clue?

AmHistorian76 says:

Yes, we agree here as well…to a point. Because if Tablet were to run an editorial (surely in a parallel universe) perpetuating the “punishment” model I would be equally as disappointed by the editorial choice to run such a piece and expect better from the editors.

ra1991 says:

I never said this was a First Amendment issue, but if every news organization stopped publishing controversial articles out of fear of offending, is there really a difference?

Also, equating this article with one advocating the reintroduction of slavery is pretty disingenuous, I think.

“I’m used to our pieces eliciting strong emotions. But the reactions to Anna Breslaw’s article have been exceptional. For some readers, her piece explored the consequences of growing up in one specific family touched by an enormous Jewish tragedy, and publishing it asserted the message that young people needn’t express only safely held conventional wisdoms to be involved and engaged with Jewish life. But others saw in it a blanket condemnation of all Holocaust survivors—an impression that caused many to wonder why Tablet published it. Quite a few expressed extreme hurt. That was never anyone’s intention and, for this, we are deeply sorry.”

Anna Breslaw’s screed was poorly written and didn’t “explore” anything. It talked about her “suspicion that Holocaust survivors were not moral people.” It offered nor evidence to support her allegations.

Her article also compared a Holocaust survivors (actual people) to a TV fictional character.

It assumed that all Holocaust survivors were alike and they all made her uncomfortable. (This is how racists talk.)

I could go on. The article was the equivalent of a temper tantrum by an eight year old. It was also an insult to Tablet’s readers.

Shame on you for publishing such trash. Now you are insulting your readers’ intelligence again by claiming that it was a coherent article expressing a private opinion. But, Ms. Newhouse, even private opinions need to based on something real and offer evidence for whatever it is one alleging.

Anna has a right not to like individual people, but she has no right to condemn whole classes of people.

I often find myself criticizing articles I read here, but most of what you published till now was worth reading and critiquing. Anna Breslaw’s piece just insulted my intelligence and wasted my time.

Tablet is a privately owned magazine and can publish or refuse to publish what it wishes. This is not a free speech issue.

Post a video debate (or transcript of one) of a staffer who vehemently disagrees with Breslaw talking through her post. Why not give them a platform the way you gave her one?

Worst apology ever.

Our democracy is not in danger if a privately owned magazine publishes or refuses to publish trash.

There is no ;mob here. Many intelligent readers found the article poorly written and bigoted. This doesn’t make us a mob.

It shows a high level of literacy and sophistication on the part of most readers of Tablet.

Tablet will only hurt itself if it continues to publish such badly written material. I hope this will be the last time.

Agreed, Am-Historian.

AmHistorian76 says:

Exactly. What I see here (though there were certainly some loonified responses of the “this is what the secular left does!” on the article itself) are well-reasoned, thoughtful responses to the article. Mostly I also see concern from people who do generally value what Tablet brings to the table.

hepzeeba smith says:

Ms. Newhouse, you exercised poor judgment and made a bad decision. You should own it rather than suggest that somehow the fault lies with readers who chose to be oversensitive and needed your “apology.”

Speaking strictly for myself, Ms. Breslaw’s piece didn’t hurt my poor little feelings. The era leading up to the Holocaust, the Holocaust itself, and the post-Holocaust period in Europe showed individual Jews in my family just how little their feelings mattered.
I was revolted by Breslaw’s decadence, ennui, and spiritual emptiness–and by your decision to let her overshare it with your readers. That is my concern about the “Jewish future” (whatever the hell that is), not to mention the human future. I expect better from a Jewish-themed publication.

Goodbye, Tablet.

mouskatel says:

This is not an acceptable response. I guess the only consolation is that you are the laughingstock of serious online media.

AmHistorian76 says:

FYI, the article author unfortunately has a track record of such offensive, pointless silliness. Sad:

http://heebmagazine.com/i-was-anne-frank-for-halloween/20467

What an odd statement — thoughtless, lazy and defensive. It purports to apologize, but fails to actually do so, opting instead to conditionally apologize “if the column offended”, knowing full well that it did. It argues that “staffers” defended Breslaw’s column, but fails to name those who defended it or spell out their reasoning in a meaningful way. It even has the nerve to celebrate Breslaw’s column as an example of the spirit of free expression at Tablet, going so far as to say that this is good for the Jewish community! By this lame logic,Tablet could claim that literally anything they publish is good for the Jewish community. This clumsy and ill-considered editor’s statement clarifies the level of incompetence underlying their decision to publish the column in the first place.

Breslaw’s column literally called Jewish survivors of the Holocaust shit and undeserving of survival. In response to the the very understandable and widely felt outrage this elicited, Alana Newhouse seems mystified that readers saw this as a “blanket condemnation”, without presenting a reasonable alternate reading. (By Newhouse’s
palpably false recounting, many readers found the column not to refer to Holocaust survivors in general, in spite of the column’s plain language to the contrary.) That Tablet’s editors continue to fail to understand why Breslaw’s screed did not merit publication makes me question whether Tablet merits continuing. That they lie about the existence of a significant constituency of readers who support the piece calls their honesty into question. I suggest that Tablet attempt a fuller accounting for how and why they came to publish a slander of Holocaust victims. They also need to issue a more sincere and less defensive mea culpa showing an understanding of what Breslaw wrote. If Tablet can’t do that much, maybe it should simply cease publication. If you can’t do the right thing about something this clear, who needs you?

Dave4321 says:

“I never said this was a First Amendment issue”

But you did, unless you are completely ignorant of the meaning of “free press.” The idea of a free press is to prevent government from imposing it’s will on the press, not from readers exercising their own speech in response. No one has any right to be published in a magazine. No one’s free speech is being impinged upon if a magazine realizes it was a mistake to publish an article. No one’s free speech is being impinged upon if a magazine never publishes an author again.

“but if every news organization stopped publishing controversial articles out of fear of offending, is there really a difference?”

Oh dear, now every news organizational is going to stop publishing controversial articles because of internet forum chatter about an overtly bigoted article? Why stop there? Maybe the criticism of this article will chill speech to the the extent that all publishing end lest anyone consider an article controversial.

Let’s get back the point shall we? Calling every Jew who survived the holocaust “conniving, indestructible, taking and taking” is the definition of antisemitism. It isn’t controversial. It isn’t up for debate. It isn’t something that a dialogue needs to be opened about.

Should the speech be banned? Of course not. That would a violation of free speech. Should readers of the Tablet use their own speech to combat such abysmal editorial judgement. Of course. That is the point of free speech — to be able to combat heinous speech with speech.

hepzeeba smith says:

>>
That Tablet’s editors continue to fail to understand why Breslaw’s screed did not merit publication makes me question whether Tablet merits continuing

That’s a little extreme.
I question all the editorial judgments–misjudgments–surrounding this issue. There are three:

1) publishing Breslaw’s piece
2) publishing Adam Chandler’s lame follow-up
3) publishing Alana Newhouse’s sanctimonious statement (in which, I note, she didn’t even bother to link to Breslaw’s original piece)

I agree with whoever said in these comments that the Tablet staffers who were against publishing Breslaw’s piece should be allowed to publish their thoughts–without bylines if that makes everyone more comfortable, because this is not about individual feelings or personalities.

That would be a real exercise in freedom of expression–.

czapniks says:

What a weasely response after one of the most offensive articles to ever appear in print. You may be assured that I and no one I know will ever visit your morally deranged publication ever again

apikoyros says:

So Tablet appears to accept the fact that someone somewhere has conceived a “provocative” (albeit defamatory) idea was sufficient justification for its publication.
(Or am I missing something? Was there some sort of “pay to play” involved?) Perhaps her mere claim that she is the grandchild of one was seen as sufficient justification for her vile hate speech against Holocaust survivors and, by extension, all Jews. Other than her now perhaps bankable notoriety and whatever Tablet paid her for the article, what were the consequences of the article? For Tablet’s readers? For Tablet’s credibility?

I think it was A.J. Liebling who’s credited with the observation “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.” Tablet is published by Nextbook Inc. which defines itself as a non-profit “dedicated to supporting Jewish literature, culture, and ideas.” Whether “non-profit” or not, there is always the matter of editorial good taste and accountability to consider, especially in such a case where that Jewish “dedication” is interpreted in such a cavalier fashion.

Certainly, Jewish sensibilities are not so fragile that we can’t entertain controversial or contrary opinions, but, as the old saying goes, don’t piddle on my shoes and try to tell me it’s raining. This is a matter of responsibility. This is the latest and, perhaps, one of the worst, but not the first occasion where Tablet has transgressed the boundaries of taste when it comes to the Jewish topics it targets — a good simple test of its editorial attitudes might be to substitute another ethnic identity for Jewish and measure the reactions. This article should certainly have been rejected for many reasons by a responsible editor. That it wasn’t, reveals much about Tablet.

Peter Burman says:

Has your publication no shame?

neurodoc001 says:

A hearty Yasher Koach to you Adam Holland for your excellent comment.
I have read through your comment several times now, looking for what I would change in order to express my own reactions, but I can find nothing. Everything you have said is dead on, and you quite correctly focus on Tablet itself rather than waste time and attention on the execrable, but not particularly consequential Ms. Breslaw. (How could anyone, Jew or non-Jew, be more offensive than Ms. Breslaw, the author of that piece, or Ms. Newhouse and her crew, who published this column, which as you say correctly “literally called Jewish survivors of the Holocaust shit and undeserving of survival”?)
This outrage shouldn’t be quickly forgotten. (Commenters should keep copies of their posts here lest Ms. Newhouse and her crew chose to “vanish” our criticism of their enterprise.) Tablet may have published nothing before now that rivals Ms. Breslaw’s reflections on Judenschiesse, which is what she considers Holocaust survivors to be, including her own grandparents, but this was not the only example of “poor judgment by Ms. Newhouse, the ridiculous Adam Chandler, and other Tablet staff. Not long ago Tablet published an execrable interview with the execrable Norman Finkelstein by their dimwitted literary editor David Samuels, and welcomed (they didn’t take them down despite requests to do so) a stream of grossly antisemitic, Nazi sympathizing comments.
[Those who would like to put Ms. Breslaw and her thoughts about her own grandparents in some context ought to have a look at Edward Alexander’s piece about two others like her, Jennifer Peto and Judy Rebick. http://www.jewishpressads.com/pageroute.do/46946/

neurodoc001 says:

“Following on the heels of Adam Chandler’s lame non-apology apology (and trading childish insults with a commenter…” Oh, you noted that too. I don’t know this Adam from the original Adam, never having heard of him before, let alone read anything by him or about him, but he convinced me that he is a fool at best and an organization that would let him speak in its name is unworthy of respect. (Are there any grown-ups in charge at Tablet?)

neurodoc001 says:

“for example, though I vehemently dislike the politics and public persona of Norman Finkelstein, the interview published a few weeks back was still worthwhile and fairly enlightening”
Do you agree (I don’t) with David Samuels, Tablet’s literary editor, that…

“Finkelstein’s influence on public debate is by now undeniable, with his once-radical ideas having been embraced throughout the Jewish community, from his debunking of the idea of Israel as “a land without a people” and his diagnosis of a strain of American Jewish Holocaust obsession to his assertions of the immorality of the continuing Israeli occupation of the West Bank.”

AmHistorian76 says:

No, I don’t agree with that sentiment. In fact, I think that NF is purely on the fringes even with academic circles and his influence does not nearly match with the noise that he tends to make. That said, for better or worse (I would estimate the latter) he certainly has had some influence.

I had never read or heard of Tablet before linking to Anna Breslaw’s disgraceful article through a Twitter posting. I have now read 3 articles in Tablet by 3 Tablet writers – Anna Breslaw, Adam Chandler, and Alana Newhouse – and, putting aside the content, I was really struck by how badly these three write.

the fact that Breslaw feels the way she does is a symptom of a huge problem facing the Jewish community- self-absorbed, assimilated, totally detached from their traditions, secretly wanting to connect but completely unable and unaware of how to do that, so they seek other things like “social justice” or buddhism or hipsterism or american pop culture or anything that makes them feel like Outsiders (because that’s what they think sums up being Jewish). Breslaw is a totally predictable “grandchild of the Holocaust.” I only wish that she and everyone else like her will stop and face the situation, and actively make a Choice to reengage with their beautiful tradition after it was so violently injured and traumatized. Breslaw- stop being a victim of your own tradition, stand up and take ownership of it, it is yours.

neurodoc001 says:

Please tell us what criteria you would like to see Tablet employ when deciding what to publish and what to reject. If your criteria would permit something as “sick” as Ms. Breslaw’s piece (you don’t think it “sick” to call those who survived “Judenschiesse”?), what would be too “sick” or otherwise objectionable to be published?
I have both a professional and personal interest in mental illness, and am used to reading about mental illness and examples thereof from a physician’s non-judgmental perspective. But what I read is not published with the intention of being “edgy,” driving web traffic, or such purposes. I have gained nothing from the experience of reading Ms. Breslaw’s piece except an “appreciation” of Tablet. I was aware that there are tortured souls like Ms. Breslaw out htere, but I didn’t know that Tablet was the sort of publication that would showcase the likes of Ms. Breslaw, and then confirm it all with an “apology”(?) like the one offered by Ms. Newhouse.

Say what you want about Finkelstein, but I can’t imagine even him publishing something like the Breslaw piece. I think even Gilad Atzmon might blush, though he’d probably rise to endorse it if it came to his attention.

The Tablet is quickly losing its credibility as a serious journal. Stop with the childish and immature attempt at journalism if you want to be taken seriously. You are quickly becoming irrelevant.

neurodoc001 says:

“…he certainly has had some influence.” Who could possibly dispute “some influence.” But what about Tablet’s presentation of Finkelstein as someone with “once-radical ideas (that) hav(e) been embraced throughout the Jewish community“? (emphasis added) Do you think that an accurate assessment of the place that Finkelstein and his ideas have in the Jewish community, he/they are “embraced” (endorsed?) widely among Jews? That, like the Breslaw piece, says nothing about the perspective of Tablet and its editors?

I don’t want to elevate Breslaw, as her piece is just a litter of emotional detritus, but inevitably I will by noting that if her thesis — that survivors of genocide must be human filth in order to have survived — is raised to the level of theory, it constitutes, after Holocaust Denial, the latest algorithmic desecration of the memory of Holocaust survivors. That result is beyond the range of the intellect she brought to her piece, but however accidentally she has managed to murder the Jews again, starting with her own grandparents.

“We pride ourselves on Tablet’s existence as a place for expression of a breadth of ideas and opinion …”

I was eager to read your response to comments on this article. I was numbed to find that the response was not so much about the content or even the impact of the article, but about yourselves and the fact that the primary result of the extra time you took for “introspection” was pride in yourselves: the article, the enlightened culture of Tablet that made it possible, and your contribution to a Jewish Future!

Your response was perfect for me in only one sense: it made it clear how the article passed muster for publication in the first place. In that, it answered at least the logistical questions of what happened. It beggars understanding how you saw this not just as a good decision but one to make a magazine proud. Something, perhaps, for the masthead?

I await the further response that blames us your readers for our lack of “breadth,” our critical spirit of those who speak the truth, and our willingness to swallow whole the stories of the conniving survivors and their spirit of self preservation and take, take, take.

Horsescheiss.

EvenSteven11 says:

You suck, Newhouse. This is utter cr*p and you wallow in it. Your website is going down.

AnonCritic says:

here, here! The first mistake was publishing what should have been easily identified as unpublishable trash. But the far greater error was refusing to recognize and apologize for the first mistake. So, bye bye tablet!

You could have saved a lot of time by simply apologizing for the article and assuring is Anna Breslow’s work will not appear in your publication again.

Doug Santo says:

Crackpot nonsense in support of publishing a crackpot article. Publish more offensive pieces and watch your readership decline. Go ahead, it’s your duty.
Doug Santo
Pasadena, CA

Josue says:

What a tough spot to be in . . . be a public forum for open discussion, or market your magazine? Never mind this marketable apology . . . the most unfortunate part of this issue is that Tablet published a blend of literary, television and historical criticism that failed on all fronts. Breslaw seemed to be trying to articulate a (poor man’s) criticism of the “Holocaust Industry” and its ability to leverage the Nazi holocaust to wield its own political and military influence. That is a discussion worth having, but that’s not what her Breaking Bad “analysis” raised. Breslaw only managed to present herself as a narrow-minded, melodramatic teenager full of criticism but devoid of any experiences through which a true, empathetic criticism can take place. What a gross blend of fact and fiction on her part.

DaBkr says:

so..in the end you are “proud of yourselves”. great. and that, a. newhouse and your staff along with the disgusting breslaw, is why you seem to be tone deaf to the reaction of the vast majority of your readers. if you can not see that printing a screed where the [so-called] author compares her own grandparents to the sheisse-for-rat jews that hitler was so dedicated to eradicating is a HUGE red line (except if your writing for Jew Watch or some other nazi inspired blog). That your editor of a mag that proclaims its a “new read on Jewish life”? Well it certainly is a new read. And one you can be sure I wont bother to read again as the level of integrity you have is lower then my toilets trap-line. Too bad the writers on your staff who disagred didnt simply walk out in disgust

I beg to differ: there is nothing “didactic” about Ms. Breslaw’s sentiment, only “unappealing”. The halfhearted pseudo-apology offered by Ms. Newhouse shows that at the Tablet magazine the problem is not isolated to one very immature self-indulged and self-righteous writer and her pretentious navel-gazing but rather is systemic… I think the magazine needs to examine its direction a little more thoroughly.

Aaron Manson says:

“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. ”

This is recycled Nazi Jew hatred, even when it appears on a Jewish website. The editor who accepted this should resign.

7k hallal says:

“.
but however accidentally, she has managed to murder the Jews again, starting with her own grandparents. .” : how true, John-Paul Pagano. This cynical Breslaw has no soul. A great Rabbi told me once, then to my shock : the worst enemies of the Jewish people are Jews themselves. I have no more doubt about that.

Crystal K.

How soon before the White supremacists and Nazi websites start quoting Anna Breslaw?

They love nothing better than to quote self hating Jews.

What an absurd response. “Some felt…while others thought…” Bullshit. I read as many comments as I could stand and I didn’t see a single positive one. I don’t believe in taboo subjects, but that doesn’t mean every thought that ever runs through a person’s head should see print. You want to print something exploring the kind of self-loathing and Jewish anti-semitism that secondary holocaust experience sometimes engenders, fine. You’d hardly be the first to do so. But Breslaw’s piece isn’t an exploration, it’s just a couple of unabashedly offensive, hateful paragraphs about holocaust survivors (including those in her own family!) followed by trivialization via irrelevant television.

herbcaen says:

Breslaw is at fault because she is a sick individual. The Tablet editorial staph is at fault for publically embarassing this ill individual by publishing it. The only way to atone to both your readership and Ms Breslaw is to shut down the Tablet and for the editorial staph to become gainfully employed elsewhere

tdpwells says:

My thoughts on this can best be summed up in a quote from the movie Tropic Thunder: “Everybody knows you don’t go full retard.”

Tablet, you just went full retard.

DaBkr says:

why don’t you elicit debate by writing an article on the good and bad points of torturing little kittens and puppies?

Angrybell says:

If I had a subscription, I would cancel it. Ms. Breslaw’s piece managed to slander an entire generation of survivors for no appreciable purpose. Ms. Breslaw’s piece is a shonda. The fact tha you have failed to repudiate it on the grounds that it raises discourse is just as despicable.

justice pursue says:

What filth! May this magazine have as its final destination the garbage can of history, just like Hitler and the Roman Empire.

I couldn’t add anything more to the complete outrage of the tablet subscribers than ahs already been expressed in response to Breslaw’s stupidity and to the tablet’s feeble non-response at damage control.
For a long long time, they went over the edge with articles that clearly ahd no palce in a Jewish publication. THis time they went right over the cliff. May your crash landing prove to be fatal.

I couldn’t add anything more to the complete outrage of the tablet subscribers than ahs already been expressed in response to Breslaw’s stupidity and to the tablet’s feeble non-response at damage control.
For a long long time, they went over the edge with articles that clearly ahd no palce in a Jewish publication. THis time they went right over the cliff. May your crash landing prove to be fatal.

One more thing… interesting link form Commentary about this. Well written and everybody there should be ashamed and mortified that they ahd anything to do with Braslaw’s vile piece.
http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2012/07/19/tablet-disgraces-itself-anew/

mouskatel says:

Can someone please explain once and for all what didactic feelings are? I’m dying to know.

mouskatel says:

It receives a great deal of money from Avichai, which is the foundation supported by Zalman (Sanford) Bernstein’s trust. He must be shocked that this is what his money bought.
http://blogs.jta.org/philanthropy/article/2009/06/09/1005756/nextbook-becomes-tablet

Josue says:

Interesting comment: “I only wish that she and everyone else like her
will stop and face the situation, and actively make a Choice to reengage
with their beautiful tradition after it was so violently injured and
traumatized.” I just want to see if I understand you correctly. I
actually read into Breslaw’s juvenile, pedantic piece an attempt to do
just what you wished. As a Jewish person, she seems tired of hearing
all about the Holocaust, constantly reminded of it like some sort of
Bogeyman or, dare a say, I meme in contemporary political culture.
Enough so, in fact, that she reduced holocaust memory to some
psychological condition. And there are plenty who would concur that the
rich history of Jewish culture has been reduced to a saga of holocaust
horror and survival; the ratio of people (Jewish or not) who know Elie
Wiesel compared to Sholom Aleichem, Baruch Spinoza or Isaac Deutscher is too out of balance.
Or, maybe I’m more forgiving of a young writer with an identity crisis
as I watch conservative Jewish readers politicize (i.e. “anti-Semitic!”
or “self-loathing!”) an article that shouldn’t have been published in
the first place.

Josue says:

Just in case this is a serious question. Didactic feelings would be feelings that we learn from. That’s the twisted logic that betrays the arrogance of Breslaw’s youth: she is trying to impart a lesson on a community of, I presume, largely Jewish readers that includes other survivors and their relatives. Young people often have something to offer, but rarely is that a history lesson.

Josue says:

Yeah, the fact that this was wrapped around an irrelevant tv show smacked of hipster douchebaggery. I think it underscores just how petty this all is, and thus how overblown it has become as the folks at Commentary fan the flames.

Liberalism is a Mental Disorder. Does anyone need anymore proof?

HealthyAmerican says:

This will be the absolute last time I look at anything by Tablet or connected with Tablet. This is not an apology, it’s an insult to readers. I, therefore, do not need to be one.

Anna’s article was intricate and personal as is all of her writing as far as I can tell.

Perhaps it should have been a diary entry and not an internet “dirty laundry” airiing. That said, the reponse by John Podhoretz which called my attention to it and to its author for the first time, was not a helpful addition and amounted to simple name calling.

In my opinion, if anyone is to be blamed for this entire episode it is, once again, Nazis and their ilk who must be reveling in this fresh example of a concentration camp brawl.

They were the ones who, with glee, set us at each others throats for their diabolical entertainment. Can’t we see that we’re fighting over crusts of bread? Why don’t we work together to help each other heal? What do we learn from a conservative translating the usual liberal’s blind hatred into the same ad hominem “last refuge of a scoundrel” approach? Was a tweeted “f— you” really any different from the long form of “drive-bys” published from a classier Commentary pulpit?

We have to engage each other, exactly as Alana Newhouse states above. The alternative is rolling around in the dirt. Let’s lift each other up instead.

What a load of self-absorbed, self-congratulatory crap. At least now we understand what kind of muddled thinking allowed such “schisse” to be published in Tablet in the first place. Sorry, but between the column and this smug, navel-gazing statement, I can no longer take your publication seriously. But don’t feel bad–I’m sure that in the paranoid antisemitic fever-swamped pockets of the world, your work is being re-tweeted with gusto. Mazal Tov.

You must feel remarkably secure in your job to write this drivel, which merely compounds the incompetence shown in publishing Breslaw’s piece. If before we gave Tablet the benefit of doubt, now we see that you simply have no clue.

It’s called freedom of the press. You are allowed your opinion as well. The really pernicious idea is to censor her, becuase you would be next. Look at the Guardian CiF. Free Comment is a joke there.

Na primer: http://cifwatch.com/2012/07/20/a-guest-post-by-comment-is-free-contributor-charlie-skelton-replying-to-cif-watch-criticism/

Why is ownership an issue at all? I don’t think you get the 1st Ammendment. Private speech of Tablet is also protected.

Anna’s article was intricate and personal as is all of her writing as far as I can tell.

Perhaps it should have been a diary entry and not an internet
“dirty laundry” airiing. That said, the reponse by John Podhoretz which
called my attention to it and to its author for the first time, was not a
helpful addition and amounted to simple name calling.

In my opinion, if anyone is to be blamed for this entire episode
it is, once again, Nazis and their ilk who must be reveling in this
fresh example of a concentration camp brawl.

They were the ones who, with glee, set us at each others throats
for their diabolical entertainment. Can’t we see that we’re fighting
over crusts of bread? Why don’t we work together to help each other
heal? What do we learn from a conservative translating the usual
liberal’s blind hatred into the same ad hominem “last refuge of a
scoundrel” approach? Was a tweeted “f— you” really any different from
the long form of “drive-bys” published from a classier Commentary
pulpit?

We have to engage each other, exactly as Alana Newhouse states
above. The alternative is rolling around in the dirt. Let’s lift each
other up instead.

AmHistorian76 says:

Editorial decisions are decidedly not censorship, but rather good taste and judgement. Again, Tablet has the right to do what it chooses and please. But there are and should be consequences to those choices.

What I meant is that the model of punishing bad thinking overlooks the human in the thinker. Put yourself in Anna Breslaw’s shoes. Read some of her other writing and I think you’ll see where she is coming from. The likely result of these attacks on her will be defensiveness on her part and further alienation from her own people.

If you step back you might see that all of the epithet hurling and anger is simply the written equivalent of road rage. When some shouts “asshole” out of their car window or gives you the finger does that help you to see the error of your ways?

Hi Josue, thanks for the response. A few comments:
-Breslaw is playing the victim here: her understanding of Judaism comes from Nazi propaganda. If she is tired of hearing about it why does she still think about it in the Nazi’s terms?
-It is interesting timing: we are in the three weeks leading up to Tisha B’Av (Sunday July 29), the major fast day that our Rabbis initiated to commemorate the many tragedies that the Jews have faced throughout history (the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem by the Romans, the exile of the Jews, the Spanish Inquisition, mass killings and pogroms, and more). We could spend every day in mourning and thinking about all the past tragedies, but the Rabbis (going back to Talmudic times) set a particular day, time and manner in which to do this. It is important to remember these tragic events, but it is also important to rebuild and enjoy all the blessings we have in life. The tragedies are an important part of our history but we are more than that and have always struggled on and survived.
-I don’t think Jewish culture has been reduced to the Holocaust, though perhaps many disengaged Jews or outside observers feel this way. And while the writers you mention are certainly talented, they are far from representative of the extent of Jewish culture. Jewish culture has always been centered around learning Torah and the Talmud, and learning this provides anyone an opening into the Jewish mind, culture and soul, and is extremely empowering for any Jew. Today there are many available resources to help people with little background who might find this intimidating.
-I hope Ms. Breslaw and other Jews who feel similarly disengaged and alienated from Judaism will try to grapple with the great texts of Judaism and find their place in it, rather than abandon it based on lack of understanding and/or anti-Semitic views that they have adopted and internalized.

I didn’t realize until reading this “apology” what a horrible website I’ve been subjecting myself to for the past few months. I don’t see any reason to stick around.

gekkobear says:

Well good, if you can’t publish an article basically stating that ALL JEWS SHOULD HAVE DIED IN THE HOLOCAUST then what good is Journalistic integrity; right?

I mean calling for the death of ALL JEWS EVERYWHERE is really a good noble calling and wishing Hitler had actually finished the off is what you want from a NEO-NAZI PROPAGANDA website.

Oh, you’re a journalistic website? Sorry; that’s not quite what you were coming off as.

But I’m glad you have an ideal to publish articles stating that Hitler should have killed all the Jews and the ones left are more horrible than they were before they got massacred.

I didn’t realize that StormFront had a noble Journalistic calling as well; I thought they were just lunatic racists.

gekkobear says:

The First Amendment says the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT can’t punish you (i.e. have you ARRESTED) for you public speech.

It doesn’t say that a magazine has to post your hate-filled racist psychotic scribblings for the world to see.

You have the right to free speech, not the right to force someone else to be a platform for your idiocy. There is no 1st Amendment issues with an editor deciding your writing is offensive crap and shouldn’t be published.

The First Amendment has no bearing on a private business or citizens; only on the Government’s actions… like every other one of the Bill of Rights. They’re restrictions on GOVERNMENT actions and nothing else.

gekkobear says:

Right, i long for a day when the most racist, sexist bigoted crap out there gets free airing to spread their ideas on all cable channels 24/7 because spreading hate and offensive filth is all that news should be… right?

Why do you fear a world in which hate and ignorance doesn’t have the biggest platform to spread it’s idiocy far and wide?

Do you think we have a shortage of racist offensive bigoted idiots and you want to make sure they don’t cease to exist?

Don’t worry, hate-filled lunatics will be around for years; even if they don’t get news organizations backing them and spreading their hate… but kudos to you for caring more about bigots than the people who are oppressed by bigots.

Sometimes you have to worry about the psychopaths and criminals and simply ignore their victims; right? Or is there some other reason you’re working so hard to defend idiocy and bigotry?

Josue says:

Thanks, djd. I really learned a lot from your response, including about my own assumptions concerning my take on Breslaw and that I took for granted Jewish thought from **within** the tradition (e.g. Torah and Talmud). While I did not mean for the examples I threw out to be representative of Jewish culture, I can see now that my own take on Jewish culture (though I am not Jewish, I do love the Talmud and philosophies that stem from it, but I have never ritually eaten bitters herbs dipped in saltwater!) comes largely from modern thinkers dealing with **relational** identity as proverbial “wanderers” or, in Wiesel’s case, victims.

But for what it’s worth I still think that the Nazis get too much credit for anti-Semitism as we know it, rather than confronting the traditions from which the Nazis drew vis-a-vis Christendom, blood libels, pogroms, nationalism, Dreyfus and Leo Frank, eugenics, Hitler’s “willing executioners,” etc. And in that case I don’t think that Breslaw is necessarily or solely suffering from the sort of alienation-cum-Stockholm-Syndrome that many here are describing. (She strikes me as a myopic young writer who’s thrown the baby out with the bathwater in front of a mass readership.) In that vein, I used Deutscher specifically as an example because, when we talk about concepts like alienation and assimilation, I ask: alienated from what, exactly? What makes the “non-Jewish Jew” (I might have similarly used Yuri Slezkine)? Identity is not a fixed, static thing, so what exactly is going on here? Can Breslaw still be Jewish in the 20th/21st century without revering or commemorating the Holocaust? Has the “de rigueur exposure” to the event, as Breslaw described it, taken over Jewish-ness as she (and perhaps others) see it? Does her bashing of survivors truly constitute heresy or “self-loathing”? Can a Jewish person loath himself for reasons other than Jewish-ness? I just think these are interesting historical and social questions that any group should ask of itself; it doesn’t have to be about Jewish history or society, but in this case it apparently is.

Thanks again.

Hi Josue, thank you for a thoughtful and interesting discussion. A quick follow-up, just to be clear:
-Yes, there have been anti-Semites for as long as there have been Jews. We have always overcome this, and will continue to do so. Unfortunately, Breslaw is lost. She admits she has no will to live, and despises those who do. She, like myself and you, are products of a vapid liberal arts education in “postmodern” America. Meaningless, self-absorbed, and self-obsessed. She is starving for meaning- but rejects the thing that can give it to her. Perhaps the worst thing about her article is that it is a TV show review. How pathetic that she seeks her identity in some crappy television program! How pathetic that she thinks she has divined some deep wisdom and truth about herself from watching this garbage!

gvanderleun says:

Alana, you are a shameful excuse for a person. But you do know that, don’t you?

gvanderleun says:

Let me rephrase that: A glass of warm vomit has more integrity than you do, Alana.

Alana and Anna, two spoiled brats who have never had a tough day in their lives. If there was cosmic justice in the world the two would be put in the Warsaw ghetto in 1942.

Brigid Hamilton says:

The apology is lame but not only because it’s so conditional, but even more so, IMO because it doesn’t apologise for the fact that column not only offended, but is pure drivel. And it’s incoherent drivel. This very young writer takes her troubled relationship with her family and what her 12-year old self decided about survivors which has warped her world view for the second half of her life, and first tries to tie it to Terry Schiavo, and then to a TV show that has nothing to do with the Holocaust, or even WWII. She says “[that before _Breaking Bad_, ] the tragedy (and black comedy)
inherent in the idea of people intentionally making villainous choices
without the promise of redemption was pretty foreign.” This indicates to me that she
hasn’t read much, or watched any number of serious movies. She’s a troubled young woman trying to write deeply about a complicated, difficult historical time that she really has no clue about. Both she and readers deserve a stronger editorial hand, one that doesn’t let drivel, especially offensive drivel, to be published.

Shockingly weak “apology” that demonstrates, clearly, that Tablet is completely out of touch and perhaps a bit self-hating. :/ Shameful follow-up to a shameful article.

Shameful article and shameful non apology. Sure, not all Holocaust survivors are “heroes” but stop patting yourself on the back and thinking you’re a brave hero for publishing that utter garbage.

Natan79 says:

You pride yourselves at Tablet for bringing in your pages anti-Semites and idiots. For the first you had Norman Finkelstein. For the second, Marc Tracy and Rachel Shukert – when people don’t have ideas, they talk about clothes and movie stars. In Anna Breslaw, you brought both an anti-Semite and an idiot.

Lisa Silverman says:

I used to get an RSS feed of Tablet Magazine but ever since I read this “response” , I have been deleting them because now reading things on this website makes me queasy. How will I know I won’t run across some other horrific opinion article that will upset me for days? I try to stay positive in my life, so sorry–I guess all the readers you may gain from insulting Holocaust survivors will make up for people like me who used to like to read Tablet and now are too uncomfortable doing so.

nyesq1 says:

This is ridiculous. Next article will be about how the holocaust was actually a great thing since it created a “challenge” for Jewish continuity.
Stockholm syndrome par excellence.
There is no human so bizzare as the dissassociated self hating Jew.

nyesq1 says:

What is so good about being offensively contrarian and eliciting strong emotions? Is the goal to provoke? The goal should be to reach some kind of truth

Shame on you for publishing this insensitive piece reeking with contempt and Jew hatred! “Tablet” can’t be put out of business soon enough!

“And what of other writers looking to explore other painful questions about their Jewish identities?” Ms. Newhouse asks. The Breslaw “article” didn’t ask painful questions about her Jewish identity; it tarred all Holocaust survivors with a single brush, labeling them “conniving, indestructible, taking and taking.” Was the parenthetical “(because every group has a few)” supposed to make this acceptable. Would Tablet accept a piece that labeled the survivors of any other tragedy with the same or similar terms? Ms. Newhouse must not think much of her readers if she thinks they will accept this non-apology.

bobbilurie says:

I just left a comment on the article itself. I found the article because of an essay I wrote on Breaking Bad vs. some real things about cancer which are never brought out in the television series. But it’s a TELEVISION SHOW. I wondered if anyone else had criticisms about this particular show in regards to cancer. I didn’t expect to find yet more anti-Semitism. I just got rid of the Austrailian Nazis following me on Twitter because of something I wrote against Gunter Grass. I had had my fill of neo-Nazi rhetoric-so to then read this grotesque, poorly-written, ignorant, anti-Semitic rant which was published? by a Jewish? journal? This writer did not “explore” anything.

We know nothing of her history. If I didn’t know she was a Jew, I’d be certain she was a Nazi. Your repetition of the meaningless words —“unappealing and didactic,”
makes the situation worse—are you pretending to know what those words mean?

Dear Ms Newhouse, Your response to your challenged readers was fine. You just need better readers.

Ms. Newhouse, this is not “a response to your readers.” It is an evasive and condescending defense of an obscene slander directed at Holocaust survivors, under the lame pretext that anything goes because Breslaw’s paternal grandparents are survivors. My heart aches for them. They deserve much better than Breslaw!

My late mother survived Auschwitz, most of her extended family did not. I recall my mother getting nervous breakdowns and they would sedate her with electric shock and strong drugs. I recall seeing her tied to the bed in the hospital ranting and raving before they quieted her. I guess she had it coming being a “conniving, Indestructible, taking and taking” person according to Ms. Breslaw.

But hey, she writes edgy stuff for Jezebel, so we need to see this disgusting stuff on Tablet..

Hmm, my comment was deleted. I guess being the son of one of those “conniving, indestructible, take, take” survivors makes my comment treif too. Of course, Mondoweiss is listed in the Blogroll.

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