Monday, April 21, 2014

A disturbing "hoax"

היום ששה ימים בעמר
Today is six days of the omer
יסוד שבחסד
A day of foundation in a week of loving kindness

Last week, this article about the leaflets informing Ukrainian Jews that they needed to "'register' with pro-Russian militants" came across my twitter feed. Like many others, I spread the word, not wanting to remain silent, feeling the echoes of "Never Again."

On the heels of this globally viral spread, there came a new set of articles, such as this one from the NYTimes denying the validity of this action, with the Ukrainian leadership denouncing the act., a website dedicated to investigating internet rumors, verified that the leaflets were fabricated, while noting that it was still unclear as to who initiated the act and why. In an article on the New Republic website, Julia Ioffe concluded her column on the incident with:
"So, in conclusion: the Jews of Donetsk and eastern Ukraine may have been asked by a leaflet to register, but it has not been enforced nor are any Ukrainian Jews registering themselves. If that changes, I'll be all over it, but so far, you can breathe easy. No Holocaust 2.0 just yet."
Frankly, I find this don't worry, you can "breath easy" approach disturbing. It may be true that there was nothing official about this call for Jews to register with the government, pay a registration fee, and declare their assets or face penalties that could include loss of citizenship and deportation. But I can only think that this action plays upon existing attitudes that can form the base of this Pyramid of Hate I use each year I teach about the Shoah.

I use this graphic not just to try to bring my students some comprehension as to how this inconceivable and incomprehensible horror of history happened, but to impress upon them that we need to be aware of our own actions and the actions of those around us so we can sound an alarm when if we see the seed of that sort of history being planted targeted at any people.

The fact that this very public antisemitic act was used to stir up trouble brings up the adage of "where's there's smoke, there's fire" -- and as I just found out this moment, in an all too literal manner. For there has been a report of a synagogue in Ukraine being firebombed this weekend. Which is why I find Ms. Ioffe's flippant "No Holocaust 2.0 just yet" statement disturbing. While I understand the need not to overreact, I also firmly believe this cannot be ignored.

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