Holocaust Memorial Day 2015

Holocaust Memorial Day

The world cries “Never Again” every year on the annual International Holocaust Memorial Day. And yet, seventy years after the liberation of Auschwitz and the defeat of the Nazis by the allies, it is becoming sickeningly evident that the lessons have not been learned, and that “never again” means “maybe now it’s acceptable”.  Antisemitism is not only raising its ugly head again, but is alive and kicking and growing daily, as we have seen in the huge rise (some say by 400%) in antisemitic attacks throughout Europe. This is also not to ignore the constant drip-drip of anti-Semitic incitement, disguised as anti-Israel or anti-Zionism, emanating from the Muslim world, and particularly from the Palestinians.

We have seen several nasty examples of this anti-Semitism in the guise of pro-Palestinian, or rather anti-Israel, activism in recent days.  One of the most blatant occurred,  of all places, in a New York City Council meeting commemorating the liberation of Auschwitz, when anti-Israel pro-Palestinian protestors chose to interrupt precisely as the name of Auschwitz came up during a discussion of an upcoming Council visit to Israel.

Legal Insurrection has the details:

Anti-Israel activists in New York City have started a campaign as part of the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement to try to prevent City Council members and other politicians from visiting Israel. A coalition of 40 groups, most of which are quite small but including the usual suspects like the inaccurately named Jewish Voice for Peace are leading the effort.

At a NY City Council meeting today, anti-Israel activists disrupted a vote commemorating the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, shouting for one of the council members not to travel to Israel, as reported by Jacob Kornbluh at Jewish Political News & Updates website, which has video:

Pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel activists disrupted the City Council’s stated meeting on Thursday while members were voting on a resolution commemorating the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

The protesters started yelling, “shame on you, Melissa”, “why are you supporting an apartheid” and “Palestinian lives matter.”

After five minutes of yelling and screaming, the some 40 protesters were ordered to leave and escorted out the balcony.

Council member Cory Johnson called it “incredibly disrespectful and offensive. Simply awful.” Councilman Mark Weprin added, “The State of Israel has never supported the killing of innocent people, and they want to love in peace.”

NYC councilman David Greenfield, grandson of Holocaust survivors, hit back with admirable ferocity and eloquence:

In Britain, as previously reported, anti-Semitism is on the rise,of which an extreme example occurred in Gateshead when a gang of Muslim youth decided to go “Jew-bashing and beat up a passing Jewish man walking in the street.

Generally, though, British anti-Semitism is of a more genteel type, although it is still not only prevalent, but becoming fashionable again, as Philip Mark McGough documents in his Huffington Post article: “Anti-Semitism means hating the Jews more than necessary”:

There exists a weighty and sublimely pointless literature about the difference between so-called Old Anti-Semitism (religious, racial, xenophobic) and New Anti-Semitism (political, anti-Zionist, Third Worldist); but lately this academic fine-tuning of distinctions between various shades of hate has become practically and provisionally meaningless. Among a long litany of prejudices, anti-Semitism robed as anti-Zionism (when it even bothers to dress for the occasion) is now uniquely acceptable, even respectable, in a style quite without precedent in these hyper-sensitive, judgment-phobic times. Society has given itself a free pass, an ideological Rumspringa, where canards, tropes, and stereotypes totally forbidden in any other context can be affixed to Israel (and, by extension, the Jews) with impunity.

… while after each and every Islamist atrocity we are warned- and warned incessantly- of the dangers of an anti-Muslim backlash, the fact remains that in Britain, in 2015, it’s the Jews who are double-bolting their doors.

CiFWatch (Cross posted from Richard Millett’s Blog) brings us a concrete example of the above in its report of an obtuse former British diplomat who said that Israel should “dismantle its security fence “for peace”.

Elsewhere in Europe, (via Honest Reporting) Ynet brings us the story of a Swedish journalist who donned a kipa and posed as a Jew to see what people’s reactions would be. Unsurprisingly he encountered much anti-Semitic abuse. He’s lucky he escaped unharmed.

After more anti-Semitic crimes were reported in Malmo than in any other city in Sweden, Swedish reporter Peter Lindgren decided to conduct a social experiment by putting on a kippa (yarmulke or skullcap) and a Star of David necklace and walking around the city to see how locals treated Jews.

With a hidden camera and microphone documenting his stroll through the streets of Malmo, Lindgren encountered harsh verbal and physical anti-Semitic abuse.

The footage, aired Wednesday on Sveriges Television as part of a 58-minute documentary titled “Jew-hatred in Malmo,” shows Lindgren sitting at a cafe in central Malmo reading a newspaper as several passersby hurled abuse at him.

In another location, Lindgren was called “Jewish shit” and a “Jewish Satan” and one person even hit his hand – though that incident was not recorded, only recounted. One passerby told Lindgren to “get out,” while another warned him to leave for his own safety.

In Rosengard, a neighborhood heavily populated by Muslims, Lindgren was surrounded by a dozen men who threatened him, while residents of nearby apartments threw eggs at him and shouted anti-Semitic slogans. Lindgren then decided to leave for fear of increased violence.

In 2013, Patrick Riley, a journalist for The Local, conducted a similar social experiment in which he donned a kippa and walked through the streets of Malmo. He encountered stares of “disbelief and menace” and insults.

Writing about his experience, Riley said: “As an Irish person abroad I’ve never felt remotely threatened, but wearing the kippa for a few hours was enough to instill feelings of fear. Even when I didn’t feel afraid I was made to feel different and unwelcome.”

Watch this Swedish language video with English subtitles:

Another European anti-Semite pretending to be “only” anti-Israel is the Dutch ex-minister who said (h/t Reality) that if only all the Israeli Jews would move to the US there would be world peace.  Because when the Jews did not live in Israel there was world peace… I seriously worry about this man’s sanity.

On the other side of the world, Damian Pachter, the Argentinian journalist who exposed the story of the suspicious death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman has fled to Israel fearing for his life:

The first journalist to report on the death of a Argentine state prosecutor, who was investigating the deadly 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, arrived in Israel on Sunday after fleeing the South American country.

Damian Pachter, who also holds Argentine-Israeli citizenship, said he had “quickly” fled Argentina fearing for his life following threats to his security.

“I’m leaving because my life is in danger. My phones are tapped,” Pachter, a journalist with the Buenos Aires Herald,  told the website Infobae.

The website carried a photograph of Pachter, wearing a cap and carrying sunglasses, at the airport before he boarded an Aerolineas Argentinas flight.

Despite the fact that his and Nisman’s persecution were as much political as religious, the basis of this whole story was the bombing of a Jewish – not Israeli – community center, and the subsequent cover-up and perversion of justice by the Argentinians and Iranians.

One the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, a group of survivors hold up and point to a picture of themselves, which was taken the day the camp was freed by the Soviet army

Returning to today’s commemoration events in Europe, this year, on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, a grand memorial ceremony is taking place at Auschwitz, including survivors of that hell-on-earth.  Check out the Daily Mail link above for the story including pictures, videos.

One very important person however will be skipping the ceremony: Barack Obama, who has refused to see Binyamin Netanyahu on his visit to Washington, is not going to attend the memorial service at Auschwitz. (H/t TCKT)

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will represent the United States at the 70th anniversary ceremony for the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp on Tuesday—rather than President Barack Obama or Vice President Joe Biden—while other countries are slated to send their heads of state.

Obama’s absence demonstrates an apathy towards the fate of the Jews both in the past and in the present – not the best attitude to display if he hopes to persuade Israel of his determination to confront Iran. Besides the questionable propriety of his decision, I’m surprised that Obama is prepared to miss such a feel-good PR opportunity. I wonder what his advisors were thinking.

But for sheer surealism, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin visited the UN and thanked Ban Ki-Moon for fighting antisemitism. Considering that the UN is one of the prime movers of antisemitism in the entire world, all I can do is agree with the following Tweeter:

As I always do on these days of commemoration, I invite readers to visit my pages on my family history during the Shoah.

This entry was posted in Antisemitism, History and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Holocaust Memorial Day 2015

  1. Elise Ronan says:

    Reblogged this on Liberty's Spirit and commented:

    Reblogged this great piece

  2. Elise Ronan says:

    I think you need to give Rivlin a pass on this one. They did have the antisemitism conference at the UN, which despite the Saudi and Lebanese ambassadors antisemitism(yeah I know you can’t make this nonsense up), was not a bad beginning. Of course, Rivlin has to be the diplomat and thank Moon. That is his job afterall. On the other hand he did stand his ground when Obama, after his infantile hissyfit about Bibi speaking to COngress, tried to embarrass Bibi by getting a meeting with Rivlin and Rivlin turned him down. So Rivlin really does stand up for Israel and the Jewish people.

    ETA: Thank you for the reblog!

    • anneinpt says:

      You have a point Elise. I read about him standing up to Obama and cheered. And I know he has to be a diplomat. But surely there was a way for him to make a dig at the UN at the same time?

      I know that Rivlin really does stand up for Israel’s rights. He’s considered quite right-wing and a hawk in Israel, though now he’s President he’s toned it down a bit and become more statesmanlike, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

      It was just a bit surreal, what can I say.

      I’m going to address the UN’s antisemitism session in my next post. I was going to put it in this post but then it all got too long.

  3. DavidinPT says:

    Two thoughts on this posting: Why was the liberation day of Auschwitz specifically chosen for international commemoration, when there were so many more death camps, eg: Sobibor? Does anyone know the historic background for this choice? Secondly, while I am a huge fan of Winston Churchill (whose 50th anniversary of his death we will be marking in 2015) I cannot find it in my heart to understand or forgive him for not bombing the railway leading to Auschwitz when he well knew what was going on there. This is another reason why the Jewish people can only rely on themselves and not even on their so-called greatest friends, cf Obama (joke!).

    • anneinpt says:

      Good question about Auschwitz. I think because it was the main camp. It was a central camp with very many sub-camps around. But honestly, I don’t know. Were there more survivors from there than other places?

      Re Churchill, yes, it’s a dilemma alright. The man who did so much good also let the bad pass without response.

  4. Pingback: Holocaust Memorial Day 2015 |

  5. Reality says:

    In case you were wondering the BBC are keeping anti semitism alive and kicking.There were 2articles in Arutz 7paper online just now.One that they are hosting a question time programme in Finchley and Golders Green,home to a huge Jewish population.Their guest is George Galloway of Jew free zones.Read the article .It’s just another spin to regular anti semitism.
    The other article is about the BBC questioning whether it’s time to put the holocaust to rest.This is especially in time for international holocaust day

  6. Pete says:

    Anne – you look at the issue in terms of anti-Semitism.

    I see the Holocaust Day as being of universal significance. Since the words “Never Again!” were said, the hope has been that NO human beings will be subjected to widespread genocide. Yet TRAGICALLY, several genocides have occurred. The ones that come immediately to mind are the wholesale slaughter of Cambodians under the Pol Pot regime, and the horrendous massacre of Tutsi civilians in Rwanda. The world did not lift a finger to stop either of those genocides. And the world has not done to much to stop the bloody slaughter of civilians in Syria at the current time either (this may or may not be a “genocide” … but many lives are at stake).

    Genocides always occur in “inconvenient” locations that are distant, hidden, or the “dark alleys” of the world. And world leaders always find a dozen good reasons why they should never get involved when widespread horror is happening. Later, it is always convenient for politicians who want to grandstand – to appoint themselves to tribunals and “make a statement” about the dignity of human life. But they rarely show up when the blood is being spilled.

    If we believe the computer programs that predict the future of the world – and yes these simulations do exist!! – then we must accept the real possibility that MORE genocides are coming in the future. I cannot tell you who will be affected, and it may not be Jews. But the victims will be human beings – and it is likely that the future genocides will be on a larger scale than anything that has occurred in history. Sadly.

    Pete, USA

    • anneinpt says:

      Pete, thank you for your thoughtful comment.

      Yes, I do indeed see the Holocaust in terms of antisemitism, for that was what it was in essence. True, the Nazis massacred Gypsies and Roma and the disabled etc. But they didn’t divert huge resources to hunting down helpless babies and harmless old people and patients in hospitals who belonged to any of those communities, but they did do this to the Jews. More than Hitler wanted to conquer Europe and then the world, he wanted first – above all else – to rid the world of the Jews, and only THEN to get on with his world domination.

      So the Holocaust is not only primarily, but solely a Jewish issue, or rather one of Jew-hatred. By universalising it, it dilutes its Jewish character and diminishes Jewish suffering.

      I know that people mean well when they claim the Holocaust as their own, or as representing other genocides, but while it serves as a drastic warning to the world about preventing genocide the Holocaust should not be used for any other case. For what we have witnessed in recent years is the Palestinians claiming – absurdly and falsely – that they are suffering a genocide, and hey presto, the Jews have become the Nazis genociding the Palestinians. See how that works?

      “Never Again” was actually a Jewish promise, sworn by the Jews to their dead families that they will never again allow themselves to be murdered in that way, and that is why we struggle to preserve and nurture the State of Israel. That is the only refuge that we Jews have, the only one that we can rely on 100%.

      However you are indeed right that when the world adopted the Never Again principle, they should have meant it and kept to it, and as you so rightly point out, genocides and mass murders are still taking place to this day. I don’t know what can be done to prevent this. All the pretty words and moving ceremonies don’t help victims in real time. They are empty lip service if they are not backed up by force, and as we have seen, the world is reluctant to use force when it is needed, in time and at the right place. Until such time, genocides will sadly continue to happen.

  7. floranista says:

    Thank you for this excellent post, annie. It is particularly hard-hitting as we just watched Night Will Fall yesterday evening.

    G-d bless and protect you and keep Israel safe, now more than ever.

  8. cba says:

    Anne, I’m afraid I have to disagree with the words on the poster. Many of the 6 million who were murdered were NOT born Jewish–they were murdered because one or more grandparent was born Jewish.

Comments are closed.