Senior Historian at Yad Vashem Dr. Robert Rozett recently appeared on the US-based Ben Shapiro Show to discuss the topics of Holocaust remembrance and contemporary antisemitism.
Ben Shapiro: "Yad Vashem is the World Holocaust Remembrance Center. A senior historian there is Dr. Robert Rozett. Thanks so much for joining the Ben Shapiro Show. Let's start with this, please – for those who maybe don't know much about the Holocaust – what are the basic things people need to know, the basic truths about the Holocaust that are being forgotten and need to be remembered?"
Robert Rozett: "The first thing is the very obvious part that the Nazis and the people working with them throughout Europe were involved in a policy which eventually led to the murder of six million Jews. It was carried not only by the Germans but also by many peoples across Europe who played a role in this – local people – and I think that is a very important point.
"The other thing that I think we want to talk about is that the Jews in this were not objects. They were people trying to go through a terrible situation, doing their best to cope with it despite everything that happened. Of course, some six million were eventually murdered. Another thing I think we want to talk about is that this was really an issue of values. It was an issue of ideology and antisemitism and we have to be on guard for those kinds of ideas, values and ideologies – and again antisemitism and racial antisemitism that really were at the heart of this endeavor."
Ben Shapiro: "Dr. Rozett, I have had the opportunity to speak to a lot of Holocaust survivors. I know, obviously, that is what you do in your job, amongst other things. Given the experiences of Jews during the Holocaust, what do you make of the rise of antisemitism today? We are obviously seeing an increase of antisemitism in Europe and in the United States. What do you think are the chief sources of that antisemitism, and what do you think is the crossover of that with anti-Israel sentiment?"
Robert Rozett: "Well of course we have all been talking from the beginning of the 21st century of something we call the 'new antisemitism.' But those of us who really talk about it and research it and teach about it have been telling people that it is not really new. Antisemitism never really went away at the end of the Holocaust. There are some things that we can say about it which are newer, perhaps, and that is that it is coming from several places at once. It's coming from the far-right, it's coming from the Islamists, and it's coming from the left. It's no longer really far-right and far-left; it’s become much more mainstream.
"In Muslim and Arab countries, antisemitism is sadly quite mainstream and all of this is happening at once. There is also complications in all this because some of the people who you would have thought would not have antisemitism – who would be more pluralistic in their views of the world – have been touched by it and some of the people, who have even come out of parties which are Neo-Nazi parties like in Austria – in the government there – are supportive of Israel. So it's a really complex situation out there, and I think all of us are trying to understand it. The Holocaust in a sense informs of one very important thing. Antisemitism doesn't have to lead to a Holocaust. It doesn't have to lead mass murder. It doesn't have to lead to violence. There are all kinds of antisemitism. But it has led to those things, and because it's led to those things it's a very dangerous thing to have out there and as we see it out there we are paying a lot of attention to it."
Ben Shapiro: "So one of the things we have seen in the recent past – obviously just in the last week-and-a- half alone – there was a shooting in a Chabad in Poway, California. That was carried out by a white supremacist, a Neo-Nazi in his ideology. Meanwhile, you saw earlier that week The New York Times run an openly antisemitic cartoon that basically could have come from Der Stürmer, the Nazi newspaper. How do we measure up the crossover between antizionism and antisemitism? You mentioned Israel being a crosscutting issue. You mentioned some antisemites who are in Austria, for example, who are supportive of Israel. But is there anyone on the other side. For example, do you see anybody who is an opponent of the right of Israel to exist – who is not an antisemite? Or is in fact antizionism merely a perverted sub-form of antisemitism?"
Robert Rozett: "Antizionism doesn't have to be antisemitic I suppose. You could be against the idea of a Jewish state for various reasons. It's very much about how you articulate it. What you say about it. I think what's happened today is the vast majority of people who are against the idea of Zionism use antisemitic tropes and images in what they are doing. Even being antizionist is essentially being antisemitic because it deprives the Jewish people – of all people – to their right to self-determination. Especially given the history of the Jews in the 20th century – and it's important to have the context – because we can never really divorce anything from the context of history. Perhaps you could oppose it and not be antisemitic – but I think most of antizionism is very much tied up into antisemitic ideas."
Ben Shapiro: "One of the things that we have been seeing in the recent past is the morphing of antisemitism away from the Nazi-type antisemitism toward a left-wing antisemitism that fights white supremacy but also somehow has disdain for the Jews. This could be Jeremy Corbyn in Britain. We have also seen the rise of radical Islamist antisemitism. What do you think is the greatest threat of antisemitism, and what is the easiest way for us to fight it?"
Robert Rozett: "I think the problem is we have all of this happening at once and we need to use laws. We need to use public figures who stand against it. We need to use education not only against antisemitism, but also education about who Jews are, Jewish culture and Jewish history, so that people don't fall into the trap of buying into these antisemitic stereotypes of who Jews are. I think much of the antisemitism comes in places where there are very few Jews and people have no contact with them."
Ben Shapiro: "I appreciate it. That was Dr. Rob Rozett, a Senior Historian at Yad Vashem. Thank you for joining us on Yom Hashoah, and obviously we are all remembering with you today."
To learn more Yad Vashem has developed a free online course with the participation of 50 leading scholars from all over the world exploring questions and issues relating to antisemitism https://www.yadvashem.org/education/online-courses/antisemitism.html