Someone, maybe Elie Wiesel, said, “Anti-Semitism is a light sleeper.” Well, today in Europe and the Middle East this ugly cancer is not sleeping at all.
The recent London Times cartoon featuring a big-nosed Netanyahu hovering over a brick wall keeping an anguished Palestinian out disturbingly reminds me of how the Nazi campaign began in Germany. What started as cartoons in the 1930s ultimately led to violence and tragedy.
Britain has historically been no friend of the Jews. One remembers how they turned a ship carrying European refugees away at the port of Haifa and sent them back to the camps in Cyprus after World War II. Today, it is the source of many Israeli boycotts and negative broadcasts and writings.
The cry, “Never Again,” becomes insincere considering that for the first time in over 60 years there are political parties that require members to be of “Aryan origin” and have full-armed and open-fisted salutes. They have logos that resemble the swastika and call for a census of Jews. They are not limited to the beer halls, farm communes or political margins. They are edging closer and closer to the mainstream. More and more Jews are being physically and verbally attacked in the streets.
The Golden Dome party in Greece, Jobbik in Hungary and Svoboda in Ukraine along with France’s National Front and Austria’s Freedom Party are examples of European political parties well beyond the far right. Admittedly, none has great power, but neither did Hitler in 1928.
Unfortunately, it is no longer “gauche” to openly spout anti-Semitic garbage. A recent survey found that 63 percent of Hungarians frankly admit their anti-Semitism. Worldwide economic problems with millions searching for jobs provide a fertile field for these hate-mongers, so we must be vigilant and stem this lava like flow of hatred.
As Holocaust survivors become fewer, there will be few who will recognize the new groups emulating the policies and ideology of those who murdered their families. Europeans above all should remember how Nazism destroyed Europe — not just the Jews alone.
So it is in their self-interest and ours, too, to legislate against hate, discrimination and racism with rigid enforcement and punishment, along with teaching tolerance. Yehuda Bauer, a prominent Holocaust historian, said, “Thou shall not be a victim, thou shall not be a perpetrator, but above all, thou shall not be a bystander.”