If I'm being blunt, I've probably erred too much on the side of public silence, choosing to not to rock the boat out of fear that someone in the fast-changing and fast-constricting world of conventional media will somehow take exception to my decision to share my views on racism and xenophobia.
But history is a funny teacher, and I grew up with the lesson that silence in the face of racism merely encourages that racism to grow. Many Jews said nothing in the 1930s as Hitler consolidated his power, mistakenly believing it was better to say nothing and hope the storm would pass over them.
We all know what happened next. So, no, silence is no longer an option.
Here's the deal: Anti-Semitism is on the rise. In Canada. In the U.S. In Europe. Everywhere. It takes many forms. Indeed, just take a quick peek into my Facebook feed at the Jew-hatred that masquerades as anti-Israel sentiment. "We don't hate Jews," they say, "only Israel." Sure thing, folks. Say that lie often enough and I suppose you'll eventually believe anything. We've been hearing similar idiocy for millenia, and it always speaks to the same end. You hate us. Always have and always will. At least have the guts not to lie about it. No one believes that anti-Zionism is anything other than thinly veiled Jew hatred. Likewise, BDS (boycott, divest, sanction) activists would be perfectly happy if Israel ceased to exist and took every last Jew with it.
So imagine my surprise when I saw a news item about an Arab newspaper here in normally quiet, genteel London. The monthly publication, Al Saraha, included an article republished from an Egyptian newspaper that recycled many of the most virulent forms of Jew-hatred. The article, "The Question Which Everyone Ignores: Why Did Hitler Kill the Jews?" covered lots of ground:
- It denied that 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust, insisting that "Jewish propaganda managed to spread [this number] and establish it."
- It continued: "the Jews caused most of the economic collapses that occurred in the banks in the period between 1870 and 1920."
- And still continued: "The first theatres of homosexuality appeared in Berlin in the 1920’s, and the first presentations of pornography appeared in 1880 and 1890 by the hands of Jewish authors"
- And finally, it credited Hitler with creating 6 million new jobs after his election in 1933, and it is this number that feeds the "Jewish propaganda" number of 6 million Jews killed as part of his Final Solution.
The Premier of Ontario, Kathleen Wynne, has joined the chorus of voices denouncing this none-too-subtle form of institutionalized xenophobia, and as encouraged as I am that it's filtered to the highest levels of government, I'm also realistic: We're surrounded by this, and no strongly-worded statement from a politician is going to make it stop. The people who wrote this fecal matter in the first place, the people who published it, then republished it, and who read it and cheer it, they won't stop until there are no more of us. And if they're not going after Jews, they're going after any other identifiable group that doesn't fit their twisted view of the world.
Because the calendar may say 2016, but the base forms of hatred that led to the Holocaust, the Armenian genocide, Rwanda, fundamentalist-driven terrorism and so many other forms of senseless human behaviors are more active today than perhaps at any point in human history. Indeed, I fear we'll never learn.
Insofar as this single piece of homegrown hatred is concerned, what's changed in the past few days is we're watching. And we'll no longer be silent.
- Ontario Arabic Newspaper Blames Jews for Holocaust (B'Nai Brith Canada, July 21, 2016, Byline Aidan Fishman)
- Denying denial (London Free Press, Front Page, July 22, 2016, Byline Hala Ghonaim & Jennifer O'Brien)
- "It's going to the garbage" (London Press Press, Front Page, July 23, 2016, Byline Hala Ghonaim)
- Hate messages must be denounced (London Free Press, opinion piece by B'nai Brith Canada CEO Michael Mostyn