It is a time of unprecedented dialogue, commentary and discussion in the modern era. The rise of Anti-Semitism in its violent and non-violent forms has rightly attracted the attention of many of the world’s leaders, their governments, community representatives and the media. Indeed, the overwhelming majority of their respective responses has been supportive of the community and condemning of the hate mungerers and terrorists. The question AntiSemitismWatch.com asks is whether fine words are any longer sufficient?
Just this morning we reported on President Obama’s ‘Je Suis Juives’ or ‘we are all Jewish’ speech at yesterday’s Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony in Washington. These are very powerful words indeed, worthy of praise. They display a strong sense of support, unity and understanding. However, this is the same President who has just agreed a nuclear deal with Iran removing all sanctions against the regime.
In almost the same breath, Iran launched its state sponsored anti-Semitic Holocaust denial cartoon competition. The organisers of the 11th Tehran International Cartoon Biennial, scheduled for this June, have offered a stomach churning first-place prize money of $50,000, more than quadruple last year’s $12,000.
“Anybody can see that Iran’s anti-Semitic cartoon contest is meant to incite hatred, which is often the motivator of violence and terrorism. The world should condemn this appalling contest as vehemently as we do,” said Consul Daniel Agranov of the Houston-based Consulate General of Israel to the Southwest United States.
Even Ira Forman, the US State Department’s special envoy to combat and monitor antisemitism, said it’s critical that the US speak out against any type of government-sponsored anti-Semitism.
“We’re really concerned this contest is used as a platform for Holocaust denial…and anti-Semitic speech,” Forman said.
Ken Jacobson, the Anti-Defamation League’s deputy national director, told JNS.org that Iran’s Holocaust denial is “not per se about the Holocaust. It’s about vicious anti-Semitism [going on] in the world. It’s an attack on the Jewish people, and it’s a threat.”
“What’s different this year — and most alarming — is that policy makers in the US and Europe view the Iranian regime as a stabilizing force in the imploding Middle East. This is a horrific mistake,” Charles A. Small, executive director of the Institute for the Study of Global Anti-Semitism and Policy told JNS.org. “Western governments, led by the US, are legitimizing a genocidal anti-Semitic regime, and this is dangerous and can only lead to problems for all of us, not just for Jews.”
Ayaollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, also marked Holocaust Memorial Day by publishing a Holocaust denying video on his official website.
While nations around the world remembered the millions of people who were killed in Auschwitz and other concentration camps, the hardline leader questioned whether the Holocaust “is a reality or not”.
Khamenei’s website promotes the video with a banner across its homepage, featuring a montage of images, including one of Adolf Hitler.
Simultaneously, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani tours Italy and France attempting to drum up trade and diplomatic links after the signing of the billions of dollars worth sanction lifting nuclear deal.
At the same time, Italian Ambassador to Israel, Francesco Maria Talo, said in commemoration of HMD 2016 that as a Nazi ally Italy “was in the middle of the war [and] has a special responsibility” to commemorate the genocide of the Jews.”
“We have to work every day” to remember, he asserted, adding that while some Italians worked to save Jews, others did not, and “it is especially important to remember what was done to participate in the persecution…. We have more responsibility and we need to do more.”
His fine rhetoric was shared by Pope Francis who just recently visited the main synagogue in Rome.
“The violence of man against man is in contradiction with any religion worthy of this name, in particular the three great monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam),” he said in what appeared to be a reference to attacks by Islamist militants.
“The Shoah teaches us that we need the maximum vigilance in order to intervene quickly in defence of human dignity and peace,” Pope Francis said, using the Hebrew term for the Holocaust.
While in France after the recent terrorist attacks aimed at Jews we had the sight of non-Jewish politicians lining up to wear kippot. This after a French Jewish community leader suggested that to safeguard themselves Jewish men should not wear them in public.
Michael Oren MK, a former ambassador to the US, asked: “How can Europe respect the memory of the Holocaust, while on the same exact day it hosts the leader of the Iranian regime, which denies that the Holocaust even happened? “Israel welcomes Europe’s commitment to fighting anti-Semitism,” he added, “but its recent actions, such as labeling products from Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights….. raise doubts about this commitment.”
Meanwhile, Moshe Kantor, the newly elected President of the European Jewish Congress warned European leaders, “We need more that just ceremony and commemoration. When anti-Semitism is on the rise, when Jews are once again fleeing Europe.
‘When a murderous Islamic extremist ideology is threatening our existence, we need action as well as words.
‘It is time for our leaders to commit to a robust, unified and coordinated approach to tackling anti-Semitism and Islamic extremism.
‘We must all stand against hate refuse to allow history to repeat itself, making ‘never again’ a reality.’
Fine words Mr Kantor, fine words.
AntiSemitismWatch.coms suggest to all these speakers of fine words that if you really want to see action that makes a difference, go visit your local Shomrim!