BBC World Service documentary on antisemitism

6 Dec 2010 by CST

The BBC World Service has produced a two-part series about modern antisemitism in Europe. The first programme features CST's Mark Gardner, amongst many other interviewees. The series website explains:

In this two-part series for Heart and Soul, Wendy Robbins takes a personal journey into the heart of Europe, where fears grow that Jewish history is being rewritten so as to minimise the past and threaten the future.

During that journey, she faces up to the charge that Israeli policies in the Middle East are muddying the moral waters. And another charge that some Jews have created, 'a holocaust industry'.

The European Jewish community is 'the canary in the cage,' says one British MP. 'The racists will never stop abusing Jews. Then they'll move on to some other minority. History repeats itself – first the Jews, then the others.'

Holocaust denial is provably on the increase, and no longer confined to extremists. But, in countries where evidence of the holocaust is hard to deny, there is a subtle change too.

It's called 'holocaust obfuscation', which started among Baltic ultra-nationalists who combine the atrocities of the Nazis with those of the Soviet Union, resulting in Eastern European history re-written as an equal Nazi-Soviet 'double genocide'. Bizarrely, this means some Jews who joined up with anti-Nazi (often Communist) partisans now find themselves under investigation for war crimes.

The Prague Declaration of 2008 calls for the EU to recognise communism and fascism as 'a common legacy', and for the replacement of Holocaust Memorial Day with a Red-Brown Memorial Day, for the victims of both Nazi and Soviet crimes.

Wendy, as part of her investigation, visits Sweden and Lithuania, where denial and obfuscation vie for supremacy.

In World War II, 95% of Lithuania's Jews were wiped out. With that kind of irrefutable evidence, Lithuania could not deny the holocaust outright – although its main museum shows only the results of Soviet occupation, not of Nazi crimes.

And in Sweden's capital, Malmo, many of the 50,000 Muslims want the 1,000 Jews to leave - and the Mayor wants Zionism condemned as forcefully as anti-semitism.

You can listen to the first programme in this series here.


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Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis
Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth