Thursday, February 24, 2011

‘Never Again for Anyone’: the Latest Anti-Semitic Campaign

Clemens Heni
24 February '11

The campaign “Never Again for Anyone” this month went on tour across the United States — from D.C., New Jersey, and New York, to Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, New Orleans, and Toronto. On February 19, it arrived in Los Angeles, where an habitually tolerant people had to face the following declaration, pulled from the “Never Again for Anyone” homepage:

In the face of the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestine, attacks and persecution of Muslim and Arab communities in the US and Canada, and ongoing attacks against the rights of other communities and immigrants, we assert a commitment to collective humanity against the application of “never again” to only a few.

Yes: it’s anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism framed as anti-racism. Since the late 1960s, it’s been a constant theme.

The sponsors of the “Never Again” tour are American Muslims for Palestine, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, and the Middle East Children’s Alliance. Here’s a taste of what these organizations stand for.

On January 29, 2001, Rutgers University in New Jersey, a nationally renowned, state-sponsored institution, witnessed the following event. At the campaign stop of “Never Again,” Hajo Meyer and Hedy Epstein were invited to speak. A year ago, Meyer spoke in the UK during a tour of “Never Again.” An announcement for the January 26, 2010, gathering read:

Hajo Meyer — survived Auschwitz — Haidar Eid — is surviving Gaza; both are united in a commitment to Palestinian freedom.

We know who Meyer is. He is driven by hatred and resentment. With him, an extremely tiny group of Holocaust survivors are distorting history. Rather than representing the Jewish community, they are a constituency unto themselves. Meyer uses Auschwitz as a tool to fight today’s Jews. In doing so, he encourages Hamas, known for its commitment to destroy Israel, following the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hasan al-Banna, whom they quote in their charter. Is there anything more disgusting a person can do?

German bestseller and journalist at Die Welt Henryk M. Broder — himself a Jew — won a lawsuit against Hajo Meyer in 2007. According to a report in the Jewish Press on November 21, 2007, Broder is officially allowed to say that Meyer “is an expert in applied Judeophobia.”

After Auschwitz, comparing Israel to Nazi Germany and framing an event with the phrase “Never again” is, quite simply, anti-Semitism. According to the “Working Definition on Antisemitism of the European Union,” as well as the definitions relied upon by the U.S. government, “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis” is anti-Semitic.

So much for Hajo Meyer. The other speaker at Rutgers was Hedy Epstein, known for her support of the “Free Gaza” movement, which ignores or affirms the blatant anti-Semitism of Hamas.

Well, Jewish anti-Semitism is a well-known phenomenon. Indiana-based Prof. Alvin Rosenfeld dealt with it a few years ago in a text titled “‘Progressive’ Jewish Thought and the New Antisemitism.”

Consider the thoughts of a child of the Shoah — Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg, from Edison, New Jersey. Speaking to this author, he said: “No Holocaust survivor should ever turn against their own people or the state of Israel.”

Rosenberg was born to Holocaust survivors in Germany and came to the U.S. soon after. He has of late faced anti-Semitic attacks in New Jersey. In October 2010 he invited me to speak at his synagogue, where we discussed with members of his congregation how to defeat Holocaust obfuscation and the distortion of history.

Lying about history, when not distorting history, is exactly what Epstein and Meyer are doing. They know that not a single child or adult has been gassed in the Gaza Strip by the Israelis. Nonetheless, Meyer equates his survival with the fact that someone in the Gaza Strip lived through “Operation Cast Lead.” This anti-Zionism, which has nothing to do with free speech or the First Amendment, echoes everything glib and fraudulent about neo-Nazi, leftist, Islamist, and mainstream European propaganda against the Jewish state of Israel.

As Vladimir Jankélévitch — French philosopher, Holocaust survivor, and résistance fighter — analyzed as early as 1971, comparing Israel with Nazi Germany involves at least two forms of anti-Semitism:

- 1) An obfuscation of the Holocaust, as a form of “soft” Holocaust denial;

- 2) A defamation of the only democracy in the Middle East, the Jewish state of Israel.

The ugly campaign carrying on by the name of “Never Again for Anyone” has to stop immediately. It defiles the truth about the Shoah and spreads anti-Semitic propaganda on campus, around the American nation, and in Canada.

Public debates are a cornerstone of democracy. Equating Auschwitz with the Gaza Strip, as Hajo Meyer has done, has nothing to do with democracy, debate, or free speech. The organizers of the Rutgers event excluded some 400 pro-Israel and Jewish protesters from the event.

Rather than a standard of justice, a vicious double standard has been set up and propagated by credulous and weak liberal university campuses.

Author Hannah Sternberg put the Rutgers event and the entire campaign in a nutshell: “‘Never Again for Anyone’ is not about peace. It is about annihilation.” Now — not later, when it is all too late — we must seize the moment to combat this anti-Semitic campaign.

Clemens Heni is a political scientist and the author of two books on German Anti-Semitism. In 2008-2009, he was a post-doctoral researcher at Yale University and he has been the Felix Posen Fellow at the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. His personal website is Clemens

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