April 18th to April 25th is Holocaust Memorial Week in the U.S. It is a time when Americans remember the six-million Jews and millions of others murdered by Nazi Germany during the Second World War. That war is long over. But the kind of hatred and bigotry that led to the Holocaust is still very much alive.
Such hatred motivates today’s terrorists, says President George W. Bush:
“The terrorist who takes hostages, or plants a roadside bomb near Baghdad, is serving the same ideology of murder that kills innocent people on trains in Madrid, and murders children on buses in Jerusalem, and blows up a nightclub in Bali, and cuts the throat of a young reporter for being a Jew.”
The reporter to whom Mr. Bush referred was Daniel Pearl, an American who worked for the Wall Street Journal newspaper. In February 2002 in Pakistan, he was brutally murdered by terrorists linked to al-Qaida. Like the German Nazis of the mid-twentieth century, these fanatical killers have declared war on Jews, as well as on Christians and Muslims who desire peace over theocratic terror.
Anti-Semitic attacks have also been on the rise in Europe. In November 2003, suicide terrorists set off bombs at two synagogues in Istanbul. Some two dozen people were killed. On the same day, a Jewish school near Paris was destroyed by arsonists. Earlier that month, a synagogue near Manchester, England, was severely damaged in an arson attack.
These and other outrages give added importance to a conference on anti-Semitism being held this week in Berlin. The conference is sponsored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Delegates from the fifty-five member countries of the O-S-C-E are expected to participate, including U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. In the same German city where the Holocaust was planned and directed, leaders of today’s Europe will seek ways to ensure that the monstrous crimes of the Nazis and their imitators will never be repeated.
But in the end, as President Bush has said, “only conscience can stop it, and moral discernment and decency and tolerance. These can never be assured in any time or in any society. They must always be taught.”