The Holocaust is long over, but anti-Semitism continues: how it happens and how to deal with it - ForumDaily
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The Holocaust is long over, but anti-Semitism continues: how it happens and how to deal with it

“You don't have to finish the work, but you don't have to stop trying,” says Jewish wisdom from the Mishnah.

On April 19, 1943, an uprising broke out in the Warsaw Ghetto. Its inhabitants tried to stop the German army and police, who entered the ghetto, in order to take out the remaining prisoners from there. A month later, on May 16, the uprising was crushed, the ghetto lay in ruins.

Can you imagine this feat?! Exhausted, unarmed Jews rebelled against the army and police in full uniform. And lasted a month! They couldn't help but know that they would lose. They knew that they would not complete the work, but they continued to try ... as ancient wisdom taught them. They wanted to live. All 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis simply wanted to live.

80 years after the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, on April 19, 2023, activists, politicians and survivors of the Holocaust gathered in New York to discuss the historical significance of this tragedy, as well as talk about contemporary anti-Semitism and how to combat it. The United Nations New York Bar Association (NYCBA) Committee has brought together people in New York who are trying to keep the tragedy of the Jewish people alive and fighting anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. At the event, held under the auspices of the UN, were:

  • Yehudit Barsky, Counterterrorism Analyst and Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Global Anti-Semitism; Member of the Committee on Middle East and North African Affairs at the New York Bar Association;
  • Daniel E. Carson, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Anti-Semitism, Member of the Committee on European Affairs and the New York Bar Association;
  • Carl Jacob Fischer, comes from a family of Holocaust survivors, a member of the United Nations Committee and the New York Bar Association;
  • Asya Shindelman, Holocaust survivor, UN speaker;
  • Sami Steigmann, Holocaust survivor, motivational speaker from Israel, representative of the Educational Center for the Study of the Holocaust and Human Rights;
  • Scott Richman regional director of the Anti-Defamation League;
  • Rabbi David A. Schwartz, elected chairman of the International Law Section of the American Bar Association; Talmud teacher at the Jewish Institute of Riverdale - Bayit; PORAT President;
  • angel of angels, Consul General of Bulgaria in New York;
  • Yifat Barak-Cheney, Director of International Affairs, Technology and Human Rights, World Jewish Congress;
  • Professor Bjorn Grunwald, Holocaust survivor.

The moderator of the discussion was Sofia Murashkovsky Romma, PhD in Literature, Member of the United Nations from the New York Bar (NYCBA), Member of the NYCBA Committee on European Affairs, Member of the New York Bar, Member of the US Bar.

Photo: ForumDaily

Unfortunately, Jews still have to defend their right to live. In the 2022st century, there are people who believe that it is possible to insult or even kill someone for their origin or faith. Moreover, there are more and more of them. A XNUMX Tel Aviv University study found a sharp rise in anti-Semitic incidents and social media movements in the US, Canada, UK, Germany and Australia.

When something terrible happens, you want to close your eyes and pretend that you do not notice anything, pretend that everything is fine. But you can't do that! Anti-Semitism needs to be talked about, its adherents need to be punished. Silence is the way to oblivion of the Holocaust, and then there is a risk that the atrocities of the mid-twentieth century will be repeated.

Little man against a cruel system: three stories of the Holocaust from the conference participants

Professor Bjorn Grunwald was born in January 1940 - four months before the Nazi invasion - in Amsterdam (Netherlands). His family has lived in this country for over 400 years.

In 1942, the Dutch government forcibly extradited his entire family to the Nazis, having previously taken away their citizenship and all rights. His parents were killed in Sobibor, and Bjorn was saved and raised by a Christian family.

But the end of World War II was not the end of all troubles for the Jews. The Dutch government refused to return their citizenship to them, every six months Grunwald had to come to the central police station to renew his residence permit so that he would not be expelled from the country. Officials threatened to put him on a ship and send him to wander at sea. According to them, such a “low man” as a stateless Jew has no rights and will never be allowed to enter any country. Adolf Hitler's laws, which declared every Jew stateless, were strictly enforced by the Dutch government for many years after the end of the war.

Left to right: Sami Steigmann, Sophia Murashkovsky Romma, and Rabbi David A. Schwartz. Photo provided by the organizers

Grunwald was bullied at school, he was humiliated and ridiculed for being a Jew, he was set on by the police and officials. In the end, he couldn't take it anymore. Without any documents, Bjorn illegally crossed the border into Germany, then to Denmark, and finally arrived in Sweden, where there were people ready to help him.

On the subject: Risk yourself for others: how representatives of different countries and religions saved Jews during the Holocaust

Bjorn was given Swedish citizenship, completed his education, received an engineering degree and made several discoveries. The company he worked for assigned the patents to an American firm in Pennsylvania. So Bjorn ended up in the USA in 1970.

Due to the demand for scientists and engineers, the US government offered him a green card. He completed graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania and in 1978 became a US citizen.

To this day, the Dutch have little remorse for what they did during the Holocaust and do not admit their guilt.

Asya Shindelman was born in 1928 in Siauliai (Lithuania). When the Nazis entered her city, she was 20 years old. For three years she lived with her family of five in a small room in the Siauliai ghetto. Asya still cannot forget the raids on children and the public hanging that she had to see. In July 1944 they were transferred to the Stutthof concentration camp. There, Asya and her mother were separated from the girl's father and uncle. Grandmother was killed in the gas chamber. Asya and her mother were released in March 1945. Five months later, they were reunited with the girl's father.

Hoping to find Asya's elder brother, whose trace they had lost at the beginning of the war, the family returned to Siauliai. But the miracle didn't happen. There they learned that the man had been killed in 1941.

In 1991, Asya and her family immigrated to the United States and now lives in New Jersey.

Photo: ForumDaily

Sami Steigmann was born on December 21, 1939 in Chernivtsi in Bukovina, which was then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (today it is a region in Ukraine). From 1941 to 1944 he and his parents were in a labor camp in Mogilev-Podolsky.

The boy was too small to work, so the Nazis performed medical experiments on him. Luckily, Sami doesn't remember those years. But he is still experiencing the tragic side effects of those ordeals.

After the camp was liberated, the family was sent to Romania. Samy grew up in Transylvania, in a small town called Regin. In 1961, his entire family immigrated to Israel, where he served in the Israeli Air Force. In 1968, not knowing English and having no money, Samy came to the United States and settled in Wisconsin. In 1983 he returned to Israel, but five years later he returned to America and settled in New York.

Here he founded the Regina, Nathan and Sami Steigmann Family Educational Foundation for Peace and Tolerance. The Foundation allows him to promote the ideas of tolerance around the world. In 2016, Samy received the Harmony Power Award from the Museum of Tolerance in New York, and the New York State Assembly recognized his tenacity and courage in the fight against prejudice.

Don't trust God, do it yourself

“Given the scale of evil in the world, the question arises in the minds of believers: where is God, where does he look?.. This is an ancient question. But that doesn't make it any easier these days,” Scott Richman, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, told the conference.

He listed the names of 8 people, women and children, who were killed in the United States by hate in the past two months. Richman emphasized that there is now an outbreak of hate crimes in the United States and in the world, and not only against Jews, but also against other social, ethnic and religious groups.

He suggested that many believers are waiting for God to intervene in an unjust situation, but we should not forget the free will he has given us. That is, our task is not just to passively wait for the intervention of a higher power, but to fight - "you are not obliged to complete the work, but you must not stop trying."

“We must create space for people to respond to evil,” the head of the ADL emphasized and added that the efforts of each person matter and make an invaluable contribution to the treasury of tolerance and love for each other.

“I invite you to formulate your personal answers to the questions of evil in the world. If you really care about them, talk to your rabbi or other religious leader. But don't let them paralyze you!" Richman said.

Photo: ForumDaily

Holocaust denial as a form of anti-Semitism

The Holocaust is long over, but anti-Semitism lives on. It manifests itself not only in the murder of Jews, but also in the denial or distortion of the tragedy of the Jewish people.

Holocaust denial began when it was carried out. The Nazis used ambiguities and cryptic descriptions to mask the genocide. They called their policy "special treatment" (Sonderbehandlung) for the Jews, when in fact they were murders.

The Nazis and their accomplices actively destroyed evidence of the Holocaust during the war, so that later the genocide would be difficult to prove. The Germans forced Jewish prisoners to exhume mass graves and destroy the corpses of the victims, and then they killed these prisoners - so there were no bodies or witnesses. The Nazis called this operation "Action 1005".

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Now, no one denies the fact of the Holocaust. Except marginal groups on the Internet. Nevertheless, the history of the Holocaust is often distorted, especially now with the development of social networks, which is full of information that is difficult to verify.

Some deliberately distort the history of the Holocaust in order to promote their political program or some other idea. Others do it unintentionally because they simply don't know enough about the Holocaust. They justify Nazi criminals and collaborators, they declare that it is time to forget about the Holocaust as a long time ago, they revive old ideas and start dividing people into grades and talk about the “Jewish conspiracy”.

Therefore, the fight against modern anti-Semitism is not necessarily a job in the police and tracking down criminals. It is rather a public work, an educational one – tell a relative, neighbor, colleague the truth about the Holocaust. Explain to him that there are no people of the first and second grade, and even more so there are no people who are flawed and must be destroyed. With just words, you can change the world for the better.

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