Antisemitism, the ancient hatred against Jews, adapts to new societal and political environments and continues to grow ever more quickly. It is expressed today in a wide variety of forms: in its old religiously-motivated forms, in extreme forms of nationalism and far-right Jew hatred, but also in new forms of antisemitism that disguise as anti-Zionism.
Hatred seems to find fertile ground in Europe once again, as it did during the Holocaust. ‘It takes good men to do nothing’ in order for antisemitism to become once more state policy. According to the Second Report on Experiences and Perceptions of antisemitism by the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency, 89% of European Jews feel that antisemitism is growing in their country, 34 % avoid visiting Jewish events or sites and 38% have considered emigrating because of antisemitism. 75 years after the Holocaust, these worrying numbers testify that Jews no longer feel safe in Europe.
The normalisation of antisemitism encourages acts of violence against individuals and Jewish institutions. Extreme acts of antisemitic hatred became the front page of newspapers in Europe. Jewish children murdered at school, a Holocaust Survivor killed in her own house, Jews murdered while shopping in a supermarket, and a community volunteer killed in front of a synagogue – all these horrific acts of violence did not occur during the Shoah, but in the last few years.
The Holocaust was a man-made disaster that shattered Europe to its core. People divided society in two – superior and inferior, promulgated laws against the latter, stripped them of their humanity, and made fatal decisions and acted upon them. The Holocaust was committed by people against people.
We must remain vigilant and confront any sign of hatred, speak out when we see others being discriminated, and never stop fighting for equality and human rights, for all citizens.
In some cases, the first act of hatred is denial, the desire to rewrite or erase history. Holocaust denial and distortion are forms of antisemitism.
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance defines Holocaust denial “as a discourse and propaganda that deny the historical reality and the extent of the extermination of the Jews by the Nazis and their accomplices during World War II, known as the Holocaust or the Shoah. Holocaust denial refers specifically to any attempt to claim that the Holocaust/Shoah did not take place.”
The denial of the Holocaust is a manipulation of truth and history meant to stir antisemitism and conspiracy theories. Racists and extremists instrumentalise the Holocaust in order to propagate their hateful ideologies against Jews, but also against the Jewish State. Echoing this depiction of reality, a third of Europeans said that Jews use the Holocaust to advance their own positions or goals, and a third of survey respondents believe that Israel uses the Holocaust to justify its actions, according to a poll conducted by the CNN.
Antisemitism, and its derived form of Holocaust denial, is a danger for our democratic societies that threatens to create division between ‘us’ and ‘them’ once again.
In the aftermath of the human tragedy that the Holocaust was, it is crucial for the whole society to unite against extremism, intolerance, discrimination and hatred of any form.
Definition of Antisemitism
“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
Definition of Holocaust Denial
“Holocaust denial is discourse and propaganda that deny the historical reality and the extent of the extermination of the Jews by the Nazis and their accomplices during World War II, known as the Holocaust or the Shoah. Holocaust denial refers specifically to any attempt to claim that the Holocaust/Shoah did not take place.”