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The Ovens of Auschwitz Still Burn

For those who thought the Holocaust ended nearly 80 years ago, guess again.

I used to say that when I was born, a decade after the end of World War II, the ovens of Auschwitz were still warm. Since then, I believed, they had cooled to the point of extinction. I was wrong. The crematoria are still very warm and rapidly getting hotter.

The Holocaust never completely ended. That is my conclusion two months after the Hamas attack of October 7, attending funerals and shivas in Israel, visiting the families of hostages and sheltering from incoming rockets, and in the United States, interviewing on news channels, meeting with Jewish students, and addressing audiences from coast to coast. The Holocaust continues, I’ve concluded. Of course, the camps were liberated, and Nazi Germany was destroyed, but what persists is the hatred that made the Holocaust possible. What metastasizes daily is the systematic dehumanization of the Jews.

If one of the manifestations of antisemitism is an unhealthy obsession with Jews, the Gaza war is a 24/7 example. No conflict in recent history—not the massacre of 500,000 people in Syria, 400,000 in Yemen, or the vicious civil war still raging in Sudan today—achieved a fraction of the media’s fascination with Gaza. And who remembers Ukraine? When Assad’s tanks mow down thousands of Palestinian refugees outside of Damascus, nobody in the media notices. But when Israel tries to defend itself against terrorists hiding behind their own civilians and numbers of those civilians regrettably get killed, the headlines gush.

Those headlines, too, are rife with antisemitism. Many still euphemize as militants the mass murderers, immolators, and rapists who would otherwise be labelled terrorists if their victims weren’t Jews. Similarly, the press regards as credible the number of civilian casualties published by Hamas’s Health Ministry, though its figures are infamously inflated and include both dead terrorists and civilians killed by short-falling rockets, solely because the people purportedly causing those casualties are Jews. The impulse, however subliminal, is to downgrade the importance of Jewish life while emphasizing Jewish disregard for the lives of others. The once-meticulous Committee for the Protection of Journalists has claimed that 57 reporters have been killed so far in Gaza—almost as many as in all of Vietnam and World War II—while confirming only ten of them. The CPJ’s purpose is to prove that the Israelis—read: Jews—deliberately target the press.

I’ve written before how the media’s treatment of Israel incorporates the classic antisemitic myths of the original sin, the Massacre of the Innocents, and the blood libel. Like the Nazis who pursued the Final Solution even at the cost of their war-effort, the Jews kill civilians—so the antisemites say—even at the expense of their own war effort, as calls for a ceasefire multiply. Shylock-like, Jews relish the role of flesh-robber—that’s the subtext. It’s inherent in the ceaseless press coverage of Palestinian suffering, and especially in the death rate among Palestinian children. Yet it also informs the statements of avowedly pro-Israel American leaders who reflexively “expect” Israel to fight Hamas in accordance with international law. Of course, in its efforts to avoid inflicting civilian casualties, the IDF exceeds all other Western armies, including that of the United States. Still, “Far too many Palestinians have been killed,” declared Secretary of State Tony Blinken. “For too many have suffered.” That could only have happened, the secretary implies, because the Jewish army insufficiently valued human life.

Nevertheless, all these references to classic antisemitic tropes would not suffice to dehumanize all the Jews. Merely accusing them of being bloodthirsty, even for the blood of children, would not be grounds for deeming their lives worthless, and the taking of them praiseworthy.

Establishing that pretext was the mission of the many university faculty and student petitions blaming Israel for the horrors of October 7 and absolving Hamas of all culpability—on the contrary, lionizing the terrorists as freedom-fighters. It is the thrust of all the demonstrators who accuse Israel of perpetuating the genocide that Hamas actually tried to commit, who deny October 7, 2023, much like those who deny October 7, 1943, the day that Transport 47c, departed from Vienna for Auschwitz.

"The notion that this was a massacre of Jews is a fabricated narrative,” one of the participants in a recent Oakland, California, city council meeting declared. “Many of those killed on October 7, including children, were killed by the IDF." Another attendee opined, “There have not been beheading of babies and rapings. Israel murdered their own people on October 7.” And yet another, “To hear them complain about Hamas violence is like listening to a wife-beater complain when his wife finally stands up and fights back.” The council, it should be noted, was debating whether to include in a call for an immediate ceasefire—precisely Hamas’s goal—a single sentence condemning the wholesale butchery of Jews.

And still, this demonization of the Jews and the valorization of those who slaughter them, the satanic portrayals of Jews and the justness of their suffering, cannot substantiate the claim that the Holocaust to this day continues. That requires looking beneath the memes—the “tools” as I call them—for annihilating an entire people.

One such tool, wielded by the extreme pro-Palestinian left and its intersectional allies is to label Israeli toddlers “white colonial settlers” or equating the Israeli peace activists living within the Green Line with the Afrikaners who supported apartheid. On the other side of the political spectrum, the Neo-Nazis denounce the Jews for opening America’s gates to immigrants of color who will replace the country’s white, Christian rulers. In both cases, the Jew-haters assign the worst possible qualities to Jews, rendering them irredeemable. Eradicable. It’s Palestinian mega-influencer Gigi Hadid sharing a video to her 79 million followers on her Instagram stories accusing the Israelis of harvesting the organs of assassinated Palestinians. It’s the Nazis equating Jews with Bolsheviks and likening them to parasites and rats.

Perhaps the best evidence for the dehumanization of the Jews, and for the heating up of Auschwitz’s ovens, is the feminist reaction—or non-reaction—to the rape of Israeli women. Captured Hamas terrorists have confessed to having been encouraged to rape their Jewish captives, irrespective of their ages, even if they were already dead. Eyewitness and forensic evidence showed that women were raped repeatedly, some until their legs and pelvises were shattered, and then shot in the back of the head. Yet the reaction of the world’s feminist organizations was silence at best but in many cases asserting either that the victims—white, colonialist, genocidal—deserved to be violated or that the rapes were an Israeli fraud. The Sisters Uncut movement went further by insisting that the mere accusation of rape was an “Islamophobic and racist weaponization of sexual violence.” In other words, Jewish women cannot be raped because they’re not really women and those who do rape them are immune from criticism because they’ve performed an act of justice. Jewish women are worse than de-feminized, they’re sub-human.

Not by accident does the Hamas charter evoked the Protocols of the Elders of Zion nor that Arabic translations of Mein Kampf have been found in Hamas base in Gaza. Hamas has taken a page from the Nazi handbook and improved on it. The Nazis were forbidden to have relations with Jewish women because they belonged to an inferior race, yet for the same reason, Hamas terrorists were enjoined to do so. Either way, Jews are considered outside and beneath the human race. Once we’ve been reduced to unsalvageable, the minute our murder becomes both necessary and laudable, the Jews are ripe for extermination.

Many of my readers may question whether my thesis goes too far and even diminishes the uniqueness of the Holocaust in history. If so, I ask those readers to ask themselves whether, on October 7, the terrorists had not been stopped in the south but would have pressed their rampage eastward and north, to Beersheba, Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv. What if they had butchered and burnt not 1200 Israeli Jews but 7 million, outdistancing the Nazis, and broadcasting their accomplishments to the world? Would the world have acted much differently? Would the Oakland City Council be passing a different resolution and demonstrators cease hoisting posters of “Keep the world clean” and chanting, “From the river to the sea…”? Or would the reaction be quiet empathy at best and, at worst, a sense that we Jews had it coming. For being white colonialist settlers, the underminers of Christian America, the traffickers in livers and hearts, for being, once again, rats.

Fortunately, the terrorists were stopped, first by intrepid civilians and finally by the IDF. The Jewish people of today are not those of the 1940s and for the simple reason that we have a state which is socially and militarily robust, able to field a reservist force of 360,000. We have a state which, even after its serial failures of October 7, still offers the world’s surest protection for Jews. But it is also a state that serves as a magnet for Jew-haters and the justification for dehumanizing Jews everywhere. The state that was created to ensure “Never Again” is being used to legitimize “Once More.”

In spite of Israel or because of Israel, either way the mass dehumanization of Jews that produced the Final Solution is being widely replicated today. And we, the Jewish people, can neither afford to ignore it or leave ourselves unprepared.

The ovens of Auschwitz are still warm and getting hotter. The vast conflagration we call the Holocaust was never fully extinguished. It burns, rather, beneath mounds of Jewish ashes, an ember ready to reignite.

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