Dr. Ariel Gelblung
Wiesenthal Center`s Director
For Latin America
I would not want to end this 2021 without the possibility of thanking you for having made a place for me in your lives so that I periodically transmit to you something of what my concerns usually occupy.
One more cycle is closed in a complicated and abnormal era, dreaming that it does not become normal.
A difficult situation, where even health was politicized like never before. Where communication got more complicated.
Politics became radicalized. The gaps widened. Brotherhood between humans has morphed into the complicated relationships of conflicted and distrustful siblings.
This week, like every year, the Wiesenthal Center published the Top 10 of Global Anti-Semitism.
A quick reading of the above shows us that during 2021 a multinational company (UNILEVER) made its structure available for an illegal and immoral boycott; hatred on university campuses expanded to levels of unusual intolerance in a space that should promote the opposite; international movements that bring anti-Semitic concepts to the center of the scene; a country that must have an enormous responsibility with its history like Germany, goes back several boxes and once again compromises its future; the giants of social networks do not contribute to build friendly environments; Jews full of self-hatred who serve the interests of those who, when the time comes, would treat them as Jews, without distinguishing them; the growth of conspiracy theories using comparisons to Nazism that distort history; the capture of the once prestigious British news network BBC that has surrendered to the growth of anti-Jewish hatred in the United Kingdom, unleashed like never before; the action of Hamas that no longer refers to only the Gaza Strip and the demand for a state policy that promotes genocide in the light of day from Iran, while the world rehearses a policy of appeasement, which we know has always failed.
Faced with this scenario, I think about the task of dedicating each day of 2022 to confronting hate speech. It is not always pleasant. In this regard, for a few days I have not stopped reflecting on what Joaquín Sabina bequeaths us on his song "Wedding Night": "That being brave does not come out so expensive; that being a coward is not worth it. "
Denounce, report, say enough, draw a line that we do not miss, work to improve laws, demand, claim. Never shut up or lower your head. Do not try to satisfy those who never will get enough.
Since we are talking about cycles, I take this opportunity to remind you that our great mentor birthday was on December 31st.
Simon Wiesenthal, born that final day in 1908, makes his message clear to those of us who try to follow his trail in this anecdote that Rabbi Marvin Hier, Center’s Founder and Dean has told many times.
“One day Simon called and said that he would like to celebrate his 90th birthday with a few friends in Vienna. I asked him where he would like to celebrate.
He said, ‘I have one unfulfilled wish, to have a party at the Imperial Hotel.’ He told me that it was Hitler’s favorite hotel and that both Hitler and Himmler had permanent suites there. They built enormous bunkers beneath the hotel, which still exist today, because Hitler thought that this would serve as an ideal headquarters from where he could conduct the Second World War.
During the Third Reich, it would have been unthinkable, Simon said, for a Jew to be seen at the Imperial Hotel. ‘And I want to make sure,’ he said, ‘that all the taboos of the Third Reich are broken and that the record of this hotel would affirm that Simon Wiesenthal celebrated his 90th birthday here with a Kosher dinner.’
On the night of the dinner, when the band played a favorite Yiddish song, ‘Belz, Mein Shtele Belz’ (Belz, My Little Shtetl Belz), he looked up at the ceiling, turned to me, and said: ‘You see even the chandeliers are shaking because this is the first time they have ever heard such music here.
Let the record read,’ he said, ‘that Hitler is no longer here, but even in the Imperial Hotel, Jews are still alive and still singing.’”
May 2022 bring you many reasons to stay alive and sing.