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When a Jew stands up for Muslims

  • Published at 01:10 am November 21st, 2016
When a Jew stands up for Muslims
Jonathan Greenblatt, head of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a Jewish organisation in the United States, made a public vow to register as a Muslim if Muslims are forced to register in the United States, reports The Telegraph. Although historically it has been misconstrued that Jews and Muslims are perennial enemies, the Israel-Palestine conflict a perpetual reminder of it; the bold announcement by Greenblatt shines as a beacon of light in a time that many have called an “age of darkness” for America. According to an FBI report released in November, hate crimes in the US on the basis of religion increased 23% between 2014 and 2015. This included a rise in reported anti-Semitic crimes, and a significant increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes.   To elucidate, Trump repeatedly called for sanctions on Muslims. He vociferously exclaimed that he would ban Muslims travelling to the United States. He declared plans to deport Muslim immigrants. He said he would make registration mandatory for all Muslims in his country and make them take “loyalty tests”. [iframe id="https://www.youtube.com/embed/kH0s4bd803Q"]

Did Nazi that coming

It would be preposterous to compare Trump to the leader of the Third Reich, but there are recurring themes between the two. In Nazi Germany, Jews were forced to register – their valuables were seized along with their rights as human. The propagation of dehumanisation of Jews by Joseph Goebbels did not create mass hysteria back then among the Germans, it turned them belligerent and apathetic towards the Jews. Today, it is a different scene. Living and social cognizance are inseparable. Knowledge and information are at our beck and call, every hour of the day, every hour of the night. “As a Jewish community, we know what happens with litmus tests. We can remember. We have painful memories of when we ourselves were identified, registered and tagged,” Greenblatt told AFP. In the 1930s, Jews were forbidden from marrying non-Jewish people, performing in public, banned from the army and other arms of the government. They were forced to carry an identification card that would label them as Jews. Later in concentration camps like Auschwitz, they were tattooed and numbered like cattle. But Donald Trump has not assumed presidency yet, much less begun condemning people left and right. Hence, it would be premature to consider or even compare him to one of the most deplorable historic figures.

But surely that cannot await the Muslims in America?

The Jewish people have embraced the Holocaust into their culture, their lives. It is not merely an act of genocide that claimed the lives of over six million Jews, and displaced millions more. The worldwide displacement of Muslims because of the Islamic State (IS) is yet another recurring motif. America has always stood as a bastion of secularism and freedom – a nation without any official language and religion – was found on the back of immigrants. Carl Higbie, a super-PAC spokesperson said: “We've done it based on race, we've done it based on religion, and we’ve done it based on region.” Higbie referred to the Japanese internment camps following World War 2 in America. Following Pearl Harbour, Americans grew distrusting of Japanese-Americans, and rounded them up in camps. It is ironic that some US Army platoons consisting mostly of Japanese-Americans were among the most decorated in the Pacific Campaign. The day after the election, a Philadelphia store was sprayed with a swastika and the words “Sieg Heil 2016,” which means “Hail Victory 2016,” and the word “Trump,” with a swastika replacing the “T.” “Sieg Heil” was a common Nazi chant in Germany that has resurfaced with neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

Come together

Greenblatt expressed his hopes, in spite of the overwhelming fear enveloping America, good would prevail. “Even though we have seen some of the worst impulses of society lifted up, we've also seen some of our better angels prevail.”     The ADL reported a surge in donations to it and similar agencies that sought to bring together people and break down walls that seek to divide humans. Immediately following Greenblatt’s declaration, Cornell Brooks, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) expressed his solidarity. The three faiths – Judaism, Christianity, Islam – despite thousands of years of bloodshed and warfare, are still tied by Abraham and his sons. All three religions preach for peaceful coexistence with others. President-elect Donald Trump has said some harsh things on his victorious run to the White House, and we can only hope that they remain mere words, and not come to life.