In Tablet magazine, David Mikics writes:
Dara Horn begins “People Love Dead Jews” with a story from the Anne Frank museum in Amsterdam: One day a museum employee wore a yarmulke to work and was told to cover it with a baseball cap, since (a spokesperson later explained to the press) the Anne Frank House aimed at “neutrality.”
“The museum finally relented after deliberating for four months,” Horn writes, “which seems like a rather long time for the Anne Frank House to ponder whether it was a good idea to force a Jew into hiding.”
The real Anne Frank was a complex and contradictory personality; in death, she became a mass-produced universal symbol of hope. The presence of a kippah at the Anne Frank House might damage Anne’s manufactured appeal by reminding non-Jewish visitors that Jews are not simply people who are just like them.
Observant Jews, like Israeli Jews, bear an easily recognizable otherness, and both groups are subjected to hateful questions, whether implicit or stated point-blank: Why do you exist at all, instead of being dead? Couldn’t you at least make your Jewishness invisible?
These questions, often asked with pent-up rage when it comes to Israel or the ultra-Orthodox, bear witness to the world’s insistence that Jews give up their particularity and become icons of universalism, and devote themselves to the welfare of non-Jews.
Anne Frank’s most quoted line is “I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart”—written, Horn notes, just a few weeks before she met some people who weren’t good at heart.
Horn is angry that the Holocaust has become a universal human tragedy. Antisemitism is now considered not a crime against Jews but a crime against humanity, and by this means the Shoah, too, is stripped of Jewish particularity.
“Dead Jews are supposed to teach us about the beauty of the world and the wonders of redemption—otherwise, what was the point of killing them in the first place?” Horn asks.
People Love Dead Jews, Tablet Magazine, David Mikics
Anne Frank House employee barred from wearing kippah
Anne Frank House banned Jewish employee from wearing kippah
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Today I returned home from Amsterdam were we visited the Anne Frank House – and I am at a loss. I too wore my yarmulke, my partner did as well. I too believe this made those working at the museum un at ease – or at least they took note in an odd way. Our presence was a concern, mind you we are well dressed Jews from Boston. We both noted there was 0 – zero – no – Jewish presence at all and the Jewish presence that was there was concerning.