Category: Jewish Culture

Argentina Jews call for action after spate of anti-Semitic attacks

Rabbi Shlomo Tawil, head of the Chabad House in Rosario, Argentina. (Facebook)

Assault on rabbi prompts fresh concern over rising violence against Jews in country, which for first time has an anti-Jewish presidential candidate.

BUENOS AIRES — Argentinean and international Jewish organizations are demanding action from local and regional authorities amid recent violent anti-Semitic attacks in the country.

The Argentinean Jewish political umbrella DAIA labeled Sunday’s attack on Rabbi Shlomo Tawil in Rosario as “brutal anti-Semitic aggression” and demanded an investigation into the climate that may have spawned such violence.

The attack on Tawil is the third physical anti-Semitic assault in the last two months. There other two took place in Buenos Aires, one in April and one in May. Such assaults have been rare.

“Argentina isn’t an anti-Semitic country but has anti-Semitic episodes. Now these episodes are more violent and more frequents. This ongoing new reality is very worrying,” Ariel Gelblung, the Latin America representative for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

The Alarming Rise of Anti-Semitism in Europe

Eva Cossé writes:

The Alarming Rise of Anti-Semitism in Europe.

European Governments and Public Should Stand Up Against Hate.

On May 24, a Jewish cemetery was vandalized in the city of Bordeaux, France. On May 26, Germany’s government anti-Semitism Commissioner warned Jewish men against wearing the kippah in public following a spike in attacks against Jews. On May 28, the United Kingdom’s national human rights institution launched a formal investigation into anti-Semitism within the Labour Party, including whether the party has unlawfully discriminated against, harassed, or victimized people because they are Jewish.

The evidence of rising anti-Semitism in Europe has become impossible to ignore.

In a December 2018 survey on experiences and perceptions of anti-Semitism in Europe, the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency found 89% of Jews living in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, France, Hungary, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the UK feel anti-Semitism has increased in their country over the past decade, while 85% believed it to be a serious problem. Almost half worried about being insulted or harassed in public because they are Jewish, and more than a third feared being physically attacked.

According to a recent report by France’s National Human Rights Advisory Committee (CNCDH), in 2018 anti-Semitic acts in France increased more than 70% compared to the previous year.

In Germany in 2018, anti-Semitic crimes, which include hate speech, rose by 20%, according to government data. According to the same data, there were 62 violent anti-Semitic attacks, compared to 37 in 2017. And in the UK, the Community Security Trust, a nongovernmental organization, recorded 1,652 anti-Semitic incidents in 2018, including 123 involving violence.

Since hate crimes are generally underreported in the EU, the real figures on anti-Semitism in these and other EU states are likely to be much higher.

CHEAPENING THE HOLOCAUST

There is an adage when it comes to arguments on the Internet known as “Godwin’s Law,” which states that the longer a dispute goes on, the more likely it is that one side will be compared to Hitler or Nazis.
Unfortunately, it seems that this is not only true of Twitter or other Internet discussions, but it has become prevalent in Israeli public discourse as well.
Amid the discussion of judicial reform and a bill to exempt all MKs from prosecution unless the Knesset votes to lift their immunity (which was the case until 2005) as a policy the coalition-in-waiting may promote, two very high-profile figures sought to present the move as a slippery slope indicating the decline of democracy. So slippery, they implied, that it was a first step on the road to Nazism.
First came likely opposition leader and Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz, who made references to two well-known speeches having to do with Nazis in his inaugural speech to the Knesset last week.
“I do not stand here alone,” Gantz said. “I stand here in the name of over a million men and women who voted for Blue and White.” This was a paraphrase of Gideon Hausner, chief prosecutor in the Eichmann trial in which an Israeli court sentenced the architect of the Holocaust to death. Said Hausner: “I am not standing alone. With me are six million accusers.”
Then came Gantz’s tribute to Winston Churchill’s famous speech rousing British troops in their fight against the Nazis: “We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”
Gantz’s version was: “We will fight in the streets, in the town squares, in the neighborhoods, in the schools, in the media and the courts – for the rule of law.”
The question must be asked: If Gantz is Hausner, who is Eichmann in this scenario? If he’s Churchill, who are the Axis powers?
The next day, Supreme Court President Esther Hayut spoke to the Israeli German Lawyers Association in Nuremberg, the place where Nazi racial laws were authorized and where Nazi war criminals were sentenced to death.
“You may believe that the institutions defending democracy will stand forever and withstand every attack, but history proves that even existing institutions can be dispossessed of their power and indispensability,” she said.
Hayut cited a 1933 article from a German Jewish newspaper doubting that Hitler and the Nazi Party would succeed, because of the checks and balances built into Germany’s system of government.
The implication was easy to understand.
Both of these remarks are completely unacceptable, especially coming from Hayut who, as head of the Supreme Court, is supposedly apolitical. But they were inappropriate even from Gantz.
There are legitimate arguments for or against judicial reform and the immunity bill, even if the timing of the latter – ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pre-indictment hearing – is highly suspect.
The fact that an open debate is taking place with harsh criticism on both sides – and a planned mass rally next weekend – is a sign of the strength of Israeli democracy, not that it is in decline to the point of Nazism. What is happening is concerning, but we are not on the verge of seeing the establishment of the Third Reich in Israel.
Therein lies the crux of the problem with Gantz’s and Hayut’s remarks. By implying that this policy debate, of all things, is the road to Nazism, they are making the Holocaust sound almost trivial and far less evil than it was. They are cheapening the memory of the six million Jews who perished, as well as the survivors.
Just last week, Israelis took a stand against the Polish government and US Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib for whitewashing the Holocaust. For top Israeli officials to do the same is wrong.

Un psiquiatra en Auschwitz

Viktor Frankl

Un lector mediano tirando a bueno en un país como España piensa en los libros sobre el Holocausto que han pasado por sus manos. ¿Qué tenemos en la biblioteca? La trilogía de Primo Levi, claro, que es una especie de inventario de todo lo que pasó en los campos de concentración, igual que ‘La noche de Elie Wiesel’. Tenemos algún ensayo sobre Eichmann (quizá la crónica de su juicio de Hannah Arendt o sus réplicas, como el libro de Harry Mulisch, más o menos reciente) y puede que las investigaciones de Lawrence Rees sobre el diseño de la solución final… Alguna novela aparecerá por ahí. Por ejemplo, aquel ‘Goetz y Meyer’ de David Albahari, sobre los dos soldaduchos alemanes que llevaban el camión con los cuerpos de los primeros judíos a los que fusilaron en Serbia. O las de Giorgio Bassani sobre los deportados italianos. O las de Imre Kertesz sobre los húngaros… Y entre todas esas lecturas podrá construir un qué, quién, cómo, por qué Auschwitz, Mathausen y Theresienstadt.

No es poco pero tampoco es suficiente porque, al final, no hay respuesta para la pregunta que se queda en el aire: ¿cómo pudo aquella gente ver aquel terror, experimentarlo en su carne y no volverse loca? Primo Levi se suicidó igual que Tadeusz Borowski (su equivalente polaco), mil años después de Auschwitz. Y la tendencia es pensar que lo normal es eso, no soportar la mala conciencia por haber sobrevivido, las imágenes tormentosas que quedan en la cabeza, que lo normal es descerrajarse la cabeza.

Si alguien reconoce esa inquietud, que busque ‘El hombre en busca de sentido’ (editado en España por primera vez en 1991), un libro menos conocido que es a la vez ensayo de psicoanálisis, libro de testimonio y, a su manera, himno vitalista.

El caso es interesante: Viktor Frankl era un judío laico y ‘bien’ (1936) que creció en la Viena de Freud. Estudió Psiquiatría y Neurología, se acercó y después se alejó al inevitable Sigmund, tuvo éxito en su oficio y logró conservar su trabajo hasta una fecha increíblemente tardía para Austria: 1942. Después, Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, Kaufering y Turkheim donde, entre otras cosas, hizo terapia con sus compañeros de calvario. Salió de tres años de internamiento más o menos de una pieza y escribió uno de los primeros libros testimoniales sobre los campos de concentración.

Frankl fue el primero en hablar de los capos, los judíos colaboracionistas que prosperaron en los campos de concentración. También fue el primero en hablar de la presión emocional de sus víctimas: “Es muy fácil para el que no ha estado nunca en un campo de concentración hacerse una idea equivocada de la vida en él, idea en la que piedad y simpatía aparecen mezcladas, sobre todo al no conocer prácticamente nada de la dura lucha por la existencia que precisamente en los campos más pequeños se libraba entre los prisioneros, del combate inexorable por el pan de cada día y por la propia vida, por el bien de uno mismo y por el de un buen amigo. Pongamos como ejemplo las veces en que oficialmente se anunciaba que se iba a trasladar a unos cuantos prisioneros a un campo de concentración, pero no era muy difícil adivinar que el destino final de todos ellos sería sin duda la cámara de gas“.

Video/ How Should Americans Tackle Anti-Semitism?

Video/ How Should Americans Tackle Anti-Semitism?

“Our country and many others around the world have entered a dark period when virulent nationalism and bigotry are on the rise,” says Atlantic staff writer Emma Green. In a new Atlantic Argument, Green explains how the recent uptick in anti-Semitism is particularly alarming in Europe; a recent CNN poll revealed that a quarter of Europeans believe Jews have too much influence in business, finance, and wars across the world. “So how do we stop this?” Green says in the video. “The question we should be asking is whether the latest wave of anti-Semitism can be stopped with elections alone.”