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May 4, 2016 Off

The History of Anti-Semitism and the Shoah

By Jonathan Green­blatt
CEO of the Anti-Defamation League

This arti­cle orig­i­nally appeared on The Jerusalem Post Blog



As an orga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cated to com­bat­ting anti-Semitism and fight­ing against all forms of big­otry, the Anti-Defamation League speaks often about the Holo­caust both from a Jew­ish frame­work and from one that addresses hatred and geno­cide in the world at large.

The moral les­son of the Holo­caust, or Shoah, is that we all must stand against hate wher­ever it sur­faces. This moral les­son moti­vates us in our work every day.

On the occa­sion of this year’s com­mem­o­ra­tion of the Shoah, how­ever, I would like to address the sub­ject of anti-Semitism from a his­tor­i­cal per­spec­tive, before the Shoah and after.

It has often been said that the Shoah could not have hap­pened if not for the 2,000 year his­tory of anti-Semitism, par­tic­u­larly in Europe. At the same time, it is noted, what hap­pened dur­ing the Nazi period went far beyond any­thing that had tran­spired for millennia.

The strik­ing char­ac­ter­is­tic about anti-Semitism for cen­turies, which did reach its cul­mi­na­tion in the Nazi assault on the Jews, was its fan­tas­ti­cal core.  Jews were accused of things, par­tic­u­larly being an evil power, which had noth­ing to do with the real­ity of Jew­ish life for centuries.

Let’s not for­get that the tragedy of the Holo­caust was that a mani­a­cal regime com­mit­ted to the destruc­tion of the Jews gained con­trol of Europe at a time when Jews had absolutely no power – no army, no state, no place to go, and lit­tle polit­i­cal influence.

That absence of Jew­ish power, how­ever, had been true for 2,000 years.  Dur­ing that time Jews were accused repeat­edly of influ­enc­ing his­tory in an evil way, the killing of Christ, the poi­son­ing of the wells, the mur­der of Chris­t­ian chil­dren, even a plan to take over the world as embod­ied in the noto­ri­ous forgery, “The Pro­to­cols of the Learned Elders of Zion.”  When the Nazis began their cam­paign against the Jews, the same fan­tasy of evil Jew­ish power was at work.

That hor­rid mix of accu­sa­tions of Jew­ish power together with the real­ity of Jew­ish pow­er­less­ness cre­ated that worst of all moments for the Jew­ish people.

From then on, sev­eral things became clear.  First, there was a need to edu­cate about what anti-Semitism could lead to, hence the broad range of activ­i­ties focus­ing on the Holo­caust.  Sec­ond, was the recog­ni­tion that good peo­ple who stood up to res­cue Jews must be hon­ored to encour­age that kind of behav­ior for future generations.

Third, and most sig­nif­i­cant, Jews could never again afford to be pow­er­less.  While the legit­i­macy of the State of Israel rests on the 3,000-year con­nec­tion of the Jews to the land of Israel, the need for Jews to have a home and be able to defend them­selves was a pow­er­ful polit­i­cal fac­tor imme­di­ately after the Shoah.

Which brings us back to the his­tory of anti-Semitism: If that virus was based on fan­tasy before the Holo­caust, how does one define it after when Jews now have a degree of power as rep­re­sented by a Jew­ish State? By the incred­i­bly effec­tive Israel Defense Forces?  By a strong and vibrant Amer­i­can Jew­ish com­mu­nity that works for U.S. sup­port of Israel?

What this new and pos­i­tive real­ity, where Jews are no longer pow­er­less, sug­gests is that anti-Semitism in the mod­ern world is a much more com­pli­cated phe­nom­e­non.  Anti-Semitism as fan­tasy still exists.  A quick scan of social media will remind some­one that the nox­ious delu­sions of big­ots con­tinue to thrive in the dig­i­tal age, albeit the echo cham­ber now has much larger resonance.

Today, the locus of their atten­tion is the Jew­ish state which stands in as a proxy for the Jew­ish peo­ple.  So called “anti-Zionism” offers a con­ve­nient garb of polit­i­cal respectabil­ity to dis­guise the age-old virus of anti-Semitism.

A wide range of haters, from the rad­i­cal Islamists of Hamas and ISIS to odi­ous white suprema­cists here at home to so-called polite polit­i­cal cir­cles in Europe (as recently made clear by the scan­dal roil­ing the Labour Party in the United King­dom), all accuse Israel of being respon­si­ble for all the prob­lems of the Mid­dle East and the world.  We also see a broad range of base­less con­spir­acy the­o­ries pro­pounded by many in these groups that pos­tu­late Jews were the force behind the ter­ror­ism of 9/11 or that we some­how con­trol the inter­na­tional econ­omy or that we even con­cocted the Holocaust.

The other side of the coin, how­ever, is that power begets respon­si­bil­ity, thus top­ics like the Jew­ish state can be a legit­i­mate sub­ject of crit­i­cism by those who may dis­agree with cer­tain poli­cies and behaviors.

It is essen­tial that the Jew­ish com­mu­nity rec­og­nize that we can and should embrace such vig­or­ous debate.  Such con­ver­sa­tion only becomes sus­pect when the ques­tions shift from the legit­i­macy of pol­icy to the legit­i­macy of peo­ple or when Jews are held to a dif­fer­ent stan­dard by those who will­fully dis­miss or ignore the faults of other coun­tries, par­tic­u­larly when they are more egregious.

The price of power is respon­si­bil­ity.  Again, this is a wel­come change after mil­len­nia of Jew­ish pow­er­less.  In the case of the State of Israel, liv­ing in a volatile region embroiled in con­flict and sur­rounded with so many hos­tile forces, the need for strength is imper­a­tive.  When the Islamic Repub­lic of Iran threat­ens to wipe Israel off the map or tests mis­siles inscribed with hate­ful mes­sages in Hebrew, our grave his­tory com­pels us not to ignore such geno­ci­dal rhetoric and to demand that oth­ers respond to it with equal fer­vor.  Still, one can be crit­i­cal of Israel with­out any jus­ti­fi­ca­tion or accu­sa­tions of anti-Semitism.

On this Yom HaShoah, as we remem­ber those who per­ished, let us be thank­ful that Jew­ish pow­er­less­ness is a thing of the past.  Let us reded­i­cate our­selves to fight­ing the real anti-Semitism that very much still exists.  And let us show that we know what it means to have respon­si­ble power by not con­clud­ing that every crit­i­cism is anti-Semitism.

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April 2, 2015 2

Hackers Directly Threaten Individual Israeli Citizens

As hack­ers pro­ceed with OpIs­rael, an annual anti-Israel cyber-attack cam­paign, AnonG­host, a promi­nent hacker group with an Islamic extrem­ist agenda claims that they are send­ing some Israeli cit­i­zens threat­en­ing mes­sages via var­i­ous mes­sag­ing apps includ­ing Face­book and What­sApp. These mes­sages include threats of vio­lence, vile lan­guage, and anti-Semitism.anonghost-opisrael

While these claims remain uncon­firmed, AnonG­host claims it acquired a large amount of per­sonal infor­ma­tion about Israelis includ­ing phone num­bers and Face­book accounts. The group dis­trib­uted a list of more than two hun­dred Israeli phone num­bers sup­pos­edly asso­ci­ated with What­sApp accounts and promised that there are more num­bers to be released on April 7, the offi­cial start date of OpIs­rael. Anony­mous hack­ers have also shared the list of What­sApp con­tacts obtained by AnonG­host on their social media platforms.

Hack­ers have also shared what appear to be images of threat­en­ing mes­sages they sent to Israeli cit­i­zens using What­sapp, includ­ing “All your Pri­vate con­fi­den­tial details are in our hands, includ­ing your phone number/Your Home….we will kill you all of the Jews/Israelian.[sic].”

Other images show that hack­ers sup­pos­edly have made phone calls to threaten Israelis using the free call­ing fea­ture on What­sApp. It is unclear at this point what was said dur­ing the calls, but sup­posed screen­shots of active What­sApp calls indi­cate that this most likely is another tac­tic to intim­i­date Israelis.

Muhammed Nazmi (aka Don­Nazmi), one of the lead­ers of AnonG­host, posted images of what appear to be sam­ples of mes­sages he sent to Israelis. Accord­ing to one  image, he ini­ti­ated a con­ver­sa­tion with an Israeli and once the Israeli responded, Nazmi sent a threat­en­ing mes­sage which included an image of an ISIS fighter with the cap­tion, “We are com­ing O Jews to kill you.” Under the image, a mes­sage reads, “I am Donnazmi[blurred] from AnonG­host Team. Send This Msg to your GOV Israel you bet­ter get ready to be pre­pared #opIs­rael 07/04/2015 is coming.”

Another image posted by Nazmi shows a mes­sage that includes what appears to be a per­sonal fam­ily pic­ture sent to a father with his chil­dren cir­cled in red and a cap­tion that reads, “I’ll stick a knife in their throats.”

Other hack­ers claimed that they hacked into Face­book chats with Israelis and posted images of con­ver­sa­tions in which they injected com­ments such as “F**K Israel.”

As this cam­paign against con­tin­ues, more Israelis will likely have to deal with such alarm­ing messages.

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March 31, 2015 1

Rival Hackers Overcome Differences For Anti-Israel Cyber Campaign

Update — 4/2/15: For more infor­ma­tion on OpIs­rael, please see Hack­ers Directly Threaten Indi­vid­ual Israeli Cit­i­zens.

What has become an annual cyber cam­paign against Israel, “OpIs­rael” – which coin­cided with Holo­caust Remem­brance Day in pre­vi­ous years – is once again tak­ing place this year; this time, by a broader coali­tion of hack­ers than ever before.AnonGhost OpIsrael 2015

In light of the uptick in attacks against Jew­ish insti­tu­tional web­sites in the U.S. by inter­na­tional hack­ing groups over the past few years, both Israeli and Jew­ish web­sites world­wide are expected to be tar­gets of the cyber campaign.

In 2014, “OpIs­rael” was pri­mar­ily led by an Arab sub-division of Anony­mous, which called for a cyber-attack against Israel on Holo­caust Remem­brance Day, threat­ening to launch “elec­tronic attacks against as many Israeli web­sites as pos­si­ble.” The group also threat­ened Israeli cit­i­zens: “Your credit cards, your bank accounts, your servers … are ALL in a dan­ger!” In 2013, the group called for a sim­i­lar cam­paign timed with Holo­caust Remem­brance Day to “wipe Israel off the Inter­net.”

This year, the Arab sub-division of Anony­mous, in one of the videos it posted on YouTube, described “OpIs­rael,” as an “Elec­tronic Holocaust.”

There are strong indi­ca­tions, how­ever, that AnonG­host, a promi­nent hacker group known for tar­get­ing Jew­ish and Amer­i­can web­sites, is seek­ing to replace Anony­mous in spear­head­ing “OpIsrael.”

For exam­ple, ear­lier this month, AnonG­host launched and pro­moted soft­ware enabling users to con­duct cyber-attacks against Israeli (and other) tar­gets. The soft­ware appears to enable users to ini­ti­ate denial of ser­vice (DOS) attacks. AnonG­host has already claimed respon­si­bil­ity for the hack­ing of sev­eral Israeli web­sites in the past week in the lead up to “OpIsrael.”

On March 31, AnonG­host mem­bers claimed that they started mes­sag­ing Israeli cit­i­zens with warn­ings about OpIs­rael. The threat­en­ing mes­sages included an image of an ISIS fighter with the cap­tion, “We are com­ing O Jews to kill you.” Under the image, AnonG­host mem­bers intro­duce them­selves and ask the recip­i­ents to deliver the warn­ing to the Israeli government.

An image of the threatening message sent to Israeli citizens featuring an ISIS fighter

An image of the threat­en­ing mes­sage sent to Israeli cit­i­zens fea­tur­ing an ISIS fighter

By inject­ing itself into “OpIs­rael,” AnonG­host may take the cam­paign into a more extreme direc­tion. For exam­ple, AnonG­host has been unam­bigu­ous about sup­port­ing ISIS and has car­ried out hacks on its behalf. This activ­ity dif­fers from the Anony­mous col­lec­tive, which has launched cyber-campaigns to counter ISIS’ online pres­ence. In Jan­u­ary 2015, for exam­ple, they­launched a cam­paign against Jihadist web­sites titled OpChar­lieHebdo in response to ter­ror­ist attacks in France.

There are indi­ca­tions that AnonG­host and the broader Anony­mous col­lec­tive have even engaged in a cyber-conflict against each other; Mau­ri­ta­nia Attacker, the osten­si­ble leader of AnonG­host, claims to have hacked a group of Anony­mous mem­bers known as “Anony­mous Squad No.035,” the Ser­bian sub-division of Anonymous.Anonymous OpIsrael 2015

The appar­ent con­flict between AnonG­host and the Anony­mous col­lec­tive, how­ever, does not seem to have pre­vented them both from par­tic­i­pat­ing in this year’s “OpIs­rael.” Oppo­si­tion to Israel seems to be a com­mon cause.

It is impor­tant to note that ADL is cur­rently unaware of any spe­cific cyber threat to the Amer­i­can Jew­ish com­mu­nity. Nev­er­the­less, we are urg­ing Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ties to revisit and reassess their cyber-security plans, mea­sures, and procedures.

Related Infor­ma­tion:

ADL Alerts U.S. Syn­a­gogues to Pro­tect Against Online Hackers

ISIS Estab­lishes A Cyber-Alliance With Anti-Israel Hackers

Hack­ers Post Anti-Semitism On U.S. Uni­ver­si­ties’ Websites

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