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June 18, 2004 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2004-06-18

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Keeping Vigilant


he new assault waged by Jew haters is the worst
Nazis left off.
threat to world Jewry since the Holocaust, says
So when Foxman said the American Jewish community of
America's preeminent defender of Zionism and
2004, unlike its counterpart of 65 years ago, understands and
fighter against prejudice.
appreciates our role and responsibility on the world stage, it
This well-armed propaganda and terrorist front is attacking
was a tribute to savor. "We utilize all of our strength, all of
from three directions. And to take it lightly is to endanger
our abilities, to impact the safety and security of world
not only Israel as a state, but also the diaspora as a force. So
Jewry," he said.
warns Abraham Foxman, the fiery, eloquent national director
Ask the Jews of the former Soviet Union, Foxman said, or
of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
the Jews of Ethiopia, Yemen or Syria. They know that "Israel,
Foxman, a hidden child in Poland during the dark days of
who we help support, opens its arms to every Jew from every
Hitler's fury, keynoted the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan
corner," Foxman said.
Detroit's donor appreciation evening on
As survivors arrived in displaced persons camps in the
June 9 at Congregation Shaarey Zedek in
Holocaust's aftermath, he said, they struggled with universal
Southfield. His message should serve as a
questions like, "Why did it happen to the Jewish people?
wakeup call.
Why was the world silent? Why didn't the Almighty inter-
American Jewry alone among the world's
Jewish communities has the influence to
They didn't have the answers.
help spur a resistance to this new anti-
So they asked other questions.
Semitism, rooted in a perversion of Islam
What if the U.S. Coast Guard hadn't forced the SS St.
and assisted by high-speed communications.
Louis, a German ocean liner with 937 passengers, mostly
"We need to understand how serious it is,
Jewish refugees, to return to Europe after Cuba's president
how global it has become, how virulent it
denied it entry in 1939? What if the Swiss had taken in
is," said Foxman to a rapt audience of 460.
25,000 Jewish orphans or Canada just a fraction of that
He was speaking to Federation givers, so he
number? What if America had bombed the gas chambers and
didn't need to fend off the hecklers he encounters in other
the rail lines to the Auschwitz death camp?
forums when defending Israel and the Jewish people.
Would any of these actions have changed the
That allowed the weight of his words to absorb us.
course of history?
Driving the new anti-Semitism is the ultra-fast
"What if, what if, what if," Foxman said, his voice
Internet. It lets hate circle the globe in seconds with
rising to a crescendo.
often,runcontested credibility.
"There was no CNN, no Sky News," he said, "but
Another provoker wraps Palestinian terrorism
those who had the ability to make decisions [among
against Jews in the cloak of Allah. That's why suicide
the Allies] knew every single day as early as July 1941
bombers wrap themselves in the green and white flag
how many Jews were killed the day before."
of Islam and embrace martyrdom for Allah.
The Nazis marked them for death, but some Jews
Yet a third spur couches Jew hating in the under-
and gypsies, as well as some homosexual and disabled
brush of politics. For example, by claiming oppres-
people, survived thanks to the courage of righteous
sion under an Israeli occupation, Palestinians mask
gentiles like Oskar Schindler and Raoul Wallenberg.
their ultimate wish: to seize Israeli land as theirs.
Foxman has found one long-elusive answer. "In the
Today is not like the 1930s and 1940s. Then, even
short run," he said, "it is to have good people stand
America seemed unmoved by the plight of Europe's
up and say no. We need to find the technique, the
Jews. But with anti-Jewish fervor sweeping across
mechanism, to identify the DNA that made Oskar
Europe and the Middle East, we're seeing the worst
Schindler do what he did."
of times since World War II, Foxman said.
Right on! I thought, when Foxman insisted that
"Yes," I whispered, as he said America's willingness
Jews live by an 11th commandment: "Never again
and ability to stand up against the scourge of anti-
stand silent."
Semitism time and again is the key difference
"Your standing up day in and day out enables your
between then and now
community to say 'never again' not only here," he told
"America," he said, "is the only country that has forced
the audience, "but also beyond your community — wherever
Europe to confront anti-Semitism."
Jews need to know that we are one."
Indeed, America is the only country to affirm in a parlia-
Jennifer Rosenthal, 22, of Franklin said Foxman inspired
mentary vote Israel's right to self-destiny.
her. "The Jewish people will always believe that anti-
In a stunning rebuke of France, the nation with the third
Semitism existed during the era of World War II, but many
most Jews in the world, many Jews there have made aliyah,
do not want to see the realities of the world today," she said.
despite the Palestinian-led intifada, rather than stay and prac-
Rosenthal earned a Presidential Administration Fellowship
tice their faith less openly.
for postgraduate study at George Washington University in
Washington, D.C. In May, she received a BA in political
communication. She's, no doubt, a future communal leader.
Battle Tested
With Jews no longer shielded even in places they once con-
If anyone has the background to explore the briar patch that
trolled, like Hollywood, Rosenthal accepts the challenge.
is the new anti-Semitism, it is Foxman. His Polish parents
"It is going to be the responsibility of younger generations
entrusted him to their Catholic nursemaid, who baptized
to take a stand against prejudice and hatred," she said. "We
him and hid his identity for four years as the Nazis hovered.
must protect our local communities, world communities and
His 2003 book Never Again? is a primer on lingering hatreds
especially the state of Israel. Denial is no longer an option."
re-energized by Al Qaida, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Al Aqsa
Plainly, what matters most is vigilance. ❑
Martyrs Brigades and other terror groups taking up where the



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