April 7 is Holocaust Memorial Day.
What better time than now to expose the face of anti-Semitism. It hasn't changed much over the millennia.
It is my hope that when you finish reading the piece you will be exhausted and appreciate how it feels to be on the receiving end of irrational, illogical, unrelenting hate.
With Christianity began a history of separating the Jews from the 'true believers'; marriage between them was prohibited in the early third century. By the sixth century, Jews weren't allowed on the streets during Passion Week.The 12th Synod of Toledo in 681 made burning Jewish books acceptable. In 1215, the Fourth Lateran Council decreed Jews must mark their clothing to publicly designate their religion.
In 1222, the Council of Oxford prohibited the construction of new synagogues. In 1267, the Synod of Breslau established Jewish ghettos. A Christian converting to Judaism was heresy in 1310. In 1434, the Council of Basel denied Jews the ability to obtain academic degrees. In 1516, the Jews of Venice were pushed into a ghetto and required a yellow tunic and hat when leaving. In 1555, Pope Paul IV ordered the 4,000 Jews of Rome into a ghetto and wear a yellow star. The ghetto remained until the mid 18th century.
Restrictions were augmented with murder. In 1096, The Crusaders, on their way from Rouen in Normandy to Jerusalem to liberate the Holy city from the Muslims, murdered Jews along the way, accusing them of being, "killers of the prophets, and murderers of the Lord." Eleven hundred Jews were murdered in one day in the communities on the Rhine. In 1146, the blood of Jews ran through the streets of the Maghreb.
In 1190, the mobs in England, aroused by the Crusades, massacred the Jews of Norwich, Stamford and Bury St Edmunds, Lincoln and Lynn and London. In 1290, the remaining Jews were expelled. There were pogroms in the 13th century throughout Germany, in Mainz and Cracow; the burning of Jews young and old in Munich; the murder of the Jews of Trerbach, Kemeno and Bonn. In 1348, Jews accused of causing the Black Plague were murdered.
In 1391, tens of thousands of Spanish Jews were murdered; the Jews of Majorca and Barcelona were extinguished. Jews were burned in the 15th century in Breslau, in the market-place in Berlin. The Jews of Trent were murdered, accused of killing a Christian boy to use his blood in the making of Matza for Passover. Today, that blood libel has morphed into accusations of Jews harvesting Haitian organs after the 2010 earthquake as well as stealing organs of Palestinians.
In 1288, the first mass burning of Jews at the stake took place in France. Between 1486 and 1492, the Catholic state of Spain put approximately 1,000 Jews to death, by fire usually, in the public square for all to see. Following the final expulsion of 250,000 Jews from Spain in 1492, their land was given to the monasteries. In 1531, Pope Leo X extended the Inquisition to Portugal. The Inquisition ended in Spain and Portugal in the late 18th century.
There were rampages in the 16th century throughout Italy, Switzerland and Germany following the Passion plays. Cossacks and Poles in the 17th century led by Russian tyrants Chmielnicki and Krivonosmassacred Jews; children killed at their mothers' breast or roasted alive on spits over the fire followed by pogroms throughout Russia in the 19th and 20th centuries. My father witnessed young people murdered by Cossacks riding through his village. He never completely recovered.
In 624, The Prophet Mohammed attacked and deported two Jewish tribes; he slaughtered, en masse, the males of the third tribe, Banu Quraiza, and enslaved their women and children in Mohammed's adopted home of Medina, the home to Jews for many centuries.
In the twelfth century in Morocco under the rule of Almohad (1146-1267) Jews were required to wear identification. In Fez 6,000 Jews were killed (1033). In 1146, in Fez and Marrakesh, more than 100,000 Jews were killed. In 1438, the first Jewish ghetto or mellah, as they are called in Morocco, was created in Fez. By the early nineteenth century, Jews were confined to mellahs in all major cities by the ruler Mulay Sulayman.
In 1920 in Jerusalem, Amin al Husseini incited riots that pitted Palestinian Arab against Palestinian Jew. As the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, he spent time in Berlin with Hitler, Himmler and Von Ribbentrop.
Al Husseini collaborated with the Nazis spreading National Socialism and anti-Semitism to the Arab Muslim world. He was also the head of the Muslim Nazi Hanzar troops. After the war he went to Egypt where he spread Jew hatred that remains today across the Middle East.
The Nazis perpetrated the greatest barbarism; the first industrialized murder of a group of human beings; the Jews. Father Patrick Desbois chronicled The Holocaust by Bullets that took place in the Ukraine: 1.5 million shot to death and then burned. Women, heads shaved, were forced to run naked through the forest to a pit already dug where they would stand and then wait to be shot and fall into the pit. Dead, nearly dead and wounded, the earth would move for three days until all died.
And 4.5 million Jews were gassed and cremated. In Hungary, 1944, the Germans, aware the war was a lost cause, transported 440,000 Hungarian Jews in 145 trains to Auschwitz in less than eight weeks. Nothing stopped the war against the Jews.
During World War II France deported 76,000 Jews to the Nazi concentration camps to be exterminated.
The Nazis considered a body part a commodity. Body parts were used for industrial purposes. Hair shaved from the heads of the Jewish women was sent to factories to be turned into blankets and water absorbent socks for U-boat crews.
The Holocaust was meant to be the ultimate answer to the ever-present Jewish Question, a question never asked about any other group of people in history. In 1938, at the Evian Conference in France, when Hitler offered the nations of the world to take the Jews, no one wanted them. Canada saidnone is too many.
The Nazi plan was the annihilation of the Jews. And the world watched and did nothing.
One would have thought that after the Second World War the nations of the world would let the Jews live in peace.
In the past 70 years, since the United Nations mandated the State of Israel, anti-Semitism reared its head in the USSR with the repression of 3 million Jews who were unwanted but prevented from leaving. And then throughout the Arab world. Starting in the 1970s and for more than two decades, Toronto resident Judy Feld Carr spearheaded the rescue of 3,000 Jews from Syria.
From hating Jews, the hate evolved into the denial of the rights of the Jewish people to live as an equal member within the family of nations. Contemporary anti-Semitism, above all, targets Israel as the 'collective Jew' among nations.
In Buenos Aires, Argentina, 36 Jews were murdered in 1992 and 86 more in 1994.
In 2012, Toulouse, France, a gunman targeted a Jewish school and murdered a rabbi, his two sons and a little girl. Last year, in Burgas, Bulgaria, a terrorist attacked a bus of Israeli tourists murdering five Israelis, the bus driver, and injuring 33. All because they were Jewish.
Criticism in the United Nations is particularly marked: In 1975 the United Nations General Assembly passed resolution 3379 declaring Zionism as racism. Since 2003, 40 per cent of all resolutions issued by the UN are more than six times that of the second placed country, Sudan. The United Nations Human Rights Councils report in January 2011 revealed Israel has been the focus of 70 per cent of approximately 50 condemnatory resolutions by the council, 60 per cent of the ten Special Sessions of the council and 100 per cent of the council's five fact-finding missions or inquiries.
War in Syria, Somalia, Mali, human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of Congo, North Korea, famine in Zimbabwe, women raped in India, denied human rights in Saudi Arabia and the United Nations focuses on one country. A country that provides sanctuary for a people no one wanted.
There is no lack of resolutions to Boycott, Divest and Sanction Israel. Our own Canadian postal service union supports these plans.
There are seven billion people on the planet. There are seven million people in Israel -- six million are Jews. The other seven million Jews live all over the world.
Seven billion people; 14 million Jews.
Follow Diane Weber Bederman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/DianeBederman