Monday, April 28, 2014

Anti-Semitism on rise in Europe...Netanyahu asks, "Has the world learned lessons of history?"

Netanyahu Warns World On Holocaust Memorial Day
By The Associated Press, on npr website, April 28, 2014
JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opened the country's annual memorial day for the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust by issuing a stern warning Sunday to the world to learn the lessons of the past and prevent another Holocaust.
At the opening ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, Netanyahu linked the Nazi genocide to Iran's suspected drive to acquire nuclear bombs and its leaders' repeated references to the destruction of Israel and its denial of the Holocaust. Netanyahu said that just like before World War II, there were those in the world today who refused to face uncomfortable truths.
"In this place I have said many times that we must identify an existential threat in time and act against it in time and tonight I ask 'why in the years before the Holocaust did most of the world's leaders not see the danger ahead of time?' In hindsight, all the signs were there," he said.
"In this place I have said many times that we must identify an existential threat in time and act against it in time and tonight I ask 'why in the years before the Holocaust did most of the world's leaders not see the danger ahead of time?' In hindsight, all the signs were there," he said.
"Has the world learned a lesson from the mistakes of the past? Today we are again faced with clear facts and before a real danger. Iran calls for our destruction, it develops nuclear weapons."
The stated links between the Holocaust and Iran showed how more than six decades later, the mass murder of Jews during World War II is still a central part of Israel's psyche. The nation was created just three years after the end of the war, and hundreds of thousands of dazed survivors made their way to Israel.
Six million Jews were killed by German Nazis and their collaborators in the Holocaust, wiping out a third of world Jewry. Today, fewer than 200,000 elderly survivors remain in Israel.
The annual memorial day is one of the most solemn on Israel's calendar. Restaurants, cafes and places of entertainment are shut down, and radio and TV programming are dedicated almost exclusively to documentaries about the Holocaust, interviews with survivors and somber music.
On Monday morning, Israel will come to a standstill as sirens wail for two minutes. Pedestrians typically stop in their tracks, and cars and buses halt on the streets while drivers and passengers stand with their heads bowed....
Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, an umbrella group representing Jewish communities across Europe, expressed concern over the increasing popularity of far-right parties, especially in France, Hungary and Greece, where they are expected to make big gains in European Parliament elections next month.
He also mentioned the situation in Ukraine, where Jews are caught in the middle of the conflict between nationalists and Russian separatists, with both sides using anti-Jewish rhetoric while accusing each other of harboring anti-Semitic supporters.*
In his comments, Israeli President Shimon Peres spoke of his own family's destruction in the Holocaust and said Israel was the deterrence against another one happening.
"We must not ignore any occurrence of anti-Semitism, any desecration of a synagogue, any tombstone smashed in a cemetery in which our families are buried. We must not ignore the rise of extreme right-wing parties with neo-Nazi tendencies who are a danger to each of us and a threat to every nation," he said.
"A strong Israel is our response to the horrors of anti-Semitism but it does not excuse the rest of the world from its responsibility to prevent this disease from returning to their own homes."

*In the information  war (in Ukraine) no one is hurt more than the Jews, since mobilising the global memory of the Holocaust has real costs for actual people. From the very beginning of the revolution, they were an object of Russian propaganda. The current Ukrainian government, we were told, was composed of antisemites, fascists, and Nazis. Russian intervention was required, went the argument, to rescue the Jews of Ukraine.
This version was peddled to the west, where it had some effect, but interestingly it failed entirely in Ukraine itself. Putin seems to have believed that Jewish people in Ukraine would identify with Russia, especially in times of threat. This was one of his many mistakes.
Ukrainian Jews, especially those from the major communities of Kiev and Dnipropetrovsk, made clear to me that they had no desire to be protected by Russia. Jews in Ukraine understand Russia far better than anyone in the west Jewish or otherwise..
But this is not just a matter of a more accurate sense of threat from the outside. It is also a sense of being inside. Many and probably most Jews have moved towards a distinct identity of their own over the 25 years of Ukrainian independence, a trend that has accelerated dramatically in recent months.
The Jews of Kiev generally sided with the protesters of the Maidan, and indeed were present in the protests from beginning to end. When the Viktor Yanukovych regime tried to install a dictatorship in January, Jews were among those who resisted violence with violence. There was even a Jewish fighting unit, or sotnia. Ukrainian Jews returned from Israel and applied their Israeli Defence Forces training. Ukrainian Jews in Israel sent messages of support by social media, and challenged one-sided coverage of the protests in the Israeli press.
When the Yanukovych regime, under Russian pressure, carried out a sniper massacre of the protesters in February, one of the people shot was a Ukrainian Jew. On the Maidan itself, a Ukrainian artist of Jewish origin created an extraordinary sculpture called the Wall.
Today, in the tentative new order, Jews are present in Ukrainian public life. One is a deputy prime minister, another, Ihor Kolomoisky, is governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region. He returned from a perfectly secure life in Switzerland to take responsibility for an east Ukrainian territory at the edge of Russian aggression. He clearly relishes the challenge, deliberately adopting symbols of Ukrainian nationalism as his own, deriding Vladimir Putin as a "schizophrenic of short stature", and offering a bounty for captured "little green men" – who, thus far anyway, seem to be steering clear of his territory.
Yet the greater point is not that all Jews supported the Ukrainian revolution. Mykhailo Dobkin, perhaps the most prominent pro-Russian politician in Ukraine, is Jewish. But he, like his political opposite Kolomoisky, is an active and powerful figure in civil life, no victim and no symbol.
When presidential elections take place next month, it is unlikely many Jews will vote for the Jewish candidate. The commitment of the vast majority of Ukrainian Jews to Ukrainian independence is a matter of civic, rather than ethnic, identification. Reducing Jews to their ethnicity is the first step towards making them a collective symbol in a propaganda story, in a situation where those who use the most violence get to tell the story first. Whichever side they are taking, Jews in Ukraine defy every day our reflexive assumption that Jewish minorities in eastern Europe are nothing more than tomorrow's headlines, the future victims of some greater power.
Jews can be victims, of course, and if the Russian invasion continues they likely will be, along with the Roma and the Crimean Tatars who are already suffering where Russian troops control Ukrainian territory, along with Ukrainians and everyone else. The pamphlet released last week in an area under Russian control, asking all Jews to register with the separatist authorities – although later widely described as a provocation – understandably raised fears. The history of the Holocaust demonstrates that few things are more risky for Jews than the destruction of state institutions and the rule of law, which is openly the goal and the consequence of Russian policy. Jews in the parts of Donetsk and Luhansk, where Russia is in control, can no longer count on the predictability of the rule of law. The immediate consequence of the Russian intervention has been gangsterism.  (By Timothy Snyder, Russia's propaganda war is a danger for Ukraine's Jews,  The Guardian, April 27, 2014)

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