The Wiesenthal Center’s Bait and SwitchSubmitted by legalizeliberty on Mon, 05/03/2010 - 20:55
The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s stated purpose is “confronting anti-Semitism, hate and terrorism, promoting human rights and dignity, standing with Israel, defending the safety of Jews worldwide, and teaching the lessons of the Holocaust.” Rabbi Marvin Hier established the Center as a tax-exempt foundation in 1977 with a major grant from Canadian financier Samuel Belzberg and arranged with Simon Wiesenthal to have the famous Austrian Nazi-hunter’s name put on the project.
Hier’s foundation flourished, and by 1993 enough new money was raised to build an imposing Museum of Tolerance, dedicated to fighting “bigotry and racism.” The museum became the Wiesenthal Center’s public face and educational arm. Los Angeles had proven to be an excellent spot to solicit public and private contributions, and it afforded Hier many opportunities to work with the movie industry.
When the Wiesenthal Center comes to Israel’s defense, any pretense of “promoting human rights” and “tolerance” or fighting “bigotry and racism” is immediately put aside. The organization’s mission statement is partially suspended. Hier uses the Holocaust and charges of anti-Semitism to attempt to silence any criticism of Israel, thus making the Center a collaborator with Israeli invasions, occupations, and human rights abuses. Nazi genocide is transformed into a very effective political weapon and powerful fund-raising tool. As Samuel Belzberg noted, “Jewish education and all the other familiar buzzwords no longer serve to rally Jews behind the community. The Holocaust, though, works every time.”
Sometimes, however, even the well-funded combination of Holocaust remembrance and unstinting support of the Zionist state cannot mitigate or obscure Israeli responsibility for crimes against the Palestinians, particularly in the Gaza Strip. British MP Gerald Kaufman pinpointed the Wiesenthal Center’s difficulty with employing the Holocaust to defend Israel from international condemnation when he observed, “My grandmother was ill in bed when the Nazis came to her home town…. A German soldier shot her dead in her bed. My grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza.”
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