Polish journalist, Anna Bikont, has written a master work (The Crime and the Silence) about the infamous 1941 massacre of Jews in wartime Jedwabne—by their Polish Catholic neighbors, not by Nazi German soldiers. At least forty Catholic residents of Jedwabne beat, herded, and drove anywhere from 200-340 of their Polish Jewish neighbors into a barn, locked the doors, and set the barn on fire.
The Polish killers took over all the Jewish homes and shops, they moved right in—and, righteously, without shame, just helped themselves to all the Jewish furniture, clothing, jewelry, china, market wares, and rich, farming acreage. And, they kept what they had done secret; when challenged, they denied it. Every eyewitness was made to understand that anyone who “talked” would be killed.
However, in order to explain such a heinous massacre, Bikont begins by describing what the situation was for Jews in rural, agricultural Poland in the 1920’s and 1930’s.
Catholic priests routinely preached and propagandized against Jews. The Jews killed Christ, the Jews stole what rightfully belonged to Catholics, the Jews were greedy, dangerous, treacherous. The Jews had to be stopped—for God’s sake.
A climate was created in which, according to Professor Jerzy Jedlicki, “hatred towards Jews, contempt and mockery of Jews, (became) part of twentieth century European culture…(the) “destruction of the Jews was watched with amusement by a significant part of the local Polish population. That amusement, the laughter that accompanied the Holocaust—I remember it, because at that time I was on the other, Aryan side of the wall.”
Bikont also quotes Marek Edelman who “saw with his own eyes how young people threw stones into the ghetto (in Lvov).” Edelman heard the same refrain: ‘Hitler’s doing the job for us.’”
In painstaking and painful detail, Bikont recounts what a relative, Oleg Wolynski told her, an account confirmed by Zygmunt Klukowski’s Diary of the Occupation. The Poles eagerly took part in liquidation raids, “hunted down Jews, drove them to the magistrate or police station, beat them, kicked them. Boys chased little Jewish kids who were killed by policemen right in front of everyone.” “Bruised and bloodied” Jewish corpses were “thrown any which way onto wagons.”
Before the Holocaust, Poles laughed and joked as they harassed, beat, hacked at, tortured, and burned Jewish men, women, and children alive. Why do I refer to these events now? Bear with me.
According to Bikont, in 1932, a Jewish man in Jedwabne was killed by Poles who had “done it for a laugh.” In 1936, in Radzilow, on market day, “attack squads knocked down stalls and beat up Jews. In Bialystock, “51 (Jewish) windows were broken, 15 stalls knocked down, five Jews beaten up.” In another nearby town, “17 doors (were) hacked with axes, two shops destroyed, wares ransacked.”
The Polish youth were “whipped” into a Jew-hating frenzy by the “National Party as well as from the pulpit…More and more frequently we (saw) spontaneous and autonomous actions against Jews.”
Today, Israel has a very strong military. Israel’s military intelligence is second to none. But let us also remember that Israel is surrounded by more than a billion Arabs and Muslims; most Arab and Muslim country, pre-ISIS, significantly “cleansed” their countries of Jews by torturing and murdering them, or by exiling them with only ten dollars in their pockets.
Like the Poles of Jedwabne, Arab Muslims also took over all the Jewish homes, shops, factories, furniture, and land. Jews from Egypt, Iraq, Syria and other Muslim countries never received the slightest compensation or sympathy.
Like the Polish Catholic priests in pre-World War Two rural Poland, mullahs and imams in Palestine and all across the Muslim world have been whipping Muslims into a Jew-hating frenzy for a long, long time. With the advent of the internet, their message of hate has reached more people. Hamas, with Iran’s help, and the diabolical support of the West, has spent nearly fifty years hijacking planes and blowing up synagogues and fifteen years of launching rockets at Israeli civilian centers and sending human bombs into crowded shopping malls, cafes, pizza parlors, nightclubs, and hotels.
Please note the nature of this so-called “Third Intifada” which is upon us now.
Individual Arab Muslims are stabbing Jews of all ages. Self-appointed lynch mobs are “surging” and stoning Israeli Jews at prayer as well as Israeli cars on the road. They wield cinder blocks and deadly rocks. Individual Arab Muslims are shooting and stabbing “religious” and “settler” Jews, or trying to run over them over with cars.
Fifty-strong, they are rushing cars which they have stalled with their stones and trying to kill the driver. They have been empowered to do so both by President Obama’s cold, heartless and misguided foreign policy and by Palestinian religious and political leaders who have lied to their people about Jews endangering mosques and have imbued them with dangerous, religious hatreds.
Just like the Catholic priests did in rural Poland.
Earlier this October, Mrs. Odel Bennett, a wife and young mother of two, was returning with her family from praying at the Kotel. She was stabbed in the back and the neck by Muhanad Halabi, the man who had just killed her 22-year-old husband, Aharon, as well as 41-year-old Rabbi Nehmia Lavi. Halabi had also shot her two-year-old, Natan, in the leg. Halabi, a Palestinian law student, stabbed Mrs. Bennett again and again; the knife was
A law student did this. He was not illiterate, he was not educationally deprived, reduced to humiliating manual labor nor was he starving. To the best of my knowledge, he did not live in a refugee camp.
Physicians and physicists became Nazis and took over all the positions of the Jews who had been fired. Many of the 9/11 terrorists were educated and came from solidly middle class families. Bin Laden himself was a multi-millionaire. This is different from pre-Holocaust rural, Catholic, Poland.
As Mrs. Bennett staggered down an alley in the Old City, she begged the Arabs nearby to help her. Instead, they “'stood chatting and laughing—they spat at me.' One man continued to drink cola; others shook her off when she tried to hold onto them to lift herself off the ground. ‘I was looking for a glimmer of mercy in their eyes,’ she said.” Miraculously, she was rescued by the Israeli police.
I do not want to frighten anyone but the parallels are very clear and very dangerous.
In 2010, At Yale, I both spoke and chaired a second panel about anti-Semitism at a global conference on the subject, aconference which had been organized by Dr. Charles Small. One of the panelists, my friend and ally, Dr. Richard Landes had to end his speech rather abruptly. He said;
“Folks, they are coming to schecht (butcher or slaughter) us. The least we can do is, like Balaam's ass, open a mouth.”
I share his words with all of us now.