German Nobel Laureate Gunther Grass, a former Waffen S.S. soldier in Hitler’s army, published a poem earlier this month which criticized Israel for “aggressive warmongering against Iran” and identified the Jewish State as a “threat to world peace…”
Yom Ha’Shoah/Holocaust Memorial Day is a widely recognized day of commemoration throughout Europe. Holocaust memorials and museums abound; in Germany and other countries that willingly cooperated with Nazi Germany in the murder of the Jews. Yet, throughout Western and Northern Europe today, Jews feel like an endangered species. Residual anti-Semitism, largely borne of envy and age old prejudices shared at many “kitchen tables” is still prevalent in today’s Europe. This, coupled with the influx of Muslims who have been taught that the Jews are the “enemies of Allah,” gives renewed vigor and legitimization to anti-Semitism.
During the pre-Holocaust age, Jews in Europe were characterized as Communists and Capitalists, misers and free-spenders. Jews were targeted as an ethno-religious group as well as individuals. In the godless Europe where Christianity is largely dead, it is politically incorrect to target individual Jews or Judaism however, it has become more acceptable to target the Jewish State for hate. And, since Jews are automatically identified with Israel they are once again a target for hate and violence. Last month saw the murder of a rabbi and three young children in Toulouse, France and, while Europe was “shocked,” the appeasement of the Arab-Muslim world continues as well as Israel bashing by the European media, academia, and most governments of the EU.
The trouble with the much of the “civilized” world is that it loves “dead Jews.” “Cultured” Europeans murdered six-million Jewish people, including 1.5 million children, during the Holocaust, whose only crime was to be born to Jewish parents. This same “cultured” world viciously attacks today’s proud living Jews and supports those engaged in hateful de-legitimization campaigns. The “cultured” world loves Jews as victims not as victors.
On November 2, 2003 the Israel Insider reported the results of a European Commission poll – nearly 60% of European citizens believe that Israel is the greatest threat to world peace – more so than Iran, North Korea or Afghanistan. The report prompted Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, to comment that “These shocking results defy logic and [are] a racist flight of fancy that only shows that anti-Semitism is deeply embedded within European society,”
For several decades following Israel’s rebirth, many wanted to forget the dead Jews of the Holocaust, looking upon them as those who went like “sheep to the slaughter.” The Sabras (native born Israelis) were ashamed of the perceived weakness of their kinsmen. Ben Gurion, Israel’s founding father and first Prime Minister, along with his generation of Labor Zionists, sought to create a new man in the old homeland.
In Israel’s patriotic decades of the 1940s, 1950s, and up to 1967, little was said or taught about the Holocaust. In homes or in the youth movements, this most tragic event in Jewish history was barely discussed. Holocaust survivors were reluctant to tell their stories, nor were they encourage d to do so. A number of events led to the incorporation of the European Shoah into Israel’s living history. First of these was the Eichmann Trial in 1961. The testimonies revealed to the young Israelis the incredible machinations of the Nazis, and the helplessness of the Jews. Hated and persecuted by their gentile neighbors, without weapons or means to defend themselves the public learned that the Jews of Europe marched to their death with dignity, in spite of the brutality of the Nazi murderers and their helpers.
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