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Rabbi Abraham Cooper

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Their Denial and Our Silence Mock International Holocaust Memorial Day

Posted: 01/26/2012 10:15 am

Jan. 27, the anniversary of the day Soviet soldiers liberated the Auschwitz death camp in 1945, is the annual International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. The United Nations, which will convene a solemn ceremony at its world headquarters, features online this statement by Holocaust survivor Nechama Tec: "The Holocaust teaches us that no matter how oppressive life is, some people are able to rise above the cruelty of their times by extending helping hands to one another. It is this ability to risk one's life on behalf of others which ought to give us hope."

But if the grandchildren of the victims of Hitler's Final Solution are to have hope for the future, they'll need the international community to go beyond annual moments of silence by beginning to speak out against mainstream global anti-Semitism, including Holocaust denial. Here are a few examples U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki- Moon should consider for his speech:

Iran

While international action is belatedly underway to head off Iran's nuclear ambitions, no government or NGO has tried to bring the regime to The Hague for it's state-sponsored Holocaust denial and pre-genocidal anti-Jewish and anti-Judaic rants. The insidiousness of the recent TV show "Saturday Hunter," starring loathsome religious Jews, would have made Hitler weep tears of joy. Also available are a series of animated cartoons mocking the 6 million victims of the Holocaust, which until last week were available on YouTube.

Egypt

Everyone is courting the electorally victorious, supposedly "moderate" Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. Yet the group's first move was to block Jewish prayers at the graveside of a saintly scholar and its Arabic language webpages tout Holocaust denial while a spokesmen observes that the Shoah is "a tale" exploited for politics, and that "the entire world, and Germany in particular, has become yearly scapegoats of world Zionism, and has capitulated to the greatest political extortion in history." No western democracy has condemned the Brotherhood's religious intolerance.

Holland

As European Union members prepared for Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Dutch government rejects calls for an apology for Holland's "indifference" to the fate of more than 100,000 Jews -- 75 percent of Dutch Jewish citizens -- murdered in the Holocaust.

Latvia

A Riga court removed the city council's ban on "Legion Day" paving the way for a march down main street honoring 140,000 Latvians who fought in the Waffen SS during WWII.

Lithuania

Authorities pay lip service to the destruction of Lithuanian Jewry during the Holocaust but rewrite the historic narrative of WWII to deny any collaboration by Lithuanians in the mass murder of more than 90 percent of their Jewish neighbors.

England

London School of Economics students chose Nazi-themes for their drinking songs. A Jewish student had his nose broken for daring to protest, leading an activist group to label the LSE "a campus conducive to intolerance and anti-Semitism."

Asia

"Hitler chic" continues to manifest in fashion, music, advertising campaigns, and even school competitions across Asia- from Japan to Thailand to India.

U.S.

The Friends Seminary in New York refuses to withdraw an invitation to musician-turned-polemicist Gilad Atzmon whose book, "The Wandering Who?" argues that the Holocaust "was not at all an historical narrative," that Auschwitz was not a "death camp," that "accusations of Jews making matzo out of young Goyim's blood" may be true, and that "Hitler might have been right after all."

Germany

The society still struggles with the legacy of hate left by Hitler's Thousand Year Reich. A just-released report commissioned for the Parliament laments that anti-Semitism remains deeply embedded among Germans, not only among the far-right and Islamist extremists, but the public at large. From Holocaust denial online to chants of "Jews to the gas chambers" at football matches, to denial of Israel's right to exist by increasingly radicalized Islamists, Wolfgang Thierse, Vice President of the German Parliament warned, "the problem is not a question of a few selective issues but is long-standing and chronic."

What's the common denominator of these diverse examples? Silence and indifference. Too many of today's diplomats, media and ethical voices fall silent when the targets of hate are Jews.

Despite the fact that hatred targeting Jews and Judaism remain disproportionately high, in 2012, today's Jewish victims are not deemed worthy of moral solidarity. Yet, history teaches that unchallenged anti-Semitic libels inevitably ignite anti-Jewish acts.

This International Holocaust Memorial Day we urge those who take the time to stand in silence for 6 million dead Jews, to also speak up in defense of embattled live Jews.

Dr. Harold Brackman, a historian and consultant to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, contributed to this op-ed.

 

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