Europe’s Holocaust Amnesia
By: Michael Freund, www.jewishpress.com, Feb. 20, 2014
Last week, European Parliament president Martin Schulz ascended the podium at the Knesset in Jerusalem and managed to make a fool not only of himself but of the continent he represents.
Speaking in his native German, Schulz used the opportunity to blast Israel for its policies vis-à-vis Judea, Samaria and Gaza, prompting several Israeli government ministers and parliamentarians to walk out in protest.
Mindlessly repeating false statistics about the gap in water usage between Jews and Palestinians, Schulz unwittingly revealed just how gullible Europe is when it comes to taking Arab propaganda at face value.
After a Palestinian he met told him Israelis are allocated more than four times the water he receives, Schulz dutifully repeated the untruth in his parliamentary address.
Regardless of whether he checked his facts or not, Schulz comes out looking bad. Indeed, in one fell swoop he demonstrated that European policymakers are sufficiently anti-Israel that they will believe just about anything that paints the Jewish state in an unfavorable light.
Moreover, he laid bare the vestiges of medieval anti-Semitism that continue to influence the attitudes of many European decision-makers toward Israel.
As the late Joshua Trachtenberg pointed out more than seven decades ago in his seminal work, The Devil and the Jews: The Medieval Conception of the Jew and Its Relation to Modern Anti-Semitism, many Europeans held deep-seated and hateful beliefs about their Jewish neighbors, including that they would poison the wells.
Now, in a modern-day twist on that conception, Europeans seem to think that rather than polluting the wells, the Jews now monopolize them instead.
Talk about the power of a lie.
As Trachtenberg noted, “the lie is a more potent weapon, skillfully wielded, than the bare and simple truth…. For the lie can be molded to match the ‘will to believe’; the truth is made of less malleable stuff.”
The Schulz affair, taken together with other recent incidents involving European hostility toward Israel, also suggests a significant shift is well underway in how the continent relates to the Jewish state.
Earlier this month, the speaker of the Danish parliament chose to visit the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and the Hamas regime in Gaza, but skipped over Israel in what can only be described as an insolent snub.
Rather than standing with democratic Israel, democratic Denmark seems to prefer the company of Hamas hoodlums and PLO plutocrats.
And in another sign of mounting European duplicity, two of the most important financial institutions in northern Europe, the Swedish Nordea Bank and the Norwegian Danske Bank, announced they would boycott their Israeli counterparts because they operate in the “occupied territories.”
What we are witnessing is a trend as dangerous as it is regrettable: barely seven decades after murdering its Jews, Europe is emerging out from under its sense of guilt and historical responsibility.
As the Holocaust recedes from peoples’ memories, Europeans feel freer than before to lambast Israel and to treat it with breathtaking hypocrisy.
In addition, this development has allowed ancient hatreds to surface once again, prompting a new and frightening wave of anti-Semitism across the continent.
Sure, Europe has taken the lead in declaring January 27 an international day of Holocaust remembrance. But there are signs that even this annual commemoration is being stripped of any Jewish elements.
In her official statement to mark the day, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton omitted any mention of Jewish victims, instead calling for people to “remain vigilant against the dangers of hate speech and redouble our commitment to prevent any form of intolerance.”
Can you imagine issuing a statement about the Holocaust yet failing to mention the holy six million Jewish souls who perished in the inferno?
This isn’t Holocaust denial – it is Holocaust amnesia.
Consciously or not, Europe is forgetting the recent past, casting aside the genocide and turning up the heat against Israel and the Jewish people.
And that is what makes it so important that we take steps to remind Europe that their debt to our people is perpetual. Hence, they have no right to preach to us about morality or decency.
This isn’t about politics or policy, it is about historical justice.
They owe – yes, owe! – it to us to stand firmly with Israel in its struggle against those who seek our elimination.
So while it may not be the most diplomatic thing to do, Israel must send Europe a clear and simple message: seventy years after the Europeans sought our destruction, they cannot and must not dare to favor Israel’s enemies.
About the Author: Michael Freund is the Founder and Chairman of Shavei Israel. He writes a syndicated column and feature stories for the Jerusalem Post, Israel’s leading English-language daily, and he previously served as Deputy Director of Communications & Policy Planning in the Prime Minister’s Office under Benjamin Netanyahu. A native of New York, he holds an MBA in Finance from Columbia University and a BA from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.