AUSCHWITZ, POLAND – ‘Never Again’. That’s been the battle cry of Jewish and Israeli leaders about the Holocaust for decades. But despite that declaration, anti-Semitism is rising at an alarming rate in Europe, North America and elsewhere. So what can be done to stop the dramatic upsurge?
“Combatting anti-Semitism is not only a question of politics and statements and whatever comes out in the media but it’s an actual fight for our safety in Europe,” said Rabbi Shlomo Koves, Chairman of the European Action and Protection League told CBN News.
The European Action and Protection League joined with the European Jewish Association #NotOnMyWatch in a symposium that invited some 100 European Education ministers and parliamentarians to form a ‘Delegation to Auschwitz’ this week.
Koves said the Jewish people need a plan to fight anti-Semitism and what he called “mutations” of this virus. That includes rightwing, leftwing and now Islamic anti-Semitism.
“We have to partner with those politicians, opinion leaders, public figures that are ready to partner with us in our war against antisemitism. It’s a war of minds, a war of ideas and we need a lot of partners for this war and we have to look at it as a war,” Koves said.
The EJA’s Chairman Menachem Margolin made clear their goal must be to put action behind the words ‘never again’. His group has proposed countries enact legislation that would buttress Holocaust education in schools, prohibit anti-Semitic stereotyping, and forbid the sale of Nazi memorabilia.
“To really measure the success, need to follow up and see how of those MPs will promote and sign the draft legislation we presented to ensure the children in Europe will get more education, that the trade of Nazi memorabilia will be banned and the use of any anti-Semitic stereotypes will be banned,” Margolin told CBN News.
He said his organization would begin following up with the parliamentarians the next day.
The parliamentarians and other guests took a tour of Auschwitz-Birkenau, where Nazis murdered 1.1 million of the six million Jews killed during the Holocaust. The Red Army liberated the camp 75 years ago.
Standing in front of a train car at the edge of the camp, Polish-born, former Israeli Chief Rabbi, Yisrael Meir Lau, told the participants that there’s no logic behind anti-Semitism.
“Anti-Semitism you can explain but you cannot find a reason for it. It’s against dialogue. It’s against logic. It’s a spiritual madness,” said Lau, who is a Holocaust survivor.
"We do need education on the Holocaust at an early age. If we don't do that, I am not sure that something could not happening again,” Lau said.
"We need to tell at the very early age of children that all people are brothers and sisters, that we are the same human beings,” he added.
European Parliament Vice-President Mairead McGuiness told participants that, “The Auschwitz-Birkenau camp is a terrible reminder of evil. The names of the people were replaced by numbers that were tattooed on their arms.”
McGuiness said that they need to confront the situation because the reality today is that “the situation for Jews is worrying.” She said she would bring the “sadness” she felt in the camp to the European parliament.
Margolin challenged them, “The key is in your hands to act against antisemitism and (make) a contribution to Europe.”
Koves said that banning anti-Semitism isn’t only good for the Jewish people.
“God told Abraham that I will bless whoever blesses you and curse whoever curses you and we see that throughout our history of human civilization that whoever persecuted the Jews later on was devastated and destructed by himself,” Koves told CBN News.