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We must 'ring the bell' against antisemitism – The Australian Jewish News



We live in a perilous moment in history when antisemitism is at an all-time high and our community is under an unprecedented attack.

And the insidious, sickening chorus of hate comes from all sides, so much so that it feels like we are under siege.

We should be very worried. Something frightening is happening before our very eyes, and assuming everything will be okay requires an unbelievable degree of wilful ignorance.

More than ever, we must ring the bell as loud as possible with fury. Otherwise, there will not be a brighter future for our kids and grandchildren.

The toxin of anti-Jewish bigotry and online harassment is exploding with ferocity. It’s in our Facebook feeds, in our streets, at universities, at the workplace, in chilling phone calls to local rabbis and emails sent to Jewish institutions.

More and more young people are wary of wearing kippot or magen davids in public and are hiding their Jewish and Zionist identity.

German Jews never believed their own country and neighbours would turn on them and destroy everything they built and loved.

The Final Solution was perpetrated by doctors who euthanised the “unfit” and performed heinous experiences, lawyers who crafted laws that legalised racism and murder, and judges who stripped rights from their fellow citizens.

These were ordinary Germans, who rounded up men, women and children and pushed them into the gas chambers, part of a program to totally annihilate and extinct a race of people.

There was hope the terrors of Auschwitz would end the oldest hatred, but it did not.

I recall Szlamek, a Polish Jew who first told the world about the gas chambers. Deported to Chelmno on January 7, 1942, he was assigned to the mobile gas units to pull out bodies and bury them.

One night, an SS guard ordered him to lead his group in a song, so Szlamek led them in the Hatikvah.

To Szlamek and his fellow Jews, Israel was only a dream. Today, every Jew who sings Hatikvah is demonised and vilified. It seems that Australian Jews don’t have the right to speak up for Israel.

Antisemitism, if ignored, will infect everyone, and there is no vaccine to this pandemic. But there is a cure – education is one.

Another is not to cower in the face of intimidation or to turn the other cheek. We must convince society that antisemitism and racism are flip sides of the same coin.

If you despise Jews, it’s pretty likely that you are prejudiced against Muslims, Asians, gays, Africans and other minorities.

On a daily basis, the ADC delivers a troubling compendium of incidents and calls out any behaviour or speech that engages in racial slurs, stereotypes and dehumanising words. We refuse to give a free pass or cover to anyone who drinks from the deep wells of antisemitism.

Then there’s anti-Zionism, animus that offers an ‘acceptable’ justification to target and single out anyone who supports or is associated with Israel.

The wholesale smear and loathing of Israel, Zionists, Zionism is now the norm.

Justice for the Palestinian people has given some permission to normalise antisemitism, promote BDS and call for the destruction of the Jewish State.

It has been amplified recently by the deranged Amnesty International Report, fully endorsed by Amnesty Australia, which argues that Israel does not have a right to exist and accuses it of crimes against humanity. No talk of Hamas, terrorism, suicide attacks, rockets.

The hard truth is that such ugly tactics and words have real-life consequences for the Jewish community.

Consider: Have you ever met anyone who criticises China for its policies, and who believes that it’s all right to threaten, victimise and assault Asian-Australians?

Yet, when it comes to Jews, there is a different standard because, according to this narrative, we are latter-day Nazis and white supremacists enslaving the Palestinians who deserve whatever comes to us.

Vicious anti-Israel forces have been successful in mainstreaming false accusations of apartheid and genocide.

We should tell those who disrespect us, who peddle lies about Israel, who support boycotts of festivals – don’t come to Yom Hashoah commemorations to mourn with us because empty gestures mean nothing.

And we should not expect others to do the heavy lifting of countering antisemitism. Only we can fight for our rights and security. The world didn’t give a damn about the Jews, and it doesn’t today.

My message to our enemies is: We have survived all efforts to destroy us – the crusades, being burnt at the stakes, forced baptisms in the inquisition, the pogroms and the Holocaust – and we will survive you.

There were 1.5 million voices of Jewish children who were silenced during the Holocaust in the Nazi death factories. I am determined to ensure that their voices will outlast the shouts of the murderers.

Dvir Abramovich is chairman of the Anti-Defamation Commission.

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