On October 26, a small demonstration was held outside the center of the Jewish community in San Antonio, Texas. The demonstrators, a group calling itself the Goyim Defense League, held a banner reading “Honk if you know the Holocaust is fake.” These anti-Semites did so in broad daylight for all to see, and the drivers? some did honk alright.
The year is 2021 and normative people in a democratic Western country where many Holocaust survivors live still think that the worst crime in human history never happened.
This demonstration may have been small, but it symbolizes a much greater problem: Holocaust education in schools and universities is poor if at all existent, and this is coupled with a sense of apathy towards rising anti-Semitism around the world.
Let us focus for a moment on that bizarre group in Texas. The identities of its members are known and they frequently participate in anti-Semitic events and spread hate, but no one does anything about that. They're free to throw their slime everywhere.
Again, this small group from Texax is not the problem, the problem is how countries make empty promises and issue well-worded statements while the war on anti-Semitism is clearly located very low on their priority list.
This indifference is the root of all evil, On November 9, 1938, Adolf Hitler tested the world's response to systemic abuse of Jews. In this anti-Jewish pogrom — known as Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass — dozens of Jews have been murdered, tens of thousands were arrested and shipped to concentration camps and about 1,400 synagogues and Jewish businesses were burned to the ground. The world was indifferent to the horrors that began in Europe on Kristallnacht. Hitler realized he could harm and kill Jews unimpeded, and so began the greatest crime even though the writing was on the wall.
When discussing the lessons of the Holocaust, we must remember that it didn't come out of the blue. It was preceded by years of incitement and discrimination. Therefore, we commemorate Kristallnacht as the turning point in the chain of events that ended in the shooting pits, gas chambers, and crematoriums. And these events shine a light on the historical truth and tell the stories of the last Holocaust survivors who were there.
Holocaust education and the war on anti-Semitism go hand in hand and depend on each other. Without Holocaust education, anti-Semitism can't be stopped. We are a part of the last generation that can hear firsthand the stories from those who have gone through that hell, the ones who witnessed that anti-Semitism from the beginning to the very cruel end.
On the March of the Living, which is an annual educational program that brings together students from around the world to Poland so they could explore the remnants of the Holocaust. We took on the mission of passing the memorial torch for generations to come. We embrace the survivors, and we are anxious, very anxious, about the day they won't be able to speak anymore.
In 2021, anti-Semitism continues to run rampant unhindered the world over. A recent survey by the American Jewish Committee (AJC shows one in four American Jews has been victim of anti-Semitism in the past year; 40% of respondents testified that they felt the need to hide their Judaism or cut back on activities regarded as Jewish. A quarter moderated the content they published online so they wouldn't be identified as Jews, 22% changed their attire, and 17% reconsidered going to certain places. In some European countries, such as Germany, France, and Britain, the situation is similar or worse.
The COVID-19 pandemic gave anti-Semites new excuses and plots to pin on the Jews, and the anonymity offered by the internet provides them with the confidence and platform they need. Once more, we're talking about a small and loud minority that continues to do so unmolested.
Anti-Semitism must be confronted anywhere and at any time it rears its ugly head, in the streets and virtual spaces. We can't stop fighting and think the threat is behind us. Racism, if left alone, metastasizes, and in time, it will spread to all parts of society.
The March of the Living will soon return to march on Polish soil, where millions of our people were murdered. We'll continue to remember, march, and shine a light against anti-Semitism, racism, and hatred wherever we can.
Dr. Samuel Rosenman is Chairman of the March of the Living.