We’re delighted to congratulate Professor Monty Noam Penkower, recently announced as a recipient of the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa 2023 Bernard Lewis Prize for his volume After the Holocaust. The chapters in this volume examine a few facets in the drama of how the survivors of the Holocaust contended with life after the darkest night in Jewish history. They include the Earl Harrison mission and significant report, the effort to keep Europe’s borders open to refugee infiltration, the murder of the first Jew in Germany after V-E Day and its aftermath, and the iconic sculptures of Nathan Rapoport and Poland’s landscape of Holocaust memory up to the present day. Joining extensive archival research and a limpid prose, Professor Monty Noam Penkower again displays a definitive mastery of his craft.
Please find below Professor Penkower’s acceptance remarks, which he delivered via Zoom during the awards ceremony on November 5, 2023:
Greetings to all from Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Israel and my home for the past twenty-one years.
I am delighted at having been selected as a recipient of the Bernard Lewis book prize this year for my volume After the Holocaust. Aware of the pioneering, scholarly contribution made by the late Professor Lewis in alerting our world to the dangers of radical Islamism, I am particularly moved to accept this award. At a time when Israel continues its war with Hamas, a terrorist adversary guilty of unprecedented atrocities against civilians and one that is committed, along with Hezbollah (a second Iranian proxy), to a genocidal campaign aimed at destroying the one Jewish State, I had to stand with my fellow citizens and forego the ASMEA annual conference.
The chapters of After the Holocaust examine facets in the drama of how the survivors of the Shoah contended with life after the darkest night in Jewish history. They include the Earl Harrison mission and its significant report, the effort to keep Europe’s borders open to refugee passage, the murder of the first Jew in Germany after V-E Day and its aftermath, and the iconic sculptures of Nathan Rapoport and Poland’s landscape of Holocaust memory up to the present day.
After a third of world Jewry had been obliterated by Nazi Germany and collaborator nations into anonymity and ash, most survivors had few doubts about the pressing, vital need for sovereignty in their ancestral homeland, Eretz Yisrael. From then onwards, that tiny sliver of land hugging the Mediterranean continues to serve the Jewish people and their allies in the on-going struggle for decency and truth as a bridge against apocalyptic despair, providing some solace and even joy in the wake of hitherto unimaginable horror.
Alas, the Holocaust is still at times trivialized, universalized, even brazenly denied outright. Furthermore, senseless hatred of Jews and the depersonalization of the powerless are not alien to our age. Anti-Zionism is the new antisemitism. All who cherish freedom must champion Israel’s right to exist and to thrive as a beacon of light in a very troubled planet. Forty years ago, I concluded my volume The Jews Were Expendable with these words: “The cancer of bestiality is the concern of us all, and the infinite preciousness of life requires daily affirmation.” Embracing that same credo tonight, I thank Michael Lewis and the ASMEA prize committee for this great honor. It is one that I shall long cherish. Shalom!
The 2023 Bernard Lewis Prize is awarded to scholars or practitioners engaged in the study of issues on antisemitism that were of great importance to our founding chairman, Prof. Bernard Lewis. While Christian antisemitism is well-studied, a stigma remains around addressing antisemitism in the Muslim world. Beyond this, relatively few scholars focus on the Middle Eastern dimensions of Christian antisemitism in religious and cultural terms, much less the political impacts in the West. Learn more here.
Monty Noam Penkower, professor emeritus of Jewish History at the Machon Lander Graduate School of Jewish Studies (Jerusalem), is the prize-winning author of many books on the Holocaust, on American Jewry, and on the rise of the State of Israel in the years 1933-1948.
After The Holocaust is available for purchase wherever books are sold.