Fighting antisemitism in the 21st century

The antisemitic acts that have swept across the US and Europe have exposed serious issues with tolerance in developed democratic countries.

Holocaust remembrance in Moscow (photo credit: Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters)
Holocaust remembrance in Moscow
(photo credit: Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters)
Only a few years ago, it seemed to me that antisemitism was a thing of the past and that our modern open societies would no longer tolerate such extremist views. Yet, recent incidents in present-day Europe, Ukraine and the United States make one wonder whether antisemitism has been prematurely relegated to the dustbin of history.
The antisemitic acts that have swept across the US and Europe have exposed serious issues with tolerance in developed democratic countries. Only recently, a wave of antisemitic attacks, which included a machete attack at a rabbi’s home during a Hanukkah celebration in New York and a shooting at a kosher grocery in New Jersey, hit areas known as centers of Jewish life in North America. The number of antisemitic incidents in Germany is also constantly on the rise. Last October, two people were murdered near a synagogue in Halle on Yom Kippur.
In our modern world, with its excessive and unending flow of information, these kinds of reports are often pushed off to the side or buried under a massive onslaught of other news stories. They may all seem rather trivial, until tragedy comes to our door. This is a grave mistake our predecessors already made in the 1930s, failing to grasp the full extent of what was happening back then in Germany after the Nazi party rose to power. It is important not to forget the lessons of the Holocaust.
To preserve the fading historical memory, the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow last year opened a new memorial dedicated to Jewish resistance fighters in concentration camps and ghettos. The mission of this memorial is to prevent another Holocaust and keep its memory alive for future generations.
This week, Jerusalem is hosting the opening of the Memorial Candle Monument in the Sacker Park, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin attending the ceremony. Tens of thousands of Jews perished during the 900-day siege of Leningrad, which took the lives of up to 1.5 million people, according to some estimates. The new monument is dedicated to the heroic exploits of the defenders and residents of Leningrad during this tragic period.
The inauguration of the Memorial Candle Monument is a perfect stepping-stone toward more than just safeguarding the memory of the fighters in Leningrad. It is also a symbolic reminder for the public to follow in their footsteps by nipping antisemitism in the bud whenever the opportunity and necessity arises.
In doing so, we are giving the strongest of commitments to carry on their heroic legacy well into the future.
The author is chairperson of Renova Group’s board of directors and head of the Board of Trustees of the Jewish Museum in Moscow.


Tags hate crime