Sunday, February 16, 2014

Mr. Foxman, Stop Crying Wolf!

Abraham Foxman, National Director of the ADL
Does antisemitism exist in the world today? Of course it does. One would have to be blind, deaf, and dumb to believe it doesn’t. It always has and it probably always will. But I have to challenge Abe Foxman’s claim that it is at its worst since the Holocaust.

Really? Since the Holocaust? I’m sorry; I do not see any concentration camps or death camps being built anywhere. And I am frankly upset at all the paranoia about it by people who’s careers depend on the existence of Antisemitism. People like Abe Foxman who earn a hefty salary of well over a half million dollars annually.

I do not begrudge being paid handsomely for a job well done. I believe that the Anti Defamation League (ADL) is a valuable asset in combating Antisemitism where ever it exists. But when the leader of that organization starts crying ‘wolf’ at the drop of a hat, I get suspicious. Especially since his job depends on fighting that ‘wolf. Even if he makes these statements in the context of his retirement announcement. He has announced his retirement effective 16 moths from now. That is a year and a half worth of salary worth nearly a million dollars.

Mr. Foxman can easily point to incidents that have happened that were antisemitic over the last year. But what he does not do is look at them in the context of our current status. Which is quite good these days.

And yet Mr. Foxman insists that his is the worst of times on this subject. This kind of  declaration is counterproductive. It reinforce the paranoia that exists among some Jews that the whole world is out to get us. And that is very far from the case.

Hasn’t Mr. Foxman noticed that this is perhaps the greatest time in history to be a Jew since the destruction of the 2nd Temple in Jerusalem? Does he not know about Vatican II? Has he not seen the incredible warmth that the Catholic Church has increasingly displayed towards us since then? Is there a greater philosemite than Pope Francis?

Has he not heard of Pastor John Hagee whose  organization Christians United for Israel (CUFI)'s support for Israel rivals even the most pro Israel Jewish organizations? Does he not know about 56 million Evangelicals who believe it is their biblical duty to bless the Jewish people?

Is he blind to all the successes the Jewish people have reached in all aspects of American society - reaching the highest echelons of academia, the professions, business, government, and entertainment?  Even the sad fact of high rates of  intermarriage is a direct result of not only our acceptance, but the fact that it is now cool to be Jewish! Has he not read the statistics that consider Judaism to be the most popular religion in America?

One might say that this may be true in America but not in the rest of the world, I would agree that there is a lot more antisemitism in the rest of the world than there is here. But even that is changing.  I have for example read story after story about young Germans that had been kept in the dark by their parents or grandparents about the Holocaust.  When they started asking questions about it and found out that their parents may have been complicit in it, they came in many cases to totally reject their parents and have gone on to do things to try and make amends in some way. In one case I read about, a discovery by a German citizen that her father was a Nazi officer during the war led her to eventually convert to Judaism. She now lives in Israel!

As recently as today, the German government has announced that it is setting up a task force to find art looted by the Nazis during the war. Their goal is to return them to their rightful owners or their descendants – many of whom were Jewish.

 Here are some more  facts that establish how different the world is now. And these things happened in just this past year of 2013. From the Chicago Jewish News:
Plans for a memorial in Munich to 11 Israelis murdered at the 1972 Summer Olympics there were unveiled. The planned hall of remembrance is slated to be built near the site that housed the games and will allow visitors to learn about the events and the victims. “We must not forget the victims,” Bavarian Minister of Education and Cultural Affairs Ludwig Spaenle said.
Spain’s ruling party has submitted a bill proposing to put in place a procedure for granting Spanish citizenship to Sephardic Jews descended from the hundreds of thousands of Jews who were forced to leave Spain during the Spanish Inquisition. The bill proposes to naturalize applicants irrespective of their country of residence and without requiring them to relinquish any other nationalities they may already possess. 
The Russian city of Rostov-on-Don has agreed to acknowledge the Jewish identity of Holocaust victims killed there by the Nazis. The municipality’s Memorial Council announced its decision to revise a memorial plaque at the Zmievskaya Balka mass grave to mention the Jewish identity of the majority of the approximately 27,000 bodies buried there in 1942.
The old plaque commemorates the “mass killing by the fascists of captured Soviet citizens.” The new plaque will read: “The largest site of mass killings in the Russian Federation of Jews by the Nazi invaders during World War II.”
Poland’s parliament named 2014 the Year of Jan Karski, honoring the man who alerted the allies about the Holocaust. Karski was a courier for the Polish resistance during World War II. He infiltrated the Warsaw Ghetto and was among the first to relay firsthand news of the Holocaust to the West.
So I have to ask, Mr. Foxman? Does any of this indicate to you that we are now in the midst of the most antisemitic period since the Holocaust? Because if this is antisemitism - I’ll take it.

This does not mean that real antisemitism doesn’t exist at all. Of course it does - as I said at the outset. Now-a-days it comes mostly in the form of being anti Zionist. But even there one has to distinguish between legitimate criticism and antisemitism disguised as anti Zionism.

To the extent that it exists at all, we have to be vigilant. Which is why I believe that the ADL does serve a good purpose. If history has taught us anything at all, it has taught us that. We need to have our collective antennae up.  You never know what will happen to change things and it could happen suddenly. But to make the claim now that antisemitism is at its worst since World War II is just plain ridiculous. It is tantamount to crying wolf, when the wolf is nowhere near us.