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Lane: Fear of genocide persists

BY JOE LANE | APRIL 24, 2014 5:00 AM

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There once was a flier handed out in the Ukraine outside of a synagogue. The flier required all Jews over the age of 16 to register their identities along with their property and vehicle ownership; should they refuse to do so, they would be deprived of citizenship, forcibly expelled from the republic, and have their property confiscated.

This flier is something Hitler would be proud to claim as one of his own atrocities. Hitler, however, wasn’t alive to see its distribution because it was circulated in the Ukraine just last week.

Many news organizations and governments around the world and in the United States have called the flier an awful “hoax,” including the New York Post and The Guardian.

Whether the pamphlet (which, according to CNN, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry referred to as “grotesque” and “beyond unacceptable”) was legitimate does not matter in the slightest. And while Kerry’s comments were reassuring, they do not diminish the fact that these thoughts and motives exist today.

I am a Jew.

Growing up, I was taught (as nearly all young Jewish people are) the importance of remembering the Holocaust and honoring those who lost their lives. These individuals (Jews and others) did not give their lives for something they believed in, they had them forcibly taken from them.

We were told, “Never again.” We were told never again will there be a Holocaust, we were told never again will a people know such genocide. We were told lies.

Since the Holocaust, there has been genocide, in Rwanda and in Darfur. Since the Holocaust, there has been prejudice — Frazier Glenn Cross, for example, who just last week allegedly entered a Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, Kan., and killed three people.

As if the murder of individuals for their beliefs wasn’t bad enough, Cross received support from a fellow anti-Semite, a Missouri mayor, Dan Clevenger, who, according to Time, claimed, “the Jew-run medical industry has succeeded in destroying the United State’s workforce.”

Along with his other naïve and asinine comments, Clevenger proved that while this may be an isolated incident, hatred of Jews (and all minorities) is not dead.

It is because of incidents such as these that minorities live with constant fear. It happened in Germany, it happened in Darfur, it happened in Rwanda, and it could be happening in the Ukraine. It could happen anywhere.

In Hotel Rwanda, a film based on the genocide in Rwanda, there is an exchange that captures the fear of every minority in the world. Don Cheadle’s character asks Jack Daglish, a news cameraman, what the world will think when they see what’s happening. Daglish says, “When people turn on their TVs and see this footage, they’ll say, ‘Oh my God, that’s horrible,’ and then they’ll go back to eating their dinners.”

I am a Jew, and I am proud of that. And although the pamphlet in Ukraine may be a “hoax,” it still induces great fear and proves the existence of hatred. There is no genocide in the Ukraine yet, but it was a process of identification such as the one exhibited last week that began the domino chain, which led to the extermination of 6 million Jews, and I am rightfully afraid that such a chain can always be rebuilt.


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