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Posts Tagged ‘Nazi Holocaust’

Joan Rivers Moves on from Holocaust Joke to Mimicking Hitler

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

Joan Rivers ignored critics of her crass joke about the Holocaust at the Oscars last week and decided to have a go with Hitler, just for laughs.

On Friday, she cut off a piece of her hair and held it where a mustache usually grows as she tried to mimic Hitler, according to Radaronline.

Rivers last week dismissed criticism for the Anti-Defamation League and others for referring to a very sexy gown worn by German supermodel Heidi Klum at the Oscars by saying, “The last time a German looked this hot was when they were pushing Jews into the ovens.”

She not only refused to apologize, but she also said, “My husband lost the majority of his family at Auschwitz, and I can assure you that I have always made it a point to remind people of the Holocaust through humor.”

Greek Entertainer under Fire for Swastika-Star of David Logo

Monday, February 25th, 2013

Greece’s Jewish community has complained to authorities in Athens after a controversial entertainer used a symbol of an intertwined swastika and a Star of David to promote his night club shows.

“The design depicted on the poster fiercely insults our very religion as well as the memory of the six million Jews, victims of the Holocaust,” said a statement from the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, addressed to the country’s Minister of Justice and officials in the education ministry.

The poster advertising the show by singer and comedian Tsimis Panousis, for a series of shows at a club in the port city of Piraeus near Athens, shows a Magen David intertwined with a swastika.

The poster has been plastered widely across Athens and on major boulevards in the city. Panousis, who has a reputation for being provocative, was apparently trying to imply that Greece’s financial crisis was a result of the combined efforts of a German-led austerity plan and Jewish-controlled financial interests.

The Jewish central board’s statement said the board had appealed to various municipalities to remove the offending posters and that they had received positive responses. However, the posters remained up in many places in the city.

There has been an upsurge in anti-Semitic incidents in Greece recently, but most have been tied to the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn Party.

Trivializing The Holocaust

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

There was a time when no one living in Israel needed a reminder of what was at stake when the Jewish state was created in 1948 in the aftermath of World War II and the Nazi Holocaust.

Israelis and Jews the world over knew that the survival of the Jewish people depended on the ability to have a home to return to after our near-ruinous encounter with European anti-Semitism.

There was also a time when the words “Hitler,” “Nazi” and “Gestapo” were not thrown about recklessly, when images of the emaciated inmates of Nazi concentration camps were a reminder not just to the Jewish people but to all the world of the terrible turn of events that led to the death of 6 million Jews and millions of others in the Holocaust.

The uniqueness of the Holocaust was what made the state of Israel such a powerful answer to those who had attempted to annihilate the Jews. And its memory would ensure that the mass genocide that befell European Jewry would never happen again. Indeed, the message of “Never Again” redefined Jewish experience and peoplehood in the latter half of the 20th century.

But over time we have found the need to remind others – and sometimes ourselves – of the importance of this experience and of the need to protect its memory from those who would distort it. That is why we have felt it necessary to battle efforts to undermine or trivialize the history of the Holocaust. It is why we have worked to expose Holocaust deniers. And it is why we repeatedly speak out when the Holocaust becomes grist for inappropriate comparisons, or when terminology such as “Nazi” or “Hitler” are misused to wage political attacks or are trivialized in popular culture.

Yet never did I think that we would have to speak out about the abject trivialization of the Holocaust by a group of Jews living in Israel. But that is exactly what happened recently when, following efforts by secular Israelis to roll back gender segregation on some bus lines, a group of haredim protested by dressing up in concentration camp garb and wearing yellow Stars of David inscribed with the word “Jude.”

The scene in Jerusalem was both an aberration and an outrage. This was blatant, in-your-face Holocaust trivialization on a level that until now we have rarely witnessed in Israeli society.

For decades, Israelis and Jews around the world have worked to protect the memory of the Holocaust. We built Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. In the United States, we founded the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. Today there’s even a Holocaust memorial in Berlin, Germany.

We worked hard with like-minded righteous gentiles and governments to protect and preserve the sites in Europe most closely associated with the Shoah, including the concentration camps, the deportation sites, the mass graves and the evidence of once-thriving Jewish communities. And we created and stressed educational efforts, such as Echoes and Reflections – the multimedia Holocaust curriculum developed by the Anti-Defamation League in partnership with Yad Vashem and the USC Shoah Foundation Institute – to ensure that the lessons of the Shoah are passed on to future generations.

We also battled efforts to undermine or trivialize the history and memory of the Holocaust. The most pernicious form was Holocaust denial, a form of anti-Semitism. But while the deniers remain mostly on the fringes of society, we have found ourselves increasingly engaged in a battle against a more subtle form of trivialization borne of ignorance, forgetfulness and carelessness about truth and memory.

For more than a decade, inappropriate and offensive comparisons to the Holocaust have cropped up increasingly in the U.S. Political leaders have accused each other of using propaganda like Goebbels or of “sending in the brownshirts.” Celebrities compare their personal ordeals to those of Anne Frank, or in a traumatic moment in their lives, make trite comparisons to Hitler or the Holocaust.

As Jews, we have found ourselves needing to constantly raise our voices against this kind of trivialization in an effort not only to remind others of the pain and offensiveness of these remarks, but also to protect the memory of the Holocaust, so that we do not wake up one day to a world that no longer remembers the lessons of that period – or, worse, is indifferent to them.

At a time when trivialization of the Holocaust is booming around the world, it is now becoming apparent that we also need to do a better job of reminding ourselves and our children of the importance of remembrance and of protecting the memory of those who perished and the honor of those who fought to defeat the murderous Nazis.

Israelis should no longer refer to other Israelis as “Nazis.” Jewish settlers should know better than to shout “Nazi” against Israeli soldiers (there primarily for the settler’s protection) in the West Bank. The fact that some Israelis refer to the 1967 border between Israel and the West Bank as “the Auschwitz border” shows how far removed some Israelis and Jews have become from the true horrors of the Shoah.

By The Rivers Of Brooklyn

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

   Next week, Jews around the world will gather together to mark Tisha B’Av, the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av, which is the saddest day on the Jewish calendar.
 
   We will sit down on the floor and read the prophet Jeremiah’s Book of Lamentations while abstaining from food and drink and mourning the calamities and disasters that have befallen our people throughout the centuries on this day.
 
   They range from the biblical sin of the spies in the desert who spoke ill of the Promised Land, on through the outbreak of World War I, the outcome of which paved the way for the rise of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany.
 
   In the medieval period, Tisha B’Av coincided with the expulsion of the Jews from various European countries.
 
   It was on Tisha B’Av in 1290 that King Edward I of England signed the edict ordering the expulsion of all Jews from his realm. This disgraceful act was replicated by the ironically named Philip the Fair of France in 1306, and later by Spain’s Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492.
 
   But of course the central theme of the day lies in recalling the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem, both of which fell, centuries apart, on Tisha B’Av.
 
   According to the historian Josephus, some 1.1 million Jews died at the hands of the Romans during the siege and destruction of Jerusalem and another 97,000 were taken captive. Many were either sold into slavery or fed to the lions.
 
   It was analogous to a demographic and spiritual Holocaust, one that nearly shattered the Jewish people and sparked a long and painful exile from which most of world Jewry has yet to emerge.
 
   Think about it: all the tragedies and suffering that have befallen the Jewish people over the past 2,000 years – the Crusades and the Inquisition, the Cossacks and the pogroms, on through the Nazi Holocaust – can be traced back to that fateful day, the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av, when the flames rose up over Jerusalem and consumed the Temple that lay at its heart.
 

   Had the city not fallen, had the Jews not been defeated, the exile might never have occurred, along with all the death and destruction that have accompanied it throughout the ages.

   So there is much to contemplate and grieve for on Tisha B’Av, which is why it has become such a central part of Jewish life.
 
   And this, of course, is as it should be. Our collective memory of the past, as well as our attachment to our heritage and our history, is what has sustained us even during the darkest of periods. Doing so ensures that we do not forget who we are, both individually as well as a people.
 
   Nonetheless, there is something that troubles me each year as Tisha B’Av approaches. I guess, to put it simply, it boils down to this: why are so many Jews still sitting by the rivers of Brooklyn as they remember Zion?
 
   With the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, each one of us has been granted the opportunity to make aliyah, a gift that previous generations could only dream of.
 
   Every Jew who does so is in effect turning back the clock on Tisha B’Av, and inflicting his own defeat on the Roman forces of Vespasian and Titus.
 
   Millions of Jews have already answered the call, leaving behind places such as Moscow and Manhattan to come and help build the reborn Jewish state.
 
   But Israel needs more Jews. It is here, and here alone, that our national destiny is playing itself out, and there is much work that needs to be done.
 
   If the Jews of Monsey and Teaneck, of Flatbush and Boro Park, of Manchester and Golders Green, would only take the fateful step and come home to Jerusalem, it could have a profound impact on the nature and direction of Israeli society.
 
   An influx of tens of thousands of observant Western Jews, committed to tradition and to upholding Jewish values, would immeasurably strengthen the country and place it back on the proper course. What a boost this would be to the people of Israel!
 
   So by all means, go to synagogue next week and sit and mourn for the Jerusalem of the past, as our ancestors have done for generations.
 

   Just make sure that once you get up from the floor, you dust yourself off and come help us to build the Jerusalem of the present, and the future.

 

  

   Michael Freund is founder of Shavei Israel (www.shavei.org), a Jerusalem-based organization that helps “lost Jews” return to Zion. His column appears the third week of each month. He can be contacted at Michael@shavei.org  

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/by-the-rivers-of-brooklyn/2010/07/15/

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