Sabrina Shulman, Sidwell Friends '15








"'AFTER 70 YEARS, A JEW CAN’T WALK FREELY ON THE STREETS OF EUROPE WITHOUT FEARING FOR HIS LIFE,' SAID HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR SHALOM LINDENBAUM WHO WAS SENT TO AUSCHWITZ - THE NOTORIOUS DEATH CAMP -AT SIXTEEN. "

Although Europe is different from what it was like in the 1930’s and 1940’s, nobody expected anti-Semitism to rise as formidably as it has recently. Nearly a third of Europe’s Jews have discussed the possibility of emigrating, as they are unsure of whether they have a future in their centuries-old homes. After the Holocaust, Europeans hid their anti-Semitic sentiments out of shame and the eventual understanding/reckoning that the murder of six million Jews was a horrific act never to be repeated, accepted or tolerated again. Now, however, there seems to be a memory lapse; that is, a recognition that hateful words can lead to evil, unconscionable behavior.

The anti-Semitism that plagued Europe for generations previous, is the same one that pervades so intensely today; it is simply concealed under a different pretext. “In the Middle Ages, Jews were hated because of their religion. In the 19th century and the 20th, they were hated because of their race. Today, when it’s no longer ‘acceptable’ to hate people for their religion or their race, they are hated because of their state,” said the former Chief Rabbi of England, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. “The reason changes, but the hate stays the same.”

This past summer, anti-Israel rallies in Berlin near the city’s main Holocaust memorial featured anti-Semitic slogans like “Death to the Jews!” and “ Gas the Jews!”. Jeffrey Goldberg from the Atlantic said, “when people are yelling Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the Gas, these are not people who are worried about Israeli settlement policy, they have some deeper pathologies at work.” In Paris, the rallies were followed by looting of Jewish stores and the burning of a synagogue. And, most recently, Jews were killed in a kosher deli in France due to nothing more than their religion. These latest incidents recall similar anti-Jewish pogroms in Europe and Germany’s Third Reich. Perhaps most infamously, Kristallnacht or “Night of Broken Glass” in 1938. “We must remember that although we are more scientifically and technologically advanced from past generations, we are not necessarily morally advanced as well,” according to Sacks. That being said, this is not Europe of the 1930’s. Today’s anti-Semitic attacks are not state-sponsored. French leaders have strongly condemned the violence and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany last year led a rally against anti-Semitism in Berlin saying, “it is our national and civic duty to fight anti-Semitism.

Nonetheless, it is disturbing and incomprehensible that French Jews today are having the same conversation they had more than seven decades ago about emigrating due to fear and hatred. It makes one wonder how far the world has really come. As Richard Weaver, an American scholar noted, “the trouble with humanity is that it forgets to read the minutes of the last meeting.” We forget to remember that history repeats itself. As citizens of the world, we stand witness to the passing of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the death camp, Auschwitz, and we must remember to never forget.