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Worrisome Waves

by Ronald S. Lauder

  

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In 1879, the German socialist Wilhelm Marr started a political party based on one peculiar platform: the hatred of Jews. While hardly original—Jews had been the targets of hatred for two millennia—Marr did offer the world a new term for this ancient bigotry. Marr’s Antisemiten-Liga (League of Anti-Semites) gave us “anti-Semitism.”

For 2,000 years, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have been made scapegoats, forced into ghettos, expelled from entire countries, restricted from professions, beaten, and killed. As the world evolves, as political movements come and go, as mankind travels from agrarian cultures to post-industrialism, Jew-hatred remains a constant.

More recently, the Third Reich attempted to annihilate all Jews. The effort failed, but half of world Jewry was slaughtered, including 1.5 million children.

This darkness was not restricted to Europe. Today, it’s hard to imagine that in 1942, the U.S. Congress refused to make an exception to its immigration policy that would have let 25,000 Jewish children enter this country. Many if not most of these children eventually died in concentration camps. During the debate over the bill, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s cousin, Sarah Delano, warned that “25,000 cute children soon become 25,000 ugly adults.”

In those days, it was still fashionable to give voice to such thoughts in public.

Following World War II, and faced with the ghastly images of Hitler’s Final Solution, the world seemed to declare a moratorium on anti-Semitism. In 1948, the nascent United Nations helped create the State of Israel. Jews became accepted in society as well as in professions and universities from which they had previously been restricted.

Witness the cartoons in left-wing magazines and newspapers, which rival the works of Nazi editor Julius Streicher; academic boycotts of Jewish scholars in universities
Only faint reminders of the past remained: the state-sponsored anti-Semitism of communist countries; the small, isolated hate groups here at home; and the growing hatred of Jews in the Islamic world.

Sadly, the Great Remission did not last; the half-life of tolerance toward Jews seems to have run its course.

Today, a virulent new strain of anti-Semitism has appeared. It is global, ranging from the streets of Paris (where Jews have been beaten) to South America (where the Buenos Aires Jewish Center bombing in 1994 took 86 lives) to Turkey (where the Istanbul synagogue was bombed in 2003) and even such places as Malaysia and Pakistan, where there aren’t any Jews.

Meanwhile, the high-tech revolution has given us rabid anti-Semitism on the Internet and satellite-TV. Witness the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” mini-series, recently broadcast to tens of millions of Moslems. Textbooks in Islamic nations teach hatred of Jews to the very young. Once again, Jews are viewed as different and alien, possessing powers beyond those of normal people: A poll following 9/11 showed that the vast majority of Saudis believe the attacks on the World Trade Center could only have been carried out by Jews.

Unlike the anti-Semitism of old, when hatred of Jews often emanated from right-wing nationalist movements, today’s hatred springs from the left. Witness the cartoons in left-wing magazines and newspapers, which rival the works of Nazi editor Julius Streicher; academic boycotts of Jewish scholars in universities; and the ongoing vitriol from the U.N., which, at its Durban summit in 2001, held the largest anti-Semitic pep rally since the one in Nuremberg 60 years earlier. The new anti-Semitism runs across the political spectrum, national borders, and economic lines.

There are ways to combat this new wave of hate, but let me suggest something unusual. I believe that the place to start fighting anti-Semitism is within our own communities. We should join forces in one strong, clear voice. Jewish organizations, as I know all too well, can get bogged down with in-fighting. Let us take the long view, recognize where the danger really is, and work together to stop it.

Rabbi Akiva said, “Love thy fellow as you love yourself. This is one of the great lessons of the Torah.” With a unified voice, the Jewish people can accomplish miracles. We’ve done it before. We must work together now, because the alternative is too painful to contemplate.

Republished with permission from KosherSpirit.com.


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COMMENTS

Great

Posted by: Jerry on Jan 18, 2007

Way to go Ronald!

The positive side

Posted by: Liz. on Jan 18, 2007

Look at the positive side. There are Jews that still proclaim their Judaism in public and are proud to be openly observant Jews despite all the threats of anti-semitism and all the evil Jews have been through in history. The fact that they still believe in god is something to be proud of.

Editor's Comment

The Chofetz Chaim, reportedly, once turned to G-d in prayer: The time has come for Moshiach to arrive. The purpose of exile was supposed to teach the Jews a lesson, to be more fervent in their religious pursuit, yet we see that so many Jews today who are not religious because of the exile, the exile is therefore counterproductive and should come to an end. And of the Jews that are still religious today, the fact they can still believe in G-d and observe His commands in the face of all the persecution and injustice is a feat in itself worthy of the Messianic redemption.
Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Abraham
First Jew, and first of our three Patriarchs. Born into a pagan society in Mesepotamia in 1812 BCE, he discovered monethieism on his own. He was told by G-d to journey to the Land of Canaan where he and his wife Sarah would give birth to the Jewish People.
Sarah
First Jewess, first of the four Jewish Matriarchs, wife of Abraham--the first Jew. Lived in Mesopotamia, and then Canaan, in the 19th century BCE.
Jacob
Third of the three Patriarchs and father of the Twelve Tribes. Lived most his life in Canaan and died in Egypt in 1505 BCE. Also known by the name of "Israel."
Isaac
Second of the three Jewish Patriarchs, son of Abraham and Sarah. Lived in Canaan (Israel); b. 1712 BCE, d. 1532 BCE.