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Remembering Under the Clouds of Anti-Semitism

Remembering Under the Clouds of Anti-Semitism

This year Holocaust Remembrance Day observances are mired in controversy in a number of European countries.


Fascist Rally Coinciding with Holocaust Remembrance Day

As Italians plan to observe Holocaust Memorial day, a major neo-Fascist rally is planned that same weekend in Milan. Forza Nuova, a far-right neo-Fascist political party, plans to demonstrate. Previous rallies by the party featured skinheads and posters declaring Europe to be a Christian continent.

The president of the national Union of Italian Jewish Communities and leaders of Milan’s Jewish community have protested the event and its timing. “We cannot allow those who trample the significance of memory and advocate racist and xenophobic theses to...assert their ideologies of hate.”

Opponents to the neo-Fascist demonstration who tried to block the event in the courts were thwarted when a judge ruled the rally could proceed.

Minimizing the Holocaust in Croatia

Croatia’s small Jewish community has announced they will boycott their country’s main Holocaust Remembrance Day event in the Parliament in Zagreb. They are protesting a new memorial erected in October 2016 in the town of Jasenovac which commemorates Croats killed in the Yugoslavia’s war between 1991 and 1995. The memorial includes a salute to the Ustasa Regime, the Nazi-backed government that killed millions of Jews, Gypsies and others during World War Two.

That memorial, supported by the right-wing government of Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, was the final straw for Croatia’s Jews.

Anti-Semitism at Swedish Holocaust Event

One of Sweden’s official Holocaust Remembrance Day events is being planned in part by an extremist political party with a history of targeting Jews.

The far-right Sweden Democrats, which hold 49 out of 349 of seats in Sweden’s Parliament, have had to discipline several members in recent months for making derogatory and offensive statements about Jews. In October 2016, MP Anna Hagwall introduced legislation against “control of media by any family or ethnic group”, specifically targeting the Swedish Jewish Bonnier family, which owns a number of media outlets. Also in that month, a Sweden Democrats official circulated a racist email making fun of Jews and others, and the party’s finance spokesman compared Jews to animals and joked about them being killed.

Local Jews published an open letter in the local Goteborgs-Posten newspaper explaining that they cannot participate in Holocaust Remembrance Day events alongside Sweden Democrats members. “That the Sweden Democrats, with their ties to both old and new Nazism and xenophobia, are invited to co-organize the memorial ceremony is more than an affront. It is extremely offensive to us as Jews and our history,” wrote Jewish residents Lisa Graner and Erik Nilsson. The letter was signed by 38 other Jews but they were too afraid to make their names public.

Anti-Zionism in Britain

Britain’s annual Holocaust Memorial Day observance this year features an official invitation to one of the country’s most outspoken anti-Zionists, Malia Bouattia, who was elected President of the National Union of Students in April 2016.

Ms. Bouattia has supported terrorism, telling a conference in 2014 “with mainstream Zionist-led media outlets...resistance is presented as an act of terrorism.” She is on record as criticizing peace talks between Israel and Palestinians, saying they bolster “the colonial project” and has called Britain’s University of Birmingham “something of a Zionist outpost” for having a robust Jewish student union on campus.

In October 2016, a Parliamentary Select Committee criticized Ms. Bouattia for not taking anti-Semitism on campus seriously, noting that some of her comments about Jews sound like “outright racism”. In January 2017, the Oxford Students Union called on her to resign unless she issues a “full and formal” apology for her comments. Ms. Bouattia has not done so, but she does plan to appear at Britain’s Holocaust Memorial Day events.

Rising Anti-Semitism in Europe

European Jews and others are warning of rising levels of anti-Semitism across the continent and beyond. At an early observance on Wednesday, January 24, 2017, Antonio Tajani, the President of the European Parliament, highlighted the growing number of anti-Semitic incidents in Europe and urged Europeans to learn from the past. Dr. Moshe Kantor, President of the European Jewish Congress, concurred, explaining that “Europe is in danger” and that “We shouldn’t forget that every global tragedy begins with attacks on Jews.”

Recent hate crimes statistics provide a chilling picture. In 2014, France’s Interior Ministry reported 51% of all racist attacks in the country targeted Jews, despite Jews making up less than 1% of France’s population. In Britain attacks against Jews spiked in 2016, with an average of three anti-Semitic attacks per day by the end of that year. In Germany, hate crimes against Jews rose 200% between 2014 and 2016, resulting in over 2,000 attacks against Jews in 2016; most were perpetrated by right-wing neo-Fascists, with Islamic radicals perpetrating the a large minority of the crimes.

With anti-Semitism rising and marring Holocaust Remembrance Day observances, our cries of “Never Again” gain a new urgency.

January 25, 2017

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The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 5

(4) Laine Frajberg, January 27, 2017 12:41 AM

Let Us Mourn Alone

The Shoah is our tragedy.Let us mourn alone.The gentiles tend to add their own causes like women's rights,black rights,anti-abortion,or even animal rights to our own churban.So much so that sometimes they don't even mention what this day is supposed to commemorate.I repeat.Let us mourn and remember ALONE.

(3) Virgnia McCorkle, January 26, 2017 10:54 PM

what can we do to respond to this chilling rise in anti-Semitism?

It's likely I'm not informed of what is being done to respond to each of these events/situations in ways that are strong, & in proportion to what is happening, respectively. Additionally, I hope there is some "national" response which assists on state levels wherever this occurs--surely this exists? My question has to do w/how best to respond in firm manner, that this behaviour is not acceptable; that it will not be tolerated; & that continuing it will result in sanctions, financial & otherwise, of a legal nature. Is this or something better possible? & if not--why not? We cannot remain silent--

Please let me know who is leading this effort to respond so I might volunteer time/energies to assist in ways other than donating monies. Thank you--
Virginia McCorkle

(2) Dvirah, January 26, 2017 4:52 PM

Remembering What?

I think the anti-semites want to turn Holocost Memorial Day into a celebration of what Hitler and the Nazi's "achieved" rather than a tribute to those who suffered. That is why they are so eager to participate.

(1) Deborah, January 26, 2017 4:50 PM

Heartbreaking and Chilling

As a British girl, I am appalled and embarrassed by the rise in anti-Semitism in a country that had, up until recently, entertained a proud tradition of providing solace and refuge for Jews. As a black woman, I am deeply alarmed by the rise in anti-Semitism, which is usually followed by a rise in racism on the whole targeting other minorities. This is why the Jews must have Israel, as this ancient and malignant form of racism only ever lies dormant for a while before rearing its head again. Never Again!

Mike, January 31, 2017 2:06 AM

Great Britain has a long history od antisemitisim.

Britain has a 1ooo year history of mistreating Jews. Starting in the middle ages in 1144 CE the blood libel became popular in England. Jews were accused of using the blood of christian children to make Passover matzoh. Many Jews suffered due to this vicious lie. From 1066 onward the Jews of England suffered persecutions, forced conversions and extortion. In 1290 the Jews suffered expulsion from England under Edward 1st. This was the first major expulsion of Jews in European history. The Jews were not allowed to return until 1650. Even in modern times the English have demonstrated open antisemitism. After WWII the British refused to allow Jewish refuges to enter Palestine until finally the modern State of Israel was born. Today in Britain there is growing anti Zionism and hatred of Israel. I mean you no disrespect Deborah, but like many people in Britain your education about Britain's contribution to Jewish suffering is incomplete. And by the way Deborah, the first African slaves were brought to the new world by the English too.

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