Never Again

Tomorrow, January 27th, is the international Holocaust Memorial Day. In Israel, this is marked the week before Independence Day, but the rest of the world commemorates the horrors to which antisemitism can lead, on the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp by Red Army troops.

These days, I frequently get the feeling that the annual ceremony at the United Nations is merely lip service paid to the memory of six million men, women and children murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators, while the world stood by and did nothing. I have the impression that, were the same thing to happen again, the world would once again stand by and do nothing. In fact, many of the non-nations and pseudo-nations that now make up the membership of that club known as the U.N. would cheer.

Has the world changed? I fear not. True, after the Second World War, open antisemitism became politically incorrect. True, for a brief moment, there was a window of opportunity when the so-called “Free World” recognised its collective responsibility and the U.N. General Assembly voted to create the State of Israel as a Jewish homeland.  But that moment quickly passed. The United Nations was quick to back-track, did all it could to perpetuate the “Palestinian refugee problem” (about which, more in a later blog) and is now, thanks to the automatic Arab-Muslim-Third World majority and to the cowardice and covert antisemitism thinly disguised as anti-Zionism of its European members, trying to delegitimise the Jewish state and even the Jewish people.

Furthermore, there is a tendency to trivialise the Holocaust by calling every alleged act of atrocity by that name. Thus, the new antisemites, masquerading as “anti-Zionists”, accuse Israel of emulating the Nazis in their treatment of the “Palestinians” and compare the “naqba” (Arabic for “catastrophe” or “disaster” – their name for the establishment of the State of Israel)  to the Nazi Holocaust.

Please note – I am not saying that every criticism of Israel is motivated by antisemitism. What I am saying is that focussing solely on Israel, to the exclusion of far worse acts by other states, cannot be explained away as mere anti-Zionism or even as legitimate criticism.  If Gay Rights groups condemn Israel – the only country in the Middle East where gays are not persecuted – while ignoring  the persecution of gays in Islamic countries, where homosexuality is frequently punished by  death, the only explanation I can find is that of antisemitism.  If the New York Times publishes an article claiming that Israel’s PR campaign highlighting the freedom and lack of persecution enjoyed by gays and lesbians in Israel is , in fact, designed as a smokescreen to hide the so-called oppression of the “Palestinians”, the only explanation I can find is that of antisemitism.

If an obsessively anti-Zionist, self-hating Jewish blogger such as Richard Silverstein, can sink so low as to claim that Israel’s aid to Haiti following the earthquake of 2010 was given merely to improve Israel’s PR, and can allow his groupies to claim, without rebuke, that “the Zionists” control the media – just like the traditional antisemitic claim that “the Jews” control the media (and the banks, Hollywood, etc.), the only explanation I can find is that of antisemitism (even if it is of the self-hatred variety).

A popular ploy among the “new” antisemites, is to claim that the Jews of today are not really Jews but Khazars, thus negating our right to the Land of Israel. I find more and more evidence of this brand of antisemitism on the Internet, especially Youtube (where the most virulent kind of antisemitism is alive and kicking, despite all of YouTube’s much vaunted rules against hate speech). In fact, antisemitism flourishes on the Internet, without even the merest pretence of being “anti-Zionism”.

Muslim antisemitism is also a growing evil.  When the Palestinian Authority’s Grand Mufti of Jerusalem calls on Muslims, at a Palestinian Authority event, to kill Jews who are, he claims, the descendants of apes and pigs, this is antisemitism, pure and simple. And make no mistake – this is antisemitism which is rooted in the Quran, the very foundation of Islam. The Grand Mufti’s words are nothing other than a call for genocide. In the Islamic world, at least, anti-Zionism and antisemitism are one and the same. The President of the Islamic State of Iran calls for the Jewish State of Israel to be wiped off the face of the map  – and is developing nuclear weapons. The “Free World” calls for sanctions- but these are foiled by Russia, a country with a long and shameful antisemitic past.

When I was a student, I used to work for the Vidal Sassoon International Centre for the Study of Antisemitism. That was almost three decades ago. My duties included typing up reports and studies on antisemitic phenomena around the world. Sadly, my impression today is that the world has not changed for the better in this respect.


About Shimona from the Palace

Born in London, the UK, I came on Aliyah in my teens and now live in Jerusalem, where I practice law. I am a firm believer in the words of Albert Schweitzer: "There are two means of refuge from the sorrows of this world - Music and Cats." To that, you can add Literature. To curl up on the sofa with a good book, a cat at one's feet and another one on one's lap, with a classical symphony or concerto in the background - what more can a person ask for?
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20 Responses to Never Again

  1. boaokeoy says:

    It’s been over 65 years since then. There are other atrocities, other acts of genocide. What happened to the Jews is tragic, but not unique. What about the Turkish genocide of the Armenians?

    • Silke says:

      What “we” did to the Jews is unique in its kind.

      Was there another genocide with a RSHA (ReischSicherheitsHauptAmt) ? where paper pushers galore made a living from checking for example whether the railroad (Reichsbahn) invoices for the transportation of the to be murdered were correct?

      4 Pfennigs per kilometer per person says my memory

      That alone, that huge bureaucracy established in order to do it efficiently, does make it unique.

      • Turandot says:

        I think that the uniqueness of the Shoah is that it was probably the only time in history that the apparatus of an entire state has been mobilised for the specific purpose of wiping a single nation off the face of the earth. Other acts of genocide have been carried out – Boaokeoy mentioned the Armenian genocide, for example – but I don’t think that was something planned in advance the way the genocide of the Jews was planned by the Nazis. This is not to belittle the magnitude of the crime committed against the Armenians – but there’s no evidence of, say, a Turkish equivalent of the Wannsee Conference.

      • The fact is, that attempts to annihilate the Jewish people totally, have been made almost since the dawn of recorded history. For instance, we read how Pharaoh tried to destroy the Children of Israel by throwing all the newborn baby boys into the Nile, while sparing the female children to be wives and concubines for the Egyptians. Thus the Jewish/Israelite identity would be lost and the Israelites as a people would cease to exist. In the Book of Esther, we read how Haman tried to exterminate all the Jews, men, women and children. In Czarist Russia, they hatched a plan by which one third of the Jews would be killed, one third would be exiled and one third would convert to Christianity. There is evidence of antisemitism, not only in Ancient Egypt and Persia, but also in Rome. It seems as if there has always been antisemitism.

  2. Neil says:

    I agree with boaokeoy. And until recently successive Israeli governments have been a little too cosy with the Turks.

    Also I think Israel uses the holocaust as a bludgeon against any sort of criticism of Israel, and this is wrong. After all, it wasn’t the Palestinians who invented the gas chambers.

    Also remember that whilst the Christian crusaders massacred Jews as well as Muslims, Salah-Adin and the Saracen Muslims treated the Jews well.

    • Neil, I think you’re being somewhat simplistic here. No-one is accusing the “Palestinians” of inventing the gas chambers. That would have been a little difficult, since “the Palestinian People” wasn’t invented until after the Six Day War. Israel is merely saying that, had the State of Israel been in existence in the 1930s, the Jews fleeing from Nazi Germany (and later, from Nazi-occupied Europe) would have had somewhere to go. As it was, even when the Nazis were prepared to let them leave, very few countries were ready to give them refuge (or, at any rate, to give refuge to more than a few thousand).
      As for the oft-vaunted claim that the Saracen Muslims treated the Jews well – Salah e-Din may have done so, but there have been numerous documented atrocities carried out by Muslims against Jews over the past millenium and even earlier. (See this excellent essay on the subject)

      Furthermore, one could legitimately claim that, long before the Nazis, it was the Muslims who reduced the Jews to the category of “sub-humans”, since Muhammed branded the Jews of the Banu Qurayza tribe as “brothers of apes”. I suggest you read the entire article to which I have directed you for a long list of Muslim massacres of Jews and other antisemitic acts.

      • Neil says:

        Re Muslims ill-treating Jews, I just saw a report on the BBC about the last Jew in Kabul, describing how the Taliban asked him to convert to islam. He told them that they should convert to Judaism. Then he added that God had made him a Jew and them Moslems. And how did these cruel, oppressive Taliban respond? According to the Jewish man himself, they just laughed and left him alone… for years… and years… and years…

        So much for the cruel, tyrannical Moslems oppressing Jews.

      • They do say that it’s the exception that proves the rule, Neil. I suggest you read the article to which I provided the link. There you’ll be able to read about the rule that proves the exception.

  3. Neil says:

    I notice that you ignore my main point about using the holocaust as a bludgeon. If I had a Pound (or even a Euro) for every time I’ve heard some one say in response to a criticism of Israel by a European “After what your country did to (or allowed to be done to) the Jews in the holocaust you’ve got no right to condemn Israel” I’d be a very rich man! They even used to say things like to BRUNO KREISKY when he criticized Israel.

    • But have you heard that as an official Israeli response? You said that Israel uses it as a bludgeon. You may have heard Jews – or even Israelis – say that, but that doesn’t mean that Israel as a state uses it as a bludgeon.

    • Silke says:

      would you mind elaborating why you single out criticism of Bruno Kreisky criticizing Israel?

      Lots and lots of the criticism I read about Israel from all rungs of society is exaggerated and extremely one-sided.

      To prove my point, just try for a moment to imagine what would be written, if Israel would behave like the Greeks do:

      and no the piece has nothing to do with the financial crisis but with the filming of documentaries and the difficulties it involves.

      The script vetting comes right down to the interpretation of classical history and culture. Try saying that the god Apollo was a god of plague as well as of light and purity and, I’m told, you’ll have a struggle on your hands. You’ll need to go armed to the vetting meeting with a copy of the Iliad (which says just that) under your arm, and be prepared for a fight. (The fact is that Greek authorities dont like nasty aspersions being cast on their ancient gods. Plague bad, light good.)

      I have decided for myself, that if I feel the urge to criticise other countries than my own the world offers me enough choices that I find it no hardship whatsoever, if based on my ideas of what constitute decent behaviour, to not do it about Israel. If I have nothing positive to say, I just keep mum. That is btw also good advice to how to deal with one’s friends. If I think a friend’s dress isn’t quite it, why tell her to her face or behind her back?

      Given all parameters I am aware of, I have no solutions let alone easy ones to offer. So why criticize? To prove that I can smart-aleck with the best of them?

      • Neil says:

        I’ve never read so much incoherent rambling in all my life. I single out Bruno Kreisky because the reaction of Israel’s fanatical supporters showed that not even a Jew could criticize Israel without getting his head bitten off.

        I don’t know how the world would react if Israel proved as sensitive about its culture as Greece. I know the Greeks can be very touchy. They didn’t allow the film ELENI to be shot there, because Melina Mercouri didn’t like the way it (truthfully) portrayed the Communists. But so what? What’s that got to do with Israel? Asking “what would be written, if Israel would behave like the Greeks do?” is just another red herring/

        The old adage “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” doesn’t apply when one is talking about a country that is itself not treating others very nicely. You could just as easily say “don’t say anything nasty about holocaust deniers!”

  4. Gaylord Ravenal says:

    There is a lot of exaggeration about the alleged ill-treatment of gays in the Islamic world. By and large it is regarded there as a guilty secret (just as it was in England prior to 1967). We hear about executions, but they are actually quite rare. As long as one doesn’t flaunt it one can usually get away with it in the Islamic world.

    And Israel is not such a gay haven either. Maybe it is in Tel Aviv, but try flaunting it in Jerusalem. Try watching how people react to two men holding hands on a bus in the city you stole from the Arabs! And if they made trouble for that woman on the bus in Bnei Brak, I wonder how they’d react to a couple of men snogging!

    Have you ever seen an openly gay man (e.g. one dressed up in a flowery costume) on your average bus in the “Holy” city? I thought not.

    • Is there, in the Muslim world, a single country that allows an openly gay couple to adopt children? Or to enjoy a dependant’s pension on the death of one of the partners? Can you hold a Gay Pride march anywhere in the Arab or Muslim world? You can in Jerusalem – despite Haredi protests.
      And as for Jerusalem being a city we “stole” from the Arabs – the boot’s on the other foot! Jerusalem has been a Jewish city since the time of King David. It was the Arabs who conquered it by force in the seventh century and “Islamicized” it.

      • Neil says:

        And of course the Jebusites handed it over to the Israelites of their own free will.

      • So the Israelites conquered it from the Jebusites. And the Babylonians conquered it from the Israelites. And then came the Persians, the Greeks and the Romans. And the Arabs conquered it from the Byzantines. And now Israel has reconquered it. That’s the way the Wheel of History turns. Only there aren’t any Jebusites left.

    • Silke says:

      ah yes a hanging here and there – no big deal – who was it who said, punish one discipline a thousand or something to that effect? Was it Mao? Anyway it was somebody who was good at it.

      That gays go on being gay in the Islamic world as elsewhere – well they have done that all through the millennia. The need for a bit of Tender Loving Care apparently trumps everything but I wish they could do it with a lot less to fear from it.

      I think kissing in public except at railway stations isn’t all that necessary or desirable. Though I am from a culture where it is widely accepted and am guilty of having indulged also once upon a time I found it then and find it today embarrassing and would enjoy it very much, if it got out of fashion.

  5. Gaylord Ravenal says:

    Silke, do you also think that HETEROsexual couples should refrain from displays of affection in public?

    Okay I will grant you that two men kissing on the lips are more likely to be lynched in Riyadh than Tel Aviv. But two men holding hands would probably be ignored in either location. And two men snogging in Mea She’arim or Bnei Brak are liable to start a riot!

    • Gaylord, even a heterosexual couple snogging in public in Mea She’arim or Bnei Brak are likely to cause a riot. However, you have missed the point – which is not the freedom of gays in Israel, but the fact that claiming Israel publicizes the freedom enjoyed by homosexuals and lesbians merely to divert attention from her “crimes against the Palestinians”, while at the same time, ignoring the very real oppression of homosexuals and lesbians in the Arab and Muslim countries, is as despicable as when anti-Israel bloggers such as the pathologically anti-Zionist Richard Silverstein accuse Israel of offering aid to earthquake-stricken Haiti as a cover-up for her “war crimes” during Operation Cast Lead.

    • Silke says:

      it depends very much how you define display affection

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