Another Holocaust in the making?
A major reason for observing Holocaust Remembrance Day is to recognize when a Holocaust is in the making. With the drastic escalation of anti-Semitism in the world, history could be repeating itself.
Many Jews fought in the German army during the First World War. And doing so they felt a strong allegiance to Germany. However, once in power, Hitler moved quickly to end German democracy and was permitted to suspend freedoms of the press, speech and assembly. Presently in many countries throughout Europe, in Canada and, particularly, in the Middle East, freedom of speech is outlawed and prohibits speaking ill of any religion. Islamic countries brutally enforce blasphemy laws and seek worldwide enforcement.
In 1933, the Nazis began to put into practice their racial ideology. They saw Jews as an inferior race and a biological threat to the purity of the German (Aryan) Race, which they called the master race. Similarly many Islamic people consider non-Muslims inferior.
Jews, who numbered about 525,000 in Germany (less than one percent of the total population in 1933) were the principal target of Nazi hatred. The Nazis identified Jews as an inferior race. The Nazis spewed hate-mongering propaganda that unfairly blamed Jews for all of Germany’s problems, the economic depression and even the country’s defeat in World War I.
In 1933, new German laws forced Jews out of their civil service jobs, university and law court positions and other areas of public life. In April 1933,the Nuremberg laws proclaimed Jews as second-class citizens. Jews were persecuted and attacked while walking in the street.
Between 1937 and 1939, new anti-Jewish regulations segregated Jews further and made daily life very difficult for them. Jews could not attend public school; go to theaters, or vacation resorts or reside or even walk in certain sections of German cities.
Also between 1937 and 1939, Jews increasingly were forced from Germany’s economic life. The Nazis either seized Jewish businesses and properties outright or forced Jews to sell them at bargain prices. On Nov. 9, 1938, the Nazis organized a pogrom, known as Kristallnacht (the Night of Broken Glass). This attack against Jews included destruction of synagogues and Jewish-owned stores, the arrest of Jewish men, the destruction of homes and the murder of individuals.
Fast forward to the present. The 2012 ADL survey of 10 European countries found that anti-Semitism has significantly increased. In Spain 53% of the population are ant-Semitic. In France there was a 58 percent increase. The report, called 2012 “a year of unprecedented violence against Jews in France.”
The Mayor of Malmo, Sweden, blames the Jews for the rise in anti-Semitism. The Jews of Malmö, are living through a new form of anti-Semitism. This kind does not stem from neo-Nazis or right-wing extremists, but comes from immigrants from North Africa and the Middle East.
Danish officials say they’re alarmed by the frequency of anti-Semitic attacks. Claus Bentow and his family can only wear their skullcaps and feel secure in their apartment. Outside they are forced to hide their religious identity. Like other Jewish families, they’ve been advised not to send their children to public schools
In the United States anti-Semitism has increased. ADL found that 15 percent of the population hold deeply anti-Semitic views. The 15 percent represents a 3-point rise from a 2009 poll.
In February 2013 the Human Rights subcommittee of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee heard 12 experts of varying religions and countries urge the U.S. Congress to speak out against hate speech and anti-Semitism throughout the world. They heard that anti-Semitism assumes the form of viral hate messages on the Internet, property damage to Jewish institutions, violent crimes to people. Many speakers directly linked acts of anti-Semitism to the rise of Islamism.
The next Jewish Holocaust won’t emanate from only one country, but from around the world, unless we counteract the trend. Now is the time that all people must learn from history (the Holocaust). We need to unite and speak out—time and time again—against the preponderance of lies and distortions being generated around the world about Jews and Israel.
Ed Ziegler is past president of the New Jewish Congregation’s botherhood. He can be reached at EdZiegler@embarqmail.com.