Yesterday was International Holocaust Memorial Day, marked on the day that Auschwitz was liberated by the Allies. A memorial ceremony was held at Auschwitz as well as at other places around the world:
Holocaust survivors walk through the main gate of the former Auschwitz Nazi death (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
The commemoration at the former death camp in southern Poland, an area under Nazi occupation during the war, is part of the UN-designated International Remembrance Day, marked by politicians, survivors and others in ceremonies and events across the world.
It’s all very well commemorating the dead from over 70 years ago, but what about the Jews who are alive? How are they faring around the world? The answer is: Not very well, as we are seeing a dramatic rise in anti-Semitism around the world:
“We must be honest enough to admit that more than 70 years after the Shoah, anti-Semitism is still alive in our ‘civilized’ European Union,” Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s top foreign affairs representative, said in a statement.
Jewish immigration to Israel from Western Europe grew last year due to a rise in anti-Semitic attacks. Most — nearly 8,000 — were from France, where Islamic extremist attacks have destroyed the sense of security previously felt by Europe’s largest Jewish population.
In Germany, where hundreds of thousands of Muslim refugees have arrived in the past year, Jews feel threatened from both the far right and people coming from countries like Syria.
A rise in anti-Muslim hostility amid the migrant crisis is — irrationally — also fueling anti-Semitism as a growing number of people lash out in fear at anyone they perceive as different.
On Saturday, neo-Nazis paraded in the center of the English city of Newcastle doing Nazi salutes and carrying a banner that said: “Refugees Not Welcome. Hitler Was Right.”
And late last year in Poland, far-right extremists at an anti-migrant demonstration in Wroclaw burned the effigy of an Orthodox Jew.
Indeed, the official Israeli report on antisemitism in 2015 paints a dismal picture:
The world is an awful place and everybody hates the Jews.
That, at least, would be a fair assumption to make after reading a report put out by Israel’s Diaspora Affairs Ministry this week on international anti-Semitism. Painting a pretty bleak picture, the 26-page compendium of incidents and trends appears to strive for an almost “real-time” look at what occurred the world over in 2015.
The report pinpoints three overriding trends — a surge in radical Islam, a blurring of borders between anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism, and the European extremist political right — as the main causes for a rise in anti-Semitic incidents this year.
The report devotes several pages to the European intersection of radical Islam and Jewish communities.
“It is important to say these are not the newcomers — not the immigrants and refugees. These are Muslim European citizens attacking Jewish European citizens,” said Karasenty, noting that such terrorists are products of the European education system.
“We are definitely worried about the immigrants that came from countries with prejudices about Israel and the Jews,” Karasenty clarified. “This is a source of worry, but for now their concern is their daily survival. What happens in the future — that’s a different story.”
Meanwhile the Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki Moon, did his best to stir the pot by asserting that Palestinian terrorism is a “human nature” reaction to “occupation”. Binyamin Netanyahu was outraged – as are all Israelis and Jews worldwide – and he accused Ban of stoking violence:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday of supporting Palestinian terrorism.
“It is human nature to react to occupation, which often serves as a potent incubator of hate and extremism,” Ban had told a Security Council meeting in New York.
In what became a war of words, Netanyahu shot back: “The secretary-general’s remarks provide a tailwind for terrorism. There is no justification for terrorism. Those Palestinians who murder do not want to build a state, they want to destroy a state and they say this openly.”
Netanyahu didn’t go nearly far enough. He should have mentioned that no one suffered more over history than the Jews, with pogroms, random violence, blood libels, religious persecution, expulsions, executions, torture and forced conversion. Did they ever take up arms against their enemies? Against civilians?
The same question could be asked millions of other displaced refugees, as Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid noted:
“There are millions of people in the world whose lives are harder than those of the Palestinians,” Lapid continued. “In Africa, in Asia, in the Middle East. There are hundreds of millions of people in the world for whom the UN didn’t create a special body and to whom the UN didn’t send billions of dollars (and then stood to one side while a corrupt government stole it).
“For some reason those people don’t think there is anything, anything at all, which gives them license to take a knife and stab a mother of six. To take a knife and stab a woman who is five months pregnant. To take a knife and stab a wonderful 23 year old woman who had never harmed anyone.”
Only the Palestinians are given a free pass to attack Jews because Jews want to build houses in their homeland. The UN and its associated institutions has Jewish blood on its hands and should hang its head in shame.
Anti-Semitism through the ages (cartoon by Ronny Gordon of The Israel Cartoon Project)
These vile apologetics for terrorism were uttered precisely on the day when Israel buried yet another terror victim – Shlomit Krigman Hy’d who was murdered in Bet Horon.
The secretary-general had condemned both Palestinian and Israeli violence in his opening remarks to the council.
“Stabbings, vehicle attacks and shootings by Palestinians targeting Israeli civilians – all of which I condemn – and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces, have continued to claim lives,” Ban said.
“But security measures alone will not stop the violence.
They cannot address the profound sense of alienation and despair driving some Palestinians – especially young people,” the secretary- general said.
“Palestinian frustration is growing under the weight of a half century of occupation and the paralysis of the peace process.”
In Jerusalem, Netanyahu scoffed at Ban’s remarks as he explained that the violence was the result of a hatred of Jews, rather than a reaction to any political reality on the ground.
“They want to murder Jews for being Jews and they say this openly. They do not murder for peace and they do not murder for human rights,” he added.
“The United Nations long ago lost its neutrality and its moral force, and the secretary- general’s remarks do not improve its standing.”
And of course, how could a UN session pass – even one commemorating the Holocaust – without a mention of those eeevil Jewish houses?
Terrorism and violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was not the only topic on the UNSC’s agenda. Ban, the US, the UK and many other UN member states also called on Israel to freeze all settlement activity.
Their words came on a day when Peace Now announced that the Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria had last week approved 158 new homes in West Bank settlements.
But Ban and member states focused on other settlement activity in Area C of the West Bank, such as the pending reclassification to state land of 150 hectares of farmland in the Jordan Valley. Settlers have farmed much of that area for the past two decades and the reclassification does not change its usage.
UN member states also took issue with the recent decision to expand the territory under the auspices of the Gush Etzion regional council to include the 4-hectare site once owned by the US Presbyterian Church. US millionaire Irving Moskowitz has purchased the property and settlers hope to use it as a tourist center.
“These provocative acts are bound to increase the growth of settler populations, further heighten tensions and undermine any prospects for a political road ahead,” Ban said. “Progress toward peace requires a freeze of Israel’s settlement enterprise.”
If the land has been legally purchased, why is it considered provocative or illegal? Since this attitude is only towards Israeli Jews, this is an antisemitic reaction by definition.
US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power said her government strongly opposes settlement activity.
Changing the designation of land and the issuance of building tenders are fundamentally incompatible with the two-state solution and raises legitimate concerns about Israel’s intentions, Power said.
Still, she noted, “settlement activity can never be an excuse for violence.”
Neither Power nor anyone else in the UN addresses the other kind of illegal settlement activity – that carried out by the EU which constructs buildings and roads for Palestinians in Area C.
She also condemned “settler violence” and the attack in the Palestinian village of Duma that took the lives of three members of the Dawabsha family.
Since no one has been tried, let alone found guilty of this crime, how does she know it was “settlers” who committed this crime?
And how could we have a UN session without our daily dose of Palestinian blood libels?
PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki called on the Security Council saying, “As we speak, Palestinians, the majority of them youths, are being killed daily in the streets, many extra-judicially executed by occupying forces and settlers.
“Claims that such violence and crimes are necessary to ensure Israeli security are offensive and must be rejected. All people are entitled to security; it is not exclusive to Israel and cannot be achieved by illegal and aggressive actions.”
Riiiight. And these Palestinian “children” are being “executed” for no reason at all. Not because they are trying – and often succeeding – in murdering Israeli civilians…
Israel’s UN ambassador, Danny Danon display ‘terror dolls,’ right, which are being used to teach hatred among Palestinian children, on Tuesday, January 26, 2016, at the UN (AP Photo/Cara Anna)
He makes me sick, and ought to be put on trial himself for libel, slander and incitement to murder.
Of course, the rise in anti-Semitism is not helped by the warming ties between the US and Europe with Iran. What would have been quite incredible to contemplate a year ago is happening as we speak: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is on a diplomatic tour of Europe, and true to form, he is ratcheting up the Jew-hate-O-Meter:
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani accused the “Zionist lobby” of torpedoing potentially positive ties between Tehran and Washington Wednesday.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Italy’s Foreign Minister Paolo Gentilon
Rouhani ‘s comments, which coincided with International Holocaust Remembrance Day, were made to reporters in Italy before he took off for France during his first trip to Europe as president.
“It’s possible that Iran and the United States might have friendly relations. But the key to that is in Washington’s hands, not Tehran’s,” he said, according to Reuters.
“The Zionist lobby AIPAC is very active” and influential in the US, he said, in remarks translated by Channel 2.
He added that it was in Washington’s interest to no longer isolate Iran given the geopolitical reality of the region, saying it shouldn’t be pressured by what he called the Israeli and Jewish lobby.
Rouhani’s trip, coming closely on the heels of the nuclear deal, is seen as signaling a dramatic rapprochement between Tehran and the European powers since the lifting of sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Ties with the US, while improved, have remained chilly.The president is accompanied by a delegation of more than 100 ministers, officials and businessmen, marking the return of Iran on the international economic stage with the lifting of sanctions.
Even before Rouhani’s comments, Israeli Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein criticized the warm welcome the Iranian president received in Europe as the world commemorated the Holocaust as “hypocrisy.”
“I have no words to define presidents of countries who on International Holocaust Day host the Iranian president, like the president of France is doing. We will continue our struggle to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive. Let other people listen to their own consciences,” Edelstein said at the plenum opening.
A day after meeting with Pope Francis, Rouhani also said freedom of expression did not extend to insulting other people’s faith.
That’s funny. I thought Iran held Holocaust Denial Cartoon contests. Not to mention calling Jews “sons of apes and pigs”, and all the other antisemitic tropes that one can think of.
Thankfully there are some “tzadikim in Sdom”. Many French citizens were outraged at Rouhani’s visit and came out to protest:
PARIS — Some 250 people demonstrated Wednesday at the Republic Square in Paris against Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to France.
French protestors at Rouhani’s Europe visit
The demonstration was organized by labor unions, left-wing groups and associations of Iranians who oppose the regime. Many of the participants held aloft photos of Iranian activists imprisoned in Iran or activists executed there in the past two years, since Rouhani was elected president.
One of the demonstration’s leaders said about 2,000 people have been executed in Iran since Rouhani became president, and that Tehran maintains a policy of arresting those who criticize the government.
The demonstration joins a massive campaign in French media and social networks against Rouhani’s visit. The campaign focuses on the violation of human rights in Iran and on its support for terrorism.
France’s main newspapers – Le Monde, Le Figaro and Liberation — all published over the past two days editorials stating that Iran has not changed and has not yet become a progressive and liberal country with which France can renew relations, especially against the backdrop of Iranian ties with Hezbollah’s military wing and its involvement in the Syrian civil war.
It is sad to note that Canada too has retreated from its previous “Golden Age” of pro-Israel activism under the new Trudeau government. However it is gratifying to note that Paul Bronfman, a well-known and influential Jewish philanthropist has withdrawn his support from Toronto’s York University over an antisemitic mural which the University governors refused to remove: (h/t Earl):
Paul Bronfman, founder of Comweb, a group of integrated entertainment firms providing production related services, studio facilities, and equipment to the film and television, learned of the mural only last week, despite the fact that it has been on display for almost three years.
However, he told The Times of Israel on Tuesday that he has long been aware of York University’s reputation as a campus with strong pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel activism.
The artwork, which hangs prominently in the York University’s Student Centre was created by a student named Ahmad Al Abid, who graduated in 2013. Titled, “Palestinian Roots,” the large painting shows a young man (shown from the rear, and from the shoulders down) wearing a keffiyah decorated with the Palestinian flag and a map of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza—with no border demarcations. The man gazes out at a scene including hills, a bulldozer in front of a building, and a tree. In his hands, which are behind his back, he holds stones. At the bottom are the words for “peace” and “justice” in a variety of languages, including Hebrew and Arabic.
“My inspiration for this piece is the ongoing issue in Palestine where illegal settlement expansions have become common. These expansions come at the expense of uprooting century old olive trees, trees intertwined with the roots of the Palestinian people,” the artist said in a statement on the Student Centre’s website.
Bronfman said he contacted the university’s president Mamdouh Shoukri on January 19 to express his concern about the mural.
“It’s an anti-Semitic piece of garbage and it offends me as a Jew and as a Canadian. It should offend all Canadians,” Bronfman said.
“If a mural condoning violence against any other nation was hung on campus, it would rightfully be condemned. Only when it pertains to Jews do we see this disturbing double standard,” Danielle Shachar a York University psychology student and Israel advocate told the Canadian Jewish News in December of last year.
Bronfman told the university that unless the artwork was removed by January 22, he would withdraw tens of thousands of dollars of donated equipment and educational services that one of his companies, William F. White International, had been providing the university’s cinema and media arts department.
“The administration just gave me a bunch of bureaucratic jargon. They told me they appreciated my concern, blah, blah, blah,” Bronfman reported about his conversation with the administration.
When the mural was still hanging last Friday, Bronfman wrote to Shoukri to confirm that he was withdrawing his support from the university.
I love the way Bronfman had the last word:
Bronfman doesn’t believe there is anything to further explore or discuss with regard to the image. To him, the painting’s message is clear, as is what he believes should be done about it.
“It’s bloody simple to see that it’s anti-Semitic. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that. York should be ashamed of itself that it is still hanging there,” he said.
If only Israel could recruit Paul Bronfman to work as its Hasbara Minister, along with the likes of Danny Danon and other famously outspoken Israelis, our diplomatic standing might look a whole lot better.
And even if it didn’t improve, at least we would feel better with the morale boost that comes with speaking our minds and telling the anti-Semites what we really feel.