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Posts Tagged ‘Auschwitz’
January 22, 2015

Bittersweet Freedom

“After Auschwitz, the human condition is not the same, nothing will be the same.”
– Elie Wiesel

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Credit: Yad Vashem

January 27th marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz Birkenau Concentration Camp by the Russian army at the end of World War II.  For those who were able to survive the horrors of Auschwitz, finally hearing the words “We’re free! We’re free!” echoing across the camp barracks must have seemed almost too good to be true. We often hear stories of the initial encounter between camp survivors and the liberating army, recounted by one child survivor, “They gave us hugs, cookies, and chocolate. Being so alone, a hug meant more than anybody could imagine because that replaced the human worth that we were starving for. We were not only starved for food but we were starved for human kindness.”

People rarely consider what happened to the anti-Semitism that was at the root of the Holocaust once the war ended. There is sometimes an assumption that anti-Semitism ended with the war or that it was greatly diminished. In fact, this is never the case when genocide occurs. The hatred and prejudice still exist, but their manifestation is not always blatantly obvious.  In the case of the Holocaust, the world felt a collective sense of shame in facing the images of survivors, which was a strong inhibiting force against the blatant expression of anti-Semitism. Today, decades later and with new generations rising, the erosion of that sense of shame has become a key factor in the surge of anti-Semitism. That’s why education is more important now than ever.

After liberation, the survivors of Auschwitz were free to walk out of the camp, and were essentially on their own to make their way back to their communities and learn if their former homes and valued possessions were still there.  Many of the young women who survived the camp travelled together in small groups, sometimes for long distances. Sleeping in barns, sheds or outside in the woods, they were frequent victims of violent sexual assaults from marauding soldiers, attacks from which some did not survive. They were targeted for two reasons – because they were women and because they were Jewish.

The liberation of Auschwitz is clearly a critically important event in the history of the Holocaust and one that should hold an important place in our collective memories.  But we also need to be mindful that anti-Semitism did not magically disappear with the liberation of the camps or the signing of the peace treaties.  Today, anti-Semitism has reached to all-time highs across Europe and our memories need to be tempered with a renewed vigilance to continue to fight anti-Semitism and all forms of prejudice, from subtle stereotypes and Holocaust “jokes” to violent hate crimes against people perpetrated because of who they are.  Only then, will the mandate of “Never Again” become a reality.

How do we bring the lessons of the Holocaust to students today in ways that are relevant to their lives?  The Anti-Defamation League provides programs and resources that help educators and students study the history of the Holocaust and apply its lessons to contemporary issues of responsible citizenship, moral decision making, prejudice, hate, and genocide.  Teachers can integrate multimedia curricula into their classrooms through Echoes and Reflections.

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February 26, 2014

Iran Press TV Provides Platform To Emerging Anti-Semitic Voices

Iran’s English-language satellite news network, Press TV, which provides a platform for some of the most well-known anti-Semites, conspiracy theorists and Holocaust deniers in the U.S., also enables lesser known anti-Semites to gain exposure for their views.press-tv-anti-semitism-holocaust

Brandon Martinez, a Canada-based freelance writer who promotes Holocaust denial and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, is among the latest fringe voices to be published by Press TV.

Martinez’s article, published on February 24, 2014, and titled, “Zionist exceptionalism, fears WW2 truth,” is steeped with anti-Semitic claims and blatant Holocaust denial. In his article, Martinez describes the Nazi death camp Auschwitz as a pleasant place where Jews were encouraged to join in activities, such as playing in the orchestra or participating in “other cultural and leisure activities.”

Martinez not only denies the number of Jews who fell victim to Nazi atrocities during World War II, but also denies the existence of gas chambers and the use of Zyklon B in the mass extermination of Europe’s Jewish population. To back up these claims, Martinez cites Holocaust deniers Mark Webber and David Irving.

Following the U.S. temporary waiver of sanctions on broadcasts by Iran’s broadcasting authority which broadcasts Press TV, this blatantly anti-Semitic content is once again more available to audiences in the U.S.

According to a biography provided on Press TV’s website, Martinez writes on Zionism, foreign policy and “deception in media and politics.” Press TV has published Martinez’s articles on its website since November 2013 when it published his first piece on Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s visit to Israel. In that article, Martinez describes Israel as a rogue regime “Born out of terrorism and ethnic cleansing,” and describes Prime Minister Harper as “being subservience to Israel.”

Martinez’s articles are also found on his personal blog, The Thoughts and Writings of Brandon Martinez, as well as on conspiratorial anti-Semitic websites like Veterans Today, and its affiliated site Veterans News Now.

Below are some examples from Martinez’s articles that have appeared on Press TV and other anti-Semitic websites:

  • February 16, 2014:  In an article titled “Scrutinizing Israel role in 2001 anthrax attacks,” Martinez claims that the anthrax attacks immediately following the 9/11 terrorist bombings originated from Israel’s biological and chemical industry, and implied the existence of a nefarious collaboration between the Israel and the Bush administration to carry out the attacks. Martinez also claims that the Israelis placed the blame for the anthrax attacks on its Arab enemies as a pretext to force the U.S. to go to war against Iraq.
  • January 26, 2014: In an article titled “Israeli militarism predicated on 9/11 deception,” Martinez claims that Israel has a history of conducting false flag operations and that the 9/11 attack was Israel’s “grandest deception.”
  • January 13, 2014: In an article titled “Zionist perversion of history threatens world peace,” Martinez promotes the age-old anti-Semitic conspiracy of Zionist control over Hollywood. Zionist control of Hollywood, Martinez alleges, is why Hitler is depicted as a “villainous demon,” while in reality, “Zionist Jews themselves were Hitler’s most enthusiastic collaborators.” Elsewhere in the article, Martinez calls the Holocaust and the number of Jewish victims a “myth” and part of “Zionist propaganda.”

Extremists like anti-Semite David Duke, anti-Semitic columnist Kevin Barrett and Holocaust denying book publisher Michael Santomauro, remain frequent contributors to Press TV’s website and regularly featured on the network’s programs.

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