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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Could it happen again?

Sixty-four years after the conclusion of World War II, the time has come to ask whether another holocaust could God forbid happen. In Tuesday's Wall Street Journal, Ira Stoll makes a pretty good case that it could.
In the New York Jewish Week newspaper, a column by Rabbi Ronald Price of the Union for Traditional Judaism begins, "In the 1930s, as Germany's economy collapsed, the finger was pointed at the Jews and the Nazis ascended to power. The famous Dreyfus Affair, in which a Jew was falsely accused of treason in France, followed on the heels of economic turmoil."

At this juncture, the trepidation may yet seem like paranoia, or special pleading akin to the old joke about the newspaper headline, "World Ends in Nuclear Attack: Poor, Minorities Hardest Hit." Everyone is feeling the brunt of the recession; why worry about the Jews in particular? After all, Jews today have two refuges: Israel and America, a land where Jews have attained remarkable power and prosperity and have a constitutionally protected right to exercise their religion freely. In that case, why worry about potential danger to the Jews at all?

One answer is that the historical precedents are exceedingly grim. The causes of the First Crusade, in which thousands of Jews were murdered, are still being debated, but some historians link it to famine and a poor harvest in 1095. As for the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, the foremost historian of its causes, Benzion Netanyahu (the father of Israel's new prime minister), writes of the desire of the persecutors "to get rid of their debts by getting rid of their creditors." More generally, he writes, "it is an iron-clad rule in the history of group relations: the majority's toleration of every minority lessens with the worsening of the majority's condition."

Lest this seem overly crude economic determinism, consider that the Jews have been victims not only of unrest prompted by economic distress but of attempts to remedy such economic distress with socialism. Take it from Friedrich Hayek, the late Nobel Prize winning Austrian economist. In "The Road to Serfdom," Hayek wrote, "In Germany and Austria the Jew had come to be regarded as the representative of Capitalism." Thus, the response in those countries, National Socialism, was an attack on both capitalism and the Jews.

There are ample indicators of current anti-Semitic attitudes. A poll conducted recently in Europe by the Anti-Defamation League found 74% of Spaniards believe Jews "have too much power in international financial markets," while 67% of Hungarians believe Jews "have too much power in the business world." Here in America, the Web site of National Journal is hosting an "expert blog" by former CIA official Michael Scheuer, now a professor at Georgetown [Let me guess: He was hired with Saudi money. CiJ], complaining of a "fifth column of pro-Israel U.S. citizens" who are "unquestionably enemies of America's republican experiment." And over at Yahoo! Finance, the message board discussing Goldman Sachs is rife with comments about "Jew pigs" and the "Zionist Federal Reserve."
I don't know about the rest of you, but unfortunately, I don't find another holocaust to be too far-fetched. By the way, Stoll argues that Israel isn't a refuge either, because gathering all the Jews in one place makes it more convenient for an Ahmadinejad to - God forbid - use nuclear weapons against us.

Read the whole thing.


At 5:18 PM, Blogger What is "Occupation" said...

that's why every Jew should be armed....

At 8:00 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Carl - if Jews have to die, then at least they die in their own land, at their own hand rather than as in the past, at the hand of others.

Israel though is a strong nation and Jews know how to overcome their enemies. With the help of G-d, there will be an answer to Ahmedinejad and his ilk who seek to destroy us. In the Haggadah tonight we read: "In every generation, they rise up to destroy us but with His Hand He saved us"

May the Lord Of The World answer us in the hour and day of our trouble and save us from the scourge of the foe.



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