Jennifer Peto: Holocaust Controversy Reaches Houston

There's a mini-storm in Canada these days over the University of Toronto awarding an advanced degree to a student for a thesis that calls Holocaust-education programs "racist."

Jennifer Peto's thesis, entitled The Victimhood of the Powerful: White Jews, Zionism and the Racism of Hegemonic Holocaust Education, argues, according to the newswire JTA, that Holocaust education "programs cause Jews to believe they are innocent victims. In reality, she writes, they are privileged white people who 'cannot see their own racism.'"

Now the controversy has reached Houston.

Peto's brother David, a resident at the UT Health Science Center at Houston, has written a letter to one of Canada's leading papers because his sister, in the introduction to her thesis, said if her gradnmother "were alive today, she would be right there with me protesting against Israeli apartheid."

That was too much for David Peto, who wrote to the National Post:

It is not my desire to get involved with the details of my sister Jenny Peto's thesis, which has recently generated tremendous controversy. There are people far more qualified than I to debate the merits of the thesis, or lack thereof. There is, however, one point that I would like to contest. My sister dedicated her thesis to our late grandmother, Jolan Peto. She asserted that if our grandmother "were alive today, she would be right there with me protesting against Israeli apartheid"....

Our grandmother was a soft-spoken woman, but she had an iron will. She taught us to abhor hatred, and to strive for excellence in everything we did. She was a woman of endless patience and generosity, and boundless love. She was uncompromising in her dedication to truth and honesty, and was also an ardent supporter of the state of Israel. My sister is simply wrong; our grandmother would have been entirely opposed to her anti-Israel protests....I cannot in good conscience allow my sister to misappropriate publicly our grandmother's memory to suit her political ideology.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Richard Connelly
Contact: Richard Connelly