Sixty years after the liberation of Auschwitz, we are still witnessing anti-Semitism. The question should be: Why?
The heads of state from France, Germany, Russia, Poland and Israel gathered in Auschwitz to remember the anniversary of its liberation 60 years prior. They all met with sincere remarks, but all well knowing that anti-Semitism has not run its full course just yet. A report released by the Israeli government quoted Minister Natan Sharansky as saying, “anti-Semitic expression has grown over recent years and the greatest number of events and most severe attacks occur in Europe.” An additional report from the U.S. State Department concluded the same exact thing: New or old, hatred against Jews is still going strong.
Some of you may have read these reports and thought, “Well, duh!” Yes, there is and probably always will be discrimination around the world, but the persecution against Jews has its roots in the soil of Europe.
An Israeli report in 2004 cited that incidents and actions taken against Jews jumped 20 percent in Europe, with France at the lead. Incidentally, France is home to the largest populations of Jews and Muslims in Europe; this may give reason to the friction in that country.
Many political elites across Europe blame the estranged Muslims for these acts of hatred, alluding to the struggle between Palestine and Israel. The Arab-Israeli conflict has made its way into Europe via the media. But identifying the European media as anti-Semitic may be too audacious, but the prejudice across the continent is evidentiary enough to point the finger.
On the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the National Democratic Party of Germany refused to take part in the minute of silence to remember those who died during the Holocaust. Furthermore, Britain’s Muslim Council refused to participate in the Holocaust Memorial Day; a referee this past October in the Netherlands canceled a football game because he was receiving anti-Semitic messages; and all across Europe, anti-Israeli sentiment is strong and on the upswing. Is there any need to worry? Yes.
The discrimination against Jews in Europe is alarming, but it’s those countries outside the European Union that are most disquieting — namely Russia.
Recently a group of Russian Nationalists suggested that all Jewish organizations should be banned. However, Jews are not the only targets. Not only is anti-Semitism swelling among the diverse population in the region, but hatred for Chechens and Caucasians is, as well.
Hence, the many diverse groups do not have healthy relations with each other. Subsequently, many fear that only a thread binds the Kremlin, and if it snaps, it could result in a crisis that could see the resurrection of xenophobia.
Marsha Lipman who is involved with the Carnegie Center in Moscow says: “A political change, brought about by a crisis, is certainly not going to bring about more tolerant, liberal people to power.”
There is always going to be revulsion in the world, but the first line of defense is to recognize it. We as Americans must be cognizant of what is going on around us. In a world where genocide in Sudan and concealed mass graves in Iraq being unearted are present day topics, we must stay aware.
Our country, as all others, must step up to end this intolerance before it once again spreads and grows to genocidal proportions.
Erik Raymond is a junior majoring in economics and pre-law.