Have We Learned the Lessons — and Causes — of the Holocaust?: Manfred Gerstenfeld, Algemeiner, Jan. 23, 2017— This coming Friday is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Persistence of Anti-Semitism Shows World Has Yet to Learn Lessons of the Holocaust: Mario Silva, National Post, Jan. 26, 2017— This year marks the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp.
Justice for Those Who Have Endured: Yechiel Eckstein, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 26, 2017— This January 27, nations around the world mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, commemorating the most horrific evil ever perpetrated upon humanity – the near destruction of European Jewry.
Three Reasons Why a Double Standard is Imposed on Israel: Philip Carl Salzman, CIJR, Jan. 25, 2017— While nationalism of the Americans, French, and Chinese is admired or at least accepted, Jewish nationalism (Zionism) is regarded as racism by pro-Arab activists and journalists.
The 400-year-old Foundation of the Unique US-Israel Ties: Yoram Ettinger, Jewish Press, Jan. 25, 2017
Remembering the Holocaust, Forgetting the Survivors: Yechiel Eckstein, Gatestone Institute, Jan. 25, 2017
Story of Japan’s 'Schindler' Offers Lessons for Tackling Contemporary Xenophobia: UNNewsCentre, Jan. 26, 2017
Raoul Wallenberg, Hero of Humanity: Irwin Cotler, Times of Israel, Jan. 21, 2017
Algemeiner, Jan. 23, 2017
This coming Friday is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It is often assumed that the Holocaust was caused by a long-lasting antisemitic infrastructure in Germany and on the European continent. According to this theory, many centuries of demonization of the Jews created an atmosphere that made it possible for the Nazis to commit genocide against the Jews.
Over the course of centuries, Christianity systematically demonized the Jews. This demonization began in Roman Catholic theology. A major role was played by Voltaire and other French enlightenment philosophers. They were followed by German idealists and other philosophers, as well as 19th century French socialists and Karl Marx. Many others joined this movement of hate in the late 19th and early 20th century. Even after the Holocaust, Europe’s main philosopher was the German antisemite and former Nazi, Martin Heidegger.
But these explanations of the Holocaust may not be so simple. In 2015, Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby remarked that antisemitism is a complex and difficult subject, adding that it is still deeply embedded “in our history and culture in Western Europe.” British-Polish sociologist Zygmunt Bauman, who recently passed away, claimed that there is a far more opaque infrastructure for the Holocaust than mentioned before. In his book, Modernity and the Holocaust, he links the great genocide to structural elements of modern society. He states that the Holocaust was a product of men educated in the most refined culture of Western society, and thus a product of Western civilization. In Bauman’s view, the conditions for a similar event to occur are still in place.
As an aside, Bauman’s insights did not prevent him from making contemporary Holocaust-distorting observations. In an interview with the Polish weekly Politika, he compared the Israeli separation fence to the walls surrounding the Warsaw Ghetto.
The question as to whether a second Holocaust is possible was the subject of a debate in 2002. American columnist Ron Rosenbaum claimed that it was likely that, sooner or later, a nuclear weapon would be detonated by Arab fundamentalists in Tel Aviv. This led to a reaction by Leon Wieseltier, who said that the Jews had found both safety and strength after the war, and that a second Holocaust would not occur. Rosenbaum countered by claiming that Wieseltier was fleeing into denial, as there were many Hitler-like figures who were demonizing Jews in the Arab world. Furthermore, in recent decades, we have seen genocides elsewhere, the best known in Cambodia and Rwanda.
All this raises the question as to what the history of the Holocaust means for today. In contemporary society, there are many demonizers of Jews and in particular of Israel. This is a multilayered process. At the forefront of this movement are forces from the Muslim world. Iranian rulers have often mentioned that Israel will be wiped off the map. Others include Muslim terror organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as countless individuals. Their de facto allies include a broad range of demonizers of Israel who knowingly ignore genocidal and demonizing tendencies in the Arab world. Some examples of these are the UN and associated bodies, assorted NGOs, various European socialist parties, many pseudo-progressive academics, numerous trade unionists and so on.
All the above can only lead to one conclusion: It is incumbent upon Israel and the Jewish world to make a huge effort to map how all of this hangs together. Only once we understand the arrangement of our enemies on the battleground can we fight them effectively.
National Post, Jan. 26, 2017
This year marks the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. Sadly, the liberation of the camp on Jan. 27, 1945 did not put a stop to the mass killing of innocent Jewish men, women and children. Nor did it stop after the Canadian 2nd Infantry Division liberated the Westerbork concentration camp in Holland in April 1945. The Nazis continued their slaughter until the last moments of their murderous machine, which was put to an end when Nazi Germany surrendered on May 7, 1945.
Nazism subscribed to theories of a “master race” — a racial hierarchy where superior people have a right to dominate others and purge society of so-called inferior elements. By the time the war ended, Nazi Germany and its many collaborators had exterminated one-third of the Jewish people, six million Jews. Those of us who look back at that dark period history become traumatized by the ease and speed with which the killing took place. Nowhere is this more evident (than) in Babi Yar, Ukraine, where from Sept. 29–30, 1941, over just two days, 33,771 Jews were killed in a single operation.
Remembering these unique horrors is a key to Holocaust remembrance. In 2013, I was honoured to be the chair of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) during the Canadian Chairmanship. Canada’s membership in the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance reflects our country’s commitment to ensuring that future generations understand the causes of the Holocaust.
It was with the goal of remembrance that, in 1998, then Swedish prime minister Göran Persson asked Britain’s Tony Blair and then U.S. president Bill Clinton to join him in forming an international task force on Holocaust remembrance, education and research. And on Jan. 27, 2000 in Stockholm, 46 governments — represented by heads of state, prime ministers, deputy prime ministers, and ministers — unanimously adopted the Declaration of the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust. Today, we also mark the 17th anniversary of the Stockholm Declaration.
The commitment of the international community to the principles of the Stockholm Declaration was the starting point for many countries to begin a public debate on their role during the Second World War and the Holocaust. What happened during the war? What did our country do? What did it not do? And what are the lessons we must learn to ensure this never happens again?
Today, IHRA has expanded from its three founding members to an international network of experts on the Holocaust and related issues. It has strengthened political co-operation among its 31 member countries, which work together in a consensus-based framework.
Member states that join IHRA commit to the principles of the Stockholm Declaration, which states that “the unprecedented character of the Holocaust will always hold universal meaning,” and that in a world “still scarred by genocide, ethnic cleansing, racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia, the international community shares a solemn responsibility to fight those evils.” Member governments must pledge to strengthen efforts to promote Holocaust education, remembrance, and research.
Knowledge about the background, purpose, and significance of the Holocaust is essential to raise public awareness and mobilize forces to push back against the prejudices and stereotypes that led to it. Hate crimes, be they based on xenophobia, anti-Semitism or Holocaust denial, are a global phenomenon. Individually and collectively we have an obligation to fight discrimination that leads to the exclusion of groups of people and spreads hatred.
The liberation of Auschwitz should be a powerful call against anti-Semitism, hatred, racial intolerance and prejudice. Unfortunately, genocides and other atrocities occurred before and after the Holocaust. Even after the Holocaust, one particular form of hate stands out today from among the others. Anti-Semitism is unique in its universality, intensity, longevity and irrationality. During my chairmanship, I worked hard to make sure that IHRA adopted an international definition of Holocaust denial, which by its very nature is another form of anti-Semitism.
The Holocaust was an unprecedented crime against humanity and a defining historical moment, one that fundamentally altered how the world views and treats acts of genocide. As such, it provides us with many important lessons that can help prevent such crimes from happening again. The challenge is to ensure that those lessons are remembered, shared and applied. In this way, the world can honour the memory of those we failed to protect.
Jerusalem Post, Jan. 26, 2017
This January 27, nations around the world mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, commemorating the most horrific evil ever perpetrated upon humanity – the near destruction of European Jewry.
It was fitting, then, that during a special Knesset ceremony on December 20, 2016, I was honored on behalf of The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, along with eight other individuals and organizations, to receive the Beacon of Light Award from the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims. Limor Livnat, chairwoman of the foundation, said the annual awards pay tribute to those dedicated to improving the lives of survivors, honor Holocaust survivors who have excelled in their contribution to Israeli society, and recognize volunteers improving survivors’ quality of life.
I was humbled that The Fellowship was recognized for its longtime dedication to helping needy Holocaust survivors in Israel at a time when the entire world prepares to memorialize the victims of the Holocaust, in a global annual event the United Nations General Assembly launched in 2005 to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
While the ceremonies and awards are important, they also serve to underscore a largely ignored humanitarian tragedy of global proportions that we as a community are not doing enough to address: Today, many of the world’s remaining 500,000 Holocaust survivors are living out their final years in poverty. Most of those who are suffering live either in Israel, across the former Soviet Union, or in greater New York City.
Of 189,000 Holocaust survivors in Israel, 25% live below the poverty line. Among the 60,000 survivors throughout the former Soviet Union, poverty is endemic – approaching 85-90%. Even in New York City, home to another 60,000 survivors, about half live below the poverty line.
This is nothing short of a humanitarian crisis. But worse, it speaks of a moral failure, because those who suffered the unimaginable are suffering once again through general ignorance or neglect. And the clock is ticking for us to respond. Every day, 40 survivors die. Within a decade few who experienced the Holocaust first-hand will remain.
In Israel and throughout the FSU, the poorest survivors are barely subsisting on meager income, often forced to choose between eating and securing life-saving medicine. Many survivors suffer through brutal winters unable to afford heating fuel.
Thanks to the support of millions of Christians across the United States and elsewhere, The Fellowship has been able to provide more than $7.3 million annually in food, medicine, heating fuel, daycare and other assistance to over 18,000 survivors in Israel and more than $15m. annually in food, medical assistance, home care and winter aid to those in the FSU. In fact, we recently ramped up our partnership with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, establishing the IFCJ Food and Medicine Lifeline to serve tens of thousands of poor elderly Jews, many of them survivors not only of the Holocaust but of Soviet oppression, in 11 countries in the FSU.
While we are certainly gratified to have been able to make some impact and help many survivors, we are by no means satisfied that our job is done. As a community, we cannot stand idly by as even one Holocaust survivor in Israel or anywhere else is forced to perform a cruel financial calculus regarding their most basic human needs. Our moral responsibility only begins with remembering the six million, whether it is on International Holocaust Remembrance Day or on Israel’s Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day each spring. Our moral duty will only be fulfilled when those who survived the unspeakable are not forced to live in unspeakable conditions. This is about seeing to justice for those who have endured.
Philip Carl Salzman
CIJR, Jan. 25, 2017
While nationalism of the Americans, French, and Chinese is admired or at least accepted, Jewish nationalism (Zionism) is regarded as racism by pro-Arab activists and journalists. While Syrian President Bashar Assad declares war against his people, with deaths numbering in hundreds of thousands and displaced in the millions, next door Israel is lambasted by the foreign minister of Sweden for "extrajudicial killings," when it kills terrorists in the act of attacking Israeli citizens.
Notwithstanding the oppression of women in the Islamic Middle East, the forced marriages, mandatory seclusion, obligatory wearing of tents, honor killings, enslavement, gang rapes, and sale as sex slaves, the National Women's Studies Association boycotts Israel, the only country in the Middle East where women are free and equal.
What explains this double standard? The first reason is traditional Christian anti-Semitism. For 1,800 years Jews were Europe's own despised minority, blamed for murdering Jesus and then rejecting Christian salvation. This was still being preached from the Catholic pulpit fifty years ago when I arrived in Quebec. The Jews were the feeble minority that Europeans loved to hate. Any Jewish deviation from propriety was seized upon to justify their lowly status
However, with the establishment of Israel, Jews were no longer the feeble minority, but a robust majority of a small state, with Jewish "pushiness" becoming Israeli military victory. In Israel, the Jews no longer knew "their place" at the bottom of the European hierarchy, but were independent actors no longer dependent upon European permission.
Europeans have responded by being hyper-critical of their despised ex-minority, demanding things of Israel that they have never demanded of Israel's adversaries or neighbors, or even of themselves, and condemning Israel when it does not comply with their unreasonable demands.
The second reason for the double standard is pragmatic, not to say cynical: There are hundreds of millions of Arabs and Muslims, and only a few million Jews. Arabs and Muslims are spread in many strategically important locations throughout the world. Furthermore, Arabs and Muslim make up a huge commercial market for the industrial nations of Europe and beyond.
As to propriety and standards of behavior, European Christians never thought much of, or expected much of the people of the "South." These gentiles, pagans, and heathens would do just about anything, so there was no point measuring them against civilized standards and judging them. Deal with them pragmatically, was the strategy, as politically important and economically useful. The European rule is this: do not unnecessarily irritate the vast number of Arabs and Muslims by siding with a handful of uppity Jews; that would just be foolish. Showing you are on the side of Arabs and Muslims by condemning Israel is just smart policy.
The third and final reason for the double standard is the Holocaust, the European genocidal project to murder all Jews. Germany expertly designed and engineered the Holocaust, but was joined enthusiastically by many in the Baltics and Eastern Europe, and collaborated with by Western European countries. Even those who did not take direct part, such as Britain, Sweden, and Switzerland, did nothing to stop the Holocaust, in spite of pleas that they do so, and some blocked their gates to Jews trying to escape their fate.
The shadow of the Holocaust – its blame, shame, and guilt – has hung over Europe since 1945. After 70 years, Europeans are fed up with hearing about it. Current generations were not even alive at the time. Why should they be blamed and feel guilt, they wonder, about something that they did not do, do not approve of, and would not do themselves. Yet the shadow prevails.
How can it be removed? Well, if it turns out that the Jews are evil – that, given the chance to be in charge as in Israel, they behave exactly like the Nazis – then the ledger is balanced. European hyper-criticism of Israel makes both Europeans and Jews oppressors and murderers, equally guilty and thus equally innocent. Extravagant denunciation of Israel, however dishonest, frees Europe of its guilt. Americans, implicated in the Holocaust only to the extent of having closed its doors to Jews trying to flee, currently favor Israel over the Palestinians, according to annual Gallup polls, by four to one, while Europeans heavily favor Palestinians. Americans do not need to escape the blame for the Holocaust, while for Europeans condemning Israel is the easiest route.
Prof. Philip Carl Salzman is a CIJR Academic Fellow
CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!
The 400-year-old Foundation of the Unique US-Israel Ties: Yoram Ettinger, Jewish Press, Jan. 25, 2017—
1. According to Prof. Robert Bellah, a leading sociologist from UC Berkeley, there is “civil religion” in the US: separation between religion and state, but not between religion and society. Civil liberties are Bible-driven, reflecting more responsibility than rights.
Remembering the Holocaust, Forgetting the Survivors: Yechiel Eckstein, Gatestone Institute, Jan. 25, 2017 —This January 27, nations around the world will mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, commemorating the most horrific evil ever perpetrated upon humanity: the near destruction of Europe’s Jews.
Story of Japan’s 'Schindler' Offers Lessons for Tackling Contemporary Xenophobia: UNNewsCentre, Jan. 26, 2017 —During World War II, Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat posted as an acting consul in Lithuania, disobeyed instructions from his own Government and issued visas for Jews fleeing Nazi persecution.
Raoul Wallenberg, Hero of Humanity: Irwin Cotler, Times of Israel, Jan. 21, 2017— I write at an important moment of remembrance and reminder, of bearing witness and taking action – on the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, reminding us of horrors too terrible to be believed but not too terrible to have happened; and on the eve of the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the most brutal extermination camp of the 20th century. From 1941 to the end of 1944, some 1.3 million people were deported to Auschwitz, 1.1 million of them were Jews.