April 19th, 2017
The annual Twin Cities Yom HaShoah Commemoration will be held 7 p.m. this Sunday, April 23 at Beth El Synagogue in St. Louis Park. I urge all of our readers to attend this somber and moving event, which is sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas.
This year’s remembrance of the destruction of European Jewry by the Nazis and their henchmen takes place in an emotionally fraught time. We have seen an increase in anti-Semitic acts in this country and around the world. Anti-Semitic and xenophobic political movements are growing in Europe, and an ugly racist and bigoted faction — the so-called alt-right — has been emboldened in this country by the reckless rhetoric of the man who is now the U.S. president.
Across Europe, political parties, including some with ties to Nazi collaborationist regimes, are garnering increasing percentages of the vote: Jobbik in Hungary, Golden Dawn in Greece, the Sweden Democrats, the Freedom Party of Austria, etc.
In France, there is widespread concern that Marine Le Pen, of the far-right National Front party, could win the presidential election. Her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen was expelled from the party two years ago, amid controversy over his racist and anti-Semitic comments. The first round of presidential voting begins April 23.
Last week, Le Pen argued that France had no responsibility for the 1942 round-up by French policemen of Parisian Jews in the Vel d’Hiv, the bicycle velodrome and stadium. The Vel d’Hiv Roundup (the basis of the popular novel and film, Sarah’s Key) accounted for more than a quarter of the 42,000 French Jews sent on trains to Auschwitz. Only 811 returned to France after the war.
In contrast to the positions of recent French government leaders, Le Pen argued that the Vichy regime, which “was not France,” bore responsibility for the Vel d’Hiv Roundup.