Making Sure 'Never Again' Means Something
Seventy-five years ago, the largest Nazi concentration camp and extermination camp was liberated by allied forces, but not before an estimated 1.1 million people were murdered between 1940 and 1945. January 27th has since been recognized as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, so that the world might never forget the 6 million European Jews killed in Holocaust. As we reflect on the horrors committed against the Jewish people in the not-so-distant past, we must keep the lessons of the Holocaust alive in the face of increasing threats against Jewish communities around the globe.
Survivors of the Holocaust spoke at an event held at Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum to commemorate the anniversary. David Marks, a 91-year-old survivor, told the audience, “We would like that the next generation know what we went through, and it should never happen again.” Marks lost 35 family members in Auschwitz after they were transported there from their Romanian village. “A dictator doesn’t come up from one day to the other,” he said, it occurs in “micro steps… If we don’t watch it, one day you wake up and it’s too late.”
This is a call to action. Violence and discrimination motivated by the age-old hatred of anti-Semitism is once again on the rise around the world. The month of December saw multiple attacks on Jews in the U.S., including a knife attack against dozens of people in a rabbi’s home in New York and a violent rampage at a kosher supermarket in New Jersey which left three bystanders dead.
On the international stage, Europe is a hotspot for anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitic attacks across the globe rose 13 percent in 2018 from the previous year, and the highest number of incidents occurred in major Western democracies.
A revealing 2018 CNN survey conducted in Europe found that many Europeans still hold on to anti-Jewish stereotypes. Almost one in four people said Jews have too much influence in conflict and wars across the world, and one in five believe anti-Semitism is a response to the everyday actions of Jews. These alarming responses indicate the breadth of the problem is such that it cannot go unaddressed.
Old anti-Semitic tropes are surfacing again in public discourse around the world, and the United States is not immune. A recent report conducted by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief specifically note that “the claims that the objectives, activities and effects of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement are fundamentally antisemitic.” The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) initiative is intended to harm Israeli or international companies that critics say are “complicit” in human rights violations against Palestinians. However, the BDS movement rejects the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state, and the Anti-Defamation League said the movement is “rampant with misinformation and distortion.” Marginalizing Jews from the marketplace has been a tactic of anti-Semites in the past, and we cannot let allow this strategy to be effective today.
The Trump administration has rightly made international religious freedom a foreign policy priority. The effort to combat anti-Semitism falls squarely in the agenda for international religious freedom, because if Jews around the world face intimidation, threats, and violence simply for expressing their faith, they don’t have religious freedom. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) held a hearing earlier this month to assess this global threat and how U.S. foreign policy can counter it.
At the hearing, Rabbi Abraham Cooper drew attention to anti-Semitism in Europe, pointing to the failure of several European governments including France, Sweden, and Germany to protect their Jewish citizens.
Anti-Semitism is an ancient, persistent hatred and there are no easy solutions. While that can be discouraging, Dr. Deborah Lipstadt encouraged those at the USCIRF hearing not to give up in the face of unreasonable hatred towards the Jewish people. “We must expose its conspiratorial, irrational, and delusion nature. We must challenge others who engage in it. We must familiarize ourselves with its history and understand the terrible consequences of ignoring it.”
The U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Ahmed Shaheed, calls anti-Semitism the “canary in the coalmine of global hatred.” Where the freedom of religion for the Jewish people is not respected, it won’t be respected for anyone else either. International Holocaust Remembrance Day is a call to action to counter the senseless hatred of anti-Semitism wherever it arises and to stand for the right of all, including the Jewish people, to live out their faith.
For more reflections on Holocaust Remembrance Day and the rising tide of anti-Semitism, read FRC’s David Closson and Arielle Del Turco’s op-ed, Remembering the Holocaust Amid Rising Anti-Semitism.
Originally published here.
Life in the Administration
Last Friday, President Trump made history by becoming the first sitting U.S. president to speak in-person at the March for Life, the nation’s largest gathering of pro-life supporters and advocates. Speaking before hundreds of thousands assembled on the National Mall, President Trump declared, “All of us here today understand an eternal truth: Every child is a precious and sacred gift from God. Together, we must protect, cherish, and defend the dignity and sanctity of every human life.” Evoking imagery from Psalm 139:13, he continued, “When we see the image of a baby in the womb, we glimpse the majesty of God’s creation.”
The president’s historic address is just the latest example of the administration’s commitment to protecting children and limiting abortion. Thankfully, this commitment to life extends beyond just rhetoric. In fact, the Trump administration has taken significant action to advance the pro-life movement. For example, in President Trump’s first week in office, he reinstated the Mexico City Policy to ensure that no taxpayer money would go to foreign non-governmental organizations that provide or actively promote abortion. However, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo explained on Friday’s edition of Washington Watch, the Trump administration not only reinstated the Reagan-era policy but expanded it to cover about $9 billion of federal aid.
This expansion was necessary, Secretary Pompeo said, because “There’s always risk that when you provide resources to [foreign non-governmental organizations], they will sub-contract it, or they will flow that money to some other entity and thereby be able to certify that they didn’t do it [use funds to promote abortion] but have enabled someone else to use those American dollars for that purpose. We’ve put in place programs and certification processes to prevent that from happening.”
In addition to expanding the Mexico City Policy, the Trump administration has sought to limit abortion in other ways including introducing a new regulation through the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that prohibits recipients of Title X family planning funding from providing or referring patients for abortions (which effectively defunding Planned Parenthood of $60 million in annual revenue), calling on states to join a coalition of countries that seek to advocate against pro-abortion policies at the World Health Organization and the United Nations, and vowing to veto any legislation that weakens pro-life policies or that encourages the destruction of human life.
More evidence of the unprecedented commitment to the sanctity of life and religious freedom was seen at an event hosted by Family Research Council on Friday. Alex Azar, Secretary of HHS, announced that the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) at HHS will enforce the Weldon amendment (which prohibits federal funds from going to states that discriminate against any health care entity which does not pay for or provide coverage for abortions) by issuing a notice of violation against California for their mandate forcing every health insurance carrier to cover elective abortion.
The Trump administration’s work against the culture of death represented by the abortion lobby is grounded in a biblical and moral worldview shared by America’s founders. As Secretary Pompeo explained, “These are the fundamental rights that each human being is granted by our creator and who are enshrined in international human rights.” Pompeo explained that these values guide him and his team at the State Department to protect the unborn wherever the United States government has a role. As Pompeo told me, “We have done our level best to make sure that no taxpayer dollar ever goes to fund an abortion. Abortion isn’t a human right. In fact, it takes a human life.”
The administration’s stalwart defense for the human rights of all people stands in stark contrast to the values of the cultural left. Although ignoring the March for Life and continuing to oppose the human rights’ of unborn children, Joe Biden found time over the weekend to conflate human rights with the far left’s push to normalize transgender ideology, tweeting, “Let’s be clear: Transgender equality is the civil rights issue of our time. There is no room for compromise when it comes to basic human rights.”
The former vice president’s “no room for compromise” comment is reminiscent of the heavy-handed approach taken by President Obama who often sought to use the State Department to export radical gender ideologies around the world (despite the offense this caused many of America’s poorer allies). In fact, in 2015, under then-Secretary John Kerry, the State Department created a “Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons.” The sole job of the Special Envoy was to advance the agenda of far-left activists.
By contrast, the State Department under Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s leadership has focused on real human right’s issues, holding the first-ever Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom in 2018. Dozens of countries participated, and the United States along with others signed a statement condemning terrorism and the abuse of religious believers by non-state actors. At the 2019 Ministerial, the United States led a group of 46 countries to condemn attacks on places of worship.
Whether on abortion or their advocacy for human rights or religious freedom, the contrast between the two parties could not be starker. Over the weekend, NARAL’s president, Ilyse Hogue, boasted on Twitter that she successfully lobbied for the 2016 Democratic platform to include the “strongest language in history” on abortion. Ominously, she added “And I am honored to be nominated for that committee again this cycle.”
Going into November, American Christians will need to think carefully about how their faith informs their approach to elections and their responsibility to vote. Remembering that over 80 percent of the time politicians vote in line with their party platform, Christians need to take a close look at the party platforms (which will be released this summer) and understand how these platforms represent contrasting worldviews.
Originally published here.
This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.