Is a second Holocaust possible? This is a justified question in view of the past century’s genocide, as well as the current massive and extreme hate-mongering against Israel and Jews. History shows that genocide is usually preceded by major and continuous demonization of the potential victims. Yet, not all wide-scale hate-mongering leads to mass murder.
Never in history has the psychological infrastructure for genocide been prepared more thoroughly and for longer than in the period leading up to the Holocaust. For many centuries, the Catholic Church told its followers that the Jews killed Jesus. It added an even deadlier accusation: that all of their Jewish offspring were forever responsible for the death of the alleged son of God. Over 50 years ago in the book Devil and the Jews, Joshua Trachtenberg summarized how medieval Christendom viewed the Jew: as a “sorcerer, murderer, cannibal, poisoner, blasphemer.”
Only in 1965, in the Vatican’s Nostra Aetate Declaration, was most of this venom extracted from Catholic teachings. Experts on Jesus’ lifetime such as Royal Dutch academician Pieter van der Horst say that in Roman times the Jews had no power to kill anyone: “Everything we know from other sources tells us that Pilate was thoroughly unscrupulous and ruthless.
The idea that he would save a person from capital punishment because he thought him innocent is not historical and almost ridiculous.”
However, this false accusation persists until today. A 2012 study by the Anti-Defamation League found that at least 60 million – out of 400 million – adult citizens of the European Union agreed fully or partly with the statement that the Jews killed Jesus. In Poland, the percentage was 46% and in Hungary, 38%.
The false accusation of deicide meant that Jews represented “absolute evil” for many Christians. The Nazis and their many allies added another accusation of “absolute evil” more suited to 20th-century Europe: “Jews are subhuman.”
The culmination of all the extreme defamation was the slaughter of six million Jews.
After the Second World War, a new concept of “absolute evil” developed: committing genocide or behaving like Nazis. Last year I presented some simple calculations in my book, Demonizing Israel and the Jews. They show that at least 150 million people in the European Union think that Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians, or alternatively behaves toward them like the Nazis did toward the Jews. One journalist explained to me that European media do not want to publish these numerical findings “which insult their readers.”
To paraphrase: after World War II many said “we did not know” about the Holocaust.
The dominant current European political position of ignoring the widespread hatred of Israel may be translated as: “We do not want to know.”
A major study in 2013 by the Fundamental Rights Agency shows that due to increasing anti-Semitism in Europe, substantial percentages of Jews frequently or always hide their identity in public. In Sweden and France, the majority of Jews do so. The life of European Jews as a collective is not in danger. It remains highly unlikely that there will be a Second European Holocaust against the Jews in the foreseeable future, as there is far too much resistance against this in society at large.
This same resistance does not exist in large parts of the Muslim world. On the contrary – the number of ideological supporters of the murderous bin-Laden type of jihad is at least 150 million. Public genocide promoters such as former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad propagate not only in the Iran of the ayatollahs, Hezbollah or in Hamas, the party which got a majority of the votes in the only Palestinian general election. Another example among many was in 2012, when then-Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi answered “Amen” to an imam who made a genocidal prayer request: “Oh Allah, destroy the Jews and their supporters.”
An Iranian atom bomb is not the only potential source for a second Holocaust. One just has to watch the extreme atrocities committed almost daily by many Muslims – mainly against other Muslims in Syria and Iraq. If they ever gained the power, there are enough Palestinians – helped by other jihadis – to do the same to Israel’s Jewish population. Atrocities committed during the two Palestinian intifadas are only one indicator of this. Lebanon’s civil wars are another.
To fight such a scenario, Israel has to do far more than try to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb, and Palestinians from becoming more powerful. It must also increase information to the Western world about the duplicity and cruelty of substantial parts of the Muslim population worldwide.
The author is the emeritus chairman (2000-2012) of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. One of his books is The Abuse of Holocaust Memory: Distortions and Responses.