(/sites/default/files/uploads/2012/04/58065616_6d2e7e39-0a9c-431f-be97-f078b314afc2.gif)German Nobel Laureate Gunther Grass, a former Waffen S.S. soldier in Hitler’s army, published a poem earlier this month which criticized Israel for “aggressive warmongering against Iran” and identified the Jewish State as a “threat to world peace…”
Yom Ha’Shoah/Holocaust Memorial Day is a widely recognized day of commemoration throughout Europe. Holocaust memorials and museums abound; in Germany and other countries that willingly cooperated with Nazi Germany in the murder of the Jews. Yet, throughout Western and Northern Europe today, Jews feel like an endangered species. Residual anti-Semitism, largely borne of envy and age old prejudices shared at many “kitchen tables” is still prevalent in today’s Europe. This, coupled with the influx of Muslims who have been taught that the Jews are the “enemies of Allah,” gives renewed vigor and legitimization to anti-Semitism.
During the pre-Holocaust age, Jews in Europe were characterized as Communists and Capitalists, misers and free-spenders. Jews were targeted as an ethno-religious group as well as individuals. In the godless Europe where Christianity is largely dead, it is politically incorrect to target individual Jews or Judaism however, it has become more acceptable to target the Jewish State for hate. And, since Jews are automatically identified with Israel they are once again a target for hate and violence. Last month saw the murder of a rabbi and three young children in Toulouse, France and, while Europe was “shocked,” the appeasement of the Arab-Muslim world continues as well as Israel bashing by the European media, academia, and most governments of the EU.
The trouble with the much of the “civilized” world is that it loves “dead Jews.” “Cultured” Europeans murdered six-million Jewish people, including 1.5 million children, during the Holocaust, whose only crime was to be born to Jewish parents. This same “cultured” world viciously attacks today’s proud living Jews and supports those engaged in hateful de-legitimization campaigns. The “cultured” world loves Jews as victims not as victors.
On November 2, 2003 the Israel Insider reported the results of a European Commission poll – nearly 60% of European citizens believe that Israel is the greatest threat to world peace – more so than Iran, North Korea or Afghanistan. The report prompted Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, to comment that “These shocking results defy logic and [are] a racist flight of fancy that only shows that anti-Semitism is deeply embedded within European society,”
For several decades following Israel’s rebirth, many wanted to forget the dead Jews of the Holocaust, looking upon them as those who went like “sheep to the slaughter.” The Sabras (native born Israelis) were ashamed of the perceived weakness of their kinsmen. Ben Gurion, Israel’s founding father and first Prime Minister, along with his generation of Labor Zionists, sought to create a new man in the old homeland.
In Israel’s patriotic decades of the 1940s, 1950s, and up to 1967, little was said or taught about the Holocaust. In homes or in the youth movements, this most tragic event in Jewish history was barely discussed. Holocaust survivors were reluctant to tell their stories, nor were they encourage d to do so. A number of events led to the incorporation of the European Shoah into Israel’s living history. First of these was the Eichmann Trial in 1961. The testimonies revealed to the young Israelis the incredible machinations of the Nazis, and the helplessness of the Jews. Hated and persecuted by their gentile neighbors, without weapons or means to defend themselves the public learned that the Jews of Europe marched to their death with dignity, in spite of the brutality of the Nazi murderers and their helpers.
In 1965 the Knesset debated whether or not Israel should establish diplomatic relations with the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany). Many survivors and their children protested, as did Menahem Begin and the Herut Party (he was elected Prime Minister in 1977). Earlier in the 1950’s Begin and the Herut party had protested against taking reparations from Germany. Begin’s fiery speeches declared that “Our honor and the honor of our dead brothers and sisters will not be bought off by the murderer’s money.”
The great awakening of the Israeli public and, parenthetically, sympathy with the Holocaust victims and survivors occurred in the aftermath of the July 4, 1976 rescue mission of Israeli hostages at Uganda’s Entebbe Airport. As the public learned of the involvement of German terrorists and that their guns were used to separate Jew from gentile, and of Jewish parents seeking to protect their children, the scenes evoked identification with those men and women who marched to their death in Auschwitz, Treblinka, Belzec, and scores of other death camps in Poland and Germany, as well as Ukrainian villages where German murder squads hauled Jews from their home and marched them to a forest to dig ditches, then shot and buried them in mass graves.
So why do the Europeans, the likes of Gunther Grass hate the live Jews of Israel? Robin Shepard, the British born author of _A State Beyond the Pale_suggested in Ed West’s review in The Telegraph (June 14, 2010) that Europe should be berated for “dishonoring the memory of the Holocaust, for making common cause with tyranny, for lacking a moral compass, for hypocrisy, wickedness and appeasement. It is accused of succumbing to an obsession, of giving in to irrationalism and anti-intellectualism, of hatred, scorn and contempt.”
Europeans see Israel as the aggressor, and view its treatment of Palestinians as tantamount to genocide, and claim it is a “racist” state akin to apartheid South Africa, with no right to exist.
Shepard argues that Israel has the legal right to exist in accordance with the British Mandate, as agreed upon under the League of Nations, as well as UN Resolution 181, which offered both parties a two-state solution in 1947. The Palestinian-Arabs rejected the offer and attacked the Jewish state along with the Arab armies of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.
The “racist” argument is based on the fact that Israel is a home to the Jewish people. But, Shepard argues: “Just as France has a right to exist as a state for French people, China for Chinese people, Egypt for Egyptian people and so on.” In fact: “Just as dozens of states define themselves as Christian or Muslim (including the 56 states of the Organization of Islamic Conference), so Israel has a right to define itself as Jewish.”
Shepard maintains that anti-Zionism is largely re-shaped anti-Semitism. And it is also the third stage of an “old European disease.” The second stage, following religious anti-Semitism, was racial anti-Semitism (practiced by the Nazis). The present-day ideological anti-Semitism, similar to what was present during the Middle Ages, gives the Jew an option to join (instead of the church) the anti-Zionist bandwagon.
Gunther Grass can be counted on to be “remorseful” over the millions of Jews he and his Nazi comrades helped murder. But like many of his fellow Europeans, Israeli Jews who are able to defend themselves against Nazi-like Arab-Palestinian murderers, and Holocaust deniers like Iran’s Ahmadinejad (who vowed to “wipe Israel off the map”), are an anathema for this delicate German poet.
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