Much of the recent use of the phrase has been prompted by people comparing Iran today to Hitler’s Germany. I should mention that I am not necessarily in favor of a pre-emptive Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear capacity. I think the issue is insoluble and either way I see a catastrophe coming. But I just don’t have patience with those who try to exclude the real historical catastrophe from relevance by denigrating any concern with it as “obsession.”
In any case, the dismissive epithet does service not just for anti-Semites or anti-Zionists but for Jews who don’t like the association with victimhood, so parochial, so ghetto, so shtetl, so shameful to the faux-sophisticate universalist citizen of the world.
Is it better, then, to be “somewhat interested” in the holocaust, rather than “holocaust-obsessed”? Moderately interested? Temperately troubled? How much is the correct amount of interest one should devote to rapidly receding history? How much should the charge of obsession affect the way we look at the victims of collective hate murders in the present: 9/11, the Oslo slayings and the Sikhs, for instance. Do they qualify for a heightened degree of concern since the killers obviously—had they the means—would have wanted to murder many, many more? How should it affect the way we view exterminationist threats not yet realized?