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.”