The Conspiracy

Never Again

Wednesday January 27th, 2010, marked the 65th year since the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet forces. Each year, leaders from around the world make their way to Germany in order to commemorate the day. This year, photo ops showed Bibi in Auschwitz and Shimon Peres giving a speech in the German parliament. People all over the world used this time to think back on the horrors of the Holocaust, and to look forward to prevent further genocides and state-sponsored discrimination.

My program coordinator in Israel purposely scheduled a trip to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Museum, in order to commemorate the day. I, along with my group of 14 other Americans, got the opportunity to commemorate the day by moseying through the zig-zagged path of the museum. Whilst on a guided tour, we discussed many topics relating to the Holocaust but for some reason one topic stood out to me. We spoke about the situation in Germany before the systematic annihilation of the Jews began: mainly, the situation that allowed for the genocide itself to happen. How was it that Hitler was able to successfully kill 6 million Jews without major resistance from his own people and the world? I think a lot of this answer is connected to the atmjosphere before: a successfull campaign of propaganda that led to incredible antisemitsm- all over the world.

A recent study has shown that antisemitism in 2009 is at its highest since the Holocaust. Cemeteries are being ruined, spray-painted swastikas are appearing in cities, synagogues are being vandalized and antisemitic slogans have been shouted during protests against Israel. Holocaust survives and leading Jewish figures went to a memorial in Strausberg on Wednesday, only to find the cemetery was descecrated with swasticas.

Why is antisemitsm so high? There are obviously still remnants from old reasons, but today, because of popular disagreement with Israeli policy. However, instead of people gearing their disagreements toward the Israeli government alone, their frustration has spilled over to the Jewish people. It is as though Jews and Israeli policy have combined into one. Therefore, no matter a Jew’s personal connection to Judaism or to Israel, Jews are being targeted because they are Jews. After the controversial operation in the Gaza strip (Operation Cast lead) -which caused as much disagreement in the Jewish community as it did in the world- antisemitic acts around the world equaled the TOTAL number of acts that were recorded in 2008.

Further, it is not just antisemtic acts, but the rhetoric and threats coming from a world leader. How is it possible that a world leader is able to stand up in front of the UN and accuse Israel of deceitfully controlling the world’s economy and political situation? Does this banter not sound similar to Germany’s propaganda? Ahmadinejad said at the UN meeting: “The dignity, integrity and rights of the American and European people are being played with by a small but deceitful number of people called Zionists.”

Ahmadinejad’s propaganda coupled with his threats against the Jewish people- his foresighted premonitions, that he is going to “wipe Israel off the map” are eerily similar to another time period- namely the 30’s. On January 30, 1939 Hitler said to the Reichstag, ((NB: that this is BEFORE the final solution- annihilation of the Jews of Europe, was decided),” I said that I would one day take over the leadership of the State, and with it that of the whole nation, and that I would then among other things settle the Jewish problem…Today I will once more be a prophet: if the international Jewish financiers in and outside Europe should succeed in plunging the nations once more into a world war, then the result will not be the Bolshevizing of the earth, and thus the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe!”

When people look back at the Holocaust, do they neglect to look at the years that led to the extermination camps? I know that during my tour of Yad Vashem on Wednesday, this process is carefully studied, and given astute attention. In order to understand the annihilation, you must understand the elements that ledto these horrible atrocities: world leaders denouncing Jews by inciting hatred and prejudice based on lies for propagandist reasons and a spike in antisemitic acts and general attitude towards Jews. Without these , the efforts of the practical genocide would have failed. These integral stepping stones led the path to the death of 6 million Jews. If this is so, how can the world turn their back on today? Where is the world’s outcry? Weak sanctions that cripple a country, rather than it’s leaders? Apparently, the world is justified to stop and criticize their ancestors for the terrible antisemitism Jews faced in the 30’s and 40’s but are mum on today’s situation. Let’s remember yesterday’s antisemitism, but forget today’s. Now, I don’t think that a second Holocaust against the Jews is creeping around the corner, and I don’t want to say that today is identital to the Holocaust. The Holocaust: it’s process and the genocide itself, was an incrdibly unique situation, that I pray will never reproduce itself in any generation. However, what I’m trying to argue is the hypocrisy of the situation; of leaders all over the world commemorating one group of Jews, with only mild or no attempts to stand up for the Jews of today. When we say “Never Again”, we don’t only mean genocide, but it is also a promise to end any kind of antisemitsm, or racism, so that a Holocaust doesn’t even have the POTENTIAL to begin. Yet, today this is not true- antisemtism is at large, and so I ask ; has there ever been such a time that “Never Again” seems so much like a lie? We go through the motions of the words at commemorations and memorials, but is that it?

Hailey Dilman is a MASA participant, participating in Oranim’s Community Involvement Program, one of Masa Israel’s 160 programs.

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3 Older Responses to “Never Again”

  1. Bryna
    January 29, 2010 at 12:57 pm #

    Wow, what an intriguing article.
    I think the statement ” Let’s remember yesterday’s anti-Semitism, but forget today’s” is a very interesting point of discussion.
    Wondering if the world has become immune to anti-Semitism along with other forms of discrimination? As a Jewish person I am more aware of the acts of defilement in cemeteries and words of hatred towards ‘my people’ but in a world where we have more access to one another via social mediums, there are many more acts of discrimination that occur all over the world. I’m not justifying those acts, however I’m wondering if that desensitization allows for leniency towards today’s acts of discrimination (including those that occur towards the Jewish people)?

  2. Harpo Jaeger
    January 29, 2010 at 5:58 pm #

    I’m with you up until the bit about Ahmadinejad. Comparing him to Hitler is pretty crazy. He doesn’t hold the real decision-making power in Iran, and he’s not in any position to instigate an attack against the state of Israel.
    Your point about people lumping world Jewry and the Jewish state together is apt, but you forget how much of that originates from the Jewish community. The amount of pressure that Jews feel to identify with Israel in a particular way simply because they are Jewish is significant, and it’s not invisible to the rest of the world. We’re not the only people who think Jews are supposed to be connected with Israel.
    It’s more than a question of “do you support the actions of Israel?”. It’s a question of what we as Jews think our duty is to form such an opinion. From a practical standpoint, I form those opinions because people expect them of me, and I feel that I should at least be well-informed. But I’m also a pretty political person. I think that while we can definitely trace at least in part the expectation that Jews will have a connection to Israel to historical anti-semitism, we can’t ignore the fact that that was sort of the idea of creating it in the first place.

  3. Hailey
    January 30, 2010 at 4:31 pm #

    Sorry, let me clarify: I didn’t mean to compare Hitler to Ahmadinejad in ways of power, influence or potential to begin another Holocaust. The ways in which I believe they are similar, and the point of my comparison, is to say that there is someone out there, a world leader, who has a stage and an audience to express antisemitism. Their rhetoric is similar, and both scary. Ahmadinejad’s speech to the UN was not a surprise to anyone. What he said was actually quite predictable and in line with much else he has said in the past. Therefore, I find it incredibly insulting that he was allowed to speak and was not even stopped in the middle, in his address to the UN. This is supposed to be an institution that safeguards against racism, antisemitism and prejudice. I find it appalling and insulting that nothing has been done to stop that, and that besides some newspaper articles the day after his speech, not much was done, or said about it from the international community.

    Your last point is particularly interesting. Perhaps the relationship to lumping Jews and the Jewish state is mutual: the expectation from the outside, and also the historic responsibility as a Jew. Nonetheless, this shouldn’t offer an excuse for hostility or hate of any kind, for all Jews, whether Israeli or not.

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