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January 26, 2015 0

What We Learned From Auschwitz

By Abra­ham H. Fox­man
National Direc­tor of the Anti-Defamation League

This arti­cle orig­i­nally appeared on The Huff­in­g­ton Post Blog

The 70th anniver­sary of the lib­er­a­tion of Auschwitz, which will be marked Jan­u­ary 27 on Inter­na­tional Holo­caust Remem­brance Day, comes at a time when some are ask­ing: is it hap­pen­ing all over again in Europe?

We know the ratio­nal answer to that ques­tion. As bad as the resur­gence of anti-Semitism in Europe is, there is no com­par­i­son to Europe in the 1930s and 1940s.  Then, a party com­mit­ted to the destruc­tion of the Jew­ish peo­ple gained total power in Ger­many and even­tu­ally con­trolled most of Europe, enabling the sys­tem­atic mur­der of six mil­lion Jews and mil­lions of oth­ers in the Holocaust.

Today, gov­ern­ments in Europe are not espous­ing anti-Semitism; they are coun­ter­ing it, even if not strongly enough.

If it isn’t the Holo­caust – and, if it isn’t help­ful to under­stand today’s immense chal­lenges by com­par­ing it to the Holo­caust — does Auschwitz present any lessons at all for today?

I would say there are several.

First is the role of hate­ful ide­olo­gies in pro­duc­ing vio­lent, anti-Semitic behav­ior. While today’s anti-Semites in Europe do not con­trol gov­ern­ments, they are able to mobi­lize indi­vid­u­als com­mit­ted to vio­lence on the basis of fan­tas­ti­cal notions about the unique evil of Jews.

Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s min­is­ter of pro­pa­ganda, con­vinced Ger­mans not merely to dis­like Jews but to believe that they had to pro­tect them­selves from the evil, all-powerful Jew who was poi­son­ing the Ger­man body politic. So too today, the Islamic extrem­ists, whether it’s Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Hamas, or Hezbol­lah, see the Jew as the source of evil in the world.

The Hamas char­ter not only repeat­edly calls for the destruc­tion of Israel. It claims that Jews are respon­si­ble for all the ills of the mod­ern world going back to the French Revolution.

When Al-Qaeda decided to attack the World Trade Cen­ter on Sep­tem­ber 11, 2001, it was only after they con­sid­ered hit­ting Jew­ish tar­gets in New York. Even the World Trade Cen­ter was seen as partly a “Jew­ish” tar­get since it was deemed that Jews con­trol world com­merce, per the “Pro­to­cols of the Learned Elders of Zion.”

Once it is decided that Jews are the source of evil, then it is almost a respon­si­bil­ity to act against them. And so attacks on Jew­ish civil­ians, who rep­re­sent evil in ordi­nary form, become permissible.

We must fight this ide­ol­ogy of hatred. We must not equiv­o­cate in call­ing it what it is and in ral­ly­ing peo­ple of all faiths against it.

A sec­ond les­son is that shame about what anti-Semitism could lead to, which man­i­fested itself with the appear­ance of the first pic­tures of Auschwitz after the lib­er­a­tion, is an impor­tant inhibitor of anti-Semitism.

It does not cure the world of the dis­ease of anti-Semitism, which is so deeply embed­ded and serves so many pur­poses, but it does affect the level and inten­sity of anti-Semitic behavior.

For decades, anti-Semitism did not explode as a phe­nom­e­non, partly because of this shame. As time passes, and the imme­di­acy of the Holo­caust recedes, it makes more impor­tant than ever the need to develop new and cre­ative ways to reach younger peo­ple about its horrors.

I remem­ber hear­ing some years ago from Rita Suss­muth of the Ger­man Bun­destag, who talked of the need for new and emo­tional meth­ods in reach­ing each gen­er­a­tion of young peo­ple who are fur­ther and fur­ther removed from the events in World War II. We must never give up the strug­gle to explain what anti-Semitism can lead to.

A third les­son for me is the inti­mate con­nec­tion between anti-Semitism and the health of a demo­c­ra­tic soci­ety. Whether it is the expres­sion that Jews are the canary in the coal mine or Pas­tor Mar­tin Niemoller’s famous lines about the con­se­quences of not stand­ing up in the face of evil, Auschwitz is not only about the evils of anti-Semitism, but also how its going unchecked invari­ably endan­gers all of society.

The fight against anti-Semitism should never be seen as sim­ply a moral strug­gle. It is a prac­ti­cal one, as spo­ken so elo­quently by Prime Min­is­ter Manuel Valls to the French par­lia­ment after the ter­ror­ist attacks on Char­lie Hebdo and the kosher supermarket.

How, he asked, could French soci­ety not speak up and be out­raged when Jews were insulted, when van­dals vio­lated Jew­ish insti­tu­tions, when pro­tes­tors sought to invade a syn­a­gogue?  His mes­sage was clear: All of France needs to stand up early and loud when Jews are under attack. Not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it is vital for the well-being of French society.

The mur­der­ous attack on Char­lie Hebdo inevitably fol­lows the mur­der of three Jew­ish chil­dren in Toulouse. The tar­get­ing of Jews in Nazi Ger­many invari­ably led to the efforts by Hitler to dom­i­nate and enslave the world.

So as we observe the 70th year of the lib­er­a­tion of Auschwitz and Inter­na­tional Holo­caust Remem­brance Day on Tues­day, the impor­tance of know­ing what hap­pened there and of trans­mit­ting it to the next gen­er­a­tion is more urgent than ever.
Threats to Jews today are greater than they have been since those darker days.  And those threats, as taught by the lessons of Auschwitz, threaten all of us.

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January 15, 2015 0

Anti-Semitic Conspiracies Continue In Aftermath Of Paris Attacks

Con­spir­acy the­o­ries blam­ing Jews and Israel for the ter­ror attack at the Char­lie Hebdo office in Paris con­tinue to sur­face in the U.S. and abroad.

In addi­tion to pre­vi­ously reported exam­ples, recent instances of Amer­i­can anti-Semites exploit­ing the tragedy to pro­mote hatred for Jews include:

Brandon Martinez's on Press TV

Press TV’s report­ing on the attacks

  • Paul Craig Roberts, an anti-Semitic syn­di­cated colum­nist, wrote an arti­cle on his per­sonal web­site claim­ing that there are sus­pi­cions “that the French shoot­ings are a false flag oper­a­tion.” Roberts iden­ti­fied sev­eral rea­sons for this, includ­ing “to sti­fle the grow­ing Euro­pean sym­pa­thy for the Pales­tini­ans and to realign Europe with Israel.”
  • On Jan­u­ary 14, in an arti­cle in the Nation of Islam’s The Final Call, Assis­tant Edi­tor Asha­hed Muham­mad cited a piece by Kevin Bar­rett titled “Paris Char­lie Hebdo Attack: Another Zion­ist False Flag?” and Paul Craig Roberts to claim that events in France could have been a false flag operation.
  • On Press TV, Iran’s English-language satel­lite news net­work, in a Jan­u­ary 13 arti­cle titled “Ana­lyst won­ders whether Cahrlie [sic] Hebdo mas­sacre was staged,” Bran­don Mar­tinez blamed “Zion­ists” for a num­ber of the world’s evils. For exam­ple, Mar­tinez wrote that Al-Qaeda and ISIS are “all out­growths of the same poi­so­nous American-Zionist impe­r­ial tree.”
  • On Jan­u­ary 12, on Vet­er­ans Today, a U.S.-based web­site that presents anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­ries as news, Senior Edi­tor Gor­don Duff pub­lished an arti­cle titled “Did Netanyahu Give France Their 9/11?” In the arti­cle, he describes the attacks as a “comic opera of care­lessly staged false flag ter­ror­ism” car­ried out by “the Mossad and the crim­i­nal banks, part of the pro-Israeli ISIS organization.”

Inter­na­tion­ally, sim­i­lar con­spir­acy the­o­ries have been pub­lished in some media out­lets and been pro­moted by var­i­ous individuals:

Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek

Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek blam­ing Mossad for the attacks

  • Turkey: Accord­ing to a report from Anadolu News Agency cir­cu­lat­ing in the Turk­ish media, Ankara’s Mayor, Melih Gokcek accused Israel of being behind the Paris attacks. He made his state­ment dur­ing a con­fer­ence by the Jus­tice and Devel­op­ment Party (AK Party) on Jan­u­ary 13. He claimed Israel was annoyed with the lower house of the French Par­lia­ment for vot­ing for the recog­ni­tion of a Pales­tin­ian state and with France’s vote in favor of a United Nations Secu­rity Coun­cil (UNSC) res­o­lu­tion call­ing for the same recog­ni­tion. “Israel cer­tainly doesn’t want this sen­ti­ment to expand in Europe. That is why it is cer­tain that Mossad is behind these kinds of inci­dents. Mossad inflames Islam­o­pho­bia by caus­ing such inci­dents,” Gokcek said.
  • Egypt: A for­eign affairs ana­lyst at Al Wafd daily news­pa­per was cited in a report by the paper on Jan­u­ary 12 as stat­ing: “The Israeli Mossad is behind the ter­ror­ist attack against Char­lie Hebdo French news­pa­per.” He added, “The Mossad planned the oper­a­tion, and pro­vided the attack­ers with weapons, and most likely the plan­ning of the oper­a­tion was done in the same Jew­ish [gro­cery] store which the attack­ers went to later.”
  • Egypt: Mohammed Tew­fik, a jour­nal­ist and for­mer mem­ber of the mil­i­tant al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, accused the Mossad of being involved in the Char­lie Hebdo attacks. His accu­sa­tions were included in a state­ment pub­lished by the Egypt-based Albawabh news web­site, on Jan­u­ary 12. Tew­fik stated, “The fast reac­tion by Israel to the attack, and Netanyahu’s trip to France, his request for France’s Jews to immi­grate to Israel, and his call to  estab­lish a new inter­na­tional coali­tion against Islamic ter­ror­ism, are likely [indi­ca­tions] of a Mossad involve­ment in this crime and an attempt to stick it to the Muslims.”

Anti-Semites have pro­moted such absurd the­o­ries to explain events in Syria, the Boston Marathon bomb­ing, the Sandy Hook Mas­sacre, and the 9/11 ter­ror­ist attacks. In the Mid­dle East, there are those that claim that ISIS and the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood have secret alliances with the Jews or that the Jews cre­ated such ter­ror­ist groups for nefar­i­ous purposes.

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January 14, 2015 1

A French Jew Mourns a French Muslim Policeman

A guest blog by Eve Gani, Direc­tor of Inter­na­tional Affairs, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Coun­cil of French Jew­ish Insti­tu­tions (CRIF), ADL’s part­ner in France.

On Jan­u­ary 11, mil­lions of French cit­i­zens demon­strated in a his­toric moment of unity in defense of our demo­c­ra­tic free­doms.  On Jan­u­ary 13, we exer­cised one of those free­doms – free­dom of reli­gion – to bury 17 ter­ror vic­tims accord­ing to their respec­tive fam­i­lies’ reli­gious tra­di­tions, or absence of reli­gious tra­di­tion: Catholic, Jew­ish, Mus­lim, atheist.

My col­leagues at CRIF attended the Jew­ish funeral in Jerusalem and sec­u­lar funer­als in Paris.  I chose to attend the funeral of Ahmed Mer­abet, the Mus­lim police­man killed out­side the Char­lie Hebdo office.

I went with a Mus­lim friend, also a police­man.  I had met this friend a few months ago at a gala din­ner to sup­port the work of Lat­ifa Ibn Ziaten, the mother of a Mus­lim sol­dier killed by Mohammed Merah, the ter­ror­ist who also mur­dered three chil­dren and a rabbi at a Jew­ish school in Toulouse. We came from two very dif­fer­ent parts of French soci­ety, but both wanted to sup­port Lat­ifa Ibn Ziaten’s work with at-risk youth.

Imme­di­ately after the Char­lie Hebdo attack, my friend called to alert me and urge us to be care­ful.  As he told me about the attack, his voice con­veyed how ner­vous he was.  A police­man had been shot dead in the street, and he wor­ried about his children’s future should the same hap­pen to him. Recall­ing that con­ver­sa­tion and the fact that a police­woman had also been shot in the interim, I knew I wanted to go with him to Ahmed Merabat’s funeral.

Funeral Procession of Ahmed Merabat

Funeral Pro­ces­sion of Ahmed Merabat

It was the first Mus­lim bur­ial I had ever attended. Dur­ing the prayers, I thought of the Mus­lim friends I have had through years, start­ing in high school. Some of them, like my Jew­ish friends, had left France. For Tunisia, Lon­don and Bal­ti­more. They all wanted to build a bet­ter life, one safe from vio­lence and all forms of hatred and bigotry.

At the bur­ial, I saw Mus­lim col­leagues of Ahmed proudly wear­ing their French Police uni­forms, lay lead­ers from Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties, a priest, and a rabbi.  The prayer leader thanked the Jews for attend­ing and urged every­one to demon­strate their sol­i­dar­ity with the Jew­ish vic­tims at an event in front of the kosher super­mar­ket that was attacked.

Rec­tor Dalil Boubakeur and oth­ers from the Grand Mosque of Paris were at the funeral, and we recalled a dif­fer­ent meet­ing, not unre­lated to the Char­lie Hebdo ter­ror attack.  Three years ago, CRIF and the Grand Mosque of Paris had orga­nized an inter­faith dis­cus­sion on the topic of blas­phemy and the laws of the Repub­lic.  We under­scored our com­mon reli­gious val­ues and our com­mon com­mit­ment to the rule of law, all of which the jihadists oppose.

Trag­i­cally, Char­lie Hebdo was tar­geted because a jihadist inter­pre­ta­tion of reli­gion, incom­pat­i­ble with ours. And Ahmed, whose job was to enforce the law of the Repub­lic, was killed on the way.

I watched as Ahmed’s cof­fin was borne by my friend.  My friend who fears to be next.

To my friend,

A French Mus­lim policeman,

May your chil­dren grow up in peace, with their father, in a France, respect­ful of and safe for all.

 

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