When General Eisenhower visited a concentration camp, he had the US Army document everything because he foresaw that, in the future, there would be people who deny what happened there. I admire his foresight. Since then countries, groups, and individuals have been denying the Holocaust. They say that the Holocaust has not happened, or the whole thing is exaggerated. They say that the Jews came up with the whole idea to get money. However, if the Holocaust has not happened, why has Germany paid? Germany paid because the Germans knew that the Holocaust happened, and they are responsible for the death of millions and the unimaginable suffering they caused.
Antisemites only talk about Jews as individuals if they accuse them of something. But if they want to say something bad about Jewish people, they say, “the Jews.” The antisemites operate with two tools: generalization and stereotypes. They talk about Jews as a homogenous mass, a group, a race, but not as individuals. There is no such thing as “the Jews.” Jews are individuals who happened to be born to parents who inherited being Jewish. Some of them are very religious, some are observant, some only keep traditions, and some do not observe at all. They have different professions, they are employers and employees. They argue with each other because they have their individual opinions. So how can they be labeled as Jews who all do the same thing and are all responsible for the same thing?
Antisemites say the Jews are rich. Not that anything would be wrong with it, but the truth is that there are rich Jews, poor Jews, and most of them are in between. Besides, there are many very rich Christians and Muslims.
Some antisemites say they hate Jews because they are communists. Others say they hate Jews because they are capitalists. How can they be both? Some Jews are communists, some are capitalists, and most of them are neither. But, because of the numbers, there are many more Christians who are communists and capitalists.
An antisemite might like a doctor, an attorney, an agent, an entertainer, a comic, or an athlete who happens to be Jewish. He might not even know that some of those people he likes are Jewish. Henry Ford, who was famously antisemitic, had a favorite baseball player who was Jewish, Hank Greenberg. Hitler’s mother had a Jewish physician. Obviously she liked him because nothing happened to him during the Holocaust. Hitler also had high-ranking Jewish officers, even a general, because he needed them. He signed a declaration that they were of German blood.
The Jews were always the scapegoats. They were easy targets because they were different, often isolated, and small in numbers. They were blamed for every disaster. There was a great movie, The Ship of Fools, many years ago. It took place on a German ship in the 1930s. A German antisemite said, “The Jews cause all the troubles.” Another man added, “And the cyclists.” The German asked, “Why the cyclists?” and the man answered, “Why the Jews?”
Many antisemites say they hate the Jews because they killed Jesus. Jesus was a Jew. So was his mother, as were most of his disciples, friends, and followers. They did not kill Jesus. Then how can they say that the Jews killed Jesus? Besides, the Jews did not kill Jesus—the Romans did. Jews never crucified people, the Romans did. And we even cannot say that all the Romans killed Jesus, because only a few soldiers did, according to the order of the Roman governor Pilate. There is a controversy. An antisemite might say, “I hate Jews.” But then he prays to Jews: Jesus, his mother, and the saints.
It took 2,000 years for the Catholic Church to take some responsibility for the teachings that lead to hate, injustice, and persecution of the Jews. Two thousand years is a long time. But nobody says, “I hate Italians” because their predecessors, the Romans, killed Jesus, the saints, and many Christians. Nobody said, “I hate Christians” because of the killings done by the inquisition, the crusades, and the witch trials.
The Jews were blamed for many disasters in history. The black plague is an example during the Middle Ages, and COVID-19 is now. They do not talk about the thousands of doctors and nurses who are Jewish and fight the epidemic while risking their life.
Antisemitism is personal to me, because that was the basis Hitler and the Nazis could build on. That was the tool that made them able to get so many allies and collaborators in Germany and all over Europe. That was the reason I lost my father, grandfather, and other relatives. My close family and I had to hide.
When antisemites say, “I hate Jews,” I have some questions. Do they hate the Jews who discovered the vaccines (shot or by mouth) against the horrible disease polio, who saved their children from paralysis and death? If they like this country, do they hate the 500,000 Jews who fought against Nazi Germany in the Allied armies during World War II? Some of them paid the ultimate price. I have seen it in the cemetery on the beach of Normandy, in France. Or do they hate the Jewish composer who wrote the patriotic song that became second to the national anthem? He also wrote one of their favorite Christmas songs. Do they hate the Jews who started the movie industry in Hollywood and made their favorite movies? Do they hate the Jews who wrote musicals, creating a new artistic genre? Or do they hate the Jewish singer-songwriter who became an American sensation? These are just a few examples of Jewish contributions to this country.
Antisemitism is growing in our days and comes from the very right and now from the very left, too, which is a new phenomenon. There is Muslim antisemitism directed against Israel and the Jews. These are different times than when the Ottoman Empire was a safe haven for Jews, particularly during the rule of Suleiman the Magnificent. Today, with the help of social media, accusations and lies spread faster than fire. Therefore, it would be important that social media police itself to screen out hate speech and instigations of violence.
© 2022, George Salamon. The text, images, and audio and video clips on this website are available for limited non-commercial, educational, and personal use only, or for fair use as defined in the United States copyright laws.