Riot policemen stand near a "Star of David", thrown by pro-Palestinian protesters, outside the Israeli embassy in Athens, May 31, 2010. (Yannis Behrakis / Courtesy Reuters)
By Yascha Mounk
Foreign Affairs, September 17, 2014
In many European countries, including France and Germany, the number of anti-Semitic crimes committed this year already exceeds the total for 2013. It would be an exaggeration to say that Europe is no longer hospitable to Jews. But German Chancellor Angela Merkel had good reason this week to publicly fret about “young Jewish parents who wonder whether they can raise their children in Germany.” Europe’s political climate is more hostile to Jews now than at any time since the second intifada.
Rising anti-Semitism among Europe’s Muslims is one reason for this change. Some protests against the latest war in Gaza, such as a recent march in Gelsenkirchen that culminated in calls of “Jews to the gas!” prominently featured anti-Semitic imagery or slogans. Others, such as the attack on a synagogue in Paris’ Marais district this past July, ended in outright violence.
But to claim that the rise of Muslim anti-Semitism is the main culprit for the changed climate -- as the German journalist Jochen Bittner did this week in The New York Times -- is to pin the blame on a small minority while overlooking that anti-Semitism has also grown among the majority. According to a recent Pew Research Center study conducted in Germany, although around 6 percent of the population is Muslim, 25 percent of people readily express unfavorable views of Jews; meanwhile, in Spain, where less than 3 percent of the population is Muslim, close to 50 percent of the population do the same. Although levels of anti-Semitism may be higher among Muslims than among Christians, a European anti-Semite remains far more likely to be Christian than Muslim.
Tensions between Muslims and Jews are a real problem, and one that has been swept under the carpet for too long; but an even greater problem is the tendency of wily politicians to play Jews and Muslims against each other for purposes of their own. The real question of Europe’s future is not whether Muslim immigrants will learn to tolerate Jews, but whether, in countries such as Sweden, Italy, and Poland, the majority can learn to think of Muslims and Jews as true members of the nation.
THE POPULIST PIVOT
Most Europeans are reluctant to believe that somebody of Turkish or North African origin can qualify as truly German, Belgian, or French. Indeed, even many Europeans who consider themselves open to immigration tend to demand that immigrants abdicate their prior identities and assimilate entirely into local customs. For a long time, right-wing populists tried to exploit these attitudes by mounting a frontal attack on the idea of a liberal, diverse society: their opposition to immigration was but a launching pad for a musty vision of national purity, which harked all the way back to fascism.
The appeal of this form of populism always remained limited. Most Europeans like to think of themselves as secular, modern, and tolerant. Although they reject the idea that their homelands should accommodate the cultural and religious priorities of new arrivals, the version of that homeland they seek to defend is, in its own way, rather open-minded and diverse. They may grow defensive when immigrants seek to leave a cultural mark on the country, but they are personally open to many of the world’s cultural offerings, from sushi to yoga.
A new generation of far-right leaders, such as Geert Wilders in the Netherlands and Marine Le Pen in France, have taken this lesson to heart. They haven’t stopped exploiting resentment against Muslim immigrants. But they have dressed up that resentment in new clothes. Instead of calling for an assault on modern, liberal society, they argue that Muslim immigrants -- through their supposed rejection of free speech, their insistence on sharia law, or their intolerance of Jews, women, and homosexuals -- imperil that very order. European right-wing extremism has transformed into what one might call liberal Islamophobia.
To signal how different they are from their predecessors, liberal Islamophobes also embrace Jews. There is a clear logic to this strategy. Because of their past persecution, Europe’s Jews have become the continent’s moral arbiters -- mainstream society’s litmus test for tolerance. To ward off accusations of racism, populists across the continent -- from the British politician Nigel Farage to the best-selling German writer Thilo Sarrazin -- have thus learned to preface their incendiary remarks about Muslims with a marker of tolerance and enlightenment: lavish praise of Jews and Judeo-Christian civilization. For the same reason, Le Pen and other populists take every opportunity to shine a spotlight on instances of anti-Semitic violence perpetrated by Muslims. Doing so allows them to claim the mantle of tolerance even as they sow hatred.
Populists’ repeated invocation of Jews has proved effective. By paying lip service to tolerance and an open society, parties such as France's Front National have managed to move from the political fringes to the mainstream. But their philo-Semitism remains insincere. European populists -- and their supporters -- are not only eager to speak their minds about the Muslim immigrants they had long disliked; they are also growing impatient with what they perceive as the desire of Europe’s Jews to pass judgment on the majority. The very same revival of nationalism that has been fueled by their invocation of Jews can, in this way, quickly turn into anti-Semitism.
EUROPE'S MORALITY PLAY
In many European countries, Jews have long represented an irksome reminder of the blemishes on the nation’s moral standing. This is most obviously the case in Germany, where Jews are widely seen as flesh-and-blood embodiments of the darkest hour in the nation’s history -- a chapter that a younger generation of Germans, impatient with the ubiquitous memorials attesting to their nation’s past crimes, is determined to make a less prominent part of public life. But the same goes for countries that once saw their own history in unambiguously positive terms: whether in Poland, Sweden, or France, past treatment of Jews complicates long-standing narratives about heroism in World War II.
Given the strange role Jews have been assigned in Europe’s societal morality play, it gives nationalists special comfort to claim that Jews are ultimately no better than the fascists and collaborationists of the continent’s past. By showing that Jews are themselves capable of perpetrating violence, they hope to lighten their nations’ heavy historical burdens. When Israel began bombing Gaza this summer, European nationalists seized the opportunity to do just that.
As a result, the composition of the populists’ coalition has shifted once again. For much of the past decade, the dominant tendency was for such groups to seek an alliance with Jews. In recent months, by contrast, Jews have been kicked out and replaced with Muslims. Increasingly, both populists and Muslim immigrants blame -- and punish, sometimes violently -- European Jews for the actions of the Israeli government. This tendency has long been a feature of Europe’s left; witness the cinema in London that recently canceled a Jewish film festival to protest the bombings of the Gaza Strip. Over the last several months, it has also reared its ugly head among Europe’s right; a well-known columnist in the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, for example, wrote that events in Gaza explain why Europe’s Jews “have so often been expelled.”
But this constellation, too, is likely to remain short-lived. As the Gaza conflict fades from memory, talk of Europe’s Judeo-Christian roots is likely to make a comeback. Since it is so tempting to play Muslims and Jews off against each other, and the millions of Muslim immigrants pose a far more numerous threat to European identity than the continent’s remaining Jews, liberal Islamophobes will soon rediscover their insincere philo-Semitism.
The only way to prevent these endless and destructive pendulum swings is to convince Europeans to broaden their conception of national identity. They need to accept that a true Austrian can hail not only from Innsbruck but also from Istanbul and that imported practices that can enrich local culture include not only sushi and yoga studios but also halal meat and minarets. Whether Europeans are able to change their self-conception in this way remains a decisive -- and still undecided -- question for the continent’s future.
Far from being mere playthings in the majority’s shifting priorities, Jews and Muslims can try to reclaim some agency of their own in shaping this future. To do so, they will have to keep in mind that their interests overlap to a surprising degree: a nationalistic Europe that maintains a homogeneous conception of the nation will wind up being inhospitable to both groups. So far, Muslims and Jews have been surprisingly successful at working together. Jewish federations habitually defend Muslims against racist attacks by right-wing politicians. Even as parties, including Le Pen’s Front National, have disavowed anti-Semitism, they have refused to cooperate with right-wing populists. Similarly, most Muslim federations in Europe have, in recent months, remained unequivocal in their condemnation of attacks on Jews.
But there are also warning signs that Muslims and Jews could become willing participants in the political games of populists. Anti-Semitism among Muslim immigrants is real and growing; the number of violent attacks on Jews perpetrated by Muslims is on the rise. Meanwhile, a few well-known Jewish intellectuals, including Alain Finkielkraut in France and Henryk Broder in Germany, have been flirting with increasingly Islamophobic positions; the German Jewish writer Ralph Giordano even condemned plans for a large mosque in Cologne as a “declaration of war.” In light of the ugly confrontations of recent months, it’s conceivable that these voices will ultimately prevail, setting Jews and Muslims against each other at a crucial moment in the development of European identity.
It is the majority, however, that faces the most consequential choice. For all the seductive rhetoric of liberal Islamophobes, an open society cannot be built on a foundation of exclusion. If ordinary Europeans and their political representatives give in to the temptation of lauding Jews the better to exclude Muslims -- or, for that matter, lauding Muslims the better to exclude Jews -- they will wind up with a society that is a lot less tolerant and diverse than they wish for.
Resolution against Boycott and Discrimination of Israeli scholars and research institutions
This resolution was passed unanimously by the Research Network board and conference participants at the mid-term meeting of the RN in Vienna, September 5th 2014:
In view of recent calls for boycott of Israeli scholars and research institutions, Research Network 31 “Ethnic Relations, Racism and Antisemitism” of the European Sociological Association (ESA) calls on our colleagues in ESA and scholars around the world to oppose such boycotts and condemn this discriminatory practice which contributes to creating an antisemitic climate. Any such boycott violates academic freedom and discriminates against individuals and institutions on the basis of their national background.
By Alvin H. Rosenfeld, Forward, August 28, 2014
The status of Holocaust survivor, let alone the status of the children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and other assorted relatives and friends of survivors, carries no special entitlement to superior ethical insight or elevated political awareness.
Given Hitler’s voluminous rants about Jews, it is not surprising that one aspect of his obsession is less known: the pleasure he took in the spectacle of Jews deriding and defaming other Jews. Hans Frank, one of Hitler’s top aides, quotes him as saying:
“I am an innocent lamb compared to revelations by Jews about Jews. But they are important, these disclosures of the Jew’s most secret, always totally hidden qualities, instincts, and character traits. It isn’t I who say this, it is the Jews themselves who say it about themselves, about their greed for money, their fraudulent ways, their immorality, and their sexual perversions.”
Hitler’s words about the denigrating things Jews say about themselves came to mind as I perused an ad published in the New York Times on August 23 by IJSN or International Jewish Solidarity Network. Tellingly, the very same ad appeared in the British Guardian on August 15, under the imprint of IJAN, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network. For an American, and especially the New York readership, the crafters of this hostile statement must have figured it best not to make explicit their true credentials as anti-Zionists. Its signers display no interest in the misdeeds that Hitler ascribes to the Jews but focus their anger on today’s target-of-choice for Jew-haters everywhere: Israel.
Most Holocaust survivors, like most Jews, are Zionists and are strongly devoted to the welfare of the State of Israel. The IJSN/IJAN group is exceptional in its fierce opposition to Israel and is hardly representative. That fact, however, did not keep the BBC from quickly publishing a story with the title “Holocaust survivors condemn Israel.” The impression conveyed is seriously misleading.
Headlined “Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of Nazi genocide unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza,” the Times ad lashes out at Israel from the first sentence to the last, repeatedly condemning the country for acts of colonialism, racism, and genocide; it associates unnamed “right-wing Israelis” with Nazis; and, in a full-throated voice of protest against Israel’s actions in Gaza, it angrily calls for a “full economic, cultural, and academic boycott of Israel.”
It aims, therefore, not just to censure but to punish. And as a special touch, it attacks a fellow survivor, the most famous one of all: Elie Wiesel. Why? Because Wiesel recently published an ad of his own in American newspapers, including the New York Times, criticizing Hamas for some of its brutal ways. IJSN pulled out all the stops in going after Wiesel, expressing “disgust” and “outrage” over Wiesel’s “abuse of our history” and “manipulation [of] the legacy of the Nazi genocide” to justify the unjustifiable: “the ongoing genocide of Palestinian people.”
Israel’s war with Hamas has exacted many casualties, but nothing remotely like “genocide” is taking place in Gaza. Why, then, charge Israel with a crime of this kind and magnitude? Those who are on to the rhetoric of “anti-Zionism” will instantly recognize this language for what it is: a collection of familiar political clichés employed time and again by the purveyors of anti-Israel vilification.
What makes the IJSN statement noteworthy, therefore, is not the litany of emotionally-charged accusations against Israel but the identities of those making these accusations. They present themselves as “Survivors,” “Children of survivors,” “Grandchildren of survivors,” “Great-grandchildren of survivors,” and “Other relatives of survivors.”
They total 327 people. Who are they, and what importance, if any, should attach to their proudly proclaimed pedigrees?
If we take their self-descriptions at face value, some (a small number) had been in the Nazi ghettos and camps or claim to have been resistance fighters. Others had been children spirited out of Europe on the Kindertransports or were hidden by Christians during the war. Some say they are “cousins of survivors,” or “friends of survivors,” or “relatives of victims,” or “relatives of many victims,” or the “spouse of a hidden child,” or grandchildren and great-grandchildren of “refugees.” One identifies herself as “the great niece of an uncle who shot himself”; another as a “3rd cousin of Ann [sic] Frank and grand-daughter of NON-survivors.”
The distance from Auschwitz and Treblinka grows as the list grows and, with it, the credibility of those on the list plunges. Nevertheless, all claim some special connection, however remote, to Jewish suffering during the Hitler era, and they expect others to recognize their anti-Israel diatribe as the product of unique insights they now possess by right of such suffering. Invoking the historical and moral weight of the Holocaust by speaking “as Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors,” they apply their presumed authority to the present war between Israel and Hamas and “unequivocally condemn” Israel.
Two thoughts come immediately to mind: Whenever someone begins a sentence with the words “as a Jew…,” what follows is likely to be full of political posturing and should be met with skepticism. The same often holds true when someone opens a sentence with the kindred formula, “as a Holocaust survivor….” On hearing those words, one no doubt is inclined to pay attention to what follows; but as IJSN’s ad demonstrates, the status of Holocaust survivor, let alone the status of the children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and other assorted relatives and friends of survivors, carries no special entitlement to superior ethical insight or elevated political awareness.
The signatories to IJSN’s ad, however, invoke just such an entitlement as they ostentatiously pull rank as Holocaust survivors in condemning Israel. In inflating and exploiting a status they regard as privileged, they are guilty of doing precisely what they falsely accuse Elie Wiesel of doing: “manipulating the legacy of the Nazi genocide to justify the unjustifiable.” Their abuse of Jewish suffering for contemporary political ends comes especially to the fore whenever they proudly parade forth their pedigrees as survivors to defame Israel. Some have been doing so for years — way before Gaza. To reflect briefly on just two of them:
Hajo Meyer, whose signature is the very first on the list, is the author of a book entitled “The End of Judaism: An Ethical Tradition Betrayed,” which argues that Zionism and Judaism are radical opposites and incompatible with one another. Meyer equates Zionism with “fascism” and “criminality” and believes that Zionists “have given up everything that has to do with humanity.” “As a confirmed atheist,” he boasts that he “has never been a Zionist.” And as a Holocaust survivor — he was in Auschwitz for 10 months as a young teenager — he is certain that Israelis “have no idea about the Holocaust. They use the Holocaust to implant paranoia in their children.”
In innumerable speeches and interviews (the words quoted here are from interviews on the websites “Intifada: The Voice of Palestine” and the “Electronic Intifada”), he charges Israel with all of the sins that are now part of the standard package of anti-Zionist accusations: the carrying out of willful massacres, ethnic cleansing, racist and apartheid policies, and other “blood and soil” nationalistic actions (“just like the Nazis”). He is so convinced of Israeli wickedness that he can “write up an endless list of similarities between Nazi Germany and Israel.” And what if other Jews object to his smearing the Jewish state with the Nazi brush? Meyer considers it a “high honor” to be put in the company of Jimmy Carter, Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein and other prominent opponents of Israel and even jokingly says that he is “very proud” to be called an anti-Semite.
Hedy Epstein, who has also signed on to the Guardian statement, likes garnering public attention as a “survivor,” although whether she is one is debatable. Like Meyer, she was born in Germany in 1924, but she left the country in 1939 on a Kindertransport and spent the war years in Great Britain. Since coming to America in 1948, she has thrown herself into political activism, often on behalf of such celebrated Palestinian causes as the 2008 “freedom flotillas” that were meant to challenge the Israeli blockade of Gaza, the “Gaza Freedom March” in Cairo in 2009, and various anti-Israel activities on the West Bank and elsewhere sponsored by the radical International Solidarity Movement.
Like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton who inevitably show up at high-profile rallies organized by others, Hedy Epstein “marched” in St. Louis in mid-August, 2014 to demonstrate her solidarity with protesters in Ferguson, Missouri. When stories broke headlining “Holocaust Survivor Arrested in Ferguson Protests,” it was a foregone conclusion that it was Hedy Epstein. She seems to thrive on flashing her dubious credentials as a “survivor” and, even at age 90, will step forward to join protests, especially if they are against Israel.
It’s hardly new that there are Jews who lend their endorsement to causes that prove harmful for most other Jews. There is a long history of such betrayal and the damage it has caused within Jewish communities, so what we are seeing today has an unhappy lineage that dates back over many centuries. One thing, however, is new:
The endorsement of the most reckless charges against Israel — e.g., Israelis are like Nazis and are carrying out a genocide against Palestinians — by members of a people who themselves were victims of the twentieth century’s most determined attempt at genocide is unprecedented and can be hugely harmful unless it is seen for what it is: an unseemly exercise in the spread of propagandistic lies.
Sanctioning such propaganda by stamping it with the moral authority that supposedly belongs to Holocaust survivors does not turn these lies into truth. What it does instead is expose as fraudulent the claims of certain Holocaust survivors and their kin to possessing an enlarged moral and political consciousness. In fact, it is unlikely that many people emerged from Hitler’s camps ennobled or enlightened. To believe otherwise and to arrogate to oneself as a “survivor” or a relative of a “survivor” some special access to wisdom and virtue is, as IJSN’s ad shows, little more than moral pretense.
Alvin H. Rosenfeld is a professor of English and Jewish Studies and director of Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism at Indiana University.
To download the executive summary of the new survey click here
CNN, May 14, 2014
One in four adults worldwide are "deeply infected with anti-Semitic attitudes," the Anti-Defamation League announced, in releasing results of an unprecedented global survey. Nearly half have never heard of the Holocaust, and only a third believe historical descriptions are accurate, the survey found.
Carried out by First International Resources and commissioned by the Anti-Defamation League, the survey included 53,100 adults in 102 countries representing 88% of the world's adult population.
In native languages, it asked people whether certain traditionally anti-Semitic statements are probably true or false, including that Jews have too much power over international markets, global media, and the U.S. government; that they "don't care about what happens to anyone but their own kind," and that "Jews are responsible for most of the world's wars."
The survey then calculated how many believed that at least six of the 11 stereotypes were probably true. In the Middle East and North Africa, 74% did. In Eastern Europe, one in three did, and in Western Europe and sub-Saharan Africa, nearly one in four believed most of the stereotypes.
Overall, 26% believed at least six of the stereotypes -- a figure representing an estimated 1.1 billion people.
The most widely believed stereotype was that Jews are more loyal to Israel than to the countries in which they live.
Anti-Semitic fliers are 'provocation' Schama on Arab anti-Semitism French comedian accused of anti-semitism "For the first time we have a real sense of how pervasive and persistent anti-Semitism is today around the world," ADL National Director Abraham Foxman said in a statement.
"The data from the Global 100 Index enables us to look beyond anti-Semitic incidents and rhetoric and quantify the prevalence of anti-Semitic attitudes across the globe. We can now identify hotspots, as well as countries and regions of the world where hatred of Jews is essentially nonexistent."
In Laos, only 0.2% of the adult population holds anti-Semitic views, the survey found. Also at the bottom of the list were the Philippines, Sweden and the Netherlands.
In the United States, 9% of respondents believed the majority of the stereotypes.
The highest levels were found in the Palestinian territories at 93% and Iraq at 92%. Yemen, Algeria, Libya and Tunisia were next.
In Asia, less than a quarter of respondents had heard of the Holocaust and believed historical accounts are accurate. In sub-Saharan Africa, that figured dropped to 12%; in the Middle East and North Africa, 8%.
Three quarters of the people surveyed said they've never met a Jewish person. That figure includes most of the people who believe a majority of the anti-Semitic stereotypes are probably true.
By Deborah Lipstadt, Table Magazine, May 6, 2014The assignment materials cited Holocaust deniers, and represent a gross failure of judgment—and historical awareness.
After decades spent in the sewers of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial, I don’t horrify easily. But yesterday I learned that a school district in Rialto, California, assigned 2,000 8th-grade students to write an essay on whether or not they believe the Holocaust was “an actual event in history, or merely a political scheme.”
Put simply, this is the greatest victory for Holocaust denial in well over a decade, if not more.
The language of the assignment is worth reading in full:
When tragic events occur in history, there is often debate about their actual existence. For example, some people claim the Holocaust is not an actual event, but instead is a propaganda tool that was used for political and monetary gain. You will read and discuss multiple, credible articles on this issue, and write an argumentative essay, based upon cited textual evidence, in which you explain whether or not you believe this was an actual event in history, or merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain wealth. Remember to address counterclaims (rebuttals) to your stated claim.
When you ask a Holocaust denier why Jews would go to such great efforts to create the myth of the Holocaust, nearly all have the same ready answer: Jews have created this myth in order to deviously exercise political power and enrich themselves. They will cite the two things it is commonly said Jews “got” out of the Holocaust—reparations, and the State of Israel. It’s classic anti-Semitism founded on the notion that Jews deviously access power and do virtually anything for monetary gain, an idea that can be traced to the New Testament’s depiction of Jews in relation to the death of Jesus: The Jews sold out the Messiah and caused great grief to billions of his future followers all for a few pieces of silver. (Never mind the fact that everyone in the story is Jewish, with the exception of the Romans—who were the ones who actually did the killing.)
Along with entries on the history of the Holocaust from About.com and the History Channel, they offered the students supporting “material” titled “Is the Holocaust a Hoax?” that was taken from a Christian site. The document cites the execution technology “expert” Fred Leuchter, a leading denier, and presents a “theory” that Anne Frank’s diary was forged. “Israel continues to receive trillions of dollars worldwide as retribution for Holocaust gassings,” the document continues. “Our country has donated more money to Israel than to any other country in the history of the world—over $35 billion per year, everything included. If not for our extravagantly generous gifts to Israel, every family in America could afford a brand new Mercedes Benz.”
Unbelievably, district officials initially defended the assignment. “One of the most important responsibilities for educators is to develop critical thinking skills in students,” one school-board member wrote in an email to the San Bernardino Sun. “Teaching how to come to your own conclusion based on the facts, test your position, be able to articulate that position, then defend your belief with a lucid argument is essential to good citizenship.” Administrators subsequently backtracked and said the assignment would not be repeated. “The Holocaust should be taught in classrooms with sensitivity and profound consideration for the victims who endured the atrocities committed,” spokeswoman Syeda Jafri wrote in a statement to the Sun.
What this assignment shows is that, at best, the teachers and so-called educators who took part in writing this question have been duped into thinking that there is a legitimate debate about whether the Holocaust happened. At worst, they knew better and looked the other way. The Los Angeles chapter of the Anti-Defamation League believes the school district meant no harm. “ADL does not have any evidence that the assignment was given as part of a larger, insidious, agenda,” the group said in a statement yesterday. But truth be told, I would feel much, much better if we discovered that there were Holocaust deniers among the teachers, because then we could attribute this bizarre assignment to simple nefarious motives. But there don’t seem to be, which means these educators are instead profoundly naive and have accepted the view that Holocaust denial is “another” side of the argument and something to be debated. This is the dangerous legacy of a strain of academic thinking that says there are always two sides to every issue, when in fact some things are true, and others are false.
According to the district, the draft documents were distributed to teachers in February, and no one complained. The teachers who created this assignment and the administrators who passed it on helped fulfill exactly what deniers have been trying to achieve for the past 30 years. Before the creation of the Institute for Historical Review—in Newport Beach, California, an hour or so from Rialto—in the late 1970s, deniers, who have been around since the end of World War II, were closely associated with neo-Nazis. Their publications were plastered with swastikas and Third Reich imagery. The institute, intent on having denial be taken seriously, shed anything that smacked of sympathy for Hitler and his cohorts. Their aim was to appear as if they were scholars anxious to “revise” any mistakes in history. That’s why they called themselves “revisionists.” In fact, they were nothing more than anti-Semites and neo-Nazis who use Holocaust denial as a tool—which is why I call them “deniers,” and think it’s important others do, too.
These people persist despite the fact that Holocaust denial is a “tissue of lies,” in the words of Cambridge University Professor Richard Evans. In the words of Judge Charles Grey, who presided in my trial against the denier David Irving, deniers “distort,” “pervert,” and “mislead” about the historical record. Their findings are, he insisted, “unjustified,” a “travesty,” and “unreal.”
Despite my personal encounters with the deniers, I remain someone who believes that Jews often overreact to threats of anti-Semitism. For the past decade, I have often stressed the fact that Holocaust denial is not a clear and present danger: There are, today, far more people engaged in study of the Holocaust than those engaged in or attracted to Holocaust denial. To the extent that I worry, my concern—which I laid out as recently as this week, in a speech I gave Monday night at King’s College, Cambridge—has been that that denial is a future danger, one that it might eventually enter the conversation as a legitimate “other side of the conversation” the further away we get from the event itself.
But this episode in California shows that perhaps I’ve been too optimistic. The Rialto school district says it plans to respond by offering sensitivity training and even quoted George Santayana: “Those who cannot learn from history are bound to repeat it.” But these teachers don’t need sensitivity training. Sensitivity is not what was missing here. These teachers were not “insensitive” to the victims of the Shoah or to Jews. They were just wrong. Critical thinking and a basic understanding of what happened in Europe 70 years ago are clearly in very short supply throughout the ranks of teachers and administrators involved in this fiasco.
What they really need are history lessons.
Deborah E. Lipstadt, author of Nextbook Press’ The Eichmann Trial, is Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies at Emory University.
Editor's Note: Below is a very strange and disturbing article that seems to suggest that Frazier Glenn Miller shot "the wrong people" in Kansas. If these victims had been Jewish, as intended, and not Christians, by mistake, would the NYT have listed their synagogue memberships, special talents, and selfless volunteerism?
Apparent Hate Crime Aimed at Jews Instead Strikes Christians Who Gave to Others, By Ian Lovett, New York Times, April 14, 2014
William L. Corporon was a longtime family doctor, but to his family, he was Popeye, a nickname bestowed by a grandson, Reat Underwood.
On Sunday, it was Popeye who was drafted to take Reat to audition for KC SuperStar, a singing competition for high school students in the Kansas City area. A member of church and school choirs and an actor in summer theater productions in the park, Reat had wanted to try out for years. Now, as a 14-year-old high school freshman, he was finally old enough.
Dressed in a coat and tie, he had prepared a song called “You’re Going to Miss Me When I’m Gone,” which he sang for his mother on Sunday. She kissed him goodbye. Then he jumped into his grandfather’s truck.
But in early afternoon, the authorities say, Reat and his grandfather were both fatally shot in the parking lot outside the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, Kan., where the audition was being held.
Dr. Corporon, 69, was pronounced dead at the scene, Reat a short while later at a hospital.
Although the shooting suspect, Frazier Glenn Miller, was a known racist and anti-Semite with ties to the Ku Klux Klan, the victims who were gunned down on Sunday were all Christians, devoted to their families, to their churches and to serving their Kansas City communities.
Ms. LaManno worked as an occupational therapist for children with visual impairments. She sat with them one on one for hours — from their infancy until age 10 — teaching them fine-motor skills.
And always, her co-workers said, she expressed gratitude for what she had in her life, particularly for children. She had two daughters: one grown, the other set to graduate from college this year. Her son, a sophomore at Kansas State University, also volunteered at the Children’s Center for the Visually Impaired, where Ms. LaManno worked.
“She was this beautiful, caring, gracious spirit,” said Nicola Heskett, executive director of the center. “That spirit of giving back, she was instilling in her children.”
Co-workers and friends described Ms. LaManno as a consummate nurturer, someone who would shuttle her father-in-law to his doctor’s appointments, and happily take on whatever was asked of her at work.
“Of course she was there seeing her mom because that’s Terri,” Ms. Heskett said. “That’s what Terri did. She took care of everyone.”
Dr. Corporon, too, had made a career out of helping children, often starting at their very first breath. As a family doctor for 30 years in Oklahoma, he was the first to touch scores of newborn babies, his son Will Corporon said Monday.
Dr. Corporon’s own family came first, however. And in 2003, he and his wife left Oklahoma, moving north to be closer to their grandchildren in Johnson County, Kan. (though the family remained devoted fans of the Oklahoma Sooners).
“They were together all the time, my father and Reat, and the other grandkids,” Will Corporon said.
There were 10 grandchildren, and “my father always had one of them with him, or more,” Mr. Corporon said. “He died doing exactly what he wanted.”
Reat had big plans this year.
There was the long-awaited audition for KC SuperStar. But he also had theater productions, in school and out. He was working toward becoming an Eagle Scout and was looking forward to debate camp in the summer.
Somehow, amid all of this, he volunteered at his Methodist church, where he would watch the young children, playing with them or reading Bible stories, while their parents were in services.
“He had a really full life for a 14-year-old, and we were very blessed,” his mother, Mindy Corporon, said. “He loved his school, and he loved his friends.”
She said Reat had already signed up to be an organ donor when he got his learner’s permit.
“This isn’t easy,” Ms. Corporon said. But she added that she took great solace in her faith, and in the moments before he left for the audition.
“I got to kiss him and tell him I loved him,” she said.
JTA, April 11, 2014
A Spanish village is considering removing the phrase "kill Jews" from its name. The village of Castrillo Matajudios near Leon in northern Spain will convene its 60 resident families at a town hall meeting next week to discuss and vote on the first formal proposal to change the village's name, the regional daily Diario de Burgos reported Friday.
Mayor Lorenzo Rodriguez, who submitted the proposal, suggested changing the village's name to Castrillo Mota de Judios, which means "Castrillo Jews' Hill." He said this was the village's original name, but it was changed during the Spanish Inquisition.
In parts of Spain, and especially in the north, locals use the term "killing Jews" (matar Judios) to describe the traditional drinking of lemonade spiked with alcohol at festivals held in city squares at Easter, or drinking in general.
Leon will hold its "matar Judios" fiesta on Good Friday, April 18, where organizers estimate 40,000 gallons of lemonade will be sold.
The name originates from medieval times, when converted Jews would sometimes be publicly executed in show trials at around Easter, Maria Royo, a spokesperson for the Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain told JTA.
"Regrettably, this type of expression exists in Spain in ceremonies and parties," she said, but added that "the people saying it are mostly unaware of the history. It is a complicated issue that is ingrained in local culture."
The federation is in contact on this issue with authorities, but given the popularity of the expression, "it is impossible to forbid this language" in that context, she added.
Last month, Ramon Benavides, the president of a local associations of hoteliers, told the news agency EFE: "When 'killing Jews,' it's best to take it slow and keep track of how much you drink to avoid excesses and its consequences the next day."
The Forward, February 25, 2014
A caricature of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in a German newspaper has drawn charges of anti-Semitism against the artist and newspaper.
As a comment on Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp, announced last week, artist Burkhard Mohr depicted the 29-year-old Jewish entrepreneur as an octopus reaching with its tentacles to control social media in the daily German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. With its exaggerated features, including a long nose and thick lips, the cartoon octopus resembles in more ways than one the cartoons published by the rabidly anti-Semitic Julius Streicher in his Nazi-era ”Der Stuermer” magazine.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center has protested the depiction, The center’s associate dean, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, told the Algemeiner newspaper that the cartoon was “an outrage” that proves the artist is anti-Semitic.
But Mohr denied harboring any such sentiments: He told the Jerusalem Post he was shocked by the interpretation of his drawing, and apologized. Mohr has replaced the caricature of Zuckerberg’s face with a gaping maw.
By Raphael Ahren, Times of Israel, January 21, 2014
Professor Robert Wistrich had bought a ticket to Paris to attend the opening of an exhibition he wrote about the Jewish people’s connection to the Land of Israel, which was supposed to take place Monday at the headquarters of UNESCO. But after the exhibition was indefinitely postponed, without prior warning, due to Arab pressure, he canceled and decided to stay in Jerusalem.
Speaking to The Times of Israel, Wistrich – the exhibition’s sole author – said it would be a “euphemism” to say he was unhappy about the sudden death of an exhibition that took him nearly two years of hard work to complete. It showed UNESCO’s “contempt for the Jewish people and its history,” he said.
“This is such a betrayal. To do it in this way is so disgraceful,” fumed Wistrich, who directs the Hebrew University’s Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism and is one of the world’s leading authorities in the field. An “appalling act,” the cancellation “completely destroyed any claim that UNESCO could possibly have to be representing the universal values of toleration, mutual understanding, respect for the other and narratives that are different, engaging with civil society organizations and the importance of education. Because there’s one standard for Jews, and there’s another standard for non-Jews, especially if they’re Arabs, but not only.”
UNESCO’s decision to cancel the exhibit allows just one conclusion, Wistrich added: “That at the end of the day, their mandate, which is to be the United Nations’ organization for the promotion of education, culture and science, is in fact subjected, entirely, to political considerations.”
Wistrich also claimed that UNESCO only agreed to host the exhibition to improve its image in the United States, hoping to get the administration to start funding the organization again, after it stopped paying when UNESCO admitted “Palestine” as a member. The historian also took aim at the Obama administration, suggesting the State Department was schizophrenic because it had refused to cosponsor the exhibition — invoking the same reasons that Arab member states used when working successfully to torpedo it — yet later condemned the fact that it was canceled.