Rise of Anti-Semitic Violence in Europe Linked to Fading Memories of Holocaust

World Jewish Congress leader Ronald Lauder said the recent massacres in Paris, which targeted Jews and newspaper satirists, are proof of growing hatred and extremism.

This is the message he plans to stress in his address Tuesday at the site of the former Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, where the Nazis killed 1.3 million people, most of them Jews. January 27, 2015 marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

As the world moves inevitably closer to a post-survivor era, some Jewish leaders fear that people are already starting to forget. And they warn that the anti-Semitic hatred and violence that are on the rise, particularly in Europe, could partly be linked to fading memories of the Holocaust.

"Shortly after World War II, after we saw the reality of Auschwitz and the other death camps, no normal person wanted to be associated with the anti-Semitism of the Nazis," Lauder said.

"But, as the Holocaust grows more distant and survivors disappear, extremists grow more bold in targeting Jews. Stoked by a false narrative that blames Israel for a litany of the world's problems, anti-Semitism is resurgent and deadly," he added.

Distance from the Holocaust is only one factor behind the rising anti-Semitism, and experts also fault the ease with which hateful propaganda is spread on the Internet and the growing presence of radical Islam in Europe. In Hungary and Greece, extreme-right movements have grown stronger amid economic decline.

World Jewish Congress leader Ronald Lauder
World Jewish Congress leader Ronald Lauder
"Fading memories are one reason for the rise in anti-Semitism, but anti-Semitism was always there," said Abraham Foxman, national director of the U.S.-based Anti-Defamation League and a Holocaust survivor himself. "We have hidden it, made it unacceptable, made it un-PC, but we never really eliminated it. The consciousness of what anti-Semitism was, of Auschwitz, was prevalent; it kept the lid on it. It wasn't acceptable to be anti-Semitic."

A decade ago, 1,500 Holocaust survivors traveled to Auschwitz to mark the 60th anniversary of the death camp's liberation. On Tuesday, for the 70th anniversary, organizers are expecting 300, the youngest in their 70s.

A number of Hollywood executives have joined director Steven Spielberg on a trip to Poland for the ceremony commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Auschwitz concentration camp liberation.

Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav and other big names in Hollywood worked with Spielberg's USC Shoah Foundation, the Polish government, and the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum to bring a group of 100 Auschwitz survivors and their families to Poland for the ceremony on Tuesday. Spielberg and Zaslav has been working together to preserve the memories of survivors who were kids at the time they were sent to the death camp and are now in their 80s and 90s.

The delegation also includes 25 teachers from around the world who will participate in a four-day seminar on how to teach students about the influence of genocide and hate on world history.

See also: "Ten More Websites About the Holocaust"

[Source: European Jewish Press External link; emphasis and links added]

posted: January 27, 2015   |   permanent link  |  

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