Tuesday, 13 April 2010

The Holocaust and its relevance today.

I watched as Israel stopped working, driving, studying, jogging, to observe a moment of total silence in respect for the six million Jews who were targeted and slaughtered by an Anti-Semitic regime only decades ago.
It was Holocaust Day in Israel.

A British friend remarked that he was profoundly moved by the depth of emotion and memory that the nation devoted to that day.
I told him that, for us, the significance is that the Holocaust was not a historic event but that its darkening shadow looms over us today.

Anti-Semitism is not something that was eradicated together with the Jews in the ovens of Auschwitz. Rather it was put to rest, only to emerge in multiple forms years later.

Today we see the emergence of both overt and covert Anti-Semitism.

Overtly, we saw the rise, this week, of the far Right Jobbik Party that gained 26 seats in the Hungarian Parliament.
Their platform blames the Jews and gypsies for the economic plight of their country, not the failure of the previous Socialist Party. Hungarian Jews are now living in fear.

Overtly, we heard, this week, Bishop Giacomo Babini blame the Jews for the pedophile scandal that is rocking the Catholic Church. He accused Jews of a 'refined Zionist media attack against the Church'.
He called Jews 'a Deicide people' and inferred that the Holocaust took place 'because Jews strangled Germany economically through usury'. His remarks, together with others including Bishop Williamson's Holocaust denial statements, clearly show that Anti-Semitism is alive and growing in strength within the Catholic Church.

TV viewers saw the spectacle of an Israeli TV crew filming a Holocaust story in Warsaw being spat on by a passerby in the Polish capital. This anti-Semite uttered profanities, not against Israel, but against Jews in front of the TV camera.
This happened at the site of the Warsaw Ghetto this year - 2010.

Anti-Semitic attacks doubled in 2009. Enlightened, multi-cultural, countries such as Britain and even Canada showed some of the largest growths in attacks against Jews.

Many European countries enact stringent laws to combat bias and hatred against Islam yet tolerate, excuse, and even encourage Anti-Semitism.
Israel is blamed when Jews are attacked. Many will protest that it's not the Jews they hate, they simply want to condemn Israeli policies against the Palestinians. This is covert Anti-Semitism.

When Israel is singled out for condemnation, while wholesale slaughter and human rights abuses by other countries are ignored, this is Anti-Semitism.

When emotive language and imagery is used to delegitise Israel alone, this is Anti-Semitism.

When Jews are not allowed free speech on campuses in defense of Israel, this is Anti-Semitism.

When the Jerusalem String Quartet are not allowed to play classical music at the Wigmore Hall in London, this is Anti-Semitism.

When a Jewish Member of Parliament, who is openly anti-Israel, says that 'right wing Jewish millionaires control the Conservative Party' this is Anti-Semitism, even when quoted by a Jew.

Mahmoud Ahmadinajad, the Iranian leader, proudly boasts that the elimination of the Jewish state is his holy duty. Diplomats play down the rampant anti-Semitism of the Iranian regime.

For Jews in Israel, however, the rantings of Ahmadinajad are straight out of Mein Kampf.
For Israelis, Ahmadinajad is the personification of Adolph Hitler.

The international community may dilute his threatening statements, they may learn to live with containment of the Iranian nuclear program, they may adopt a Chamberlain-type posture and kid themselves that Ahmadinajad does not want to take over the world starting with the Jews, but Israel will say 'Never Again!'

One piece of imagery had a profound affect on Israelis this Holocaust Day. We saw a grandmother, a survivor from Auschwitz, visit her grandson at an Israeli air foce base. Her grandson is a fighter pilot in the Israeli Air Force.
Together with two other pilots he flew his Israeli fighter jet in salute over the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Decades ago, six million Jews did not have the protection of a strong and determined Jewish state.
They thought they had the protection of the Allies who flew over Auschwitz in 1944 yet did nothing.

Today, Israel is strong in the knowledge that its leadership, both political and military, at a time when the threat approaches and the world is as impotent and as appeasing as it was in 1938, they will not allow another Holocaust.

As Israel heads from Holocaust Day towards Independence Day, 'Never Again' will be Israel's overriding policy.
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