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left to right:Shelley Faintuch,Community Relations Director, Jewish Federation of Winnipeg, Neil Lazarus,Belle Millo,Chair, Holocaust Education Committee, Ben Cohen, President, Jewish Federation
photo by Rhonda Spivak


“… one commitment you want to make to the next generation…guarantee that your child and your grandchild will be able to visit Israel.”

by Rhonda Spivak, November 14, 2010

Neil Lazarus, an internationally acclaimed expert in the field of Middle East, Israel advocacy and effective communication training, spoke to a full-house  at the Kristallnacht commemoration organized by the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg on November 10 at the Berney Theatre. His topic was: “Kristallnacht until today: Is anti-Semitism still a threat?”

According to Lazarus, anti-Semitism today is drawn from four sources: classic Christian, Islamic, right-wing and left wing anti-Semitism.

Att he outset of his talk dLazarus referred to the quote given by Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Propaganda Minister: “If the lie is big enough and told often enough, it will be believed.” He had the audience repeat the quotation to show how through repetition a statement becomes ingrained in our minds.

Lazarus, who  gave a  power point presentation,  began by showing how Christian anti-Semitism today demonizes Jews as money launderers, killers of Christ, and re-iterates the ‘blood libel”, and shows Jews as the devil [the anti-Christ]. He showed  current cartoons  where Jews have tails or ears like the devil, “drawing on traditional Christian anti-Semitism.”

His presentation showed how the notion of a global Jewish conspiracy to control the world as presented in the Elders of the Protocols of Zion is still popular today, especially in parts of the Arab world. He showed images of book sellers who noted that they were “sold out” of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

In his power point presentation Lazarus showed that 48% of people in Poland in 2009 still   believe that Jews killed Christ. Majorities in Hungary, Poland, and Spain also believe that Jews have too much control/power in the business world. The presentation showed that   Hungary, Poland and Spain have very high levels of anti-Semitism, as compared to Austria, Germany, France, and Great Britain.

In an interview following the event, when asked how to explain these findings Lazarus said that there is still “a latent anti-Semitism” that has been present historically, and is reflected in the findings. This is the case in Hungary and Poland, notwithstanding there are very few Jews who live there.

Lazarus showed video clips from Gaza and Iran that  show vicious hatred of Jews, which can be found on the website of MEMRI, Middle East Media Research Institute. This included a clip from a children’s program with Mickey Mouse promoting suicide bombing, and the glorification of terror and martyrdom
Lazarus also showed a horrific cartoon of Ariel Sharon eating babies, and a sign by a protester during the intifada which said “Death to All Juice,” when he meant “Death to All Jews.”” In a lighter moment of the evening, Lazarus said “If you’re going to be anti-Semitic, at least learn how to spell.”
Speaking of right-wing anti-Semitism, which contains a lot of Holocaust revisionism, Lazarus said he is more concerned with “men who wear suits in “board rooms” who harbour feelings of hatred toward Jews than he is with the   right-wing extremists dressed in neo Nazi regalia, who are viewed as marginal.

Regarding left wing-anti -Semitism, Lazarus showed statistics that one in every three Americans believe that 9//11 was some “inside job”, and   there are those,(he did not give the percentage) “ who believe that 9/11 was a Jewish plot by Israeli intelligence.”

Regarding anti-Semitism on campus, Lazarus said “When a Jewish student goes to university and has to think twice about how they express their loyalty to the State of Israel, or whether they should wear a kippa, that’s anti-Semitism.”

Lazarus said that the answer to the question of whether anti-Semitism today parallels that of the past, “The answer is no. The simple difference is the existence of the State of Israel.”

He spoke of Israel as the home for the Jewish people, “a place where you always know you are welcome. Even if you live away from home, it doesn’t mean its still not home.”

He said the answer to Anti-Semitism is “pride,” and the ability to say you are proud to be a Jew. Lazarus, paraphrased an Israeli Prime Minister who said “We don’t have Israel because of the Holocaust. We had the Holocaust because we didn’t have Israel.

The Jewish people have historically have had ties to the land of Israel, and have seen it as their homeland for thousands of years, long before the Holocaust.

Lazarus ended his presentation by saying: “If there is one commitment you want to make to the next generation, you want to guarantee that your child and your grandchild will be able to visit Israel,” and explore it as their homeland.” He said that this is one positive step towards molding their Jewish identity.

In an interview after the event, the Winnipeg Jewish Review asked Lazarus how he would respond to those, including very left wing Jews, who say that Judaism is a religion, but that that Jews are not a nation or people entitled to their own self-determination, and they don’t need a State of their own.  Lazarus responded, “That doesn’t reflect Jewish history.”

During question period, when asked if there is such a thing as self-hating Jews, Lazarus said “yes, “but said that “Not all Jews who criticize Israel are self-hating. Anti-Semitic criticism of Israel is self-hating.”
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.