This is the talk I gave at Beth Emeth Bais Yehuda Synagogue in Toronto January 23, 2020
This week we are celebrating the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. What did we learn?
We learned that antisemitism kills.
During Roman times Jews made up 10% of the population of the Roman Empire. Today, there should be 200 million Jews. Instead, after years of antisemitism playing out in every nook and cranny: prosecutions, persecutions, pogroms, ghettos and shtetls, inquisitions and expulsions, and forced conversions led to our demise. There are only 14 million of us out of 7 billion people. 1.3 billion Catholics 1 billion Protestants, 2 billion Muslims.
There are 193 countries, 50 are Muslim countries which remain Judenrein, homophobic, xenophobic and misogynistic.
Twenty three of these Muslim-only countries surround one tiny democratic country-the only Jewish country, ISRAEL. The country most attacked by the EU and the UN and the left.
Antisemitism does not rise ex-nihillo-from nothing. It is planted and nurtured and shared. It spreads like a virus and, yes, every so often it goes underground, for a while. And then it is back, because it is powerful and lives so close to the surface.
Last year we witnessed a severe and virulent rise in antisemitism. The attacks are reminiscent of Nazi Germany. Stores defaced with anti-Semitic graffiti. Jews walking on the streets attacked with stones, or smacked in the head, curses yelled at them. Jews attacked in their stores, mowed down in synagogues. The Tree of Life, Pittsburgh, and Poway, California. Attacks in the homes of Rabbis celebrating Chanukkah. Cemeteries vandalized. Jews in Germany afraid to wear their kippot. Jewish students on campuses worldwide are under threat. And too many politically correct people are afraid to call out the antisemites. And that list includes too many Jews.
Yes we all know about the Neo-Nazis. But today it is Islam which calls for the death of our people on a daily basis, including in their prayers. Same hate. Different source. And now members from the Black Community are attacking the Jews, including a group known as the Black Hebrew Israelites. Social media is aiding in the viral spread of the oldest hate in the world and Main stream media is complicit in its bias, once again.
At Yad Vashem it is written:
Forgetfulness is the way to exile. Remembrance is the way to redemption.
I thought we had learned after the Holocaust that the world does not discriminate amongst Jews. Religious, Progressive or secular. A Jew is a Jew is a Jew. No one asked at the door to the showers, so are you religious?
Never Again has nothing to do with the rest of the world. It has to do with US. The Jews. All of the Jews. Am Yisrael. REMEMBERING. Never again will we allow anyone or any country or any organization to take us down. At least that is what we said.
I started writing about anti-Semitism when I was in my teens. I wrote my very first letter to the editor at the Toronto Star after reading an opinion piece about the Middle East. I asked “Would the Middle East be at peace if there were no Israel.”
Nothing has changed.
I think silence has been the killer of Jews for millennia. We, the Jewish people have participated in that silence.
But silence is collusion.
Over time the silence of the rest of the world, their wilful blindness, ultimately led to Jews shoveled into incinerators or shot and pushed into pits of death. A gruesome history shared by Father Patrick DuBois in the Holocaust by Bullets.
And now, a mere 75 years after the genocide of 6 million Jews, the rant and the chant of “Kill the Jews,” is back.
Will the rest of the world remain silent, again?
Will the Jews be silent, again?
Rabbi Sacks wrote: Israel means “someone who fights with God and with men and wins.”
We are under attack again. There is a joining together for the first time in modern history between the left and the right. They found each other in their hate for the Jews, David Duke the famous member of the KKK who used to light crosses on the lawns of black people is now embracing Ilhan Omar a dark-skinned Jew-hating Muslim. BDS is the war cry.
Now I am going to take you on a journey through the rise of Hitler and the spread of fatal antisemitism. And then the rise of Islam and its Jew hatred. You will see the Nazis and the Muslims, with their shared ideology, carefully prepared the field, and laid the table for the continuation of the longest lasting evil known to humankind. The similarities are frightening.
William Faulkner wrote“The past is never dead. It is not even past.”
Auschwitz survivor Vera Grossman Kriegel, 81, said she was pained by the rise of antisemitism in recent years and feared that history might repeat itself. “It can happen anywhere. Hate is born of ignorance. No one is learning from the past. No one wants to learn.”
Vera and her sister were under the care of Joseph Mengele.
The information I am about to share with you is in my book The Serpent and the Red Thread: The Definitive Biography of Evil.
In Europe the land had been well-prepared with the seeds of antisemitism, long before the rise of National Socialism. .
The names are many. The list is long. The infiltration of society complete.
Over the centuries anti-Semitism had reared its ugly head in Christian Europe and, by the 1800’s, the people in Germany and Austria were bathed in its rhetoric. The hatred became especially virulent after World War l when a scapegoat was needed to assuage the German humiliation over the loss of the war, the reparations demanded of them, and assist them in their need for self-esteem in a time of political and economic chaos. They chose to blame and then sacrifice “the Jew.”
In 1793, Johann Gotlieb Fichte (1762-1814 ), the father of both German nationalism and German anti-Semitism, characterized the Jews as a state within a state that would undermine the German nation. The only way in which he could concede giving rights to Jews would be “to cut off all their heads in one night and to sew new ones on their shoulders, which should contain not a single Jewish idea.”
The middle class feared the rapidly changing society that was turning to industrialization and away from the land. They embraced the “Jewish Conspiracy” rhetoric of Berliner Adolph Stocker (1835-1909) which he shared in 1879 at a Christian Social meeting:
“Modern Jewry is a great danger to German national life. The Jews are a people within a people, a state within a state, a separate tribe within a foreign race who pitted their unbroken Semitic character against Teutonic nature, their rigid cult of law or their hatred of Christians against Christianity.”
Guido von List (1848–1919), another vehement Jew hater contributed to Pan German ideology; “What the Jew believes is all one, in his race lies the swinishness.”
In universities in the 1880’s the cry was heard, “The Jews are our misfortune.” In the fall of 1880, the Anti-Semites petition was circulated by two school teachers depicting the Jews as exploitative masters, who would destroy the German fatherland. “Jews are alien people”, they said. “Their thinking and feeling are completely alien to the German Volk. If the German people are not to be destroyed and fall into economic slavery by the Jews, steps need to be taken to liberate the German people from this Jewish danger.” By the spring of 1881, there were 225,000 signatures including 4000 university students.
More university professors began to sing the same anti-Semitic song. Eugene Karl Duhring (1833–1921), a philosopher and economist at the University of Berlin spouted that Germany’s social corruption was the consequence of parasitic Jews settling in Germany. He described the Jews as a “counter-race” separated from all humanity, whom neither conversion nor assimilation could affect, because their basic nature was evil and unchangeable.
He was highly respected amongst his students.
This anti-Semitic rhetoric led to attacks against Jews.
Jews were described as an octopus with claws in every sphere of German life. This belief morphed into the description of Jews as “beasts of prey” and “cholera bacilli.” In 1892, all the rhetoric and ranting turned the Conservative Party toward anti-Semitism as a political tool to win elections. Antisemitism was given the imprimatur of rationality. “We fight the multifarious and obtrusive Jewish influence that decomposes our people’s life.”
The Agrarian League started its anti-Semitic output in 1894:
“Jewry has become altogether too mighty in our country and has acquired a decisive say in the press, in trade and on the exchanges.”
By the beginning of the 20th century, each year “tens of thousands of anti-Semitic pamphlets were sent free to all officials of the state.” They were in every library. By the 1920’s, there were approximately 430 anti-Semitic associations and societies and as many as 700 anti-Semitic periodicals. Antisemitic bills were introduced into state and national legislatures. Anti-Semitism was in the printed word, in speeches, and in music.
The air was saturated with hatred of the Jews. hitler discovered the works of Richard Wagner (1813−1883) in the early 1900’s. After reading Wagner’s prose, Jews in Music and Decay and Regeneration, hitler declared Wagner as great as Frederick the Great and Martin Luther. He said: “Whoever wants to understand National Socialist Germany must know Wagner.” Wagner wrote “Emancipation from the yoke of Judaism appears to be the foremost necessity.” Wagner’s hatred of the Jews carried forward long after his death.
hitler was also a follower of Lanz von Liebenfels (1874–1954). In the early 1900’s, Liebenfels declared “We would never dream of preaching pogroms, because they will come without encouragement.” He advocated ridding the world of the Jews, a mongrelized breed.
hitler declared the Jewish danger is based on more than religion; it is based also on racial knowledge. To hitler, the Jews were no longer a religion; people who could be converted. They were transformed into a race. A race that had to be exterminated.
“The Jew, he said, is the greatest obstacle to the fulfillment of this racial millennium. The mightiest counterpart to the Aryan is represented by the Jew. The outcome of this war will be the extermination of the Jew.”
hitler wrote in Mein Kampf, “Blood sin, and desecration of the race are the original sin in this world and the end of humanity which surrenders to it.”
So much energy was expended by Germans on the Jews. Defining them. Defiling them. Demeaning them. Denigrating them. Destroying them. Jew hatred was everywhere you turned.
And main stream media enabled the hate. Debra Lipstadt wrote the definitive book on the failure of the media, particularly in America during the rise of Nazism and WWII. In Beyond Belief she wrote about newspapers like the New York Times.
When they deigned to write about the rise of Jew hatred in Germany and the news about concentration camps they put the articles deep inside the paper rather than the front page.
Now, imagine the dissemination of this hatred and the increased attacks on Jews all over the world, no matter how small their numbers in their adopted cities and towns, had social media existed during the time of hitler and his Nazi ideology.
The Jews of Germany were well aware. Too many refused to believe what was in front of their eyes.
Not me. I am not that type of Jew.
We are now faced with hatred from a new enemy Islam and the left. What I am about to share with you has echoes of the rise of Nazism because Islam learned from hitler. There is an Amalek in every generation.
In the last months of the war while hitler hid in his bunker he lamented that the Third Reich’s efforts to mobilize the Muslim world had not been strong enough. “All Islam vibrated at the news of our victories,” and Muslims had been “ready to rise in revolt.”
But hitler need not have feared. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini led the broad Arab-Nazi alliance in the Holocaust and worked to unite the Arabs with the Nazis, economically and ideologically, in an anti-Jewish Islamic movement across India to Central Europe and on to the Middle East.
This Nazi-Arab alliance thrived, complete with tens of thousands of Islamic and Arab volunteers arduously fighting in the trenches, coordinating diplomatic and strategic affairs through the Arab Higher Committee, broadcasting nightly incendiary hate messages beginning with words “Oh Muslims,” and undertaking all things calculated to advance a German victory, which promised an Arab state in Palestine and a disappeared Jewish population. No wonder the Arab marketplaces were filled with posters that exhorted:
“In Heaven, Allah is your ruler. On Earth, it is Adolf Hitler.”
They cried “We the Palestinian nation, our fate from Allah is to be the vanguard in the war against the Jews until the resurrection of the dead, as the prophet Muhammad said: ‘The resurrection of the dead will not arrive until you will fight the Jews and kill them… ’ We the Palestinians are the vanguard in this undertaking and in this campaign, whether or not we want this…”
Acceptance of Islam in the West did not happen by accident.
Again, the names are many. The list is long. The infiltration of society complete.
For 100 years the West was made ready for the acceptance of Islam. The Muslim Brotherhood, a worldwide Islamist organization founded in Egypt in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna sought from its birth to implement Sharia-based governance globally. Its motto:
“Allah is our objective, the Prophet is our leader, the Qur’an is our law, jihad is our way, dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.”
The Muslim Brotherhood and all of its offshoots have planted themselves in the West with the intent to destroy the culture. The Brotherhood is the mothership for the Muslim Student Association formed in 1963, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Islamic Association of Palestine founded in 1981 and Hamas founded by the Brotherhood in 1987. Other organizations have been developed to spread the word including; The United Association for Studies and Research, The Occupied Land Fund and the Media Office. The charitable arm of the Islamic Circle of North America is a donor to the Al-Khidmat Foundation, a Pakistani charity that, according to its own website, openly funds the Gaza-based terrorist group, Hamas.
Islam learned well from the Nazis.
We know their intent. In 2004 Federal investigators in the US found the document “An Explanatory Memorandum on the strategic Goal for the Group in North America, establishing an effective and a stable Islamic movement led by the Muslim Brotherhood…” They found the memorandum in the home of Ismael Elbarasse, a founder of the Dar Al-Hijrah mosque in Falls Church, Virginia. Elbarasse was a member of the Palestine Committee, which the Muslim Brotherhood had created to support Hamas in the United States.
Saudi wealth had helped to spread the Muslim Brotherhood ideology globally beginning in the 1960’s. “The Ikhwan [Muslim Brotherhood] must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion made victorious over all other religions.”
To complete that task they began to spread fear of criticizing Islam and the Prophet. No greater crime could there be than criticizing the ideology of Islam. They called it Islamophobia; the irrational fear of Islam. The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation reached out to media, academics, and experts and engaged with Western governments to raise awareness, support the efforts of Muslim civil society bodies in the West, and engage all in developing plans and programs to counter Islamophobia. It remains a propaganda success; silencing critics; suppressing free speech.
This was not a new concept. Islamophobia had been promoted by the Nazis. I often wonder if people like me would have been called Naziphobes back then?
Throughout the war years, the Nazi Propaganda Ministry repeatedly instructed the press to promote a positive image of Islam. Urging journalists to give credit to the “Islamic world as a cultural factor,” Goebbels in the autumn 1942 instructed magazines to discard negative images of Islam, which had been spread by church polemicists for centuries. References to similarities between Jews and Muslims, as manifested in the ban of pork and the ritual circumcision, were to be avoided. The Propaganda Ministry decreed that magazines should depict the U.S. as “the enemies of Islam” and stress American and British hostility toward the Muslim religion.”
In 1941, the Wehrmacht distributed the military handbook Der Islam to train the troops to behave correctly towards Muslim populations.
Heinrich Himmler wrote “What is there to separate the Muslims in Europe and around the world from us Germans? We have common aims. There is no more solid basis for cooperation than common aims and common ideals. For 200 years, Germany has not had the slightest conflict with Islam.” hitler praised Islam as a Männerreligion; a religion of men.
He had spoken of soldiers of Islam receiving a warrior’s heaven.Islam, he had intoned, was a cult which glorifies the heroism and which opens up the seven Heavens to bold warriors alone. Islam, he claimed, was much more suited to the ‘Germanic temperament’ than the Jewish filth.
And so the Männerreligion carried on without hitler as the Muslim leaders preached:
And the Muslim leaders cried:
“Oh, our Arab brethren… Oh, our Muslim brethren… Don’t leave the Palestinians alone in the war against the Jews…even if it has been decreed upon us to be the vanguard… Jerusalem, Palestine and Al Aksa (The Temple Mount), the land that Allah blessed and its surrounding areas will remain at the center of the struggle between Truth and Falsehood, between the Jews and the non-Jews on this sacred land, regardless of how many agreements are signed, regardless of how many treaties and covenants are ratified. For the Truth is in the Koran, as verified by the words of the prophet Muhammad that the decisive battle will be in Jerusalem and its environs: ‘The resurrection of the dead will not occur until you make war on the Jews…’
“The battle with the Jews will surely come… the decisive Muslim victory is coming without a doubt, and the prophet spoke about it in more than one Hadith: the Day of Resurrection will not come without the victory of the believers, the Muslims, over the descendants of the monkeys and pigs, the Jews and with their annihilation.”
“Our battle with World Jewry … is a question of life and death. It is a battle between two conflicting faiths, each of which can exist only on the ruins of the other.”
“When the Jews are wiped out…the sun of peace would begin to rise on the entire world.”
Is it any wonder that the Neo-nazis stand with Islam.
And so here we are, again. Antisemitism in the highest places. World leaders, from the UN to the EU(Mogherini) Jeremy Corbyn in Great Britain, leaders in Sweden and Ireland to all the Democrat Candidates for President in the USA and here in Canada the Liberal Party whose leader Trudeau stood with Iran and North Korea against Israel, and the NDP which now officially supports BDS.
And let us not forget Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, admirer of Hitler who spouts Nazi rhetoric.
“And don’t forget when it’s God who puts you in the ovens, it’s forever. And remember that I have warned you that Allah will punish you. You are wicked deceivers of the American people. You have sucked their blood. You are the synagogue of Satan.”
And his friends, Linda Sarsour, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, AOC and the Congressional Black Caucus. And, of course, Obama.
Institutions of higher learning are just as infected. Echoes of the hatred for Jews from German professors reverberate through time.
Accusations of Israel as an apartheid state on par with South Africa; calls for Boycott Divest and Sanction of the only democracy in the Middle East, are heard across University campuses around the world. Universities like McGill, McMaster, York and Ryerson in Canada to UC Davis, New York University and Columbia in America, Exeter and Oxford in Britain and a rise in Jew hatred across Germany where the sales of hitler’s Mein Kampf are rising astronomically. Our young people do not feel safe on our campuses. Can you blame them?
And today, again, main stream media, all over the world is enabling Jew hatred. Too many organizations like the CBC, promote left-wing narratives, propagandizing the apartheid wall and occupation with little to no push-back. And then are missing in action when antisemitic attacks take place; protecting Islam by refusing to name the culprits.
The Church of England recently shared its report Titled “God’s Unfailing Word: Theological and Practical Perspectives on Christian-Jewish Relations,”
The 121-page report said attitudes towards Judaism over centuries had provided a “fertile seed-bed for murderous anti-Semitism,” and that Anglicans and other Christians must repent for the “sins of the past,” as well as actively challenge anti-Semitic attitudes or stereotypes.
One would think that the Churches had learned a lesson. Sadly, many of these same churches stand with the antisemitic organization BDS.
With all this Jewish hatred around the world, too many of our people today are acting like the assimilated German Jews of the 1930’s. We have far too many “Jewish” organizations like IfNotNow, J Street, Jewish Voice for Peace, and Bend the Arc, and people like Bernie Farber who justify attacks on Jews, believing they will be spared. They won’t be spared. I just read that Bernie Farber, a man who too often stood with Muslims against the Jews, has now been labeled by the United Dawah Organization of Canada as “a Zionist.”
Rabbi Tarphon said “It is not incumbent upon you to complete the task, but you are not exempt from undertaking it.”
So what can we do?
We can all begin by learning about Israel’s legal rights. Buy this book The Jewish People’s Rights to the Land of Israel by the late great Salomon Benzimra. Fight the lies with the facts.
If we are going to stop this hate we must also strengthen our children. We can empower our children and grandchildren by encouraging them to join Hasbara Fellowships Canada and Herut. We must teach our Jewish children to be Lions of Judah. To never bend the knee, except to God. We must remind our grandchildren that we, the Jewish people, stand on the shoulders of giants, from our great Rabbinic teachers through time to the state of Israel whose achievements in science and the humanities, technology, medicine, agriculture, are unrivalled.
The Zohar tells us “It is not words that ascend, but rather the burning desire of the heart that rises like smoke to Heaven.”
We must ignite that burning desire. And act.
We must never again cower in the face of the evil of antisemitism.
Because Antisemitism kills.
From the Ethics of the Fathers: “Rabbi Tarfon used to say, it is not incumbent upon you to complete the task, but you are not exempt from undertaking it.”