By: Ashraf Ramelah
Voice of the Copts
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 prompted by a global increase in anti-Semitism and oppression of Christian minorities. The ceremony ended by the lighting of six candles — each representing one of the six million 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 made reference to the 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. For example, one predominant viewpoint states that mass extermination by the Germans was necessary to stop a plague of sickness and disease carried by the Jews.
When Islamic spokespersons from governments and organizations make statements positing the horror 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. With the broken silence last month of Palestinian Authority’s Mahmoud Abbas on Holocaust Remembrance Day, it means the latter.
This year, in a public interfaith meeting among rabbis and Jews, Chairman Abbas spoke, “What happened to the Jews in the Holocaust is the most heinous crime known to mankind in the modern era.” (El Masri Youm,“Holocaust the worst genocide” April 27). Reaction to this by the Arabic press, in particular from Egypt, was disapproval and disappointment — calling it “absurd” from a man whose quotes regarding the Jews have always consisted of Hitler’s words. After all, Egypt gave safe haven to the Mufti of Jerusalem when he escaped from a French prison after seeking to broaden Hitler’s military operations into Arab-Muslim countries. The crime of the Holocaust was fueled by 200,000 Arab-Muslim soldiers assisting the German army — a well-known historic fact never denied by Arab-Muslim scholars or journalists.
The Palestinian leader’s next statement delineated Holocaust racism and projected Palestine’s role against such evil when he said, “the word Holocaust could be translated as a concept of racism on the basis of race, which is what we reject and fight against.” However, this valid and obvious point is perverted by Abbas in the same breath. “What we reject and fight against” justifies attacks on Jews and the Israeli state from the vantage of a moral high road – kill racist Jews and end racism in the Middle-East.
On the rare occasion when historically accurate terms are used by representatives of Arab-Muslim nations in reference to the Holocaust, it is done so in order to link it to Palestinian peril. A telling example of this is a 2012 scenario in Egypt consisting of a verbal exchange between a few Islamic voices exploiting the Holocaust in order to accuse Israel of revenge against Palestine. Pro-Muslim Brotherhood Mohammed ElBaradei, then president of the Al Dastor Party (Egypt’s Constitution Party) and a presidential candidate in the post-Mubarak election, made a statement in the German newspaper, Der Spiegel, condemning Islamists in the Constituent Assembly for denying the Holocaust. ElBaradei stated he feared that, “there are Islamists within the Constituent Assembly who are denying the Holocaust …”
Immediate response came from Facebook postings by MB members mocking ElBaradei’s statement. Attorney Essam Sultan, MB member of the Constituent Assembly, also reacted, stating, “The only thing that we could not include in [Egypt’s] constitution is the requirement to acknowledge the Holocaust, apology to Dr. ElBaradei.” Months after the Facebook attack, knowing well that ElBaradei holds the same views as the Muslim Brotherhood but has publicly stated the opposite, Dr. Essam el-Erian (a high-ranking member of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood) agrees but qualifies ElBaradei’s anti-Holocaust-denial statement to the American press in his interview with the Washington Post. El-Erian’s agreement manifests a link to Palestinian victimization. The MB leader said, “Yes, the ethnic and religious Holocaust massacre is real and a great crime … But why accuse us [Arab-Muslims] and why must the Palestinians pay the price for the crimes of Nazis?” (Arabic El Masri Youm, April 27).
Keep in mind that the integrity of such messaging and its calculated 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 a Palestinian advocacy in the West with little to counter it. Irrational rants for the Palestinian cause have no limit of publishers and present a danger for 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. This obligation precludes unwitting agreement with proponents of supremacy who deliberately and deviously shroud their beliefs in liberal statements.