On April 27, I was honored to take part in Holocaust Remembrance Day in the Holocaust Memorial Park of Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, to remember the victims of Shoah.
Hosted by the Stop Anti-Semitism Foundation, a variety of speakers participated having been prompted by a global increase in anti-Semitism and oppression of Christian minorities. The ceremony ended with the lighting of six candles – each representing one million Jewish lives lost to the genocide almost 70 years ago.
Threaded through speeches were hints of concern that humanity is already allowing similar persecution in a world of silence. Indeed, Christians joined together with Jews on a breezy morning to testify to the reality of present-day threats to Christians and Jews in the Middle East and elsewhere.
I personally made reference to voices in the Middle East that make a point of negating and denying the Holocaust to further an anti-Semitic agenda and, simultaneously, acknowledge the Holocaust to further an anti-Israel one.
Islamic regimes, which control their media, remain silent while allowing scholars and journalists to write denial papers, most significantly in Egypt. More than two million Arabic-language articles appear on this subject in Google today. In the 150 articles I reviewed, some proclaimed the Holocaust a make-believe story created out of thin air by Jews wanting to establish a Jewish state. These articles span every decade since World War II, and represent the stance of Arab-Muslim nations.
When Islamic spokespersons from governments and organizations make statements positing the horrors of the Holocaust, it represents one of two possibilities: a radical change in the regime’s stance (and a reversal of 1,400 years of racial and religious prejudice against Jews and Christians), or a deliberate strategy to advance the anti-Israel position.
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas’ remarks on Holocaust Remembrance Day represent the latter.
In a public interfaith gathering with Jewish rabbis, Abbas stated, “What happened to the Jews in the Holocaust is the most heinous crime known to mankind in the modern era.” The Arabic press, especially in Egypt, reacted with disapproval and disappointment, calling the statement “absurd” coming from a man whose quotes regarding the Jews had always lined up with Hitler’s own views.
The Palestinian leader’s next statement delineated Holocaust racism and projected Palestine’s role against such evil: “The word Holocaust could be translated as a concept of racism on the basis of race, which is what we reject and fight against.” But in the very next breath, Abbas perverted this valid and obvious point by suggesting that “what we reject and fight against” justifies attacks on Jews and the Israeli state. In other words, kill racist Jews and thereby end racism in the Middle East.
On the rare occasion that historically accurate terms are used by representatives of Arab-Muslim nations in reference to the Holocaust, it is always linked to Palestinian peril.
Another example occurred in Egypt in 2012. Then-presidential candidate Mohammed ElBaradei told German newspaper Der Spiegel that he was unhappy that some of the Islamists forging Egypt’s new constitution had been know to deny the Holocaust.
Dr. Essam el-Erian, a high-ranking member of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, later told The Washington Post that while he agreed that “the ethnic and religious Holocaust massacre is real and a great crime,” he could not understand “why the Palestinians pay the price for the crimes of Nazis?”
This kind of calculated and seemingly “moderate” banter is strategically dependent upon delivery by the Western press. What amounts to a pro-Palestinian diatribe in this case fits nicely into the daily fixture of Palestinian advocacy in the West.
Irrational rants for the Palestinian cause have no want for publishers, and present a danger to the preservation of the Jewish state.
Now, more than ever, Christians and Jews must pray and advocate for the existence and longevity of the sovereign Israeli state, as well as for human rights and equality for religious minorities in Arab-Muslim countries.
Dr. Ashraf Ramelah is founder and director of the Egyptian Christian movement Voice of the Copts.