On February 23 I wrote my impression of the upcoming Oscar ceremony. It was nicely received and as history now tells us it was pretty much on target. However, no one could have predicted the controversy it stirred up. I read the blog called “When You Put it That Way” about the Billy Crystal black face controversy. I was amazed at some of the comments. Here is a link to the post.
Of all them the one that was beyond the pale was of the writer who assumed the author knew nothing of anti-Semitism in the second half of the 20th century and beyond. In my opinion, the comment was unnecessary and way beyond the scope of opinion. So, I’ll address the issue.
My late wife and I are both grandchildren of Holocaust victims on our paternal sides. My paternal grandparents and most of my uncles, aunts and cousin that I never met were eliminated in Russia as part of “The final solution to the Jewish problem”. My wife’s paternal grandparents and family suffered the same fate and were also eliminated. They were among the six million men, women, and children that Hitler called racially impure.
In addition, there were an additional six million who lost their lives because they did not fit into Hitler’s vision of a 1000 year Reich; in order to achieve his goal of superiority he had to eliminate those who would taint that vision. He persecuted Jehovah Witnesses, Gypsies, Gay and Lesbians, Criminals, Catholics, Priests and the rape of Nuns to humiliate them. That is for starters. A total of 12 million people were persecuted and put to death for the crime of not fitting into Hitler’s vision for his reich.
The war finally ended in 1945 at which time the world was to discover the horrors of concentration camps. It would take five to ten years before the sheer number of victims would register in the public mind. The crimes against humanity is considered the most heinous in history. Moving forward the State of Israel was born out of the ashes of the Holocaust. The UN partitioned Palestine into two sections. One for the Jewish State and the other section of Arab land to the Arab community. The partition was refused by the Arab leadership and vowed to send the State of Israel into the Sea. Sound familiar?
The war of 1948 had begun to eradicate Israel from the map. But it was not a success. What has this to do the second half of the 20th century and beyond is this. Those who deny their history as something that happened then is to condemn the future of his own people. I have personally experienced anti-Semitism and bigotry in my life time. My first day in high school I was called a ‘kike’ and didn’t understand what it meant. I applied for a job at an employment agency and a match seemingly was found for me however, I was not hired. I was told by employment agent that he didn’t realize the company didn’t hire Jews.
In the late 1970’s the Synagogue that my family attended was the victim of a pipe bomb. Later when I was the Executive Director of the Zionist Organization of Chicago I was the witness to many anti-Semitic acts of hatred. Our office was on N. California and Devon Avenues that was known as religious row. The street from Peterson to Touhy housed synagogues, religious schools, offices, and a day school.
One synagogue was set on fire, one of the religious offices had their computers stolen along with the desecration of the Holy Torah and that was for starters. The Jewish community coalesced with the FBI, Cook County Sheriff, City of Chicago Law Enforcement and ADL (Anti defamation league). And for the moment the violence stopped.
In the late 1990’s and into the 21st century we now face intellectual anti-Semitism on the campuses of American colleges as well as other countries around the world. Open your mind, eyes and heart and become aware of what is happening around you. If you don’t believe there is anti-Semitism in the community then you’re in a dream world.
The truth is I can write columns about this subject for days and never run out of material. I am a Jew and proud of it. Thank you to Teppi the author of “When you put it that way” for creating a dialogue for all to join in with their thoughts and opinions.
And Oscar, how did you get into the act?