Coalition Letter in Support of the Never Again Education Act H.R. 5460 -…

Click here for the full letter

German band Rammstein blasted for concentration camp video

Jewish groups, government anti-Semitism official criticize as ‘tasteless’ hard rock band’s promotion video featuring members as Jewish inmates

German hard rock band Rammstein sparked protests from politicians, historians and Jewish groups Thursday with a video showing band members dressed as concentration camp prisoners with nooses around their necks.

Critics accused the Berlin-based group of a cynical publicity stunt playing with Nazi-era imagery to generate media hype and online clicks for their new single.

“With this new video, the band has crossed a line,” said Charlotte Knobloch, ex-president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany.

“The instrumentalization and trivialization of the Holocaust shown in the images are irresponsible,” she told Bild daily.

German Jewish community leader Charlotte Knobloch, seen in Jerusalem in 2009. (Wikimedia Commons)

“Rammstein is misusing the suffering and murder of millions for entertainment purposes in a frivolous and repulsive way.”

The industrial metal band founded in 1994 is known for their grinding guitar riffs, taboo-breaking antics and theatrical stage shows heavy on pyrotechnics.

Their songs have dealt with subjects from cannibalism to necrophilia, and the band name itself evokes the 1988 Ramstein air show disaster that killed 70 people and injured more than 1,000.

Frontman Till Lindemann, 56, asked in a 2006 interview whether the band would again dabble in Nazi themes, said: “No. Because I am fed up with allegations of being a right-wing band.”

However, in the new promotional clip, the band members are dressed in black-and-white striped concentration camp garb and seemingly awaiting their execution by hanging.

Germany’s special envoy on anti-Semitism Felix Klein. (Courtesy German Interior Ministry)

Lindemann is shown bleeding from a facial cut and guitarist Paul Landers, 54, wears a Star of David.

At the end of the 35-second clip, the song title “Deutschland” (Germany) appears in Gothic letters.

Bild quoted a lineup of politicians who voiced anger and disgust, with Jewish historian Michael Wolffsohn labeling it “a new form of desecration of the dead.”

Germany’s anti-Semitism commissioner Felix Klein called it “a tasteless exploitation of artistic freedom” that “represents the transgression of a red line.”

A year ago, German rappers Farid Bang and Kollegah sparked outrage with lyrics boasting that their bodies were “more defined than Auschwitz prisoners.” The scandal spelled the end of the German music industry’s sales-based Echo prize which had been awarded to the duo and helped spark large rallies calling for solidarity with Jews in Berlin and other cities.


FBI to return Nazi-stolen art to Jewish collector’s heirs

Salomon Koninck’s 1639 ‘A Scholar Sharpening His Quill’ was stolen from art collector Adolphe Schloss and sent to Hitler’s headquarters in Munich

Salomon Koninck's 1639 "A Scholar Sharpening His Quill, (Photo US District Attorneys Office)

Salomon Koninck’s 1639 “A Scholar Sharpening His Quill, (Photo US District Attorneys Office)

NEW YORK — A painting stolen from the family of art collector Adolphe Schloss by Germans during the World War II occupation of France will be returned to his descendants in New York, the French consulate said in a statement Tuesday.

The painting, Dutch artist Salomon Koninck’s 1639 “A Scholar Sharpening His Quill,” was part of an important collection of Flemish and Dutch works owned by Schloss, a Jewish man who lived in Paris.

The identities of Schloss’s descendants were not immediately available.

A collection of some 333 paintings owned by Schloss was originally stored in southern France during World War II before the Nazis found and seized it.

Some of those works, including the Koninck painting, were then sent to Hitler’s headquarters in Munich.

The painting resurfaced in November 2017 when a Chilean art dealer tried to sell it through a New York auction house, the Manhattan federal prosecutor said last year upon launching a formal procedure to return it to Schloss’s heirs.

The seller explained to authorities that his father had purchased the piece in 1952 from Walter Andreas Hofer, the man who was in charge of buying art for Nazi leader Hermann Goring, and a major player on the stolen goods market.

Millions of items owned by Jews and in art galleries were confiscated under the Nazi-aligned French Vichy government’s anti-Semitic laws during the German occupation.

With several major auction houses located in New York, Manhattan prosecutors regularly submit requests to return goods stolen during World War II.

Yad Vashem to break ground on new artifacts center on Holocaust Remembrance Day

Enlarged Shoah Heritage Campus to include millions of documents and artifacts, from a toddler’s shoe marked with the day she died to a portrait of a Nazi painted on a Torah scroll

During a behind-the-scenes tour of Yad Vashem’s new curatorial center this winter, the Israel Holocaust museum’s Sarah Shor held up a petite child’s shoe and pointed to a pair of knitted gloves. Shor told the group of Jewish journalists seated in the glass-walled room that they had once belonged to two-year-old Hinda Cohen, who was born to Tzipporah and Dov Cohen in the Kovno Ghetto in Lithuania on January 18, 1942.

The table was littered with dozens of artifacts, from a portrait of a Nazi soldier painted on a Torah scroll to the striped pajamas of a camp intern. Every item had a story behind it, attesting to the life of the former owner. But there are few things more chilling than seeing the physical remnants of a life cut too short: blue gloves with a purple design worked in by the hands of a loving mother, and well-polished minuscule shoes.

Father Dov etched the date into the shoe, found under her bed with scant few other items and vowed to keep it until his death, a promise he kept.

Yad Vashem’s Sarah Shor shows a group of journalists the ‘canvas’ for the portrait of a Nazi soldier — a Torah scroll, at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, December 18, 2018. (Amanda Borschel-Dan/Times of Israel)

Hinda and the children were taken to Auschwitz, where they were immediately murdered.

Now, on Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day, the day commemorating the loss of six million Jews in the Holocaust, Israel’s Yad Vashem will break ground on a new state-of-the-art subterranean center to house and conserve millions of artifacts such as these. The more than 210 million documents, 500,000 photographs, 131,000 survivor testimonies, 32,400 artifacts and 11,500 works of art in Yad Vashem’s collections to date bear witness to the lives of those lost to the Nazis’ genocide, not only their deaths.

“The German Nazis were determined not only to annihilate the Jewish people, but also to obliterate their identity, memory, culture and heritage,” said Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev in a press release.

“For many, all that remains are a treasured work of art, a personal artifact that survived with them, a photograph kept close to their person, a diary, or a note. By preserving these precious items – that are of great importance not only to the Jewish people, but also to humanity as a whole – and revealing them to the public, they will act as the voice of the victims and the survivors, and serve as an everlasting memory.”

A shoe and gloves belonging to two-year-old Hinda Cohen, who was killed at Auschwitz on March 27, 1944. Her father Dov etched the date on the sole upon discovering his daughter was taken during a ‘Children’s Aktion.’ (Amanda Borschel-Dan/Times of Israel)

Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, was founded in 1953 and immediately began gathering such artifacts. Today, its storerooms are overflowing and conservationist Shor told the journalists that her team does not have the resources to properly treat items on site.

This overflow is in part due to a wildly successful eight-year campaign, “Gathering the Fragments,” which urges the public to deposit Holocaust-related artifacts with the museum. The granddaughter of Tzipporah and Dov harkened the call and brought the etched shoe and pair of gloves to the museum as part of this campaign.

After a groundbreaking ceremony on Yom HaShoa, which this year falls on the evening of May 1 until sundown May 2, a new primarily underground structure will be built. According to a Yad Vashem press release, it will cover an area of 5,880 square meters and “allow for optimal control and supervision of the conservation climate required for preservation of the artifacts.”

A portrait of a Nazi soldier painted on a Torah scroll, at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, December 18, 2018. (Amanda Borschel-Dan/Times of Israel)

Other benefits of the planned center include the ability to “streamline the process of receiving, preserving and cataloguing items collected by Yad Vashem, with the express goal of making them accessible to the public.” In addition to vast, climate-controlled storage spaces, the center will include hi-tech preservation laboratories, which will apparently be accessible in some way to visitors.

According to a Yad Vashem spokesman, there are other upgrades planned for the Mount of Remembrance, including a renovation of its auditorium and a new gallery for families and children.

The campus-wide construction and facelift is meant to be completed by the summer of 2021. According to Yad Vashem, funding has been secured already for much of the project. The institute is confident it will find the rest of the needed money.

“The Holocaust is a very particular story with a deep universal meaning,” remarked Shalev to the group of journalists this winter.

There are few symbols more universal than the little shoe that once belonged to Hinda Cohen.

This shocking exhibit reexamines age-old anti-Semitic trope of Jews and Money

Opened March 19, the show at London’s Jewish Museum doesn’t shy away from revealing to the public the extent of vicious anti-Semitic portrayals, past and present


Clockwise from lower left:'No. 44 Le baron James,' France, 1900 (Courtesy USHMM); Rembrandt, 'Judas Returning the Thirty Pieces of Silver,' 1629, (Courtesy National Gallery London); '11th Commandment: Get all you can, keep what you get, give away nothing,' England, 1830 (Courtesy Jewish Museum London)

Clockwise from lower left:’No. 44 Le baron James,’ France, 1900 (Courtesy USHMM); Rembrandt, ‘Judas Returning the Thirty Pieces of Silver,’ 1629, (Courtesy National Gallery London); ’11th Commandment: Get all you can, keep what you get, give away nothing,’ England, 1830 (Courtesy Jewish Museum London)

LONDON — If there were ever two words that sound toxic when put together, they would be “Jews” and “money.” But add the word “myth” into the mix, and you’ve got the daring exhibition. “Jews, Money, Myth” opened March 19 at London’s Jewish Museum and examines the tortured and tangled relationship between the words.

The timing couldn’t be more appropriate, with a trending rise of Jewish stereotyping by both the far right and far left in the United Kingdom.

Prof. David Feldman, director of the Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism at London University’s Birkbeck College, says the idea was “to examine the deeply entrenched anti-Semitic stereotypes and myths relating to Jews and money, and the malignity which has affected Jews in that context.”

The Pears Institute worked closely with the Jewish Museum to develop the narrative of the exhibition.

But as Abigail Morris, the Jewish Museum’s energetic director, explains, “Jews, Money, Myth” was an idea she had more than three years ago, following a cutting-edge exhibition the museum did about blood and its place in both uniting and dividing Jews.

“I think there’s something very exciting for a museum to tackle difficult subjects, but also to take the long view,” Morris says.

Abigail Morris, director of The Jewish Museum, London. (Courtesy JML)

“Exciting” barely describes the vicious anti-Semitic material that is on display in this exhibition, guaranteed to both draw crowds and shock them. British Jews, in particular, once used to the casual, easygoing tolerance of British society at large, are likely to be horrified at the entrenched anti-Semitism of 19th century Great Britain.

‘The New and Fashionable Game of the Jew,’ 1807. (Courtesy Jewish Museum of London)

Perhaps the most dramatic of the exhibits is “The New and Fashionable Game of the Jew,” a children’s dice game made in London in 1807. It features a stereotypical Jewish banker in the middle of the board, hoarding money. This game is from the Jewish Museum’s own collection, but the composer Steven Sondheim, who owns a copy, says “this is a game which taught kids to be anti-Semitic.”

The anti-Semitic tropes on display are not only confined to history, but are right up to date. One image on display famously triggered an uproar against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn — a street art mural in which obviously Jewish bankers sit around a board game balanced on the backs of the oppressed poor.

The image, by the American artist Mear One (born Kalen Ockerman), was entitled “Freedom for Humanity,” and appeared in East London in 2012. As the Jewish Museum exhibition says, “The stereotypically Jewish features of the bankers recycled age-old tropes positioning Jews as exploitative and motivated by greed. The artist denied any antisemitic intent, saying the mural was a critique of ‘class and privilege.’”

But it was the initial response of Corbyn, who disagreed with the local council’s plan to remove the mural, which led to a recent upsurge in both claims of anti-Semitic abuse from the far left, as well as counterarguments that those accusations are unsubstantiated and motivated by politics. Jewish MP Luciana Berger, who raised the issue of the mural with Corbyn, quit the party last month, citing “a culture of bullying, bigotry and intimidation.”

Kalen Ockerman's mural 'The Enemy of Humanity' (photo credit: YouTube screen shot)

Kalen Ockerman’s mural ‘The Enemy of Humanity,’ which uses anti-Semitic imagery. (photo credit: YouTube screen shot)

Despite its impact on Britain’s contemporary politics, the Mear One image is situated in a section devoted to 19th century anti-Semitism. Also scattered through the gallery are some thought-provoking works by the British artist Ryan Gander, including a bronzed wallet and phone which are stuck to a bench, intended as a comment on the ties between morals and money.

Without doubt this is the Jewish Museum’s most ambitious show to date, and its importance can be judged by the quality of the loans on display.

There is a stunning Rembrandt, “Judas Returning the 30 Pieces of Silver,” painted when the artist was just 23. It has been loaned by a private collector and has not been on public show for 40 years. The lender, says Morris, is not Jewish but believed it was important to discuss the subject.

Rembrandt, ‘Judas Returning the Thirty Pieces of Silver,’ 1629, (Courtesy National Gallery London)

Or there is an extraordinary public treasury roll dating from 1233, an unprecedented loan from Britain’s National Archives.

“It’s one of the most iconic images of Christian-Jewish relations of medieval times. Someone has effectively doodled onto the roll a drawing of a three-headed demon Jew,” says Morris.

The sketch shows Isaac of Norwich, one of the wealthiest men in England, who appears at the top as a crowned, three-faced anti-Christ figure. A devil touches the noses of Isaac’s agent Mosse Mokke, who wears a spiked hat, and a Jewish woman called Avegaye. A figure on the left may be weighing coins on a pair of scales. Isaac and Mokke were both accused of charging excessive interest.

The writing on the document shows the sums that the Exchequer of the Jews, a tax institution set up by the Crown, received from individual Jews in each county.

Feldman, the historian who has worked closely with the museum on developing the narrative for the exhibition, says its twin aims were to “confront and debunk — and to explore the real historical relationship between Jews and money, and between wealth and poverty.”

Prof. David Feldman, director of the Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism at London University’s Birkbeck College. (Courtesy)

The central overarching myth, of course, is what has fed into the stereotype of the rich, grasping Jew — from medieval times all the way to George Soros — that all Jews have money and control the world.

But the truth, as the exhibition shows, is that there were uncountable numbers of Jewish poor, particularly in Britain, and that many made their living selling old clothes and rags, and, interestingly, as the main sellers of dried rhubarb — though nobody seems clear as to the reason for the latter.

Dr. Dave Rich, head of policy at Britain’s Community Security Trust (CST), who has run scores of education and training seminars about Jew-hatred, says that he has “definitely realized how little knowledge and recognition of anti-Semitism there is.”

Rich is the author of “The Left’s Jewish Problem, Jeremy Corbyn, Israel and Antisemitism.”

“I think that the exhibition can only be a good thing in talking about such things, because we need that education. So much of what is going on in the Labour Party at the moment is people using language they don’t understand,” he says.

Dave Rich, head of policy at Britain’s Community Security Trust. (Courtesy CST)

One of the repeated tropes of current-day anti-Semitism, says Rich, is the invocation of the Rothschild name as a sort of catch-all to represent the greedy Jew.

“I think the Rothschilds are a classic case,” he says. “They have no profile in public life. They are not an important bank, they are not involved in big public works — and yet the name Rothschild resonates over and over again. It is remarkable how the name still has a cultural meaning, completely detached from what the Rothschilds actually are.”

In research released by the CST in January this year, Rich says they found that Google searches for Rothschild were up by 39 percent in the last three years.

“It’s virtually all people looking for conspiracy theories and negative stereotypes that Jews are both rich and mean, and that they use their money to pull strings,” says Rich. The constant subtext, he says, is that Jews “will use their money for underhanded purposes.”

‘No. 44 Le baron James,’ France, 1900 (Courtesy USHMM)

Nowhere is this better illustrated than in some of the depictions of Nathan Mayer Rothschild, the legendary founder of the bank, who made his home in London in the early 19th century. What the Jewish Museum calls “probably the most obscenely antisemitic of all” is a repellent carved figurine dating from Paris in 1833, on loan from the French capital’s Musee Carnavalet. Rothschild is shown as a writhing, demonic figure, teeth bared and grasping at piles of cash.

Intriguingly, Morris and the show’s curator, Jo Rosenthal, have chosen to highlight what would normally be behind-the-scenes conversations about the design of the show, by putting those conversations on display.

For the Carnavalet Rothschild, there was intense discussion. The exchange is recorded:

Rosenthal: “I’m worried about the ethics of showing this much anti-Semitic material. The Rothschild sculpture is so gruesome I wonder if we should even show it.”

Morris: “I know what you mean. That sculpture is really upsetting. I wonder if we should find a different way to display it. How about using a mirror in the showcase and displaying the object with its back to us? That way it won’t be clearly on show, people will have to make a particular effort to look at it and will see themselves looking back as they look.”

Not everything in “Jews, Money, Myth” is related to anti-Semitism. There is fascinating material from the Jewish Museum’s own collection relating to positive relationships between Jews and money, from the special coins used at a Pidyon HaBen (redemption of the first-born) ceremony, to a section on the importance of charity in Jewish life.

’11th Commandment: Get all you can, keep what you get, give away nothing,’ England, 1830 (Courtesy Jewish Museum London)

But again and again the exhibition returns to difficult themes, from Judas to Shylock and Fagin, or to what Feldman calls the “utterly mainstream” conspiracy theories such as “a widespread belief that the Boer War was fought for Jewish financial interests through their alleged control of the press.”

Feldman, who was vice chair of the 2016 Chakrabarti inquiry into anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, says he hopes the exhibition has a message for Jews and non-Jews alike. But he acknowledges that there might be a particular message for the leadership of the Labour Party.

“The problem that part of the Labour leadership face is that of recognizing what is in front of them, and their expectation of the form that racism takes,” he says.

“For them, racism is about the poor, people of color and victims of colonialism. It is difficult for them to recognize people coded as white and possibly affluent [as victims of anti-Semitism]. This exhibition ought to help people understand how to recognize anti-Semitism,” says Feldman.

It is, agrees Morris, probably the first time such material has been assembled in one place by Jews, rather than by anti-Semites. She says a number of people have asked her whether the Jewish Museum should be staging such an exhibition.

“We have been incredibly careful. But [anti-Semitism] is not going away, and I feel it is incredibly important for us to build bridges, and not retreat into our echo-chamber silo,” she sighs.

“Jews, Money, Myth” runs until July 7, 2019 at the Jewish Museum in London.


“To pass resolution after resolution against Israel while ignoring China, Russia or Cuba is a horrendous hypocrisy,” U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell said at a protest outside the UNHRC.


Richard Grenell, U.S. Ambassador to Germany

Richard Grenell, U.S. Ambassador to Germany, attends the “Rally for Equal Rights at the United Nations (Protesting Anti-Israeli Bias)” aside of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, March 18, 2019. (photo credit: DENIS BALIBOUSE/REUTERS)

To apply one standard to Israel, and another to the rest of the world – as the UN Human Rights Council does – is to be antisemitic, US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell said on Monday in Geneva.

Grenell spoke at a demonstration protesting UN bias against Israel outside the UNHRC as it debated alleged Israeli abuses. The rally was organized by UN Watch.

“To pass resolution after resolution against Israel while ignoring China, Russia or Cuba is a horrendous hypocrisy,” Grenell said.

“It speaks to the integrity of the Human Rights Council that we already know what the decision will be even before the vote,” he said. “It speaks to the sincerity of the Human Rights Council that its agenda is determined by those who respect its mandate the least.”

The ambassador bewailed the fact that among those deciding whether Israel is violating human rights, “are representatives from absolute monarchies, one-party states and military dictatorships.” He also took the council to task for making a debate on human rights in Israel a permanent feature at every session.

The UNHRC “not only singles out Israel, but it does so on a permanent basis,” and its belief “that a single country and a single people merits such attention on a permanent basis,” is also antisemitism, he said.

“This is not just a sign of bigotry, this is a sign of intellectual and moral decay. [It is] an institution whose entire world view is dominated by the fear and fantasy of Jewish criminality,” Grenell continued. “It has lost the ability to be rational, to understand cause and effect, and to make positive change. “

Former Israeli ambassador to the UN Dore Gold told the crowd that what is happening at the UNHRC is nothing new, and that he experienced the same bias against Israel from his first day as ambassador in 1997.

“How can anybody take the UN seriously when it has shown that, when it comes to Israel, its reports have been highly politicized and seriously flawed?” he asked. “Is anyone protecting the human rights of Israeli farmers whose fields are regularly set ablaze by Hamas incendiary weapons?”

Gold said that Israel will defend itself by itself, and is not seeking international forces to protect it. “But it does expect one thing from the international community,” he said: “The truth.”

Col. Richard Kemp, who also spoke at the rally, called the activities of the UN Gaza Commission of Inquiry – which claims that the IDF shot innocent Palestinian protesters during the “Great Return” marches – a distortion of truth.

“I gave evidence to your less-than-wonderful Human Rights Commission of Inquiry just inside that building there for several hours,” he said. “I told them from my own professional experience what was [really] happening on the border, but they did not listen to one word I said. And in this report that they produced, nothing I said is reflected. This report is a tissue of lies, abuse, prejudice and distortion; it is not worth the paper it is printed on.”

Speaking at a panel session held by UN Watch prior to the rally, Kemp called the UNHRC an instrument and supporter of Hamas terrorism.

“This report fails both Palestinians and Israelis. It’s full of lies and distortions. The UNHRC is an instrument and supporter of Hamas terrorism; it is playing into their hands and is encouraging them.”

The rally, which was held under cloudy skies, saw some 300 demonstrators gather with flags and placards which read, among other things: “Stop Bashing Israel,” “We Support Israel, The Only Democracy in the Middle East” and “Stop delegitimizing Israel.”

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post one demonstrator spoke about the importance of rallying in support of Israel in front of the UN, a body that continuously persecutes the Jewish state.

“We have to defend Israel. It’s terribly persecuted by the United Nations, the club of the worst criminals in the world,” said Warsaw resident Eva Korulski. “I brought many Polish flags here today so we can show our solidarity. We, as a group of Polish Jews, feel really bad regarding the situation between Poland and Israel. We can’t focus on the past but we have to [instead] focus on the present and future. We have to come together and build a good future.”

Lipstadt: Jews need factual ‘ammunition’ to combat anti-Semitism

On the heels of her book, ‘Antisemitism: Here and Now,’ Deborah Lipstadt urges Jews not to panic about the resurgence of Jew-hatred in the US, but to arm themselves with knowledge


American historian and author Deborah Lipstadt poses for photographer at the Rome Film festival in Rome, October 17, 2016. (Gregorio Borgia/AP)

American historian and author Deborah Lipstadt poses for photographer at the Rome Film festival in Rome, October 17, 2016. (Gregorio Borgia/AP)

Historian Deborah Lipstadt’s “Antisemitism: Here and Now” is an accessible take on what’s been called the world’s oldest hatred. Pointing fingers of blame equally at the political Left and Right, Lipstadt concisely frames anti-Semitism’s resurgence on both sides of the Atlantic.

The book is written as an exchange of letters between Lipstadt, one of her students, and a concerned professor-colleague. A section called “Taxonomy of the Antisemite” portrays all sorts of modern-day Judeophobes, including the “dinner party” anti-Semite and the “clueless” Jew-haters.

According to Lipstadt, comparable to elastic, the intensity of anti-Semitism operates at different frequencies depending on the time and place of its outbreak.

“Like a fire set by an arsonist, passionate hatred and conspiratorial worldviews reach well beyond their intended target. They are not rationally contained,” wrote Lipstadt in an opening note to readers.

Throughout history, anti-Jewish vitriol is likely to spread in atmospheres where other minorities are targeted, according to Lipstadt.

The author of several Holocaust-related books refutes notions of “simple solutions” to eradicating “a long hatred [that] has consumed millions of lives,” Lipstadt told The Times of Israel. The scholar is best known for successfully defending herself against Holocaust denier David Irving in Britain’s High Court, as portrayed in the 2016 film “Denial.”

Rachel Weisz as Deborah Lipstadt in court. (YouTube screenshot)

“The idea that a bunch of Jews sitting around a conference table in New York City or Jerusalem or a professor working on a book can come up with a ‘solution’ belies the nature of the problem,” said Lipstadt.

One aspect of anti-Semitism’s complexity, wrote Lipstadt, is the notion that Jews cannot be victims because most of them are white. Calling this belief “The  Corbyn Syndrome,” after Britain’s controversial Labour leader, Lipstadt noted that Jews are often viewed as “privileged members of the elite [who] cannot possibly be considered victims… If anything, they are victimizers.”

Antisemitism: Here and Now, by Deborah Lipstadt

Increasingly, anti-Semites are channeling their Jew-hatred onto the world’s only Jewish state, according to Lipstadt. For example, they will demonize Israel behind a mask of concern for the human rights of Palestinians, holding the Jewish state to double-standards not applied to any other country.

This cloaking of anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism, along with other developments, spurred Lipstadt to pen her book as a form of intellectual “ammunition” against the evolving face of Judeophobia.

“This book is an attempt to give people the ammunition to realize how pernicious this threat is and how absurd [anti-Semitism] is,” Lipstadt told The Times of Israel.

“Anyone bothered by this hatred — and for that matter any hatred — must become the ‘unwelcome guests’ at the dinner party. Speaking up, challenging, pointing out the irrationality of what we are hearing. We must be persistent. My hope is that the book gives people the ammunition to do that,” said Lipstadt.

‘The vise with no escape’

Among the “tools” used by anti-Semites to demonize Jews and Israel, the  Holocaust figures prominently, according to Lipstadt. Whether by denying the scope of the genocide or accusing Israel of perpetrating another Holocaust against the Palestinians, the murder of 6 million Jews by Nazi Germany has become a rhetorical weapon against the Jewish state.

The most extreme example of “weaponizing” the Holocaust is the allegation it did not take place. Here, Lipstadt beseeches readers to differentiate between “hard-core” Holocaust deniers — such as David Irving — and the more subtle, “soft-core” types.

Deborah Lipstadt, author of ‘Antisemitism: Here and Now’ (courtesy)

A “soft-core” denier might downplay the extent of the genocide by claiming that far fewer than 6 million Jews were murdered. Likewise, he may distort other aspects of Hitler’s “war of annihilation” against the Jews during World War II.

When asked by The Times of Israel if she thought Holocaust education in the US was equipped to deal with denial and distortion, Lipstadt responded in the negative.

“My sense is that much of [Holocaust] education is simplistic,” said Lipstadt. “I think there are a lot of references to ‘the Shoah.’ Leaders mention it or use code words, e.g., ‘the 6 million,’ but there is too little real learning about how it evolved, the pressures faced by Jews, the true nature of the horror, the vise with no escape, etc.”

At Emory University, Lipstadt has long taught a course on Holocaust history. According to the professor, even those of her students with “intensive Jewish educational backgrounds” are “flabbergasted by that they learn,” she said.

“They have heard a lot but learned little,” said Lipstadt. “Remember, the person teaching about it in day school or Hebrew School is probably not a historian and not really equipped to take them past [a certain] point,” she told The Times of Israel.

According to Lipstadt, “facile” understandings of the Holocaust can be detected — for example — among people who believe that German Jews “sat idly by while the slaughter unfolded. They did not. They desperately tried to find ways to get out,” said Lipstadt.

‘The whole nation turned itself inside out’

An eye-opening section of Lipstadt’s book deals with the battle for Israel on campus, an evolving frontline where the Jewish state is under assault from professors and students alike.

In her assessment of efforts made to combat BDS measures on campus, Lipstadt disagrees with some of the tactics deployed by pro-Israel activists. Specifically, she is against the strategy of “boycotting the boycotters,” wherein pro-Israel advocates attempt to outlaw or ban groups that call for boycotting the Jewish state.

Deborah Lipstadt at Mishkenot Sha’ananim, Jerusalem, June 11, 2017. (Renee Ghert-Zand/TOI)

“By urging boycotts of anti-Israel groups, the anti-BDS advocates surrender the academic moral high ground — support of academic freedom and freedom of inquiry — to their opponents,” wrote Lipstadt.

From Lipstadt’s perspective, anti-BDS laws passed in state legislatures across the US have no place in academics settings, where such measures “may well fail, if not backfire.” She is also against efforts to prevent Jewish students from enrolling in courses taught by pro-BDS professors.

“Some Jewish organizations have compiled lists of professors who have signed BDS resolutions and have urged Jewish students to boycott the classes of those teachers,” wrote Lipstadt. “This non-nuanced approach… assumes that professors are unable to separate what they teach from their personal politics.”

In “contextualizing” the state of anti-Semitism for her readers, Lipstadt urges Jews to “reject victimhood” and focus on the positive.

Rabbi Jeffrey Myers leads a gathering in Hanukkah songs after lighting a menorah outside the Tree of Life Synagogue on the first night of Hanukkah, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018 in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh. A gunman shot and killed 11 people while they worshipped Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018 at the temple. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

“Despite the fact that only seven decades ago one out of every three Jews on the face of the earth was murdered, the Jewish people thrive today as a culture, a community, and a nation,” wrote Lipstadt.

Having completed her book before the attack on Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue in October, Lipstadt still believes in the relative safety of Jews living in the US — especially compared to some countries in Europe.

“I don’t think America will become like [those countries],” Lipstadt told The Times of Israel. “Look at the reaction to Pittsburgh. This whole nation turned itself inside out in the aftermath. Non-Jews showed up in shuls in droves.”

Lipstadt said she is “not so naïve to believe” that anti-Semitism does not exist in the US, but that it takes on different forms. Whereas most Americans were “appalled” by the Pittsburgh attack, said Lipstadt, other forms of anti-Semitism — including the “toxification of Israel” and “thinking Jews are not loyal to the US” — have deepened their roots in recent years.

“Sometimes [anti-Semitism] may present itself as a passion,” wrote Lipstadt. “In other instances, it may present itself as normative. But whatever form it takes, we must always insist that antisemitism has never made sense and never will. Fight it. But don’t elevate it or its purveyors in importance.”

In terms of being level-headed in the face of threats that seem to be growing daily, Lipstadt urges Jews and their allies to keep a steady hand.

“It’s easy to be shrill, it’s easy to panic,” said Lipstadt. “It’s natural to yell and scream. But that’s not what I aimed to do. I aimed to educate, to make people aware, to get them to think… and speaking softly is a better way of doing that, I believe.”


Two days after Katz’s comments, political journalist and commentator Artur Wróblewski said on a public radio station that “if there was no antisemitism, then perhaps Israel would invent it.”


Polish President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet in New York.

Polish President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet in New York on September 26, 2018.. (photo credit: AVI OHAYON – GPO)

In the wake of the diplomatic crisis between Israel and Poland centered around the Holocaust and antisemitism, Polish Jewish leaders are urging for greater dialogue and understanding between Jews and Poles.

The head of Poland’s communal Jewish umbrella organization Monika Krawczyk has called to increase the opportunities for young Jews and Poles to meet, while both she and Poland’s Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich have said that hostile rhetoric on both sides must be toned down.

Schudrich added that despite a recent series of antisemitic comments and news items in the Polish media, Jews are still safe in Poland. She says that Jews can wear Jewish symbols in public without fear of attack or harassment, noting that this is not the case in some Western European countries.

Concern has been raised of late regarding a series of antisemitic incidents in the Polish media, as well as a rash of antisemitic rhetoric online. Krawczyk and Schudrich said that although they are aware of this phenomenon, it must be put in context – and that the outrage over Foreign Minister Israel Katz’s comments, as well as those of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, must be properly understood.

Schudrich argues that there has been some condemnation of recent antisemitic statements, and also points to the rise of antisemitism across Europe as evidence that Poland is not unique in suffering a recurrence of the phenomenon.

And he notes that many Poles were “genuinely hurt” by Katz’s comments.

“Katz was basically saying that all Poles are antisemitic, which is hurtful, unnecessary, wrong and false,” Schudrich told The Jerusalem Post.

“While we fight against antisemitism, we must look at ourselves and think about what we should be sensitive about and what we say – and if we do that, we have a chance of making a positive change.”

Schudrich said, however, that in the current political climate, those who have long-held antisemitic beliefs now feel free to express them in public. He pointed to events in other countries, such as the neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 as evidence of the broader nature of this problem.

But he insists that life for Polish Jews remains good and that Jews may walk about publicly wearing Jewish symbols without fear of being attacked, something he says cannot be said of Jews in France and Belgium, for example.

“I call it the yarmulke test: Can you walk around safe with a yarmulke? It’s a crude measure of antisemitism, but in Warsaw and Krakow we have no problems. Can the same be said walking with a yarmulke in Belgium and France?”

Dr. Rafal Pankowski, an associate professor at Collegium Civitas and co-founder of the Never Again Association, is not quite as sanguine, pointing to several sever examples of antisemitism in the Polish media, saying that they constitute “a wave of antisemitic discourse that has not been seen for many years.”

In February, following Katz’s comments, Jacek Bartyzel, a professor of social science at Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun, said on Facebook that: “I can’t get worked up about the fact that Jews hate us and spit upon us – what can you expect from that viperish tribe full of arrogance, venom and anger?”

The influential right-wing news website then granted Bartyzel a flattering interview where he stood by his comments, giving another academic from the same university a platform to defend Bartyzel as well.

Two days after Katz’s comments, political journalist and commentator Artur Wróblewski said on a public radio station that “if there was no antisemitism, then perhaps Israel would invent it.”

And a day after Netanyahu said in Warsaw that “Poles collaborated with the Nazis,” journalist and author Rafal Ziemkiewicz accused US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of being “a sales rep of the Holocaust industry,” after Pompeo stated during a visit to Poland that the country had to address concerns about property restitution for Holocaust survivors.

Meanwhile, the right-wing Gazeta Warszawska ran a front-page in February with the headline “This is How the Jews murdered the Poles,” which highlighted the Jewish background of some Communist-era judges and officials who sentenced high-ranking Poles to death following the Second World War.

And just last week, the right-wing weekly newspaper Tylko Polska issued an edition with a front page headline telling readers “how to recognize a Jew,” including by “Names, anthropological features, expressions, appearances, character traits, methods of operation” and “disinformation activities,” the Polsat news website reported on Wednesday.

The article added “How to defeat them? This cannot go on!” The newspaper itself was available for purchase in a kiosk in the Polish parliament.

But Krawczyk, head of the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland is, like Schudrich, more cautious when discussing these recent incidents.

She, too, says that Katz’s comments were deeply unhelpful, and noted, like Pankowski, that the diplomatic row with Israel is being used by politicians in Poland to drum up support, although she accuses Israeli politicians of the same.

Krawczyk also underlines the historical and societal context of these debates, noting that Poland was devastated by the Second World War and was occupied by both the Nazi regime and the Soviet Union, yet never established a puppet government that collaborated with either side.

Poles therefore see themselves as not responsible for the Holocaust, she explains, because there was no formal collaboration on the state level.

Krawczyk nevertheless concedes that the recent outbreak of antisemitic rhetoric is worrying and that it needs to be addressed.

“It worries me, because if it is coming from people with higher education and academics who are copying rhetoric of pre-war right-wing groups that were responsible for acts of physical antisemitism, [then] we have a reason to be concerned and worried about that,” she says.

Krawczyk said that there is now a need to promote educational initiatives in Poland at the most fundamental level to underline the toxicity of antisemitism, saying that the Polish government should partner in such projects.

She also suggested broadening the interaction of Jewish and Israeli high-school pupils visiting Poland to meet with their Polish peers, as some groups have done, in order to increase understanding.

“This should be encouraged and developed. If we say all Poles are antisemites, and the other side says Jews are ungrateful, greedy and conspiring, then the possibility of dialogue is completely closed and there is nothing to talk about.”