The leaders of the Allies knew full well what was happening in the death camps. They could have acted, but they didn’t. We, the Jews, know exactly what the lesson is,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at last week’s dedication of the upgraded Jewish museum at Auschwitz.
Israelis, fearful a Syrian civil war will spill over, “are rushing to complete their latest ‘smart fence,’ ” this one on the Golan Heights, The Washington Post reported on June 7. When finished — with the newly upgraded Sinai barricade and mostly completed West Bank security barrier — the Jewish state essentially will have segregated itself at ground level from its Arab neighbors.
Tactically, the barriers make Israelis safer. Strategically, in terms of either peaceful integration into the Middle East or militarily defeating existential threats such as Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program, the fences suggest a reghettoization
of the Jews.
We understand that the destruction of European Jewry began with words, culminating only later in deeds, in death camps. If so, then perhaps the Holocaust now struggles
Certainly Israel is the only one of the United Nations’ 193 member states whose “right to exist” chronically is questioned or denied. As at least an indirect result, it is the only country whose citizens routinely are issued gas masks, whose homes must be built with “safe rooms” able to protect against rockets and chemical weapons.
To suggest the Holocaust may resume is to raise two possibilities. One, that despite museums and memorials, specialized studies and international indemnification of survivors or heirs, the Holocaust — or Holocaust mentality — never actually ended. Two, that its resumption need not mirror — except for its ultimate objective — the original.
The post-Holocaust assertion “Never again!” did not echo as widely as we might imagine. “Again!” seemed quite possible at the outset of Israel’s wars of 1948, 1967 and, to an extent, 1973.
Post-World War II genocides, including but hardly limited to Cambodia, East Timor, Rwanda and Darfur suggest that while many recognize “man’s inhumanity to man” in real
time, fewer demand effective action to stop it. As for man’s inhumanity to the Jews, when Iranian leaders repeatedly insist a) the Holocaust never happened and b) they’d like to finish it, violating international laws against genocidal incitement, calls that they be indicted and tried, are barely discussed.
Diaspora Jews face spreading fanaticism in Europe’s burgeoning Islamic communities and a parallel anti-Semitic revival including political parties of both the far-right and far-left. After the murder of four Jewish school children and a teacher last year by a jihadist in Toulouse, France, Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress said the killings failed to send shock waves across the continent.
The “meager reaction” meant that Jewish life could not return to normal. Instead, “a gaping wound” in the communal psyche “is widened with every additional attack… .”
Three years earlier, in Malmo, Sweden’s second-largest city, a synagogue serving the 700 local Jews “was set ablaze. Jewish cemeteries were repeatedly desecrated, worshippers were abused on their way home from prayer, and ‘Hitler’ was mockingly chanted in the streets by masked men,” Britain’s Daily Telegraph reported. “I never thought I would see this hatred again in my lifetime, not in Sweden anyway,” said Judith Popinski, a Holocaust survivor.
In 2011, when Yale University canceled its Initiative for the Study of Anti-Semitism, it alleged a lack of scholarly output and student interest. School officials denied they had surrendered to complaints about “anti-Arab extremism and hate-mongering” from the Palestine Liberation Organization’s U.S. “ambassador.”
Greece’s two-year-old, neo-fascist Golden Dawn Party holds only 18 of parliament’s 300 seats, but last month Ronald Lauder, head of the World Jewish Congress, called it “very worrying” that the country’s mainstream parties seemed unable to agree how to combat the extremists.
Next month, during Ramadan’s prime viewing hours, Egyptian television watchers will be treated to a serial called Khaybar, about Mohammed’s conquest of an Arabian Jewish tribe, The Wall Street Journal reported last week. It’s meant
to show Jews as “the ugliest slice of humans,” one of the actors explained.
One can cite endless anecdotes of renewed tolerance of hostility to Jews and intensified hatred of the Jewish state. Still, history does not repeat itself automatically. Israel is in many ways strong and vibrant. American Jewry, in particular, is largely prosperous and accepted.
But one should be attentive. For too many, the Nazis’ “eternal Jew,” the inferior outcast condemned to elimination, reappears as the execrable Jewish state. Its supporters are, when permitted, marginalized. Such phenomena, like old assertions of inferiority and conspiratorial evil, foreshadow a Holocaust struggling to resume.
Eric Rozenman is Washington director of CAMERA, the 65,000-member, Boston-based Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America. Any opinions expressed above are solely his own.