This latest article by Dr.Gerstenfeld was originally published in the Jerusalem Post, and republished here with the author’s consent…
A CRUCIAL MESSAGE TO THE HOLOCAUST FORUM IS NEEDED
Tens of heads of State will come to Jerusalem to participate in the Fifth Holocaust Forum. This event will begin at Yad Vashem on 23 January and take place under the auspices of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. The gathering is a unique occasion to publicly convey a crucial message in the battle against antisemitism to a top audience. The Israeli government and Jewish institutions have for decades neglected to publicly transmit the message that antisemitism has been an integral part of Western culture for more than a thousand years. This fact is essential in understanding and fighting contemporary antisemitism and must therefore be continuously repeated.
More than a millennium ago powerful organizations – mainly, but not exclusively in the West — have promoted the idea that Jews are absolute evil. The Roman Catholic Church was the original source of this hateful idea. It was later followed by various other Christian denominations. Jews in all generations were accused of killing the alleged son of God, Jesus, and were charged with the responsibility for his death.
Christian theologians stereotyped the Jews. Instead of faulting some individuals in a remote past, they blamed all Jews in every generation for a crime their ancestors had not committed. By doing this, they made a huge contribution to what today is commonly known as racism. Stereotyping people is a core element of this evil. When Christians brutalized Jews, they developed the malicious claim that the resulting suffering of the Jews was divine punishment for not recognizing Jesus.
Among the Protestant reformers, Martin Luther in his later years stands out as a rabid antisemite. He wrote that Jews should be housed in stables, their books should be taken away and if rabbis preached, they should be killed. Luther also recommended that synagogues should be burned for the honor of God and Christianity.1 Nowadays, the World Council of Churches is among the major Christian hate mongers against Israel.2
On the centuries-old infrastructure of Christian antisemitism, a second type of antisemitism developed: ethnic/nationalist antisemitism. Without the Christian hatred-groundwork, many in European societies would probably have been less willing to collaborate with German murderers in the persecution of the Jews.
The Anti-Defamation League has published several studies about a number of European countries as well as the United States and Argentina. The polls found that even in present times 26% of Christians believe in the canard that Jews are responsible for the death of Jesus.3
With the development of Western culture, antisemitism also mutated. Anti-Israelism has the same core motifs as the two previous types of “classic” antisemitism. In Christian antisemitism Jews were absolute evil because of the false accusation that they had killed Jesus. In the subsequent Nazi ideology, Jews were absolute evil because they were falsely considered subhuman, born defective, insects, vermin or bacteria.
In contemporary society, behaving like Nazis and planning genocide represent absolute evil. From various studies we know that a large minority of the European population believe incorrectly that Israel intends to commit genocide of the Palestinians or alternatively, that it behaves toward the Palestinians like the Nazis did toward the Jews.4
There are many proofs of the ongoing interwovenness of antisemitism with Western culture. Rothschild, Jews and money are recurring dark associations used by antisemites. Long before, the Church had already blamed Judas Iscariot of selling Jesus for money. Shylock still reappears in Western society as the quintessential usurer. Despite Nazism’s extreme evil, the Nazi thinker Martin Heidegger, became the leading philosopher in post-war Europe.5
There is much additional proof that antisemitism is interwoven with Western culture. In post-modernity, many major new intellectual or ideological currents sooner or later develop antisemitic expressions. The human rights movement is packed with anti-Israeli NGO’s. Its highest organ, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), is a morally corrupt body permeated by anti-Israel hate mongering.
There are a variety of other examples of contemporary ideological movements where antisemitism has emerged. A few examples: Feminism is an obvious one.6 So are parts of the LGBT movement. Some people in that movement accuse Israel of ‘pink-washing.’ This idea purports that Israel’s granting of equal rights to the gay community is a means of diverting attention from its supposed discrimination against Palestinians.7 The intersectionality movement often aims for the solidarity of all victims except Jews.
In academia, post-colonialism advocates sometimes call Israel a “colonial power.”8 The term is a huge distortion. Israel’s behavior toward the Palestinians bears no resemblance to the massive crimes of the Belgian, British, Dutch, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish colonizers against the conquered people over the centuries. Those countries subjugated people to make money. Jews did the opposite. They invested great effort and substantial sums of money into reviving their ancestral land from long-standing neglect.
The upcoming Holocaust forum is a unique occasion for the organizers to publicly present the above messages. It is shameful that so many Jewish organizations have failed to stress the ongoing interwovenness of Jew-hatred antisemitism with Western culture and what that means for understanding and fighting contemporary antisemitism.