Anti-Semitism: Return of a Perennial Horror

[Baltimore Sun] Walter Reich - The murder of a guard, Stephen T. Johns, at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington last week was a tragedy. But it's also a reminder of anti-Semitism's return. The museum is a memorial to, and tells the story of, the greatest spasm of anti-Semitic violence ever. By murdering 6 million Jews in so ferociously focused a way, the Holocaust made plain the consequences of a hatred that has been widely felt, and frequently articulated, for some two millennia. Anti-Semites now speak in the language of anti-Zionism. They focus obsessively on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ignoring all other countries and zones of war. Certainly, one can be an anti-Zionist without being an anti-Semite. But there are few, if any, anti-Semites who aren't also anti-Zionists. For them, anti-Zionism is primarily a way to express anti-Semitism without being labeled an anti-Semite. It's a cover. We have to wake up to the reality that anti-Semitism wasn't eradicated after the Holocaust. We have to take seriously the reality and potential of anti-Semitism when it's expressed. We have to stop those who threaten to wipe out the Jews or the country in which almost half of them live, especially if they have, or are readying, the means to do so. And we must be sure that Jews have a haven within which they can defend themselves. When anti-Semitism rises, other evils, universal and destructive, invariably follow. So when anti-Semitism rises, people of all races and religions should be alert and should do all they can to avert its consequences. The writer, former director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, is Professor of International Affairs, Ethics and Human Behavior at George Washington University and a Senior Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center.

2009-06-19 06:00:00

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