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Profiles

Anti-Semitism Shows it's Ugly Face

Last week's shooting in a synagogue in Pittsburgh was a very frightening reminder of the hate that has crept into our society over the last few years.  There are those who blame our President and those who say that it was there before he was elected, but the issue is really, what do we do about it now?  
 
I have spent my life fighting against hate in every community, be it  a black church or a White Supremecist Rally, but I admit that given my Jewish upbringing, Pittsburgh brought forth the pain in my stomach that I haven't felt since I was a child attending school in an anti-semitic environment.  I don't know what we can do to stop this hate in its tracks, but I do know that in order to do it, all fair minded people have to work together.
 
The following is from an e-mail I received from American Jewish Congress.
 
Dear AJC Friends,

Today marks the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, which was, as you know, the mega-scale tragedy on the path to the Holocaust.

To commemorate this solemn occasion, AJC’s Director in South Florida, Brian Siegal, and the German Consul General in Miami, Annette Klein, jointly authored a powerful op-ed in the widely-distributed Miami Herald.

It is well worth reading for its look at the past and present — and speaks to the unique postwar relationship AJC has established with the Federal Republic of Germany.

You are, of course, welcome to share it with family, friends, and colleagues.

Warm regards and abiding solidarity.

David

David Harris
CEO, AJC
 
After 80 Years, Anti-Semitism Endures, But So Does Our Resolve to Confront It
By Brian Siegal and Annette Klein
Miami Herald
November 9, 2018
 
One week after the murder of 11 worshipers at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Shabbat, Judaism’s day of rest, took on heightened poignancy. Inspired by an AJC-created campaign to #ShowUpForShabbat, Jewish communities across the U.S. and around the globe gathered in synagogue, joined by allies of all beliefs, to send a powerful message: We are not afraid, and we are not alone.

As part of this effort, we — the German consul general in Miami and the director of American Jewish Committee in South Florida — attended Shabbat services together with Archbishop Thomas Wenski, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and many other civic and faith leaders. Synagogues overflowed. Together, we prayed. Together, we mourned.

As we remembered the victims, prayed for the full and speedy recovery of the wounded, gave thanks to the first responder, and stood in solidarity with Pittsburgh’s Jewish community, we could not escape the feeling that historical amnesia seems to grow in our society.

We remember: In November 1938, Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi minister of propaganda, told other Nazi leaders gathered in Munich that the time had come to strike at the Jews. The result was “Kristallnacht,” the “Night of Broken Glass,” referring to the thousands of windows shattered in Jewish homes, businesses and synagogues that, ultimately, were destroyed.

During the violent wave of anti-Jewish pogroms that took place on Nov. 9 and 10, tens of thousands of Jews were arrested and deported to the concentration camps of Dachau, Sachsenhausen and Buchenwald. Scores of others were assaulted and murdered. Thus, began the road to the Holocaust, the systematic annihilation of 6 million Jews.

From this pogrom and the horrors of the Shoah that ensued, we learned that intolerance and hatred must be confronted in their earliest manifestation.

Yet today — 80 years after Kristallnacht — the past remains with us.

Anti-Semitism still plagues Europe, the United States and other regions. In several European countries, including Germany, we have recently seen shocking expressions of anti-Semitism, physical assaults on Jews and defiance of police efforts to restore order. Anti-Semitism is a shape-shifting phenomenon that emanates from a variety of sources — xenophobia, populism, neo-Nazism, Islamist extremism, far-left radicalism and anti-Zionism. Europe’s Jews are worried about the future.

There are Americans, too, who seek to demonize, dehumanize and ultimately destroy Jews and Jewish life. According to the FBI, the majority of religion-based hate crimes in the country are committed against Jews, even though Jews constitute no more than 2 percent of the population.

For us, America’s motto of “E Pluribus Unum” and the European Union’s motto “United in Diversity” both signify that the strength of our societies and the source of our common values lie in the enrichment provided by the interchange between many different cultures, traditions and languages. Therefore, an attack on any faith is clearly an attack on all faiths, and anti-Semitism, bigotry and hatred have no place in our society.

Our grief must turn to resolve and to action. We are united in anger and determined to confront hatred and extremism. We must speak out and stand up against those who target Jews and anyone who prays differently, looks different or loves differently. Those perpetrating hateful acts against others, just for being different, undermine the very foundations of our pluralistic democracies; we will not let them win.

During Shabbat, 80 years after Kristallnacht, the two of us stood with many others around the world and prayed together in remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust and the Tree of Life synagogue.

We, along with all like-minded, will confront anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry and hatred every day, everywhere. It begins with small steps by people of conscience standing up to hate in their daily personal lives. When that happens, we pay homage to our past, honor our common values and work toward a future of mutual respect.

Brian Siegal is director of the American Jewish Committee South Florida Regional Office. Annette Klein is the consul general of Germany in Miami.

 


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