Israel Remembers Holocaust amid Rising Anti-Semitism

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Thursday marks Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel. This year's event carries a unique sadness and even fear over the current growth of anti-Semitism in Europe and elsewhere.

Less than 70 years ago, a veil of secrecy fell revealing the shocking horrors of the Holocaust. The images seared our minds and the world vowed "Never again." 

"If you live in a world in which the leaders -- both religious and political -- openly speak about destroying the State of Israel, I think there's good reason to fear another Holocaust," Dr. Efraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Israel Office, said.

Israeli's Fear Second Holocaust

With that thought, Israelis paused for two minutes to honor the memory of the 6 million Jews murdered in the Nazi Holocaust.

A recent opinion poll, conducted by the Tel-Hai Academic College, found some 40 percent of Israelis believe the Holocaust could happen again. And 43 percent are concerned Israel could be destroyed.

Zuroff blamed the rise of both traditional and new forms of anti-Semitism.

"In the last decade we've seen an increase in anti-Semitism of all sorts -- incidents, efforts to delegitimize Israel, unfair criticism of Israel, attacks on Jews -- and this is something that is very widespread," Zuroff told CBN News.

Frightening examples include the recent scene in France where a Taliban-trained terrorist gunned down a teacher, two of his children, and an eight-year-old girl at a Jewish school.

And in Hungary, a parliamentarian recalled a 130-year-old case in which Jews were accused and then acquitted of murdering a Christian girl to use her blood in the Passover holiday.

"It was almost fascinating to see today in a parliament -- in a member of the European Union like Hungary -- speaking about a blood libel from 1882 today in 2012, hinting that Jews are engaged not only in controlling the world media and so on but engaged in ritual murders," said Dr. Raphael Vago, an expert on anti-Semitism from Tel Aviv University's Kantor Center.

Vago, the son of Holocaust survivors, spoke to CBN News this week just before addressing a group of 26 Christian leaders from 11 nations.

They were attending a week-long intensive seminar organized by The International School for Holocaust Studies of Yad Vashem andChristian Friends of Yad Vashem, Israel's official Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority.

Anti-Semitism Dangerously Evolving

Experts say anti-Semitism is also changing.

"One of the most important and dangerous transformations has been to change the focus of the hate from the individual Jew or the Jewish community, local Jewish community, to the state of Israel as the embodiment of the future of the Jewish people," Zuroff said.

Israel is regularly accused of abusing the Palestinians. A German Nobel Prize Laureate recently wrote that Israel is threatening world peace.

According to a Simon Wiesenthal Center report, more than half of Europeans view Israel as "the greatest threat to world peace."

"Someone remarked once that if you sit together in an evening dinner with some friends in Europe or the United States or Northern America, it's much more politically correct to say bloody Israelis, but you mean the bloody Jews," Vago told CBN News.

"In fact, they are transferring the traditional hatred toward the Jews in trying to destabilize or to de-legitimize rather the State of Israel today," he said.

Even worse is its presence in the political arena.

"The most dangerous situation is when it's a government that is spreading the anti-Semitism and applying an anti-Semitic program, and of course, the classic example today is Iran," Zuroff said.

During a remembrance-day ceremony on Wednesday evening, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Iranian regime was working openly to destroy the people of Israel.

Zuroff said the West needs to stand up and prevent Iran from getting a nuclear bomb because its leaders won't stop with Israel.

"What people have to understand and they very often don't understand is that the Jews are always the first victims but never the last victims," Zuroff said.

"So in other words by fighting against the anti-Semitism you're not only helping the Jewish people, you're helping yourselves and this should be the bottom line," he said.

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Julie Stahl

Julie Stahl

CBN News Mideast Correspondent

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