As we mark Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, we realize that this year is different than recent years. We have seen a drastic rise in anti-Semitism, nationalism, and xenophobia. Along with this, we are seeing a normalization of this behavior.
A study released on Holocaust Remembrance Day revealed that a majority of Americans (58 percent) believe that the Holocaust could happen again.
The Claims Conference study reveals a significant lack of knowledge about the Holocaust in the United States. Of those surveyed, 70 percent say fewer people seem to care about the Holocaust. Meanwhile, one-third of the respondents are misinformed about the magnitude of the genocide as 31 percent of all adults and 41 percent of millennials believe that two million Jews or less were killed.
With the lack of knowledge about the events that led to and during the Holocaust, we must inform future generations so that these atrocities never happen again.
Anti-Semitism is nothing new, but it is on the rise in the U.S. and around the world.
In 2017, according to the Anti-Defamation League, there were 1,986 anti-Semitic incidents reported in the U.S. — a 60 percent rise from 2016. For the first time in a decade, there was an anti-Semitic incident reported in every state. Cases of anti-Semitism nearly doubled in K-12 schools and on college campuses.
Throughout the world, anti-Semitic acts are becoming more visible and more mainstream. In 2017, harassment, bomb threats, and vandalism targeting Jews reached near record highs.
Former National Director of the ADL, Abe Foxman, said in an interview with Army Radio on Thursday: “Antisemitism has always been here. We have never eradicated it – we have made it unacceptable, put consequences on it. It was something that wasn’t done, said or acted upon. What has changed is a new permissiveness, a new legitimacy, a new emboldenment, as if it’s OK – or more OK – today to be an anti-Semite.”
In August 2017, the Unite the Right rally took place in Charlottesville, Virginia. Neo-Nazis and white nationalists chanted “Jews will not replace us.” This rally was covered on all the major news channels in the U.S.
In Illinois, a Holocaust denier and former American Nazi Party member, Arthur Jones, won the Republican nomination for the House of Representatives. Although he ran unopposed, he garnered more than 20,000 votes.
In Europe, Jews are facing a resurgence of mainstream anti-Jewish attitudes. Tel Aviv University’s Kantor Center released a study that concluded that “Europe’s largest Jewish communities are experiencing a normalization and mainstreaming of antisemitism not seen since the Second World War.”
“There has been an increase in open, unashamed and explicit hatred directed against Jews. The Jew as exploiter, the Jew as killer, the Jew as banker. It is like we have regressed 100 years,” European Jewish Congress President, Moshe Kantor, was quoted as saying in a statement.
A few weeks ago, in France, Mireille Knoll, an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor, was the 11th anti-Semitic murder in 12 years. In the previous three decades, no anti-Semitic murders were reported. The ADL reports that there are, on average, two assaults on Jews per week. This is leading to a large immigration to Israel. In 2016, more than 5,000 emigrated from France to Israel.
The leader of the British Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, has been mired in anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist scandals. Corbyn previously called members of the terrorist organizations Hamas and Hezbollah his “friends,” invited a Palestinian hate preacher for tea in parliament, and entertained Holocaust deniers.
Recently, Poland passed a law that prescribes up to three years in prison for “whoever claims, publicly and contrary to the facts that the Polish Nation is responsible” for Nazi crimes or “grossly diminishes the responsibility of the true perpetrators.”
In Iran, which has the Middle East’s largest Jewish community outside of Israel, the Supreme Leader and state-run television continue to foster a climate of hatred, spreading anti-Semitic rhetoric and demonizing the country’s Jewish community for ties to Israel.
This rise in anti-Semitism is being mirrored in a drastic rise in anti-Zionism.
In September 2017, a study of anti-Semitism conducted by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research in Britain revealed that one in three citizens holds at least one anti-Semitic attitude.
The study sought, for the first time in Britain, to test the relationship between anti-Semitism and hostility towards Israel and established an “unambiguous” link.
Most of us recognize that anti-Semitism never disappeared, but it has multiplied again beyond what anyone would have predicted. We see expressions of anti-Semitism on the extreme left and the extreme right, and also coming from Islamist extremists. Anti-Jewish rhetoric has intensified and so have physical attacks, even the murder of Jews, simply for being Jewish.
We owe it to the dead but, above all, we owe it to the living, to our children, to remain ever vigilant and fight anti-Semitism in every quarter of society and every corner of the world.
[Photo: WCVB Channel 5 Boston / YouTube]