Has history taught us anything?

This blog is featured in the Times of Israel:


Irish political philosopher, Edmund Burke, once commented that the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.

Today is International Holocaust Memorial day. On January 27, 1945, Soviet forces liberated the Aushwitz-Birkenau extermination camp. Nearly 80 years later, despite having a day designated to the memory of those who perished in the Holocaust, the rising tide of global anti-Semitism is reaching alarming levels and it seems that the lessons of the past are all but forgotton.

It is not enough that in today’s social media savvy world where there is little censorship and people have access to some of the most abominable hate speech and anti-Semitic invective we have seen since 1938, new and creative ways for expressing hatred has become an alarming trend.

The quenelle, the reverse Nazi salute, invented by French satirist-turned-anti-Semitic posterboy, Diuodonne Mbala Mbala, is sweeping Europe like a modern day plague. Football star, Nicolas Anelka, was pictured saluting the Quenelle after scoring a goal at a recent
match. A friend of Diudonne, Anelka gave an apology that seemed more damp squib than sincere. NBA basketball star, Tony Parker, was also photographed doing the quenelle and also offered some half-baked apology. These “role models” have shown no real remorse, giving mealie mouthed excuses that “they did not know what it meant”. Seriously?
The quenelle has almost become the secret handshake or salute of the modern day anti-Semite. It has made its illustrious appearance outside Auschwitz, the Jewish Day School in Toulouse where 3 children and their teacher were murdered and to racist chants at football matches. Is it any coincidence that this “up yours” gesture is popping up where Jews have been murdered? Diuodonne himself said that “he wanted to put a quenelle into Zionism’s butt”.

Hmmmm classy.

The damage caused by Nazi type salutes of any kind is just as traumatic as any kind of verbal assault. Especially when it comes from the youth. A day like today is a reminder of the importance of educating the next generation so that we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past. So imagine my surprise and outrage when pictures showing students who had attended a workshop at the Durban Holocaust Centre were pictured posing with their teacher giving the Nazi salute. A communal leader chalked it up to “youthful insensitivity”. Excuse me? But apart from the obvious, what is wrong with this picture? The Holocaust Centre expressed its disappointment and the principal is “not available for comment”.

The final installment in the hat trick of lunacy is the behaviour of British Tory MP, Aidan Burley. Burley was forced to resign as aministerial aide after admitting “Clearly inappropriate behaviour’ at a party in a French ski resort, where guests, one in a Nazi
uniform, chanted pro-Hitler slogans. Last week a Conservative Party investigation accepted his testimony that he had not been present at a bar where revellers were chanting ‘Hitler!’ and ‘Himmler!’Burley admitted to being at the Nazi themed stag party at Val Thorens but had “left after a guest proposed a toast to the Third Reich”. Nazi themed stag party. What? Was 80’s night theme taken? Toasts to the Third Reich? Insanity.

The Holocaust did not start with gas chambers but with words and actions. And the inaction of many who stood by and did nothing in the face of mass genocide. Today and all days, we can ill afford to stand by and do nothing. It is alarming that history has not taught us anything, it is open season on Jews. Anti-Semitism is no longer politically incorrect and the intentions of haters is ill disguised.