This Bulletin is focused on the importance of Words. Words that signify hatred and anti-semitism are often brushed aside as “just words,” but they can be toxic, and as we know from history, can breed violence. In fact much violence is preceded by words, and language today is being distorted to the extent that truth is being turned upside down, lies are presented as facts, Holocaust words and imagery are being appropriated by those who demonize Jews and Israel, and some words such as “Zionism” are avoided by Jewish people, because of the connotation that has misrepresented their true meaning.
This article by Daniel Bordman, Communications Coordinator, provides examples that ought to make us wary. (ed.)
Words matter, and double standards matter. This was on full display recently in Washington DC as Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez made an outlandish Holocaust comparison.
While doing a livestream on Instagram, the congresswoman compared the detention centres on the South border to “concentration camps”. Cortez even added in the phrase “Never Again” to double-down on the Holocaust comparison. However, when she was called out on her misuse of the Holocaust reference for political gain, she had the audacity to claim that it was the Republicans that were bringing up the Holocaust, while she was just referring to the Boer War.
A few things need to be pointed out before the story continues. First, deflecting to the British actions during the Boer War was actually the strategy that the Nazi propagandists used to deflect away from their actions during the Holocaust. Second, despite one’s opinion on Illegal immigration and how the American government handles it, one thing is clear. There are not Nazi style concentration camps, and that should be obvious. The Nazis rounded up Jewish and other minority citizens in the countries they controlled and sent them into the camps. In America, people who are caught crossing the border illegally are sent to facilities where their identity can be determined and their claims can be processed.
Cortez went on to refuse the offer of a 93-year-old Holocaust survivor, Edward Mosberg, when he offered to take her on a tour of Auschwitz. Instead she further doubled-down on her antics by tweeting out the definition of Concentration camps, “Concentration camps are considered by experts as ‘the mass detention of civilians without trial.’ And that’s exactly what this administration is doing.” These facilities in no way meet the definition/description of a concentration camp which was significantly pointed out by the US Holocaust Museum.
All of this illustrates the massive double standard in our society when it comes to the Jewish people. With all the outrage these days over “Cultural Appropriation”, to the point where Halloween costumes at Yale make it into the national news, appropriation of the Holocaust by an elected government representative barely gets a mention in some Leftist circles.
The effects of this pattern of behavior can already be seen. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar feels more than comfortable speaking classic antisemitic conspiracies, confident that she will face no internal repercussions. Therefore, she states Israel is now “hypnotizing the world” and AIPAC is controlling American policy with their money. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib “gets a calming feeling when thinking about the Holocaust”, because she remembers a version of alternate history where Haji Amin Al-Husseini did not collaborate with Hitler, Eichmann and other high-ranking Nazis to help push the Final Solution, instead the “Palestinians” gave the Jews refugee during the Holocaust. A simple Google search would show that Husseini helped recruit Bosnian Muslims into the SS to help the Nazis send half a million Hungarian Jews the death camps, and that there was a ban on Jewish immigration into British controlled Palestine during the Holocaust. Yet, Tlaib can say this with impunity knowing that there will be an army of “academics” lining up to defend her alternate reality.
So, here we are, almost 75 years after the Holocaust ended and antisemitism is rising on all political sides. Far-Left politicians are unwilling to speak with the remaining survivors, but the more important question is, will the Jewish community listen to the lessons of the survivors?
In the 1930’s many Jews were in denial. They had given so much to Germany, they considered themselves patriotic Germans, surely the new Germany would include them, it was all just rhetoric. It is time to consider that the antisemites in power actually mean what they say when they spout antisemitic conspiracies, and that leadership which ignores anti-Semitism is complicit, Einstein’s definition of Insanity is doing the same thing but expecting different results. In the 1930’s European Jews did not want to seriously deal with the rising tide of antisemitism, so if our Jewish community wants to stick its head in the sand today, why should it expect a different outcome?
Celebrating the Adoption of the Right Words
CAEF joins with many other Jewish organizations in congratulating the federal government for officially adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism. We have forwarded our appreciation for this action to Prime Minister Trudeau and the two nternational Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism. We have forwarded our appreciation for this action to Prime Minister Trudeau and the twoMPs who championed this, Michael Levitt, MP for York Center and Anthony Housefather, MP for Mount Royal. CAEF urges everyone to write an individual letter to express appreciation for this inaugural step in addressing antisemitism. Further, we urge you to write to your Provincial Premier and the Mayor of your city to request their government do likewise.
The IHRA definition and statement of principles must become the sine qua non for evaluating the language and acts of anti-Semitism, here and across the globe.
Canada is one of 32 countries that has adopted the IHRA definition, and now must implement a strategy to enforce it. This is embedded in the recently released Liberals' anti-racism plan, Building a Foundation for Change: Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy 2019–2022.
In our letter to the Prime Minister, CAEF asks that the Government of Canada go further, following the action of the German Bundestag