Yom Hashoah (Israel Holocaust Remembrance Day)

Being a Jew means being eternally vigilant.  In Europe it is astonishing how many groups, tribes and nations took the opportunity during WWII to turn on their Jewish neighbors and kill them, usually for money (and we were called money grubbing).  Here is a short list: Germans, Poles, Lithuanians, Estonians, Latvians, Ukrainians, Czechs, Slovaks, Hungarians, Dutch, Belgians, French, Italians, Greeks, Norwegians, Swedes, Croats, Bosnians (Muslims), and so on.  If you are a member of any one of these groups you owe a debt to humanity and to the Jewish people in particular.

The only peoples on record that did anything to protect their Jewish citizens were the Danes (who ferried them across to neutral Sweden), Bulgarians, and Albanians (who are Muslims).  The Swedes were supposedly neutral, but cooperated with the Nazis, selling them iron ore and safe-guarding their stolen gold.  Switzerland was neutral, but readily returned Jews who managed to desperately cross the border into their territory.  The Italians protected some of their Jews and the Spanish also, even though Franco was allied with Germany and similarly with the Finns.  Although many Russians were anti-Semitic, the Red Army included many Jewish soldiers and they were very helpful to the starving decimated Jews as they defeated the German Army (Wehrmacht).

And so far I have not mentioned the Arabs and the Muslims in general, who are anti-Semitic from Mohammed and the Koran, apart from European influence.  It’s not a  pretty picture,  and as many reports attest, its getting worse again.  The Turks attack the Kurds, but there are no liberal-leftist demonstrations in the West, the Burmese attack the Rohingya, but ditto.  But, the Palestinians attack Israel and there are demonstrations against – Israel.  Yes, the only safe place for Jews, notwithstanding all this animosity, is Israel.

Today is Yom Hashoah in Israel, Holocaust Remembrance Day.  I went to Netanya on Tues to hear my friend Eddie Bielawski talk about how he and his family of 10 survived for 3 years in hiding in (1941-4) in Poland.  The story is told in the book he wrote and I edited entitled “Invisible Jews: surviving the Holocaust in Poland.”  One anecdote tells it all, he and his mother were travelling by train from Poland to Austria after the War.  Polish police got on the train to check everyone’s papers.  Seven people were identified as Jews.  They were taken off the train and shot.  Even as a child he knew not to draw attention to himself.

Six million Jews were murdered, most in very horrific ways.   They were part of the overall ca. 50 million people murdered during WWII.  Most of them were innocent civilians.  But, the toll for the Jewish people was most terrible.  Some anti-Semites argue that we make too much of the Holocaust.  I argue that we do not make enough of it.  They want to forget it, or even deny it.  We must never forget or diminish the historic impact of the most terrible crime in history.

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Terrorism in France

Muslim terrorism is very active in France, because it has a very large Muslim community of mainly N. African origin, Moroccans, Algerians, Tunisians, etc.    The two recent cases that have ignited national and international attention are the murders of a police officer and an old Jewish Holocaust survivor.  Col. Arnaud Beltrame was murdered by a Moroccan of French nationality after he exchanged himself for a female hostage in a supermarket in Trebes, and Mireille Knoll (87) was stabbed to death in Paris by a Muslim neighbor who then set her body on fire.  These cowards do not realize how contemptuous they are perceived when they attack and murder unarmed heroes and old ladies.

French President Macron eulogized Beltrame in a speech at Les Invalides in Paris, and he also mentioned in the same context the murder of Knoll by Muslim terrorists.  The latter was definitely an anti-Semitic attack as evidenced by previous threats that the perpetrator had uttered against Knoll.  It is doubly touching that Knoll had survived deportation to the death camps in WWII, where members of her family were murdered by the Nazis and she narrowly survived, only to be killed by a Muslim terrorist.

The upsurge of anti-Semitism in France can be largely attributed to Muslim hatred of Jews, because Jews were insulted and murdered by Mohammed in the Koran.  This religious anti-Semitism was also reinforced by the pro-German sentiments of most Arabs before and during WWII, when they were mainly anti-French and anti-British.  There have been a series of contemptible anti-Semitic murders of Jews in France, Ilan Halimi (28) who was abducted, tortured for days and murdered by a gang of Moroccan terrorists in 2006, and Sarah Halimi (65; no relation) was murdered in 2017 by a Muslim terrorist in her apartment in Paris. There was also the shooting by Mohammed Merah in 2012 in Toulouse in which a Rabbi and three Jewish schoolchildren were murdered.  He also shot three French policemen.

Added to this the very serious series of attacks in Paris in 2015 against Charlie Hebdo and the kosher supermarket and then the Paris restaurants and the Bataclan theater in which a total of ca. 150 were killed, and the ramming attack on the promenade in Nice killing 86.  It is clear that France is not a safe place to visit and no wonder French is now a major spoken language in Netanya and other places in Israel.

Fighting Anti-Semitism

A campaign to rid the world of anti-Semitism has been initiated in the Israeli Knesset.  While this is a laudable effort, it is not likely to succeed.  Anti-Semitism, that is hatred of Jews, is as old as prostitution, and that too is never likely to be eradicated.

I compare anti-Semitism to a medieval knight in armor.  Shooting arrows of truth at the knight will not penetrate his armor of irrationality.  One cardinal belief of anti-Semites is that the Jews are planning to take over the world.  As demonstrated in the Holocaust of WWII, the Jews were defenceless and hardly able to survive.  As the constant wars for the defense of Israel demonstrate, the Jews are hardly able to defend one little slip of land, let alone conquer the world.  Yet, anti-Semites will continue to believe their ludicrous conspiracy theories.

It may be true that Jews have an ability for finances, since the international banking system was developed by Jews, for example the Rothschilds.  Usury was banned for Catholic Christians, so the Catholic rulers relied on their Jews, for whom it was not illegal or immoral to earn profit.  But, the Catholics soon changed their tune when they realized that they were missing out on a lot of profit, although they still continued to steal from the Jews.  This was one of the main motivations for the Inquisition and the Holocaust.

Anti-Semites believe that Jews have larger noses than Christians (tell that to De Gaulle).  Jews may be generally more intelligent than Christians (e.g. Marx, Einstein, Freud).  The inevitable conclusion is that their extra brain power is contained in their noses.  And if you believe that you are no better than any anti-Semite.

Poland’s Problem

I agree with the Polish Government that the concentration camps for Jews in Poland were German camps.  The main reason was that the Poles themselves were incapable of organizing Jewish murder on an industrial scale.  The Poles were essentially cowards, attacking and massacring defenseless Jews, often their neighbors, individually and in groups. Recently I edited a book based on a narrative by Eddie Bielawski entitled “Invisible Jews: Surviving the Holocaust in Poland,” whose family of ten people survived for 3 years (1941-4) in hiding.  They were resourceful and brave.
He wrote “We were in a totally hostile environment.  No-one could be trusted.  There were Poles who would kill us, would steal all that we had, or turn us over to the Germans for a reward and to see us dead….there was the occasional Pole who showed human feelings towards us, who fed us and risked his life and that of his family.  But, they were few and far between.”  I think this sums up the true situation regarding the Poles and the Holocaust quite accurately.
Now there is a resurgence of anti-Semitism in Poland, as elsewhere in Europe.  So for example, a Norwegian MP has nominated the BDS movement in Europe for the Nobel Peace Prize.  If ever there was an organization that is not peaceful and does not deserve any prize, let alone a peace prize, it is the BDS organization.  It was founded by a Palestinian politician named Omar Barghouti who is dedicated to Israel’s destruction.  BDS is allied to Hamas and its only aim is not simply to boycott, sanction and divest from Israel, but to destroy Israel by all means, including the use of violence and terrorism, and this is clear in their literature and their actions.
The Polish PM Morawiecki said in a speech at the Munich Security conference, justifying the current law outlawing certain statements about Poland being responsible for the Holocaust, that there were “Polish perpetrators of the Holocaust, just like there were Jewish perpetrators.”  PM Netanyahu who is also attending said “The Polish Prime Minister’s remarks here in Munich are outrageous. There is a problem here of an inability to understand history and a lack of sensitivity to the tragedy of our people. I intend to speak with him forthwith.​​” 

Anti-Semitism in Europe

While all eyes in relation to anti-Semitism are turned towards the Polish attempt to absolve themselves of any guilt in the massacres of Jews that took -place during WWII in Poland, there are other European countries where anti-Semitism is on the rise.

There were no less than three reports in The Jerusalem Post on Friday related to anti-Semitism.  The most ominous report is that the Community Security Trust, an organisation that provides security to Britain’s Jews and gathers statistics, reported that there was a 30% increase in violent anti-Semitic attacks in 2016 compared to 2015 and a further 3% increase in 2017.  The reported extent of purely verbal anti-Semitic abuse has also risen sharply.

In a separate article, it was reported that Chelsea Football Club is taking extraordinary measures to try to reduce the amount of anti-Semitism that is a regular feature of chants and slogans during matches there.  They have used the pre-game session to try to instil opposition to anti-Semitism by using banners and videos of players and well-known personalities, many of whom are not Jewish, to decry anti-Semitism.  However few believe that this will solve the problem of ingrained anti-Semitism in the British people.  Anti-Semitic chants will probably continue to be a mainstay of all soccer matches in Britain.

No less a person than the French Prime Minister, Edouard Phillipe, stated “there is a new form of brutal and violent anti-Semitism” in France.  This after an 8 year of Jewish boy was brutally attacked in Sarcelles by two 15 year olds, and in a separate incident a Jewish girl’s face was slashed with a knife.  Of course, before that there have been numerous attacks against Jewish individuals, including the callous murder of an elderly Jewish lady in her home and the torture and murder of a French Jew, both of them coincidentally named Halimi.  The French Government lacks the ability to prevent such crimes, when there are right-wing, left-wing and Islamic anti-Semites active in France.

It used to be fashionable to believe that if there was democracy and education, such ancient prejudices as anti-Semitism would wither away.  But, that has certainly not been the case.  People feel free to attack Jews verbally and physically, when they would not attack blacks or other peoples in the same way.  Once again anti-Semitism, in various forms, is both fashionable and politically correct.  I suffered from anti-Semitic attacks, mostly verbal, when I grew up in the UK in the 1950s, so I am not surprised by these reports.  I decided then that there was no way that it could be eradicated, so I left.  I am very happy now that I live in Israel, where we can counter-attack the local anti-Semites as they try to attack us.

Who is the real victim?

Have you ever noticed that people and groups usually identify their own faults in their enemies.  Thus, bullies usually consider themselves victims, they are often under-achievers, and in order to explain their inability to deal with their reality, they blame it on others and attack them for it.  This is known as scape-goating, based on the Biblical tradition of transferring your sins to an animal, usually a goat, and casting it out into the desert (I joke with my wife that she is my scape-wife).

Of course, the classic case of group scape-goating is anti-Semitism.  The Jews were a convenient and defenceless minority which it was easy to blame for the inadequacies of the Germans and other peoples of Europe and the Middle East.  Thus, all the bad characteristics that the German Nazis ascribed to the Jews were in fact their own faults, mirrored in their hatred of the Jews.  For example, Jews were supposed to be planning to take over the earth, a ludicrous idea for such a weak minority, when in fact the German Nazis were actually planning to do so and nearly did and at one point at the beginning of WWII they actually conquered a huge area from France to Russia.

Jews were supposedly obsessed with money and controlled the banks and were stealing money from the non-Jews.  Whereas in fact the Germans were obsessed with money and took every opportunity to steal money from the Jews, and to make it easier they murdered them in a very efficient and abhorrent manner (they were not the only ones to do this, the Spanish Inquisition enriched the Catholic Church in the same way).   The anti-Semites claimed that the Jews were “clannish” and kept to themselves, while in fact the Germans were notoriously racist, believed they were a “pure” “Aryan” white race and in fact did not allow any “inferior races” such as Slavs (Czechs, Slovaks, Slovenes, Serbs, Russians) and Hungarians and Jews to become German citizens before WWI (with some exceptions).  Jews were also criticized for being God’s “chosen people” when in fact the Germans were arrogant and believed they were superior to others.

The same effect is used in the Middle East conflict between Arabs and Jews.  Jews were historically a small minority and were the indigenous people of the region (in fact from Judah or Judea), and were for centuries the victims of Arab oppression, reduced to inferior “dhimmi” status (like Native Americans in the US).  Now the Arabs, masquerading as Palestinians, have usurped that minority status and institutionalized their supposed victim-hood.  Note that the Arabs came from Arabia and conquered the surrounding regions (including Israel) starting soon after the death of Mohammed.  They are not indigenous to the area of Israel. Further, after the break-up of the Turkish Empire after WWI, as ratified in treaties and Mandates of the League of Nations, the Arabs established 6 States (now Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Kuwait, Arabia) and the Jews one (Israel).

The EU and the Europeans in general criticize Israel for being “colonialist” “imperialist” etc. etc., when in fact Israel is the victim of Muslim and Arab imperial power, expressed in the obsession of the UN against Israel,   This is a victimizing of Israel by the majority of the nations of the world, in which supposedly liberal-leftist Europeans gladly participate (as a form of anti-Semitism).  Countries such as South Africa, that  were victimized by white supremacy (apartheid) now turn around and victimize Israel.  What hypocrisy, what ignorance (it was the Arab-Muslim countries that supplied S. Africa with oil in the apartheid era without which they could not have survived to suppress the Blacks).

Such dangerous forms of self-deception and blame unfortunately form the basis of international relations as practised today.  Perhaps Pres. Trump’s in his recent speech on the national security and international relations of the USA might up-turn this apple cart. Perhaps the incredible over-reaction to Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the de facto capital of Israel might be the trigger to start to reform this ludicrous state of affairs.

Aliyah and Terrorism

Aliyah is the general term in Hebrew for Jews to move to Israel.  It literally means “going up” since the Holy Land is supposed to be on a higher plane than the Diaspora.  Around Netanya one cannot help but notice the huge influx of French people.  French is now the predominant language spoken in the town center and there are many French-style bistros, patisseries, and charcuteries around town.  The price of apartments has gone up and French people are buying stores and restaurants and making a go of it.  These are people who have had enough with the rising anti-Semitism in France, mainly fueled by Islamic hatred.

Similarly in a poll carried out by the British Campaign Against Anti-Semitism in 2015-7 and recently reported on Sky News and the Jerusalem Post, about 31% of British Jews said they had considered or are considering leaving the UK (most for Israel), about 39% said they no longer felt safe in the UK, 59% said they felt the Government was not doing enough to protect them and a full 83% agreed that the Labour Party is anti-Semitic.  One woman interviewed said she had recently experienced an anti-Semitic incident for the first time and she was now planning to move to Israel and she said she expected a major outbreak of violent anti-Semitism in the UK within ten years.  This is against a supposed backdrop of a 9% decrease in anti-Semitic incidents in the past year.

But, also let’s face facts, European Jews from relatively civilized countries would not be coming here en famille unless they expected they could make it in a relatively affluent country, which Israel is.  We have all the makings here, a growing young population, an industrious and innovative people and also a large lower class of unskilled workers (the Arabs).  Yes, the US has its Blacks and Mexicans, the EU has its Muslim immigrants and Israel has its Palestinians.  Most of them would be happy if Israel could set up companies on the West Bank and then they wouldn’t have to travel for hours to jobs in Israel.  But, the intransigence of the Palestinian political elite prevents that.  They still resort to crude terrorism, even though they will never achieve their goal of destroying Israel.  On the contrary, the upsurge of Islamic-inspired terrorism in Europe is helping to strengthen Israel.