Wiesenthal Centre Presentation to 56 State OSCE Conference:"Identity Theft of Holocaust and Antisemitism Delegitimize the Jewish Narrative"

Statement by Dr. Shimon Samuels, Simon Wiesenthal Centre Permanent Delegate to 56 State Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), to the High-Level Conference on “Tolerance and Non-Discrimination”

Plenary Session II: Combatting Antisemitism

Astana, Kazakhstan, 30 June 2010

"Mr. Chairman,

The OSCE Berlin Declaration of 2004 included, on the one hand, the denial, relativization and trivalization of the Holocaust and, on the other, the abuse of developments in Israel and the Middle East, as contributing factors to antisemitism.

While both of these phenomena are at an all time high, they are compounded by a form of identity theft:
-in Eastern Europe, the Holocaust is conflated with the crimes of Stalinism as "two equal genocides"  
- a formula politically designed to obfuscate the mass murder of Jews by  local auxiliaries  to the Final Solution. Once rehabilitated as icons of the national struggle against Bolshevism,complicity can be deleted from the collective memory

-similarly,in the Middle East, the Holocaust is conflated with the 1948 Palestinian fate known in Arabic as “the Naqba” (catastrophe)
– an argument that obfuscates the character of the Final Solution and ignores the simultaneous fate of Jewish refugees expelled from Arab countries.

-the very term, “antisemitism”, has been arrogated ostensibly to “the other Semite” as a euphemism for Arabophobia. This conflation obfuscates the 1880’s German origin of the term which was created to target Jews exclusively.
Such identity grabbing should be totally unnecessary if the grievances of the impostors stood upon their own validity.

In fact, thefts of the particular Jewish identity are politically designed and therefore intrinsically antisemitic,as they seek to delegitimize Jewish victimology.As in substitution theology,they allow role reversal, whereby the victim may be rewritten as perpetrator and the latter to dress up as victim.

“Antisemitism”and “Holocaust” are as exclusive to the Jewish experience as the "Porraemos is to the Roma and “Apartheid” is to the South African.

The transposition of such terms, in the context of our subject, is calculated to incite to further Jew-hatred.

-A final example of Holocaust misappropriation is one of historic suspension or disconnect e.g. “Kristallnacht” - ”The Night of Broken Glass” in November 1939 Germany and Austria  - is marked by the European left as a metaphor. Yet, their commemoration, in November 2000, was without mention of the synagogues then burning across the continent, as blowback from the Palestinian “Intifada”.

Mourning Jews killed 60 years ago, was, apparently, easier than confronting contemporary victims of antisemitism.

At a Swedish training programme on the Holocaust for Russian teachers held in Archangel, I learned that the local Jewish community had not been invited to the opening seminar. I asked the Swedish organizers if they had ever invited local Jewish leaders to any of their events across the Russian Federation? They indignantly responded, “we teach the Holocaust, what has that got to do with today’s Jews?”

How then can Holocaust education serve as an early–warning system to contain antisemitism or any other form of hatred?

I draw your attention to a book, “Antisemitism – The Generic Hatred - Essays in Memory of Simon Wiesenthal”, a collection published by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre under the auspices of UNESCO. Some of its authors are present here today: they include three Muslims, an African, a Roma, a Chinese and a disabled advocacy activist – all applying the lessons in combatting antisemitism to their own respective victimology.

Between them, there is no pecking-order of tragedies, no competition in suffering, no theft from each other’s narrative and total respect within the communion between all victims.

We urge the OSCE to include in its programmes on antisemitism, a study of the effects of:
-decoupling the Holocaust from contemporary Jew-hatred

-the identity theft and misappropriation of the Holocaust, and antisemitism itself, and its damage to the intent of the Berlin Declaration of 2004.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman"