Today’s Anti-Semitism is: Israel-Hatred: End the Holocaust Memorials
The ceremonies have become a substitute for acting against modern fascists.
By DANIEL SCHWAMMENTHAL
After yesterday's Holocaust Memorial Day, I have a request: Let it be the last one, at least outside the Jewish world.
Let's put an end to the shallow declarations of "Never Again," which have degenerated into denunciations against long-dead Nazis made from a safe historical distance. This is risk-free grandstanding, which German writer Johannes Gross summed up well: "The resistance to Hitler and his kind," he once wrote, "is getting stronger the more the Third Reich recedes into the past."
Holocaust Memorial Day has become an annual ritual in which Europeans promise moral clarity and courage the next time it's needed. Yet the list of post-Holocaust genocides is long: the killing fields of Cambodia, the slaughter of Tutsis in Rwanda, the murder of Christians and animists in southern Sudan and the continuing destruction of Muslims in Darfur. While the world yawns, the Islamists in Khartoum are busy with their second genocide.
Nor has the memorial day benefited Jews. Solemn declarations about the evils of the Holocaust have not ended Europe's booming trade with those dreaming of Israel's destruction, the mullahs in Tehran. The ceremonies deploring the West's inaction against the German fascists 60 years ago have become a substitute for action against modern fascists, predominantly Islamist.
Today's Anti-Semitism is: Israel-Hatred
Anti-Semitism -- and not only when disguised as anti-Zionism -- is in vogue again in Europe. To scant media attention, and even scanter government criticism, the shouts of "Death to Jews" have filled the streets of the Continent in recent weeks, as protestors, mostly Muslims, voice opposition to the war in Gaza. Western trade unions and academics have intensified their calls for a boycott of Israel. In Italy, a trade union even called for boycotts of local stores owned by Jews.
The solemn speeches around Europe yesterday mourning those who died in the Holocaust hardly mentioned these developments. Citing the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe, the Central Council of Jews in Germany stayed away from yesterday's official ceremony in the German Parliament.
The United Nations also had a Holocaust memorial service yesterday. Yet just four months ago, the president of Iran was allowed to give an anti-Semitic speech at the General Assembly to enthusiastic applause from many delegations. Although talking about "Zionists," Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's use of classic anti-Semitic canards about a Jewish plot for world domination made it clear whom he really was after.
Although they "are miniscule minority," he said, the Zionists "have been dominating an important portion of the financial and monetary centers as well as the political decision-making centers of some European countries and the U.S. in a deceitful, complex and furtive manner." And so on. The secretary general of the General Assembly, Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, embraced the Iranian after his hate speech.
That's the same d'Escoto Brockmann who is calling for a boycott of Israel. It's also the same man who was scheduled to open yesterday's U.N. Holocaust Memorial ceremony but backed down after Israel complained. It's easy to understand why he had wanted to be there: The more crocodile tears people like him spill for dead Jews the easier it is for them to demonize the living ones and avoid being tagged as anti-Semitic. In such hands, Holocaust memorials have become a cover to pound the Jewish state with greater moral authority.
In Europe, there were a few cancellations of yesterday's annual Holocaust Memorial Day events, along with comments suggesting that Jews are the new Nazis. In Barcelona, a city official told La Vanguardia that "marking the Jewish Holocaust while a Palestinian Holocaust is taking place is not right." People in Lulea, Sweden, said Israel's war in Gaza left it unable to mourn the six million dead Jews. "It feels uneasy to have a torchlight procession to remember the victims of the Holocaust at this time," Bo Nordin, a clergyman and spokesman for a local church, told Swedish National Radio. "We have been preoccupied and grief-stricken by the war in Gaza and it would just feel odd with a large ceremony about the Holocaust."
Trine Lilleng, a Norwegian diplomat -- stationed in Saudi Arabia no less -- spelled it out more directly in an email that found its way into the Jerusalem Post: "The grandchildren of Holocaust survivors from World War II are doing to the Palestinians exactly what was done to them by Nazi Germany," she is reported to have written.
The lessons of the Holocaust are straightforward enough but they haven't been learned, as yesterday's events show. Let's stop pretending otherwise and put an end to these phony ceremonies.
*Mr. Schwammenthal is an editorial writer for The Wall Street Journal Europe.