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Opinions & Editorials Volver a "Opinions & Editorials"

Op-ed: State-Sponsored Anti-Semitism Must be Taken Seriously

From the office of the General Consulate of Israel | 27 de enero de 2012

On Jan. 27, 1945, the Soviet Red Army liberated the Auschwitz concentration camp. In 2005, the United Nations established Jan. 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.  The day's official tagline, "Remembrance and Beyond," denotes its dual significance. First is the obligation of the world body's members to remember and memorialize the 6 million Jewish victims of Nazi genocide and, in those countries where it took place, to recall the particular circumstances of the tragedy. Second, venturing "beyond" remembrance, the U.N. explicitly rejects denial that the Holocaust took place and mandates educational programs aimed at ensuring that nothing like it ever happens again.

La Prensa San Antonio.- On Jan. 27, 1945, the Soviet Red Army liberated the Auschwitz concentration camp. In 2005, the United Nations established Jan. 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The day's official tagline, "Remembrance and Beyond," denotes its dual significance. First is the obligation of the world body's members to remember and memorialize the 6 million Jewish victims of Nazi genocide and, in those countries where it took place, to recall the particular circumstances of the tragedy. Second, venturing "beyond" remembrance, the U.N. explicitly rejects denial that the Holocaust took place and mandates educational programs aimed at ensuring that nothing like it ever happens again.

By Dena Palermo
Co-chair of the American Jewish Committee Houston's U.N. Holocaust Victim Observance for the consular corps

This second theme faces a severe challenge in our time. While the world was shocked in the later stages of World War II to learn of the destruction of European Jewry, Adolf Hitler had never made any secret of his plan to carry it out. From the outset of his political career, Hitler blamed the Jews for Germany's defeat in World War I, the worldwide economic depression and any other ills that had plagued the German people. As early as 1922 he promised his followers, "If I am ever really in power, the destruction of the Jews will be my first and most important job." This principle, which figures prominently in his book Mein Kampf, was the rationale for the comprehensive anti-jewish laws enacted by the Nazi regime.

After the outbreak of war it provided the opportunity to carry out the long-contemplated plan, forming the basis for genocide.

Even as he harped on the need to destroy the Jews, Hitler cleverly insisted that it was world Jewry that was conspiring against Germany. Nazi rhetoric portrayed Jews as a cancer whose elimination was necessary to guarantee the health of the German nation. In a 1939 speech, Hitler asserted that it was "international finance Jewry" that wanted to "plunge the peoples into a world war," and the result - entirely defensive - would be "annihilation" of the Jews.

In Houston, the American Jewish Committee and the Holocaust Museum Houston, along with the Houston consular corps, come together on this day to recognize a World War II diplomat who did not stand by and watch annihilation. We will remember and tell the story of Giorgio Perlasca, an Italian businessman who posed as a Spanish diplomat and intervened on behalf of Hungarian Jews. We have also honored diplomats from El Salvador, China and Mexico over the past three years.

Fast forward to 2012. There is one head of state who openly defies the intent of the U.N.'S International Holocaust Remembrance Day by denying the Holocaust and at the same time promising to re-enact it against the one Jewish state in the world. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly called the Holocaust "a myth" and urged the formation of an international inquiry to "expose" it. He calls the state of Israel a "fake regime" that "must be wiped off the map." This head of state who calls for the destruction of a fellow U.N. member state is regularly allowed to address the very U.N. General Assembly, in New York, that today solemnly pledges to prevent any repetition of the Holocaust.

Ahmadinejad, like Hitler, announces in advance his intention to kill Jews, and portrays this as a defensive reaction to an economic attack on his country by world Jewry (for which he uses the term "Zionists"). But in one important sense Iran is a step ahead of Nazi Germany.

While the latter had to conquer Europe country by country and laboriously ferret out the Jews and send them to their deaths, Iran - as demonstrated in a recent report by the U.N.'S International Atomic Energy Agency - is well on its way to securing nuclear weapons and the missile capability to launch them against Israel, home to another 6 million Jews.

Some say that this danger is wildly exaggerated, since Iran would never begin a nuclear war that would lead to its own devastation by Israeli retaliation. Too many world leaders today, like their predecessors in the 1930s, interpret calls to kill Jews as empty rhetoric. But the clear message of International Holocaust Remembrance Day is that state-sponsored anti-semitism must be taken seriously - especially if the state will soon be ready to deploy a nuclear weapon to carry it out.

 

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