Incidents of anti-Semitism are increasing throughout the world at an “alarming” rate, Hannah S. Rosenthal, the State Department’s special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, tells Newsmax.
The State Department tracks anti-Semitism through postings by American diplomats in each country. An incident of anti-Semitism can be either a criminal act such as defacing a synagogue with slurs, or anti-Jewish rhetoric.
“When you find some rhetoric, whether it’s from a government official, from a religious leader, from a community leader, or in graffiti that calls for killing or harming Jews, that clearly is an incident of anti-Semitism,” Rosenthal says, adding, “When Jews are accused of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing and [people] blame all Jews around the world, that’s an act of anti-Semitism. When Jews are accused of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust, that’s an act of anti-Semitism.”
Rosenthal says the increase in such incidents has occurred in the past two years. They’re often spurred by news events involving Israel, such as its interception of a flotilla of ships from Turkey trying to go through a blockade.
Legitimate criticism of Israeli policies is not considered an incident.
In France alone, anti-Semitic incidents have increased by 300 percent since 2009, Rosenthal says.
Rosenthal has a special reason for caring about anti-Semitism: With the exception of her father, her entire family was killed at Auschwitz in the Holocaust. “My grandparents, my aunts, my uncles, my cousins — everybody was killed,” she says.
Just recently, Rosenthal’s daughter found so-called deportation papers documenting that the family was sent to Auschwitz by train on May 28, 1942.
“What happens with children of Holocaust survivors is that we are raised with some pretty profound values but also some pretty profound messages that our family and our people were diminished and almost all exterminated, and we have a lot of making up to do,” Rosenthal says.
A former executive director of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, she began her job at the State Department in November 2009.
Rosenthal traces anti-Semitism to the Middle Ages, when Jews were accused of killing Christian children to use their blood to bake matzoh.
“Now, it has morphed a bit into Jews are kidnapping children to steal their organs,” she says. “It’s not a disease that was cured when Hitler died. It’s a chronic disease. As long as people are being taught in schools that Jews are horrible people and responsible for everything bad in their lives, it will persist.”
Rosenthal notes that “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” an anti-Semitic tract, is a best-selling book in Saudi Arabia and even in Japan.
As one example of Rosenthal’s State Department work, she participated in a visit to the Dachau concentration camp in Germany and to the Auschwitz camp in Poland last August by a group of leading rabbis and imams.
The trip was put together by Suhail Khan, a Muslim who is a former White House aide to George W. Bush, and Marshall Breger, an orthodox Jew who is a professor at Catholic University of America and was President Reagan’s liaison to the Jewish community. A board member of the American Conservative Union, Khan is with the Institute for Global Engagement.
“On the first day we were all together in Germany, I said I would really love to see a statement condemning Holocaust denial come out of this, and I’m happy to report that on the fifth day, as we were getting ready to leave, the imams read to me their statement, and it went way beyond condemning Holocaust denial,” Rosenthal says. “It condemned all forms of anti-Semitism.”
“We bear witness to the absolute horror and tragedy of the Holocaust, where over 12 million human souls perished, including 6 million Jews,” the imams said in a joint statement issued after the trip. “We condemn any attempts to deny this historical reality and declare such denials or any justification of this tragedy as against the Islamic code of ethics.”
The declaration added, “We condemn anti-Semitism in any form. No creation of Almighty God should face discrimination based on his or her faith or religious conviction.”
One of the imams appeared on Al-Jazeera to talk about the trip in Arabic.
“It was an overwhelming experience,” Rosenthal says. “Little by little, we are trying to make a difference.”
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via e-mail. Go here now.
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