Monday, April 20, 2009

Hitler, Durban, Holocaust

Jewish holidays begin at sunset and end at sunset. This evening will see the beginning of Holocaust Commemoration Day in Israel (and in some Jewish communities beyond), called Yom HaShoah in Hebrew. The New York Times has a chilling article about the Nazi killing fields in the Soviet Union. A brief reminder of the dimensions of that horror.

Once every 19 years or so Yom HaShoah falls on April 20th, Hitler's birthday. During the Nazi era this was a very important day, with parades and ceremonies. Someone I know who went to an AUstrian highschool in the 1970s once told me that every year on April 20th many of the students appeared at school in brown shirts. In the 1970s.

Of course, we've got the Durban II United Nations anti-racism conference starting today, too. So far it's being boycotted by Australia, Canada, Germany, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United States and New Zealand, because it's got nothing to do with anti racism, and everything to do with antisemitism and shielding Islam from free speech. Iran's president is scheduled to give a speech there today, and the representatives of the UK, France, Austria, and other upright democracies will be there to celebrate with him, as will the Arab folks who recently feted Sudan's Omar Bashir, the indicted mass murderer and genocidaire.

The AP has a roundup on the event, which is mostly reasonable except for this wierd paragraph:
Still, after years of preparations there appears little evidence to validate these fears. The statement of 2001 that is so contentious now was cheered in Israel at the time, as it recognized the Jewish state's right to security.
Antisemitism has always flourished on lies, nothing new there. Anyway, the conflation of all these events on one day do rather serve to underline the state of the world. There have been worse moments of time, certainly, but the room for improvement keeps on getting bigger. Finally, the Palestinian contribution: a recent sermon by Ziad Abu Alhaj, broadcast on Hamas television on April 3rd, 2009. Here's some background. Notice that while the man doesn't like Israel, his hatred is directed at Jews, all of them always, his source is (his reading of) the Koran, and he's very clearly calling for world-wide genocide.

Before you get agitated about the wrong things, however: the content of his hate speech isn't new. People have been saying things like this with regularity for millennia, and some of their listeners have acted upon it will regularity of their own, even if the attempt to kill all Jews was a Nazi novelty. If there's anything new about that sermon, it's that now there's a large international constituency, a broad deep and important one, that fervently tells us the sermon doesn't mean what it says, it's not serious, or if it is it could easily be defused if only the Jews took note and changed, and what have you. That, perhaps, may be new. And perhaps not.


Marc said...

The clincher is when you hear, "He's only speaking the language of the Arab street." As if Arabs don't understand anything until they hear the word "Jews"--then their ears perk up!

Anonymous said...

The "Arab street"?! Oh please. As if the dictators in Egypt, Syria or Saudi Arabia care what their people think of them!

The menacing "Arab street" is invoked as an important factor in how US and Israeli policies are viewed by Arabs, but you never hear that same "street" demonstrating against joblessness, corruption, or lack of democracy.

Only select forms of dissent are allowed expression in the Arab world. Which means ALL dissent needs to be viewed skeptically.


Meryl Yourish said...

The AP is lying about the reaction in Israel in 2001. Israel walked out on Durban I. There was no cheering of the anti-Semitic statement.

Today, the AP refuses to report the worst of what Ahmadinejad said. So far, I've only found the text of the worst anti-Semitic remarks in the Washington Post. Not in Reuters, or AFP. Big surprise. Not.