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Did it ever go away?

A former director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum sees in the shooting there last week evidence of the return of anti-Semitism, after a long period of relative quiet.

"The Holocaust was so massive an orgy of violence — so systematized and so organized by one of the most modern and cultured countries — that anti-Semitism itself became, for the next few decades, a spent force," Walter Reich, a psychiatrist and professor at George Washington University, writes Thursday in The Baltimore Sun.

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"Now, after this vacation of a few decades, anti-Semitism is back," he writes. "That prejudice, which has been the norm of history, has returned. It's resurgent across Europe and proliferating wildly in the Middle East."

James von Brunn of Maryland has been charged with two counts of murder in the shooting death last week of Stephen T. Johns, a security guard at the Holocaust museum. An FBI affidavit for a search warrant of his Annapolis apartment describes von Brunn as espousing "hate speech directed specifically toward Jews for an extensive period of time."

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Reich sees a "pressing" need "to stop, or at least minimize, anti-Semitism's deadly consequences.""Since anti-Semitic violence has been carried out for so long, most massively just a few decades ago, there's no reason to feel confident that it will simply stop," he writes. "We don't have a good track record of learning from history. Repeatedly we make ourselves feel better by vowing "never again" about genocide, but somehow we find ourselves watching, or even turning away, as it happens yet again. But history - especially the Holocaust - can teach us some lessons about what has to be done when anti-Semitism morphs, as it so often has, from words to deeds.

"We can learn to take seriously the reality and potential of anti-Semitism when it's expressed. We have to stop those who threaten to wipe out the Jews or the country in which almost half of them live, especially if they have, or are readying, the means to do so. And we must be sure that Jews have a haven within which they can defend themselves."

Also in Thursday's Sun, reporters Kelly Brewington and Tim Wheeler find organized hate in Maryland to be a mixed picture, with the connection among individuals, organized groups and occasional acts of vandalism or violence unclear.


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