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Holocaust Survivor’s Planned Talk Angers Jewish Leaders

Does a Holocaust survivor have the right to speak his mind and say ‘what happened to me during the Holocaust, I see it happening again to Palestinians, Never Again for Anyone.’ Should he be labeled an anti-Semite for such statements?

Holocaust survivor’s planned talk at mosque angers Sacramento Jewish leaders

By Stephen Magagnini

(Sacremento Bee)

Sacramento’s carefully cultivated interfaith bonds are being stretched to the limit by an 86-year-old Holocaust survivor who is scheduled to speak at a local mosque about the Nazi Holocaust and Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

Auschwitz survivor Hajo Meyer makes the 11th stop on his national “Never Again for Anyone” tour at the Sacramento League of Associated Muslims Islamic Center at 7 p.m. tonight.

Meyer has equated the Holocaust to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories, drawing intense fire from Sacramento’s Jewish community and the Anti-Defamation League.

“Comparing Israel to Nazi Germany is repugnant, anti-Semitic and defiles the sacred memory of millions who perished during the Holocaust,” said Rabbi Reuven H. Taff, president of the 13-member Board of Rabbis of Greater Sacramento, in a civil but emotional exchange of letters with SALAM’s Imam Mohamed Abdul Azeez.

The Board of Rabbis praised Azeez for his bridge-building with other communities of faith, but asked him to either boycott the event or stop it from happening at SALAM. If he doesn’t, Taff said in a letter to him, “then all the good work you are doing to foster relations with the interfaith community will be severely undermined.”

“The event is not going to be canceled,” said Azeez, who encouraged “any of our friends in the Jewish community to attend, ask questions and engage the speakers.”

Azeez noted that eight national organizations and nine local organizations are sponsoring it, including the Florin Japanese American Citizens League and the local chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace.

Azeez said that a member of American Muslims for Palestine reserved the hall and the event is not sponsored by SALAM. He said SALAM’s board investigated the speakers, who in addition to Meyer include UC Berkeley political scientist Hatem Bazian, a Palestinian American.

“You have a Holocaust survivor talking for the first time to the Muslim community about the Holocaust and putting it in a modern context that the rights of all people should be respected,” Azeez said. “The world is changing, and it’s time for us to have more dialogue about these untouchable idols,” such as the Israeli treatment of Palestinians.

Azeez agrees that the rabbis raise a legitimate concern – “any attempt to equate the Holocaust with what is happening in Palestine is an atrocity.”

Azeez said SALAM’s management will not allow the speakers to compare Israel to the Nazis.

But Taff said Meyer’s views are intolerable to the Jewish community, and added that the rabbis could produce Holocaust survivors to talk to Muslim Americans without inciting Muslim-Jewish hostility.

Rabbi Nancy Wechsler-Azen of Congregation Beth Shalom said Meyer’s speeches and writings are “most offensive – the program promotes hate. It’s an attempt to de-legitimize Israel and Judaism, as opposed to having a meaningful discussion over a political policy.”

Wechsler-Azen said the event isn’t the way to heal people “who have such profound wounds between them … we have forged a very meaningful relation with SALAM, and we’re heartsick about this.”

Meyer, in an exclusive interview with The Bee, said he survived 12 years under Hitler and 10 months in Auschwitz.

“I have a number on my arm and they dare to call me an anti-Semite?” he said.

Because he was not allowed to attend high school in Nazi Germany, Meyer said, “I can identify with those Palestinians who undergo slow-motion genocide when they are not allowed to go to their schools,” which have been bombed.

“Nearly all Jewish religious organizations in the world have mixed up Judaism – which is universal, humanistic and friendly to anybody – with Zionism,” said Meyer, who defined Zionism as an ideology based on a well-defined Arab enemy that must be destroyed.

Jon Fish, president of Sacramento’s Interfaith Service Bureau representing major faiths in the region, said Palestine is a social issue, not a religious one.

“The rabbi and the imam have to work it out,” Fish said, “But this might be a no-win situation.”

Taff said he welcomes a discussion between Jews and Muslims “in an atmosphere of collegiality and respect.” But if SALAM hosts an event that Taff believes is “clearly anti-Semitic,” he said, “it makes it very difficult to sit down at the same table with anyone who supports or endorses a program of hate.”

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  • Wandering Jew

    Deuteronomy 5:32

    So be careful to do what the LORD your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left.

    Mathieu 5:32

    But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.

    which one is it?

  • Wandering Jew

    Sir David,

    Just out of curiosity, I assume that you do realize that David was the most revered King of Israel, and that Robert Anton Wilson’s use of the word “illuminati” was a thinly veiled reference to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion?

    Perhaps there is some irony that I am missing?

  • Sir David ( Illuminati membership number 5:32) Warning Contains Irony

    I think if you read the words of the speaker he is comparing what happened in the lead up to the holocaust ie pre 1939 . The treatment of the jews ( and others) in Germany compared to the increasingly restictive policies of Isreal today.
    You are right the ovens are not official policy of the IDF …………..yet. Thats the point! Where are the current policies leading ?

  • Wandering Jew

    Anybody can say whatever they like, especially on the internet. However, to compare the Palestinian tragedy to the holocaust is to do a grave historical diservice. The Palestinians were displaced from their homes, and many were killed. This is a fact and nobody denies it. The Jews have been expelled from 109 countries and massacred in numerous pogroms. This was not the holocaust. The holocaust was a systematic state-wide enterprise to burn millions of people, Jews and others, alive in ovens. Last time I checked this is NOT official IDF policy. The equation Israel = Nazi is a form of “demonization of the other” which anybody who opposed islamophobia should be disgusted by.

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  • rheto_Rick

    This article portrays a clear failure in discourse.
    The absolutes being tossed around by those involved are a little absurd.
    I make no proclamations about the political issue. I’ll simply examine a few of the statements made.

    “What happened to me during the Holocaust, I see it happening again to Palestinians.”
    That quote may be out of context. I have not heard any of the other statements by Meyer. However, from the quote alone, we should understand Meyer is neither comparing nor equating the Holocaust with Israeli occupation in Palestine. He is linking experiences between victims and creating empathy. I agree with Robert P.
    Nowhere in that statement does he equate the two entire projects. All we can understand is that–“(the oppression I experienced is similar to oppression Palestinians face.)”
    Occupying the other half of the equation (who is the oppressor?) comes from everybody else filling in the gaps and assuming the worst.

    “Comparing Israel to Nazi Germany is repugnant, anti-Semitic and defiles the sacred memory of the millions who perished during the Holocaust.”
    Wow. There’s a lot to unpack in that one.
    “defiles the sacred memory of the millions who perished”
    …Did you.. SURVIVE the holocaust? No? OK. Next.

    “any attempt to equate the holocaust with what is happening in Palestine is an atrocity”
    It’s not OK to tout charged words like that. Relativistically speaking, what does that make actual oppression?

  • Colm O’ Toole

    Calling a Jewish man who survived the Auschwitz camp Anti-Semitic is a sign of just how sick the Anti Defamation League has become. It is no more about preventing Anti-semitism but defending Israel at all costs.

  • SpangoRango

    LOL, like anyone cares what the Jewish leaders think.


  • George Carty


    Don’t nuclear weapons change everything though? (More specifically nuclear ballistic missiles — aircraft-delivered nukes failed to save Apartheid South Africa, because the aircraft could be shot down before they reached their targets.)

    Even the mighty United States has no defense against ballistic nuclear missiles — what chance has the relatively backward Muslim world of developing such a defense?

  • Michelle Brown

    Watch your hate (words like s um), when you are claiming to be against prejudice and hatred. In Israel, people do not mind debating Israeli policies, but it is true that the American Jewish public is sensitive to such debate, as much of the American public is not accustomed to confronting any serious issues.

  • Abdulmajid

    See the hstory of the crusader states; there you will see the future of Israel.
    Israel has recently celebrated its 60th anniversary; it will celebrate its 100th anniversary, no doubt about it; maybe even its 150th. But whether it will celebrate 200 years, I really doubt it. Not if they go on like today. True, today they have military superiority and enough brute force (and even 200 nuclear warheads) to impose their will on the whole region; of course it takes more than massiv e military might and rtesources and logistics to win a war. That’s why Israel was able to win 1967 so easily (a bittersweet victory for them actually. But 1973 was a draw, actually; the successive wars against Lebanon they haven’t won. They could cause worse damage to the Palestinians in Gaza than the Serbs did at Srebrenica,although, admittedly, they did not round up over 8.000 Palestinians and murder them in cold blood. But they only didn’t because they didn’t need to. I have seen T-shirts they wear: on one you see a pregnant veiled obviously Arab woman in the crosshairs and the legend is: “One shot, two kills”; the other shows an obviously Palestinian youth with a slingshot and teh legend is teh smaller they are teh harder they are to hit. Who wears such only shows how inhuman and depraved he si and such people do not deserve iin my view to walk this Earth no matter how much their ancestors were, or claim to be, victims of fascism. Because they have become just as inhuman, and if their state is based on racial purity alone, then it has forfeited its right to exist. In truth I am convinced that since antisemitism did not die out with WWII and the Nazis, that a lot of influential antisemitic people in Europe and the USA were very glad that Hitler had done the dirty work for them and that after the Holocaust the Jews were resolved no longer to live in Europe or outside of Palestine: so the remnants of teh antisemitioc ethnic cleansing of Europe left, and many American Jews came to join them and so the antisemites’ dream was realized: to rid Europe and America of Jews! That’s what it was all about, just like the Crusades had been agood means to get rid of a superfluous and unwanted population and of nobles who could not inherit; in Palestien they could conquer fiefs and kingdoms of their own; that’s what it was all about. But without support from the motherland they could not survive and they went like smoke before the wind as soon as that support dried up.
    Today the State of Israel seems invincible. It still has a modicum of democracy, even though all its non-Jewish inhabitants are second-class citizens. It has the support of the mightiest military power on Earth. But tghis will not, cannot, last forever, and the day will come when it will stand alone and then irt too will experience its Hattin. History has shown this to be true.
    Unfortunately we will not be around to see it, but judging by the historical precendent it can’t be otherwise.
    So, despite all the hardships and despair, inhumanity and destruction, even genocide, that the Palestinian people will still have to face, they must, as the Holy Quir’an says, “Stand together in truthfulness and patience.” The day will come when the terrible and seemingly invincible enemy will stand without outside help and then will be gone like smoke before the wind.
    The leaders of the Israelis are actually doing their people a disservice by pretending they are invincible and that the Palestinians are forever the face that is stamped by the jackboot. Yes, for now this is true and they can deal withthe Palestinians from a position of superiority. Demand tehir unconditional surrender. That is what they want. Unconditional surrender. For now this may work. But the future generations will have to pay dearly.

  • “I have a number on my arm and they dare to call me an anti-Semite?”

    Anyone who has ever criticized the illegal Israeli Occupation has been labeled an anti-Semite even when they are clearly not, including Walt, Mearsheimer, and former President Carter. These Israeli supporters complain about comparing brutal Israeli government policy to the Nazis, while anyone they casually label anti-Semitic is automatically equated with Nazism. In other words, Israelis are allowed to compare people to Nazis, but other people can’t.

    These Jewish people need to debunk Israel’s “sacred narrative.” No government is above scrutiny for wrongdoing. Israel has done much wrong against the Palestinians. Everyone knows that except people who believe the sacred narrative.

  • HGG

    Protip: Comparing Israel to Nazi Germany is stupid, unfounded and ridiculous, and anyone who makes such comments should be condemned, even if he is a Holocaust survivor.

  • George Carty

    I don’t think the comparison between Israel and Nazi Germany is reasonable. Nazi Germany’s genocidal expansionism was aimed at creating a totally self-sufficient empire, in order to escape domination by the (in the Nazi view Jewish-controlled) United States. They wanted the Ukraine for its farmland and the Caucasus for its oil. They also developed facilities to manufacture artificial oil from coal (apartheid South Africa did this too, when the world refused to sell them oil) and synthetic rubber (the factory the Nazis built near the Auschwitz concentration camp still produces about 5% of the world’s synthetic rubber today) in order to even further reduce their dependence on imports.

    That simply isn’t realistic for Israel — it wouldn’t be self-sufficient even if it stretched from the Nile to the Euphrates.

    I’d say a better analogy would be the Imperial Japanese occupation of Korea — this was motivated by a fear that Korea could be occupied by some other power (most likely Russia) and become a “dagger pointed at Japan”. Similarly, defenders of Israel’s occupation of the West bank describe the pre-1967 borders of Israel as “Auschwitz borders”, implying that they are indefensible.

  • Nur Alia

    Israel is having a harder and harder time with thier carefully crafted PR campaign that has developed over the life of the occupation…and it is coming down.

    They may have the latest technology in weapons, and can boast on thier military skills against civilians, but the truth, they have no weapon against.

    It just goes to show us that this man can be called an ‘anti Semite’, because he wants to relate his experience, and his point of view to Muslims. It goes to show how cheap the phrase has become, and how it has been turned into a pejoritive to stop or restrict critique of Israel and Zionism.

    It is time to tell the truth. It is the best weapon against the illegal occupation and oppression by the Israelis…and they simply cant muster a defence, other than isolation of themselves from the rest of us.

    They say that those who build walls between thier neighbours build thier own prison. In the eyes of the world, it is time to complete the wall, and move on in the quest for peace, and Palistinian independance whether Iraeal comes along or not.

  • 8 ball fluke

    @ PD you say “anti-semite hate for jews and jewish religion”
    i have to correct you the word semite means a member of any of various ancient and modern peoples originating in southwestern Asia, including the Akkadians, Canaanites, Phoenicians, Hebrews, and Arabs. so you see when a jewish person calls an arab an anti semite it just shows that they have taken the word exclusively for themselves

  • Robert P

    They can’t distinguish the words “compare” and “equate”. The Zionist project as a whole is not equivalent to the Nazi project (although a significant minority of prominent Zionists are indeed that bad). However the racism of Zionism does deserve comparison with other racist projects. After all it should be obvious that the segregationist laws of the southern United States or of South Africa bore similarities to laws brought in by the Nazis in the early years of their rule and that such a comparison is valid, without prejudging whether one set of such laws was as bad as another. Why should only Israel be immune from historical analysis?

  • PD

    Do these zionist scum ever listen when they told to stop by muslims when they invite Anti Muslim bigot like Robert Spencer,Pamela Geller,Brigitte Gabriel,Daniel Pipes,Debbie Schlussel,Walid Shoebat,Wafa Sultan,Geert Wilders to speak at there local synagogue about Evil of Islam and Muslim. Yea not even about a muslim country like this guy is doing speaking about Israel but about a religion and how to stop it. Hiding Israeli Nazi policy behind being anti-Semitic is the real dishonor to the millions that dies in the holocaust.

    Let me Spell it out…………

    Jewish= Religion

    Anti-Isreal= Dislike of Israel and its policy towards Palestinians
    Anti-Semite= Hate for Jews and Jewish Religion

    If you hate Isreal then you have the country of Israel and Zionist and there action that does not mean you also hate jews

  • AJ

    I am a Muslim and Saudi Arabia should be the holiest country to me but to me its not beyond critique. I don’t get it, why is Israel beyond critique? If its not Zionism then what is it? Bless Hajo Meyer and his “Never Again for Anyone”.

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  • mindy1

    Agree or not, he has the right to his opinion-he should not be treated like this 🙁

  • Averroe’s Ghost

    Disgusting that this man can be treated this way.

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