By Joseph Puder, For The Bulletin
Later this month, on April 21, Holocaust Remembrance Day or Yom Hashoah will be commemorated in memorial rallies in major U.S. communities. Politicians will declare their commitment to combat hate crimes, church leaders will sermonize against all hatred, and yet despite all of these annual efforts, the oldest hate-anti-Semitism is as pervasive as it has ever been.
According to the FBI Biased Motivated crimes in the U.S. for 2007 by religion, a total of 1,477 such bias crimes were committed, of that 1,010 were committed against Jews, 65 against Catholics, 59 against Protestants and 133 against Muslims. Jews were targeted almost 10 times more than Muslims.
Sixty-three years after the Holocaust, Jews in Britain, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany and elsewhere on the Continent are at risk of being physically attacked if and when they wear identifying symbols such as a Star of David, a skullcap, a beard, etc. For the Jews in Europe, it is the 1930s all over again, except that this time the threats and actual violence are not coming from governments, but from local Muslims.
In the Judenrein Arab Middle East, racist anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial are preached in mosques, featured in the media and taught in schools. In Latin America, particularly in Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela, anti-Semitism has become pervasive, albeit under the guise of anti-Zionism.
The genocidal declarations emanating from Tehran by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s in his repeated calls to “wipe Israel off the map,” as well as a recent remark by the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to the effect that Israel was a “cancerous tumor,” are reminiscent of the dark days of Hitler’s Nazi Germany. Except that now it is no longer the individual Jew who is targeted as a “vermin” that needs to be destroyed, but the “collective Jew” in the form of the Jewish State of Israel.
In Europe and America, the Catholic Church has done a magnificent job in combating latent ant-Semitism. The effects of Vatican II and Nostra Aetate transformed Catholic-Jewish relations. Popes John XXIII and John Paul II contributed a great deal to that historical healing between Catholics and Jews. Pope John XXIII convened the Second Vatican Council and Pope John Paul II came to Rome’s synagogue to proclaim Jews as “our elder brothers.”
Additionally, Pope John Paul II established diplomatic relations between the Vatican and the Jewish State. Aberrations still occur; however, particularly when Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunications of four traditionalist bishops, including that of a Holocaust denier, Richard Williamson.
While 2,000 years of Christian anti-Semitism cannot be wiped out in a generation or two, religiously motivated European anti-Semitism has been significantly reduced while anti-Semitism stemming from an unholy alliance of radical Islam and the radical left is flourishing.
This alliance, which fuels anti-Jewish hatred in the guise of anti-Zionism, has been playing out on campuses throughout Europe and North America. Latent anti-Semitism among politically and socially liberal mainline Protestant churches has found expression under the guise of caring for the Palestinians, and it has resulted in Israel-bashing.
On Dec. 10 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The declaration was specifically aimed at preventing a recurrence of the horrors of the Holocaust. In the second paragraph of the preamble we read, “Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people…” Anti-Semitic hate speech however was certainly not a consideration of the framers of the declaration.
Now 61 years later, the same hatred and anti-Jewish calumnies that resulted in the Holocaust have reappeared worldwide. While racism has become taboo in American society — a very positive development — the taboo against anti-Semitism has eroded. Obsessive criticism of Israel that seems to borrow freely from the classic anti-Semitic repertoire, coupled with treating Jewish victimization as a moral ideal from which modern Israel has “sadly deviated,” became a standard operating technique.
At the United Nations sponsored Durban Conference on Racism in 2001, just days before the 9/11 attacks on the U.S., racist anti-Semitism was on full display. A precedent for the conference was set in 1975 with the notorious U.N. Resolution 3379 equating “Zionism with Racism.” Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel called the Durban conference “an enterprise of disgrace and a moral catastrophe.”
Mr. Wiesel wrote, “The content was wholly unadulterated hatred and cruelty, whose expressions ought to outrage any decent and cultured human being.”
He reminded us that, “Hatred is like a cancer. It spreads from cell to cell, from organ to organ, from person to person, from group to group.” In Durban, the racism ignored against the Jews makes racism against others ever more likely to flourish.
Israel’s recent defensive operation against the rocket attacks by the Palestinian Hamas terrorists in Gaza, targeting Israeli civilians, unleashed violent anti-Semitic demonstrations throughout Europe and in the U.S. led by radical Muslims and their Western radical leftists allies.
By appropriating Nazi symbols to attack Israel’s legitimate self-defense, these cynical propagandists on campuses, and in the press, in mosques and in some churches, not only abused the memory of the victims of the Nazi Holocaust, but show a dangerous ignorance of history and, in so doing pave the way for another Holocaust to occur.
It is time for fair-minded people in the West, particularly those in the media, in liberal Protestant churches and on the campuses, to realize that paying lip service to “the victimized and murdered Jews of the Nazi Holocaust” while bashing and demonizing the Jewish State is morally repugnant. These bashers of Israel are simply saying “We tolerate dead Jews, but cannot tolerate living ones, especially those able to defend themselves.”