On Sunday, Western governments and institutions around the world held ceremonies to honor the memories of the 6 million Jews massacred during World War ii. International Holocaust Remembrance Day—January 27, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest of the Nazi death camps—was created by the United Nations in 2005 as a yearly reminder of the Holocaust in an effort to ensure it never happens again.
Despising Hitler’s form of anti-Semitism is not difficult. It killed 6 million Jews. But centuries of history show that hatred for the Jews manifests itself in various shapes and shades. Anti-Semitism is arguably humanity’s ugliest, most persistent ideological wart.
Anti-Semitism is cyclical. It starts out small and unnoticeable; untouched, it grows, and as it does it takes on a distinct form and shape. When it becomes large, noticeable or painful, the host takes action and cuts it down to size. Down but not out; it does not disappear—it merely goes underground. And after a while, it begins to reemerge. And though it may look different—mutated, or darker, or shaped differently—it is the same old ugly, painful wart.
Venerating the Jewish victims of the Holocaust is an important and worthy gesture. But for world governments and the international media to solemnly condemn Hitler’s anti-Semitism, yet at the same time actively, to one degree or another, condone, even promote, the demise of Jewish statehood is to resurrect the same anti-Semitic wart.
It’s also rank hypocrisy.
Sixty-three years have passed since Hitler attempted to destroy the Jews as a race: Today that same anti-Semitic spirit is being directed, subtly, at the Jewish state. “What anti-Semitism once did to Jews as people, it now does to Jews as a people. First it wanted the Jewish religion, and then the Jews themselves, to disappear; now it wants the Jewish state to disappear,”wrote Melanie Phillips (City Journal, Autumn 2007; emphasis mine throughout).
Same wart, different mutation. And it’s making a mockery of the international community: Despite the tears, the pious speeches honoring the dead, promising the Holocaust will never be repeated and condemning Nazi Germany, the reality is that the international community, by diluting its support for Israel and throwing its weight behind the enemies of Israel, is condoning the systematic obliteration of the Jewish state.
Take the UN, for example. Beneath its goodly platitudes and rare and often benign bouts of pro-Israel rhetoric such as UN Resolution 60/7 (International Holocaust Remembrance Day) sits a long and sordid legacy of anti-Semitism, intolerance for Israeli actions, and inequality against the Jewish people and state.
For decades, and by its own admittance, the UN has consistently marginalized and persecuted Israel, while at the same time aiding and abetting the actions, often illegal, of Israel’s enemies, especially the Palestinians. Over a period of 40 years, 30 percent of resolutions condemning specific states adopted by the UN Human Rights Commission were directed against Israel. In 2006-07, all of the Human Rights Council’s condemnatory resolutions passed were against Israel.
In 2001, the UN sponsored the World Conference Against Racism (wcar), in Durban, South Africa. “Far from a forum promoting tolerance among peoples and nations,” reported the National Post, “wcar became a festival for hateful screeds against Israel and the West by some of the most repressive regimes in the world, cheered on by ngos from Europe and North America” (January 25).
Now the UN is planning the second wcar for 2009, and reports from planning meetings suggest Durban ii “will be worse than the first” (ibid.).
Fact is, UN leaders can decry rampant global anti-Semitism, pass a token resolution encouraging member states to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust and conduct conferences which on the surface appear to be designed to combat global racism, but as long as this organization maintains an obvious agenda of marginalizing Israel while abetting and legitimizing the actions of Israel’s enemies, it will remain one of the world’s foremost bastions of hypocrisy.
The same goes for Europe, the historical fountainhead of anti-Semitism. For many years after World War ii, it remained publicly circumspect in its treatment of Jews. But that time is over. Europeans today, despite the yearly memorial ceremonies and commensurate tears, speak openly about the diminishing sense of Holocaust remorse. Surveys conducted in June and September of 2002 by the Anti-Defamation League showed that 58 percent of Germans, 57 percent of Spaniards, 56 percent of Austrians and 52 percent of Swiss believe “Jews still talk too much about the Holocaust.”
“Europe is reawakening its old demons, but today there is a difference,” reported British parliamentarian Denis MacShane last September. “The old anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism have morphed into something more dangerous. Anti-Semitism today is officially sanctioned state ideology and is being turned into a mobilizing and organizing force to recruit thousands in a new crusade—the word is chosen deliberately—to eradicate Jewishness from the region whence it came and to weaken and undermine all the humanist values of rule of law, tolerance and respect for core rights such as free expression that Jews have fought for over time” (Washington Post, Sept. 4, 2007).
Same wart, new mutation.
One poll, conducted by the University of Bielefeld in 2004, showed that 51 percent of German respondents agreed with the statement, “What the State of Israel does today to the Palestinians is in principle not different from what the Nazis did in the Third Reich to the Jews.” In the Arab world, the portrayal of Israelis and Jews as modern-day Nazis is part of the everyday repertoire of anti-Semitic lies.
Now this insidious form of anti-Semitism, which Manfred Gerstenfeld labeled “Holocaust inversion” in the Wall Street Journal this week, has become worryingly popular in the West.
This distortion of history is particularly widespread in the Muslim world. But it is also gaining currency in the West, where it is no longer just the domain of the extreme left. Last year, a German bishop visiting Israel compared Ramallah to the Warsaw Ghetto. Portuguese Nobel laureate for literature José Saramago in 2002 compared Ramallah even to Auschwitz. …
Portraying Jews as Nazis, Israeli prime ministers as Hitler and the Star of David as equal to the swastika is almost routine in the Arab world. This trend has also reached Europe, where during the anti-Iraq war protests, for instance, many demonstrators held placards depicting similar images. In the Netherlands you can now buy T-shirts and greeting cards showing Anne Frank wearing a kaffiyeh, the traditional Palestinian headdress, wrapped around her neck like a scarf. In other words, the Palestinians are the new Jews, which makes the Israelis the new Nazis.
Political cartoons have emerged as malign vehicles of anti-Jewish sentiment. Gerstenfeld continues:
Holocaust-inversion caricatures appear also occasionally in Western mainstream papers. In July 2006, the Norwegian daily Dagbladet carried a drawing showing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as SS Major Amon Göth, the commander of a Nazi death camp depicted in Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List. A 2002 cartoon in the Greek daily Ethnos showed two Jewish soldiers dressed as Nazis, with Stars of David on their helmets, thrusting knives into Arabs. Its caption reads: “Do not feel guilty, my brother. We were not in Auschwitz and Dachau to suffer, but to learn.”
Even the United States, Israel’s strongest ally, has embraced a foreign policy that dilutes its support of the Jewish state by appeasing and legitimizing Arab ambitions toward Jerusalem and Israel. Washington’s latent anti-Semitism was revealed in two major events last year: first, the Annapolis peace talks, and second, the release of the infamous National Intelligence Estimate (nie).
In the wake of the Annapolis peace talks, Caroline Glick wrote: “This week the Bush administration legitimized Arab anti-Semitism. In an effort to please the Saudis and their Arab brothers, the Bush administration agreed to physically separate the Jews from the Arabs at the Annapolis conference in a manner that aligns with the apartheid policies of the Arab world which prohibit Israelis from setting foot on Arab soil.”
Less than a week later, the U.S. released the nie, making the groundbreaking announcement denying the existence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program—which signaled a revolutionary change in America’s foreign policy in the Middle East. Yossi Klein Halevi responded in the New Republic:
America, even under George Bush, is hardly likely to go to war to stop a program many Americans now believe doesn’t exist.
Until now, pessimists here could console themselves that a last-resort Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities would likely draw wide international sympathy and even gratitude—very different from the near-total condemnation that greeted Israel’s attack on Saddam’s reactor in 1981. Now, though, the nie will ensure that if Israel does attack, it will be widely branded a warmonger, and faulted for the inevitable fallout of rising oil prices and increased terror. The sense of betrayal within the Israeli security system is deep. After all, Israel’s great achievement in its struggle against Iran was in convincing the international community that the nuclear threat was real; now that victory has been undone—not by Russia or the European Union, but by Israel’s closest ally.
The nie essentially amounted to America’s betrayal of Israeli statehood.
In Britain, anti-Semitism is exceedingly worse, and manifests itself in multiple ways. Jews in Britain are four times more likely to be attacked because of their religion than are Muslims; synagogues are regularly attacked; schoolchildren are routinely persecuted; rabbis are punched and knifed; and British Jews are forced to hire security guards for protection at weddings and community events.
In 2006 Denis MacShane chaired a committee of British parliamentarians to examine anti-Semitism in Britain. Their report showed that beyond the physical attacks and persecution there was also “what we described as anti-Jewish discourse, a mood and tone whenever Jews are discussed, whether in the media, at universities, among the liberal media elite or at dinner parties of modish London. To express any support for Israel or any feeling for the right of the Jewish state to exist produces denunciation, even contempt,” MacShane wrote (op. cit.).
Same wart, different mutation.
Over the past few days, Western politicians and the media have made plenty of worthy statements about the Holocaust, condemning Hitler’s actions and promising that history will never be repeated. History shows, however, that platitudes are no match for rank anti-Semitism. The proclivity of Western governments and the Western media to refrain from supporting Jewish statehood while at the same time throwing their weight behind Israel’s enemies, is indicative of an international community that is turning its back on the Jewish state.
Adolf Hitler despised the Jews as a race; today large swaths of the international community are against Israel as a state. Do we really believe the difference between these two forms of anti-Semitism is enough to prevent another Holocaust?