anti-Semitism European History

Dr.Manfred Gerstenfeld: Do we really understand the Holocaust’s causes……?

Even after all the programs and lessons,….most still do not.

Centuries old Christian European Jew hatred after WWII  was unceremoniously shoved into the margins of society, it no longer was fashionable to vent this classic irrational hatred in public. This irrational Jew hatred never really went away, it just percolated under the surface with an eruption every so often. Now with the advent of the mass importation of hundreds of thousands of Jew hating Muslims (yes, according to the ADL, on the average over 74% or more, harbor classic Islamic Jew hatred), the latter is now supercharging the Jew hatred of the former.

NOTE: Dr.Gerstenfeld’s article: ‘Do we really understand the Holocausts’s causes?’ was originally published in Algemeiner and republished here with the author’s consent.


Manfred Gerstenfeld

This coming Friday is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It is often assumed that he long-lasting antisemitic infrastructure is evident on which the Germans and their allies created the Holocaust: many centuries of demonization of the Jews had created an atmosphere in Europe which made it possible for the Nazis to commit genocide against the Jews.


Over the course of centuries, Christianity systematically demonized the Jews. This demonization began in Roman Catholic theology. After the Reformation, part of the Protestant world, Martin Luther and his followers in particular, also promoted extreme antisemitic hatred. The late Robert Wistrich, the leading academic historian of antisemitism of our generation, described the history of demonization of the Jews once Christianity lost its intellectual monopoly in European society. A major role was first played by Voltaire and other French enlightenment philosophers. They were followed by German idealist and other philosophers as well as by 19th century French socialists and Karl Marx. Many others joined the hate promotion fest in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.1 Even after the Holocaust, Europe’s main philosopher remained the German antisemite and former member of the Nazi party, Martin Heidegger.2


Explanations may not be so simple. In 2015, Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby remarked that anti-Semitism is a complex and difficult subject, adding that it is still deeply embedded “in our history and culture in Western Europe.”3 British-Polish sociologist, Zygmunt Bauman, who recently passed away, claims that there is an additional far more opaque infrastructure for the Holocaust than mentioned before.. In his book Modernity and the Holocaust he links this genocide to structural elements of modern society. He states that the Holocaust was a product of men educated in the most refined culture of Western society. It was thus a product of Western civilization. In Bauman’s view the chances for a similar event to occur are still in place.4


As an aside, Bauman’s insights did not prevent him from making contemporary Holocaust distorting observations. In an interview with the Polish weekly Politika, he compared the Israeli separation fence to the walls surrounding the Warsaw Ghetto.5


The question as to whether a Second Holocaust is possible was the subject of a debate in 2002. American columnist, Ron Rosenbaum, claimed that it was likely that sooner or later a nuclear weapon would be detonated by Arab fundamentalists in Tel Aviv.6 This led to a reaction by Leon Wieseltier that the Jews had found both safety and strength after the war and Hitler was dead.7 Rosenbaum countered by claiming Wieseltier was fleeing into denial as there were many Hitler-like examples of demonization of the Jews in the Arab world.8 Furthermore in recent decades we have seen genocides elsewhere, the best known took place in Cambodia and Ruanda.


All this raises the question as to what the history of the Holocaust means for today. The above leads us mainly to perplexities rather than to conclusions. In contemporary society there are many demonizers of Jews and in particular of Israel.9 This is a multilayered process. At the forefront are forces from the Muslim world. First of all the Iranian rulers who have often mentioned that Israel will be wiped off the map10. Others include Muslim terror organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah as well as many individuals. Their de facto allies include a broad range of demonizers of Israel who knowingly ignore genocidal and demonizing tendencies in the Arab world. Some examples of these are the UN and associated bodies, NGOs, a variety of European socialist parties, many pseudoprogressive academics, numerous trade unionists and so on.


All the above can only lead to one conclusion: it is incumbent upon Israel and the Jewish world to make a huge effort to map how all this hangs together. Only once one understand the arrangement of one’s enemies on the battleground can one fight them effectively.





4 Zygmunt Bauman, Modernity and the Holocaust (Ithaca: Cornell University Press,

1989), 84ff


6 Ron Rosenbaum, “Second Holocaust,’ Roth’s Invention, Isn’t Novelistic. New York Observer. 14 April 2002.

7 Leon Wieseltier, “Against the Ethnic Panic of American Jews: Hitler Is Dead,” The New

Republic, 27 May 2002.

8 Ron Rosenbaum, “Can Wieseltier, D.C.’s Big Mullah, Have It Both Ways?” New York

Observer, 10 June 20



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