Stefano Tachè, two year old, killed in the Great Synagogue of Rome on October 2, 1982. Ilan Halimi, killed on February 13, 2006, in a slum where an Islamic gang was based. Moshe Twersky, Aryeh Kupinsky, Kalman Levine, Avraham Goldberg, killed in a synagogue in Jerusalem on November 18, 2014. Yoav Hattab, Philippe Braham, Yohan Cohen, Michel Saada, killed in the kosher supermarket in Paris on February 9.
Those few names are just a fraction of the thousands of victims of contemporary anti-Semitism, and this is intolerable.They have been killed just because they were Jews, just as the Six Million of them whose names are recited one after another in the synagogues in order not to forget them as people, as children, elderly, mothers, and youths. But all these new names, and the names of all the other victims of these years, must become part, now and forever, of the tribute of history to those people butchered just because they were Jews, celebrating them on the Holocaust Memorial Day. This is essential, if we want this initiative to be meaningful, so that the victims of the most abominable horror afflicting the world will never be forgotten.
This Holocaust Memorial Day 2015 must take on the responsibility of an unbelievable situation: anti-Semitism is steadily growing in Europe and worldwide. The victims named here have been murdered because they were Jews, as my Nirenstein grandparents, my father’s sisters, and my Lattes Volterra grandmother’s brothers. In the contemporary world, seventy years after the Shoah. I believe that my loved ones welcomed them in the afterworld with infinite love and grief.
During the first six months of 2014, Europe saw a 436 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents, there was a 1,200 per cent increase in South America, a rise of 600 percent in South Africa, of 800 percent in Oceania, of 127 percent in the US and of 100 percent in Canada. There is no need to talk of Muslim countries: the Jews have already been all driven out or live in terror as in Yemen or Iran. In 2013, there have been 686 attacks in Europe, 166 of them with intent to kill.
So, today we celebrate this Memorial Day observing how the great international organizations such as the UN and all its derivatives, born from the ashes of the Holocaust, with their “never again” catchphrase, have de facto contributed to the revivification of anti-Semitism. Not only they did not counter the Islamistic de-legitimization, its vilification of the Jewish people in traditional terms and in their modernized version; they also encouraged an aggressive and stereotyped picture of the State of Israel through thousands of resolutions, exhibitions and lessons, denying the Jews the right to live in their own home under groundless slanderous accusations, exactly the same ones that Hitler used.
A new anti-Semitism has been promoted and, after all, every epoch and regime has its own. Today’s Jews have been compared to the Nazis, and the Jewish State, a flourishing democracy unfortunately forced to a constant self-defense, to a breeding ground for attacks against human rights. The denial of the Jewish history and, consequently, of the right of self-determination, made the Jews a second-class people again. The fictional portrait of the Palestinian cause as a matter of justice and human rights matched the traditional image of the lying Jew who made up both the Holocaust and his belonging to Jerusalem, a colonialist and violent Jew, a children killer.
A minute and persistent propaganda consolidated this image among the Islamic crowds and among the far left and the far right. But uneducated moderates flooded the European streets as well, in Paris and Berlin, with multitudes shouting “Death to Jews”. It was Ahmadinejad who formulated the dictionary of modern anti-Semitism during the “Durban 2” conference, which, on the initiative of the UN, took place in Geneva.
Ahmadinejad called Israel a “totally racist government” that “occupied Palestine”, and the Zionists the “racist perpetrators of genocide”.
These formulas, together with the Holocaust denial, are the dictionary used by countless modern anti-Semites and, unfortunately, also the alphabet that all the Palestinian children and many young Arabs too, find in their textbooks and on TV. Nevertheless, the UN did not mobilize its educational bodies because Israel is being described as an apartheid country, while a simple visit to a hospital, or to the Knesset, is more than enough to understand how preposterous that lie is.
The UN did not act, even though 63 percent of the Polish, 48 percent of the Germans, and 38 percent of the Italians think that Israel is carrying out a “war of extermination” against the Palestinians, and not of painful defense, as it should be self-evident to anyone who can reason. The anti-Semites never reasoned at all: the old stereotypes of the rich, warmongering, egoistic Jews are now in the background of the new Israelophobia going hand in hand with the Holocaust denial.
A way to defeat anti-Semitism has been suggested for decades in the fields of culture and education. It is a work in progress: the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights has, of course, developed an educational project on the Shoah, which includes research activities, meetings between teachers and educators, exhibitions, conferences. The school system includes lessons on the Holocaust; the Italian President presented the award for a contest called “The Young Generation Remembering the Shoah”. In 2010, Auschwitz was visited by one million 380 thousand people, 500 of them from Poland, 84 thousand from the UK, 74 thousand from Italy and 68 thousand from Germany.
The heads of State look contrite, desperate, astonished, and belligerent, while their statements are often sincere: obviously, they hate the anti-Semitic spirit of the one who carried out the Shoah, and love the Jews who died during those years. But this is not working: the present-day attacks against the Jews show that there is an hysterical Israelophobia at the root of the current anti-Semitic hatred.
Of course, the survivors’ memory must be collected until the last moment with all the possible love; but, today, in order to defeat anti-Semitism, a restoration of Israel’s image is essential: a psychological and physical pilgrimage to understand the reality of the Jewish State.
This article originally appeared in slightly different form in Italian in Il Giornale (January 27, 2015)